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Tennessee Football Recruiting: Vols will lead the nation in financial assistance

Remember the sanctimonious hand wringing during the last NCAA meeting over whether or not players could receive financial aid for the full cost of attendance?

Watch out for the Lady Vols hiding in the crowd, Dave!
Watch out for the Lady Vols hiding in the crowd, Dave!
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Tennessee will lead the nation in financial assistance to athletes, with the athletic department planning to offer an extra $5,666 in financial assistance beginning in August of this year. The supplementary aid amounts to roughly $630 a month and is designed to cover out of pocket costs not covered by the direct scholarship (tuition, fees, books, room and board) including cell phone bills, travel, clothing, and other items. The NCAA approved rules for "full cost of attendance" financial aid at the national conference in January by a 79-1 vote, with Boston College the lone dissenter. While Tennessee will offer the most additional financial assistance this year, another seven SEC schools are in the top 20, with Auburn ($5,586) and Mississippi State ($5,126) joining the Vols in the top four.

Institution Conference Old Scholarship New Scholarship Additional Aid
University of Tennessee, Knoxville SEC $23,710 $29,376 $5,666
Auburn University SEC $23,578 $29,164 $5,586
University of Louisville ACC $19,142 $24,344 $5,202
Mississippi State University SEC $17,294 $22,420 $5,126
Texas Tech University B12 $18,944 $24,044 $5,100
Penn State University, State College B10 $29,810 $34,598 $4,788
Texas Christian University B12 $50,940 $55,640 $4,700
University of Oklahoma, Norman B12 $19,341 $23,955 $4,614
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater B12 $18,180 $22,740 $4,560
University of Mississippi SEC $18,204 $22,704 $4,500

For Tennessee, an increase in the financial aid award to athletes improves the competitiveness of recruiting and reduces the hardships on players from out-of-state and disadvantaged backgrounds who are less likely to have support networks of family and friends nearby. The move also signals a return to solid financial footing for the athletic department, as the increased award is likely to cost in the neighborhood of a million dollars-- together with the contracts for new head basketball coach Rick Barnes and his assistants, the Vols have added more than 4.5-5 million dollars in increased expenses for the 2015-2016 seasons. With athletic director Dave Hart's insistence on prudent money management, increased spending from the department can only mean that the Vols feel confident that the SEC Network payouts will more than cover the new financial commitments.