The landscape of college athletics has changed drastically over the past decade and that renovation also has been demonstrated at Middle Tennessee, particularly during the seven-plus years since Chris Massaro was named director of athletics on April 8, 2005. Proving to be a true visionary, Massaro has helped revolutionize the Blue Raiders’ athletic department while helping pave the way for even greater success in future years.
Along with growing the Middle Tennessee athletic program, Massaro has been instrumental on numerous national boards and committees. He was appointed to the NCAA Football Issues Committee in March 2008, served as a member of the prestigious NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee for the 2010-11 season, and recently was appointed to the NCAA Division I Leadership Council. He is also currently the president of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Massaro, who spent 20 years at South Carolina prior to arriving at Middle Tennessee, has seen record numbers in fundraising during his tenure. Under his leadership, the athletic program raised $6 million dollars in private monies for the new baseball stadium; saw the largest unrestricted gift in athletic history of $1 million, while also gaining a $500,000 gift from Ken Shipp for the new women’s basketball office suite. The Shipp gift is the largest in school history for women’s sports. Along with a 130 percent increase in the BRAA’s annual giving, Massaro has seen corporate sponsorships more than triple since his arrival. Since his arrival, Massaro has enhanced the Blue Raiders’ broad-based, 17-sport program. Among the accomplishments included in the last seven years: • The Athletic Department has captured five Sun Belt Conference All-Sports Trophy’s. • The Blue Raiders were 76th in the 2008-09 NACDA Cup, the highest finish in school history, then turned in a 78th place showing in 2009-10. • The athletic program has had a record 35 nationally televised events during his tenure. • Middle Tennessee’s football program has appeared in three bowl games in six years: the 2006 Motor City Bowl, the 2009 New Orleans Bowl, and the 2011 GoDaddy.com Bowl. The Blue Raiders won the New Orleans Bowl and finished with a 10-3 record and a No. 33 national ranking. • The women’s volleyball team reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in 2007 and has made six straight NCAA appearances. • The men’s golf team has made five straight NCAA Regional appearances, including a trip to the NCAA Championships in 2008 to finish 15th nationally. • The women’s basketball team has made the NCAA Tournament five times while also winning four Sun Belt Conference tournament titles. The program has also produced the nation’s leading scorer three of the last five seasons. • The Middle Tennessee tennis doubles team of Marco Born and Andreas Siljestrom won the National Championship in 2007 – the first NCAA doubles title in Athletic Department history. • The Middle Tennessee track teams have combined for five conference titles. The 2007 men’s outdoor squad finished No. 21 in the nation, and the 2009 women’s indoor team ranked tied for 30th. • The Blue Raider baseball team captured the regular season and tournament championship in 2009 and advanced to the NCAAs. • The women’s soccer program won the 2010 SBC Championship and advanced to their first NCAA Tournament. Massaro’s success at Middle Tennessee doesn’t stop with the athletic teams. There has been a tremendous track record for hiring quality coaches with head football coach Rick Stockstill, women’s head basketball coach Rick Insell, men’s golf coach Whit Turnbow, and men’s tennis coach Jimmy Borendame – all Massaro hires – each earning Sun Belt Coach of the Year in their first seasons. In all, Massaro’s guidance has provided coaches with the resources to produce 33 conference titles, 31 NCAA team postseason appearances, two Sun Belt Conference Athletes of the Year, and 23 Coach of the Year awards. Academic enhancement has also skyrocketed under Massaro’s leadership. Massaro, who was appointed to a panel on APR Improvement Plans for the 2007 NCAA Convention, inherited a football program with a national-low score of 812 and saw it increase to 990 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2009. As a whole, the Athletic Department has improved from a 908 score when Massaro was hired to an impressive cumulative (four years) score of 968 in 2010-11. All 17 Middle Tennessee sports teams achieved passing marks of 925 or higher in 2010-11 with five teams turning in a perfect mark of 1,000. Football and men’s golf have each been recognized publicly by the NCAA the past two years for APR success. Facility upgrades also have been at the top of Massaro’s impressive list of accomplishments. He completed a $6 million capital campaign for the new baseball stadium and initiated a series of major renovations to existing athletic facilities during the previous six years, including a state-of-the-art soccer and track complex, a state-of-the-art golf performance center, and the Ken Shipp Women’s Basketball Office suite. Most recently, construction was completed on the new Jeff Hendrix Stadium Club in time for the 2012 season. In the midst of numerous upgrades, Massaro also has initiated generous contributions that made it possible to install a new synthetic surface in Floyd Stadium for the 2006 season. Additionally, new videoboards – one for football and two inside Murphy Center – were installed in 2007 and a new fence around the entire stadium was put in place in 2011. Massaro has also made a significant upgrade in the Blue Raider football schedule since his arrival. He brought Virginia out of the ACC to Floyd Stadium in 2007 and then inked Maryland to play in Murfreesboro in 2008. In 2009, Massaro had Mississippi State come to Floyd Stadium to make them the first SEC program to play in a Sun Belt stadium and the Blue Raiders entertained Georgia Tech in 2011. Future schedules will see the Blue Raiders playing home games against BYU (2014) and Vanderbilt (2015, 2017).
On his 100th day on the job, Massaro made one of his biggest announcements: a five-year contract with the University of Memphis to play football that started in 2007. The Tigers became the first in-state Division I-A (FBS) football team to play the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro. In March 2008, Massaro made another big move when he announced a four-game series with neighboring rival Vanderbilt of the SEC. The series begins in 2015 and the teams will play twice in Murfreesboro and twice in Nashville. The Glenwood Springs, Colo., native joined the South Carolina staff under the Ohio University sport administration program in 1985. Massaro earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1983 and his master’s degree in sport administration from Ohio University in 1986. At UNC, Massaro was a five-year football team member. Massaro is also heavily involved in community service projects and organizations. He is a member of the Red Cross Board, the City Golf Commission and the Rutherford County Sports Council Executive Committee, and he served on the search committee for the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce president. Massaro and his wife, Cindy, have four children: Hank, Lainey, Rachel, and Ben.