By BRAD LOCKE / NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State fans haven’t been ringing very responsibly this season.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has told MSU Athletics Director Scott Stricklin that the school has violated the league’s new artificial noisemaker policy, and so Stricklin is expecting fines to be levied after the season.
MSU’s student newspaper, The Reflector, first reported the story.
The policy, approved over the summer, allowed MSU fans to legally bring cowbells into Davis Wade Stadium for the first time since 1974. The stipulations were that the cowbells could not be rung except during pregame activities, timeouts, between quarters, at halftime, after MSU scores, and during possession changes.
Stricklin speaks with Slive after every home game.
“After every game. he told me he thought we probably were in violation,” Stricklin said.
The first-year AD said he believes MSU has done its part to educate fans, including a web site, pamphlets and constant reminders on the stadium’s video board.
During last week’s game with UAB., the video board’s message to fans changed from “respect the bell” to “save the bell.”
Said Stricklin, “I don’t think it’s an education issue, I think it’s an execution issue. Maybe the cowbells aren’t as important to Mississippi State people as I think they are.”
MSU is in a trial period, with the SEC holding the option to reinstate a cowbell ban next year, and one with teeth. Prior to this year, cowbells were banned, but MSU was never punished for their use during game action.
“I think it’s a habit,” Stricklin said. “I think we’ve got decades of one habit, and I think that’s one of the good things about us having a whole year to try to improve, is it does take a while to change a habit.”
The rule only applies to SEC home games, and MSU’s had two of those so far (Auburn and Georgia). Two more remain against Kentucky this weekend and Arkansas on Nov. 20.
Fines will be assessed after the season. A first offense results in a $5,000 fine, a second in a $25,000 fine, and every offense after that in a $50,000 fine. So State could wind up paying $130,000 to the SEC after the season.
Stricklin remains hopeful that MSU fans can show a little more restraint from here on out.
“We can do it. There’s no question we can do it.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571