By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – It’s a season of financial growth for Mississippi State’s athletic department, and a report released yesterday would seem to confirm that.
Sports Business Journal looked at athletic budgets for 52 major-conference schools, and the numbers show that MSU is among 30 schools that experienced a budget increase of 10 percent or greater from the 2009-10 fiscal year to the 2011-12 fiscal year.
State’s budget has gone from $35.9 million to $40.1 million during that span, an increase of 11.7 percent. Among the 10 SEC teams that made budget numbers available, MSU’s budget increase ranked fifth.
But athletics director Scott Stricklin doesn’t put a lot of stock in such reports, noting that the budget figures don’t account for private giving.
“There’s not a whole lot of accuracy in those reports, because we all report things differently,” he said. “Our budget’s really more like $55 million. So it’s hard to compare apples to apples with everything. I don’t even give those much credence, to be honest with you.”
The four schools ahead of MSU: Ole Miss (13.3 percent), Arkansas (14.4 percent), Kentucky (15 percent) and Auburn (18.1 percent).
Alabama did not report 2011-12 budget figures, and Vanderbilt’s information was not available – it’s a private school.
The Sports Business Journal report noted that television revenue and premium seating are the two biggest generators of money.
The former is certainly true for MSU, and Stricklin pointed to football ticket sales as a key revenue stream. MSU has sold out of football season tickets the last two years.
“We’ve got a really good business model,” Stricklin said. “We don’t waste a lot of money, we’re pretty lean in our structure.”
Stricklin weighed in on the cowbell issue Tuesday. The Liberty Bowl has a policy against noisemakers being brought in, which to MSU fans means no cowbells when the Bulldogs visit Memphis on Sept. 1.
A Memphis official said Monday that the school fully supports the policy, and Stricklin urges compliance.
“I encourage every Bulldog fan to respect that and leave your cowbell in the car, ring it at the tailgate and ring it after the game when you get back to the car to celebrate,” Stricklin said. “If we continue to maintain this tradition for our home games, it’s real important to show respect to others when we’re on the road.”
MSU was recently fined $30,000 for violating the SEC’s noisemaker policy, which was instituted last year and allows for fans to ring cowbells during certain times of a game. The rule applies only to MSU home games against league foes.
Roof work delayed
The re-roofing of Humphrey Coliseum hasn’t yet started. The original timeline for completing the project was the end of summer, but Stricklin said since it’s a campus project that’s routed through the state’s Institutions of Higher Learning, it’ll take “a little bit longer.”
The project costs $1,295,750.