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SEC informs MSU of cowbell violation


FILE - In a Nov. 23, 2007, file photo, a Mississippi State fan rings a cowbell following Mississippi State's 17-14 win in an NCAA college football game against Mississippi. The cowbells are in jeopardy. The Southeastern Conference is poised to levy fines against the school for violating the league's noisemaker policy related to its tradition of ringing cowbells at games.

FILE - In a Nov. 23, 2007, file photo, a Mississippi State fan rings a cowbell following Mississippi State's 17-14 win in an NCAA college football game against Mississippi. The cowbells are in jeopardy. The Southeastern Conference is poised to levy fines against the school for violating the league's noisemaker policy related to its tradition of ringing cowbells at games. Photo by: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis


David Miller


STARKVILLE -- The future of cowbells rests in the hands of Mississippi State''s fans.  


While it''s been the obvious component of the Southeastern Conference''s amended artificial noisemaker ban to help accommodate MSU''s greatest sporting symbol, the current margin for error is nil. 


MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin confirmed Monday the SEC has notified the school it has violated the cowbell compromise.  


"We''ve had ongoing communication with the league," Stricklin said. "I think it''s pretty obvious to anybody who was at the game (against UAB Saturday), we''re nowhere near where we needed to be on it." 


MSU hasn''t been notified of how much it could be fined, which hinges on post-season evaluation of MSU''s compliance efforts. 


But based on the SEC''s fine structure set in August, the fines stemming from violations from MSU''s two SEC home games against Auburn and Georgia can range anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000. The fine for the first offense is $5,000, while the penalty for the second is $25,000, and the third is $50,000 - the cap of the fine structure.  


SEC spokesperson Chuck Dunlap said the league won''t reveal the amount of potential fines until the end of the season.  


League commissioner Mike Slive told the Clarion Ledger a looming fine should be the least of MSU''s fan''s concerns, as the one-year trial will be re-evaluated next summer. The SEC could opt for a full-ban when the agreement expires. 


"I know there''s been a focus, to some degree, on financial penalties but that focus is really misplaced," Slive said. "The real focus here should be on whether or not the legislation will be continued, so that State fans can bring their cowbells into the stadium years beyond this one." 


Prior to this season, the SEC''s 36-year artificial noisemaker ban had essentially been violated at every MSU home game. League members weren''t happy with MSU''s efforts to police cowbells over that span, but since cowbells are a MSU spirit symbol that spans nearly 80 years, the SEC''s other schools were willing to give the one-year trial a go. 


The amended legislation allows MSU fans to ring cowbells at Davis Wade Stadium during timeouts, before the game, after a score or during halftime. Cowbells cannot be used while the clock is running down. 


What constitutes a fine has always been the gray area of the compromise; MSU''s mission has been to continually educate and inform the fan base. 


"We weren''t really given a lot of detail there," Stricklin said. "I''m a perfectionist so I like things to be done right at every job. I don''t know what threshold they''re using in Birmingham. You''d have to ask the league that question." 


The SEC won''t comment on the details of MSU''s penalties until the end of the season, Dunlap said.  


MSU''s biggest game day effort to discourage improper cowbell use at Davis Wade Stadium has been the use of its high-definition video board. The urgency of the video messages have increased in recent weeks.  


"This last Saturday night, our signage went from ''Respect the Bell'' to ''Save the Bell,''" Stricklin noted, "and it will continue along that path for these last two games. These next two games are going to be critical for the future of the cowbell." 


Stricklin said the initial efforts to spread the message have grown to constant attempts to get the message clear, but there''s only but so much signage and meetings with student groups can accomplish.  


The onus, Stricklin said, is on fans. 


"At some point, there''s got to be a willingness from our fans to do this the right way," Stricklin said. "We''ve got a large segment of our fan base that''s tried to do it the right way, but it''s not been enough. We need everybody doing it that way.  


"At this point I don''t think it''s an issue of educating the fan base, I think it''s for the last two games how important they think it is to us. If the cowbell is important, than they''ll manage it the right way. If it''s not, then we don''t need to worry because it''ll take care of itself. At this point, it''s going to be in the hands of everybody who loves Mississippi State." 


No. 23 MSU hosts Kenutcky on Saturday and Arkansas on Nov. 20.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment hikerdude commented at 10/26/2010 9:29:00 AM:

They took the rebel why not the cowbell! Why not just go ahead and take the name Mississippi! that could affend someone!


Article Comment rebelblr commented at 10/26/2010 11:12:00 AM:

It's not about offending anyone. It's about respect. State fans are allowed to ring their bells at times where it does not interfere with ball play. Having attended the Auburn/Mississippi State game earlier this season, I can tell you that the State fans continue to ring their cowbells whenever they please. It clearly says in the corner of the HUGE jumbotron when to "ring" and when to "yell." I am all about school spirit and supporting your team, but not at the expense of the other team. It makes it extremely hard to enjoy the game when you have thousands of cowbells ringing at the wrong times. They go from being a symbol of Bulldog pride to simply a nuisance in no time at all. I mean you're told that you can ring your cowbell all you want at certain times and keep them, and you still refuse to obey those few simple rules? If you can't do that little bit, you don't deserve to have them at all. As for the new Ole Miss mascot ordeal, that is an entirely different ballgame, no pun intended.


Article Comment newsjunkie commented at 10/26/2010 7:21:00 PM:

It would certainly help at the games if they did not use all the times that fans could ring their bells to run commercials on the jumbotron. State fans need to learn to yell in a 3rd down situation. You certainly have had plenty to raise your voices over this year.


Article Comment dawgfan33 commented at 10/27/2010 12:15:00 PM:

rebellblr: Whenever state plays at home they should be able to ring the bell and it shouldnt disrepect anyone because its states home field and tradition. if it harms someone at the game they can leave. if i went to an lsu game and heard 100,000 fans screaming and said that was disrespectful to me because i couldnt enjoy the game then thats the same situation. 2/3 of 55,000 people that ring cowbells should not bother the SEC or the NCAA because our stadium still is not loud a an Alabama or a LSU their stadiums get a lot louder than we do because they have more people and during the years state was winning 2 or 3 games NO ONE said anything about the bell but now we are ranked and winning and all a sudden the bell is the problem.. yea we rang that bell like hell against auburn but look who still won the game. the bell does not affect how a team plays the bell is tradition and it is how our fans celebrate so we should be allowed to ring the bell whenever we want


Article Comment #1dawgfan commented at 10/27/2010 2:24:00 PM:

Why not just put a donation box at every entrance to the stadium? If the SEC sees how much money they can make from each season in "cowbell fines" alone, they'll probably leave us alone. I wonder if the SEC will go to Bama, Auburn, Tenn., or LSU and demand that half of their crowd keep quiet so we can then have an even playing field? This is, after all, about the noise level, right? Do they not think that 100,000 screaming fans are louder than 56,000 screaming fans? The cow bells give us an even playing field with the "big money" programs, and it's never been that big of a deal, that is until we beat a couple of them. Oh, I'm sorry, one of those got beat in their own stadium.


Article Comment bulldog99 commented at 11/2/2010 6:15:00 PM:

rebelblr, Sounds to me like you need to just stay at home and watch the game on mute if "cowbells" are such a nuisance to you. Whats next... no clapping or whistling. This is SEC Football not sissy Golf where you cant make noise


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