Cowbell assault a ‘high priority’ for MSU police

December 4, 2009 10:39:00 AM

Tim Pratt -


STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University Police Department is continuing to investigate a weekend assault during which one man severely injured another by hitting him over the head with a cowbell. 


The incident occurred in the student section bleachers in the north end zone at Davis Wade Stadium shortly after Mississippi State''s football team defeated the University of Mississippi 41-27 in the Egg Bowl.  


According to MSU Police Chief Georgia Lindley, some fans got into an argument and it escalated until the suspect struck the 21-year-old victim with the cowbell. The suspect was with someone who had an Ole Miss logo on their clothing, Lindley said. 


The victim, whom Lindley identified only as a student at MSU, was injured "pretty severely" and taken by ambulance to Oktibbeha County Hospital. He was treated for a mild concussion and received several staples in his head where the cowbell had struck, Lindley said. 


Cowbells have been a mainstay at MSU football games for decades, but they haven''t been legal at Southeastern Conference games since the mid-1970s when the SEC adopted a rule against artificial noisemakers at football and basketball games. 


Still, the tradition of ringing cowbells at games has remained popular, and Bulldog fans risk confiscation to bring the noisemakers into the stadium. 


In 2002, presidents of the SEC member universities voted 11-1 to add penalties to the rule banning noisemakers. Then-Interim President Charles Lee, who later was named president voted against the move. 


"Cowbells have been a symbol of Mississippi State spirit and pride for more than 75 years, and we understand the deep attachment that many alumni and friends have for this unique tradition," Lee said after the decision, according to a memo issued by MSU in June 2002. "Efforts over the past 25 years to enforce the Southeastern Conference ban on artificial noisemakers inside the stadiums have met with limited success. This has led now to a provision that our teams can be penalized on the field if our fans disregard the longstanding rule." 


Game officials are to enforce the conference ban with a verbal warning on the first offense, a 5-yard penalty on the second offense and a 15-yard penalty on any subsequent offenses. 


The amendments also extended the ban to all conference-sponsored sports. 


Several TV cameras were panning the end zone stands Saturday, and MSU police are scouring those videos to see if they caught the assault on film, Lindley said. But police have no suspects, she said. 


"We''re continuing to work very hard on it," Lindley said. "This young man was really injured and we want to arrest whoever did it. It is a high priority for us." 


Anyone with information is asked to call MSU Police Department Detective Brad Massey at 662-325-2664.