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Southeastern Conference fines Mississippi State for cowbell policy violation




Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE - More cowbell resulted in more fines for Mississippi State athletics.  


The Southeastern Conference has imposed a $25,000 fine upon MSU for violation of the SEC's Artificial Noisemaker Policy during the 2013 football season. SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced the violation Friday, which is the first monetary fine for the school since the end of the 2010 season, and made it clear more severe penalties could be coming from the school if the fans continue to not 'ring responsibly' as accordance with the school's marketing campaign.  


"By virtue of the current legislation, the conference has recognized this long-standing tradition at Mississippi State," said SEC commissioner Mike Slive. "It should be noted, however, that continued violation of the policy could lead not only to substantially higher financial penalties for the institution, but also to a review of the existing legislation concerning artificial noisemakers." 


The announcement of the fine to MSU came in an announcement by the league that included three schools being fined for a violation of the league's access to competition area policy due to fans entering the field following games during the 2013 football season. Auburn, Ole Miss and Missouri were all fined for having fans charge the field during wins in 2013 season. Auburn and Missouri will incur fines of $5,000 each. Ole Miss, which was fined for a similar violation in 2012 after the victory over MSU in the 2012 Egg Bowl rivalry game, will be fined $25,000 for a second offense. 


The violations occurred following Ole Miss' 27-24 win over LSU on Oct. 19 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium; Auburn's 34-28 win over Alabama on Nov. 30 at Jordan-Hare Stadium and Missouri's 28-24 victory over Texas A&M on Nov. 30 at Memorial Stadium. 


"These were some of the most exciting and intriguing games of the college football season and we understand the exuberance of our fans in the celebration of their schools' victories, but these incidents pose a significant risk of injury and we must always make the health and safety of our student-athletes and fans the top priority," Slive said. 


The SEC school presidents approved in 2011 after a 11-0 vote to extend the temporary change to artificial noisemaker policy that was drawn up last year will allow MSU fans to legally bring in a cowbell to the campus football stadium for 2011 campaign. 


"The cowbell is obviously one of our most cherished traditions here at Mississippi State," MSU director of athletics Scott Stricklin said. "Our fans have done a great job in following our guidelines in adhering to the SEC policies related to artificial noisemakers the last couple of years but we must remain diligent in this matter and not allow lapses to occur in the future. We strive to educate our fans on ringing responsibly at appropriate times during home games at Davis Wade Stadium and will continue that education so that we may keep this time-honored tradition alive as a major part of our program's heritage." 


The cowbell policy on artificial noisemakers allows fans to use a cowbell only at Scott Field during pregame, halftime, between quarters, timeouts, after scoring plays and during possession changes. 


According to wording of the rule, MSU fans will still not be allowed to bring and ring a cowbell into an opponent's stadium. 


In 2011, a vote by the league coaches came on the same day with MSU football coach Dan Mullen giving a passionate speech involving the cowbells usage in the funeral of former MSU defensive end Nick Bell who passed away last November. 


"They acknowledged the positive role our fans played in making this arrangement work," Keenum said in 2011. "I appreciate the support of Commissioner Mike Slive and my SEC counterparts in helping us preserve this great tradition. Now, more than ever, we must remain focused on 'ringing responsibly,' but I have every confidence that our fans will be vigilant and committed. Doing so will ensure that present and future Bulldogs can continue to ring their cowbells at Davis-Wade Stadium." 


Two years after this extension, Stricklin cautioned fans and administration that the cowbell ban of the past could be back on the negotiating table for the SEC office. The next violation for the artificial noisemaker policy will result in a $50,000 fine for the school.  


"Dr. Keenum and I have worked closely with our SEC counterparts to preserve this unique tradition. This recent development underscores the fact that we must redouble our efforts to educate our fans and alumni about the need to 'ring responsibly' and the serious consequences of failing to comply with league policies," Stricklin said. 


School officials would not comment on which home game during the 2013 season MSU violated the policy and messages to Stricklin requesting clarification on the matter by The Dispatch were not returned.  




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



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