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SEC finalizes cowbell penalties

August 18, 2010

MSU President Mark Keenum rings a cowbell during The Drill Wednesday.

The Southeastern Conference has finally put some teeth into the artificial noisemaker and institutionally controlled sound legislation.
In an athletic directors meeting in Orlando, the group decided on a fine structure for violations of the rules on illegal stadium sounds with $5,000 for the first offense, $25,000 for the second and $50,000 for the third and beyond.
“It just means we now have two great reasons to follow the policy,” Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said.
“One is that we’re on a one-year trial basis with the cowbell deal, and we’re excited about being able to bring them in. The other is we don’t want to deny our coaches resources by having to send them to Birmingham.”
On June 4, the league’s athletic directors and university presidents have voted Friday to approve a temporary change to the policy on artificial noisemaker rule by allowing Mississippi State fans to walk through Davis-Wade Stadium with a cowbell.
The modification to the policy officially allows fans to use a cowbell
only at Scott Field for the first time in 36 years during pregame, halftime, between quarters, timeouts, after scoring plays and during possession changes. According to the new wording of the rule, MSU fans would not be allowed to bring and ring a cowbell into an opponents stadium.
“I appreciate the willingness of the SEC’s athletic directors and presidents to work with us to find a way to preserve a great tradition and still remain within the framework of SEC rules and regulations,” MSU president Mark Keenum wrote in an official media statement after the compromise in June was announced.
Wednesday’s announcement basically lays the monetary punishment if State fans ring the bell when it is not allowed, bring it to a road game or one of the other 11 schools uses sounds from their video board at the same time.
“It’s not just targeting our world and I think that’s important to note,” Stricklin said.
“If anybody plays sound over the loud speakers while the ball is in play, they will get fined the same amount too.”
These SEC fines will carry over from year to year. Therefore, if a school is accessed two fines this season, it would have to pay the league office a total of $30,000 in penalties.
If it were penalized again over the next three season, it would have to pay $50,000. In a potential reward situation, a school will have its fine total reset after three years of not accruing a fine.
“This is not a surprise for us because heading into the Destin meetings we thought it would be illegal to just bring the cowbell in at all,” Stricklin said.
“All this fine structure will hopefully do is show the league our fan base can ring the cowbell the right way.”
Since the announcement of the cowbell compromise, Stricklin has organized a campus-wide “Ring Responsibly” campaign to ensure that the institution’s symbol remains legal at Davis-Wade Stadium.
“It is a one year trial basis so it’s imperative that our fans understand that they alternative if we don’t behave responsibly with this that not only with the university be given significant financial penalties and the ban will come back even stronger,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin told the Starkville Daily News the day after the compromise was agreed upon in Destin that MSU officials will use the large video board to educate the Bulldogs fan base when it’s allowed to ring a cowbell and during games explaining the new language of the rule.
“All these things are positive,” Stricklin said on June 5. “When our fans are supposed to put the cowbell down, we expect them to make noise with their voices.”

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