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Happy Wednesday, everyone.
By now I may be a few days late for today’s world of news updates, but it bears repeating how monumental the NCAA meetings on autonomy were over the weekend. I’ve said many times in this space that collegiate athletics has been on the precipice of great change, and the events in D.C. were the beginning of new structure, governance and possibilities for what we do in this world of college sports.
Of note, members of the five autonomy conferences (including the SEC) can now cover the full cost of attendance for our athletes on full scholarship, helping to make college life more affordable for students who have no means otherwise of outside income. In addition to tuition, fees, room, books and board, the definition of a full scholarship now includes a miscellaneous expense item, as defined by each school’s financial aid office.
I mentioned this on twitter last night, that at Mississippi State we anticipate providing student-athletes $1.3 million in the 2016 fiscal year as part of that new miscellaneous expense legislature. This is a significant new budget item, one that will be covered with income from the SEC Network and revenue from ticket sales.
Before we switch topics, I should again commend Jay Hughes, a senior from our football team, for representing MSU, the SEC and all NCAA student-athletes well as one of the 15 student representatives selected to attend and vote on behalf of all. Jay did a great job and I was proud to call him a Bulldog.
PRESIDENT KEENUM ON PLAYOFF COMMITTEE
Both as an alum and as Athletic Director, I’m incredibly proud to have Dr. Mark Keenum as the President of our university, and his respect across the country is only growing. It was announced yesterday that President Keenum will be joining the College Football Playoff Board of Managers (which oversees the business and affairs of the College Football Playoff) as the SEC representative, a grand and deserved honor.
From our corner of a campus incorporating so many successful areas, we are grateful for a leader who supports athletics and sees the impact we can have on the university as a whole. Broadcast around the country and the world, athletics can often be the inadvertent face of a school and his investment in what we do shows his desire to make a great impression when our teams provide MSU with that opportunity.
• Congrats and good luck to our basketball teams who, as of this writing, both won their last games and play again on the road this week. Our men are at Auburn tonight, while our women travel to Ole Miss Thursday. Rick Ray and the men host Georgia at 2 p.m. on Saturday (broadcast on FSN) and I hope you’ll join us to support them. Your presence meant a lot in their win over Vanderbilt last weekend. We will also have the official street dedication Saturday for Bailey Howell Drive running alongside The Hump.
• Congratulations, as well, to both our men’s and women’s tennis teams who opened the season last week with victories at home. Our men began 2-0 and are on the way to California for matches this weekend, while our ladies won their first two matches as well and play twice more in New Hampshire this weekend.
• Good luck to our track and field teams, too, who officially began the spring season in Nashville last week and continue competition there this week. We’re excited to host the SEC Championships later this spring and are proud of the successful program Coach Steve Dudley has built.
• As the spring sports continue to get started, it is worth mentioning that we are now two weeks away from the beginning of softball season and just over three weeks away from the start of baseball. I hope the warm weather we’ve had this week will stick around!
• Two more recognitions to make, firstly to former women’s basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis who was named an SEC Legend this year and will be honored at the 2015 SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Little Rock in March. Secondly, to Doug Hutton, former MSU captain and letterman from 1960-64, who will represent us as our SEC men’s basketball legend this year.
• Also, congrats to freshman soccer player Mallory Eubanks who has earned an invitation to the United States U-20 Women’s National Team training camp, where she’ll have the chance to qualify for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. I have to imagine she’d be the first Bulldog in the World Cup!
• In the midst of our successes, our hearts have been heavy with recent losses in the Bulldog family. Condolences to Strat Karatassos and family on the loss of his wonderful wife, Harriet, as well as to the family of former basketball star Stan Brinker, whose impressive life included playing in the Game of Change in 1963. Thank you to all who have reached out in support and remembrance of two great people, and please continue to keep the families in your thoughts and prayers.
I’m looking forward to the spring continuing to build and the fun it brings to campus. Also, don’t forget to wear maroon on Fridays!
We appreciate what you do for Mississippi State Athletics and want to encourage you to get others involved. There are three things you can do to help the athletic department at Mississippi State reach its desired goals –
1. Buy Season Tickets
2. Financially Support the Bulldog Club
3. Get Others To Do The Same
Thanks for taking the time to read this Update.