A Q&A With MSU AD Scott Stricklin

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin talked with Gene's Page one-on-one after the rest of the media left him to talk to Dan Mullen after Thursday's practice. He talked a little more in detail about Dan's new contract, the importance of it beyond just the amount, raises for the assistant coaches, where the money will come from, the football-only facility and stadium expansion.

How did you and Dan Mullen come up with the 2.65 million per year amount?
"You don't start out trying to hit a certain number. You just start the conversation. We had an idea where we wanted to start. Then, usually these things are a give and take. As I mentioned, it's a (national) top-20 salary. And I don't necessarily think a number represents the status of a program. But we want to be a program that competes at the highest level and win championships. Dan, hopefully, will be as good of a coach at 2.65 that he was at 1.2. I don't know if you become a better coach when you pay him more money, but you certainly provide him a higher level of security and it shows more of a commitment on our part. "

Incentive-wise, how much is the highest amount he can receive?
"He's going to make over 200 (thousand in incentives) this year and obviously if he wins (western and SEC) championships and national championship they could get pretty good pretty quick."

Could his incentives get him up to 3 million if he wins a national championship?
"I would have to do the math but he can get higher than he is getting this year. I think it is important to reward success and incentives are a pretty good way to do that."

How did you and Dan come up with the 1.4 million dollar buyout?
"Once again, there is a certain give and take and back and forth. I think, when there is a commitment on our side in terms of more salary, then there is an expectation of more commitment on the other end from the contract perspective. Those part of the conversations are necessary but at the end of the day I hope Dan is here for a long time and that never comes up because we have created a situation where we have built a program that wins consistently and brings a lot of honor and glory to the state of Mississippi."

With Mississippi State now having their head football coach among the national top-20 salary-wise, would you say this is an historic moment for Mississippi State athletics?
"No, I think we have always paid what market rate is. I don't think you set out to hit a certain number. And I don't get caught up in the number you pay your coach. There are a lot of coaches out there who were making more money than Dan that didn't have as good of a year as Dan did. Then, there are coaches making less who had better years, so there's not a direct correlation. I think what is important is the level of commitment that you show and let Dan know that we are really happy that he is our head football coach and that we want that relationship to last a really long time."

Where does it stand as far as raises for the assistant coaches?
"We intend to give them a raise. And Dan and I will have a conversation to decide what is the best way to do that and what is appropriate."

Will their contracts be single-year contracts or will there will a few multi-year contracts?
"Right now, we are on year to year and that is pretty much the standard in the industry, although there are some exceptions to that. You take each individual on a case by case basis."

Dan has received a very nice raise. The assistant coaches are going to receive raises. Where is all this money coming from?
"We have a few more revenue streams today than we did before. And our goal is to continue to grow additional revenue streams. There are going to be opportunities to maximize revenue we generate off of ticket sales. And we are going to expand the stadium and add more revenue that way. Everybody wants to win and there is a price to win. People buying tickets, people joining the Bulldog Club and people increasing the amount they give to the Bulldog Club. All of that goes into making sure we have a healthy bottom line."

The people in the Bulldog Foundation has also helped with contracts as well?
"People in the Bulldog Foundation are also Bulldog Club members. They are Bulldog Club members who are contributing in another way through the Bulldog Foundation. The supplemental salary (they provide) also goes into the contract. And also the agreement with Learfield goes to the Bulldog Foundation. Those are important dollars for us. Every dollar we raise, whether it is the Bulldog Club, ticket sales, or sponsorships through Learfield, goes toward improving the experience of Mississippi State athletics for our fans, our alumni and our student-athletes."

Are you able to give a more concrete answer as to when the Football-Only Facility should be completed?
"Not right now. I don't want to say something right now. I have an idea in my mind but I am going to keep that in my mind for now."

That's not the answer I was looking for?
"When I do give you an answer it will be rock solid. But right now I don't have a rock solid answer."

Switching over to stadium expansion, how many seats will probably be added during the first stadium expansion?
"If I had to guess I would think it will be between 5 and 7 thousand."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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