A Q&A With MSU AD Scott Stricklin

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin sat down with Gene's Page Friday morning and did a one-on-one interview.

You just announced that you are merging the Bulldog Foundation into the Bulldog Club. What were the reasons behind doing that?
"It's unusual for there to be two private fund-raising entities for an athletic department. When you look back at the history, the Bulldog Foundation was started years ago when the Bulldog Club was stretched financially to take care of what it was set up to do which was to provide for scholarships and to help with facility needs. At the time coaching salaries were starting to get to the point where there was some need for private support to supplement them. And the Foundation was started to do that, separate from the Bulldog Club. It served its purpose very well for 20 years. We've had some great, loyal Bulldogs to contribute to the Bulldog Foundation.

"Now, we are a point where the Bulldog Club is in a stronger position financially. And by assuming both the responsibilities of salaries supplement and the resources of the Bulldog Foundation I think it's smarter to have one entity raising money to benefit MSU athletics. We'll have to change the By-Laws of the Bulldog Club so that it will be chartered to manage salary supplements in addition to scholarships and facilities. It's just a cleaner way to go about business because it's more efficient and there's less confusion.

"Now, every dollar that gets contributed to the Bulldog Club will not only help with scholarships and facilities but also help make us as competitive as we can be with coaches salaries supplements. Now, if you are a Bulldog Club contributor you are helping in that area also (coaches salaries supplements). It gives everybody the chance to help. Last year, during the contract talks with Coach Mullen for his extension, I heard from people who weren't in the Bulldog Foundation tell me that they couldn't help with Coach's new salary but they told me that they sure hope that we keep him. Now, everybody that is a Bulldog Club member, their dollars will help go toward that.

"All the leaders of the Bulldog Foundation, the Bulldog Club and (MSU President) Dr. Keenum have all been unanimous that this is the right direction and makes the most sense.

"And one of the strengths of our university right now is everybody is unified, everybody is on the same page, pulling in the same direction. And to me, this is the next natural process in the process of getting everybody on the same page."

Going back to the coaches salary supplements, will people be able to specifically tell you how much of their Bulldog Club contribution will go toward coaches salary supplements?
"We take restricted gifts but we like unrestricted gifts because that gives us the most flexibility on how we manage the program."

Will the donors in the Bulldog Foundation still be a resource that you will continue to go to if the need arises?
"Absolutely. And they have indicated that they will continue their giving levels and continue to be supported."

How will this affect the Learfield contract?
"Right now, the Learfield contract is with the Bulldog Foundation. That contract will now be assumed by the Bulldog Club."

Speaking of facilities, do you have an idea how much MSU athletics has spent on facilities the previous five years and now much you expect to spend the next five years?
"I really can't speak for the next five years but I think we are in a five to seven year period that started a couple of years ago where we will spend in the 150 million dollar range for athletics.

"It started a couple of years ago with the Mize Pavilion, the track, the video replay board. We've already spent well over 20 million, probably closer to 25 million. We have the ribbon boards (1.4 million), the basketball seats. Then, you throw in a 25 million dollar football complex. And then we are doing an 80 million stadium expansion project. We also probably need to spend 600,000 to 700,000 dollars for our golf team practice area. And we are also going to build a clubhouse there as well. And a locker room for soccer. We also need to invest significantly in tennis and softball."

When do you expect the football complex groundbreaking to happen?
"We are hoping next month. It's out for bid right now."

When do you expect the football stadium contract to be let? Is it realistic to say it could start next summer?
"That would be the timeline that I would be comfortable with right now. My hope is that we finish it so that our first year in it will be 2014. That's my hope."

How will the construction affect fans during the 2012 and 2013 seasons?
"I think you will be able to do enough work in 2012 where you don't have to take up the (endzone) bleachers. In 2013 the bleachers will have to be gone. It really depends, you might be far enough along where you can gain temporary access to other type stands."

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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