Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Bulldog Sports Boss one of Four Honored Nationally

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CLEVELAND – Mississippi State Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin was named a winner of the 2015-16 Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year Award on Wednesday by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).

The ADOY Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities. Stricklin will officially receive the honor on June 15 at NACDA's 51st Annual Convention in Dallas, Texas.

“Scott Stricklin’s leadership of Mississippi State University’s athletics has been marked not only by unprecedented growth and success in many sports, but by significant and steady improvement and sophistication in our facilities and our game day experiences,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. “Scott is certainly most deserving of this recognition by NACDA and I offer my sincere congratulations to him and his wonderful family.”

Stricklin, 45, has spearheaded MSU Athletics to unprecedented heights from record fundraising, Bulldog Club memberships and fan attendance to nearly $140 million invested in facility projects since he took office in May 2010. Despite one of the smallest athletic budgets in the Southeastern Conference, MSU Athletics is one of a handful nationally that receives no institutional funding, yet continues to be highly-efficient and financially successful.

“The honor is due to MSU's tremendous students, coaches, staff, alumni and fans for working together and creating a consistent level of success that has been recognized nationally by others,” Stricklin said. “Mississippi State is an incredibly fun place to be because there are so many talented people who are passionate about this university and refuse to let our challenges prevent us from achieving greatness.”

Stricklin has overseen ambitious facility projects, including the $11.7 million Mize Pavilion at Humphrey Coliseum, the $25 million Leo W. Seal Jr. Football Complex, a $75 million expansion and renovation of Davis Wade Stadium. Final touches on a $6 million renovation and expansion of the softball and tennis complexes and the $2.2 million Mississippi State Golf Center at Old Waverly are set for completion this spring. In addition, a $40 million upgrade to baseball’s Dudy Noble Field is in the planning process.  

A majority of Bulldog athletic teams have reached NCAA postseason play in each of the last three years. MSU football has been to a school-record, six-straight bowl games, averaging over eight wins since 2010 while playing in college football’s toughest division. The Bulldogs just completed the winningest two-year stretch in program history (19-7), including spending five straight weeks atop the polls in 2014.

MSU women’s basketball earned its highest national ranking in program history earlier this season (No. 6) as it prepares for a postseason run this March. The women’s cross country team produced its greatest season ever as it reached the NCAA Championships for the first time in November.

Stricklin has attracted elite head coaches to Starkville, including the hiring of men’s basketball’s Ben Howland, women’s basketball’s Vic Schaefer and softball’s Vann Stuedeman. In the fall of 2015, new volleyball coach David McFatrich produced the best record by a first-year coach in program history. The 2014-15 campaign also saw two Bulldog coaches capture SEC Coach of the Year honors in Schaefer and Dan Mullen.

Attendance figures have soared under Stricklin’s leadership. Football season ticket sales eclipsed over 50,000 for the first time last fall, surpassing the 45,575 during the record season of 2014. Bulldog football shattered the school record for average attendance (61,784) and total attendance (432,490) for the fourth straight year in 2015. MSU also ranked second in the SEC in percentage of capacity filled during the season.

A total of 80,705 fans witnessed women’s basketball in Humphrey Coliseum this season, far exceeding the previous school record of 67,598 a year ago. The Bulldogs averaged a school-record 5,044 fans per game. On Jan. 24, a school-record 10,626 fans packed into Humphrey Coliseum to witness MSU take on No. 2 South Carolina. It was the largest crowd to ever witness a women’s basketball game in the state of Mississippi.  

With a focus on the student-athlete and a commitment to great integrity, MSU has produced record grade point averages under Stricklin’s watch. MSU men and women student-athletes posted a combined GPA of 3.0 during the 2014-15 campaign, representing the highest in school history.

Stricklin’s vision also drew attention when he announced a partnership with financial guru Dave Ramsey last summer to help educate student-athletes in the area of personal finance. Ramsey’s “Foundations in Personal Finance College Edition” curriculum is currently incorporated into teaching MSU student-athletes the basics of finance.

Stricklin has promoted a culture of innovative marketing at MSU. The department launched the first emoji keyboard in college athletics in the fall of 2015 and it continues to utilize iBeacon and geofencing technologies to enhance the MSU fan experience. Stricklin puts an emphasis on the use of social media and its importance as an avenue to connect with fans in 2016.

"In the 18-year history of this program, we have honored over 400 directors of athletics from each segment of the NACDA membership,” said Bob Vecchione, NACDA Executive Director. “I would like to congratulate the 2015-16 Under Armour ADOY class of award winners, and look forward to continuing this tradition of honoring the outstanding leadership in our profession for many years to come.”

Among the criteria for the award’s selection were service as an AD for a minimum of five years; demonstration of commitment to higher education and student-athletes; continuous teamwork, loyalty and excellence; and the ability to inspire individuals or groups to high levels of accomplishments.

Additionally, each AD’s institution must have passed a compliance check through its appropriate governing body. Selection committees comprised of current and former directors of athletics, present and past NCAA and NAIA presidents, current and former commissioners and other key athletics administrators voted on nominees for the awards.

Stricklin is the first MSU athletic director to receive the honor and one of five current Southeastern Conference ADs who have been a recipient in the award’s 17-year history. The Jackson, Mississippi, native was one of four selected at the FBS level this year, joining Iowa’s Gary Barta, Northwestern’s Jim Phillips and San Diego State’s Jim Sterk. 

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