The following statement has been issued by Dr. J. Charles Lee, interim president of Mississippi State University, regarding the Southeastern Conference policy on artificial noisemakers/cowbells at league sporting events, recently passed during the SEC Spring meeting in Sandestin, Fla.<P>
[The New SEC Policy: Starting next football season, teams whose fans use noisemakers will be warned by officials first, penalized 5 yards on the second violation and 15 yards on every subsequent violation.]
"Cowbells have been a symbol of Mississippi State spirit and pride for more than 75 years, and we understand the deep attachment that many alumni and friends have for this unique tradition. We also recognize that efforts over the past 25 years to enforce the Southeastern Conference ban on artificial noisemakers inside the stadiums have met with limited success. This has led now to a vote of the member institutions that could result in our teams being penalized on the field if our fans disregard the longstanding rule.
"We know that many Mississippi State supporters will be disappointed by the need to refrain from ringing bells in the stadium, but we are confident that our fans will not engage in actions that would compromise the ability of our athletes to be competitive on the field. As an institution, we will continue as we have in the past to abide by the rule and we urge all Mississippi State fans to do likewise.
"There is no limit on the amount of enthusiasm and spirit that we can demonstrate in ways that can only help our teams succeed, and I am confident that Bulldog fans will be more determined than ever to show their team spirit in appropriate ways. Membership in the Southeastern Conference is a tremendous benefit to the institution, and along with the benefits of that association comes the responsibility to adhere to policies adopted by a vote of the member universities."
J. Charles Lee
May 31, 2002