"The (artificial noisemaker) rule has been on the books since 1974. There has never been a clearly defined penalty if an institution, in the mind of the conference, didn't abide by that rule. In the spirit of the rule, Mississippi State has tried to enforce it by checks at gates. However, we have never gone into the stands and removed the bells.
"It has been an issue with a number of schools a number of times during the years. Commissioner Kramer has reprimanded us, primarily me as the Director of Athletics, for (lack of) institutional control. He has sent letters of reprimands stating that we were not abiding by the rules.
"I think there have been questions in the last year or two as to how strong the Commissioner was enforcing the rule. The Commissioner basically said he was doing everything within his power.
"There was a Game Management Committee that looked at noisemakers and crowd control throughout the Southeastern Conference. The noisemaker penalty rule is what you saw get passed, 11-1, because of it. Now, for the first time, there are very serious penalties as it effects the play of the game.
"Is it a pure cowbell issue? In the spirit of the rule, it isn't, but in reality, yes. This wasn't an issue when Mississippi State wasn't successful. It is an issue now."
Didn't the athletic directors and coaches also vote on the issue as well and voted against it?
"There is only one vote per institution that counts and the vote was 11-1."
The presidents' votes were the ones that counted?
"The presidents cast the votes, but it wasn't all presidents casting the votes. There were some non-presidents at the annual meeting that cast their votes but they voted for their institutions. And that was their institution's position.
"The athletic directors have had it on our agenda for the last three quarterly meeting, basically trying to define what the Game Management Committee was recommending.
Where does Mississippi State go from here since there is not only the noisemaker rule on the books but a real penalty backing up the rule?
"The University has appointed a task force. Our intentions are to meet with all the Mississippi State groups, alumni, Bulldog Club members, students, season ticker holders, coaches, game management people and security people. We will also use an interpretation from the Southeastern Conference as to what is the amount of artificial noise that will cause a penalty. We will come up with a suggestion for the University from meeting with those groups and hearing from the Southeastern Conference.
"The only thing not debatable is Mississippi State is going to comply by the rules of the Southeastern Conference."
The SEC's head of officials, Bobby Gaston, commented on the new rule after it was passed. It sounded to me like he wasn't sure how his officials could enforce the rule.
"Bobby Gaston was not at the meeting when it was voted on. I think Bobby was asked a question about a rule he didn't fully understand."
Will he eventually have guidelines given to him that will explain in detail how his officials are to enforce the new rule?
"Yes, he will have guidelines."
What will happen if opposing fans bring in cowbells or other artificial noisemakers into Mississippi State's stadium?
"At Mississippi State, we will take care of that, the same, I assume, as other institutions will when we go on the road. It is an institutional decision. If there are cowbells at another venue, the penalty will not be against Mississippi State, it will be against the home team."
There is a rumor on my message board that you have ordered new Peavey speakers. Is there any truth to that rumor?
"We haven't done anything because the task force hasn't made any recommendations as to what we should do or how we should handle it."
Just curious, who makes up the task force?
"It is a committee appointed by the Mississippi State president. I think it is a seven or eight member committee. I will be the Chair. Other members will include the presidents of the Bulldog Club and Alumni Association, somebody from the Student Association, somebody from Student Affairs, a representative from the president's office and one other member."
Once the recommendation is submitted, who has the final decision as to whether MSU will follow what the task force suggests?
"The University, probably the president's Executive Committee. The president appointed the task force and the task force will report to him. I'm not putting words in his mouth, but I would assume he will carry the recommendations to his executive staff."
That should do it. Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed.
Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports and Mississippi high school sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at email@example.com.