Why Doc Foglesong Chose Greg Byrne

So, why do you think Doc Foglesong decided that Greg Byrne, who was Mississippi State's Associate Athletic Director for Development and External Affairs prior to being named Mississippi State's Director or Athletics, was selected the new MSU Director of Athletics? I'll give you my reasons based on the required qualifications that came directly from Doc himself.

Mississippi State, as almost all of you know, is the low man on the Southeastern Conference totem pole when it comes to the athletics department budget.

While Mississippi State competes with SEC teams such as Florida, Auburn and Georgia - all of which have budgets that exceed $70 million - they do it with a budget of $28 million. In fact, the MSU budget is $5 million behind Ole Miss, the next lowest athletic department budget in the SEC.

The bottom line is MSU needs more revenue. I see it, you see it and, according to a recent interview with MSU president Doc Foglesong, Doc sees it. Due to that, he listed fundraising as a quality the next Director of Athletics absolutely has to have.

And raising funds is without question one of Greg Byrne's main strengths.

During his nearly two years at Mississippi State, he has helped raise funds within the Bulldog Club with, among other things, the Volunteer Fund Drive. Thanks to that drive, almost 1,000 new members have been added to the Bulldog Club in a little less than one year.

But Greg's fundraising prowess goes far beyond what he has done during his almost two years at Mississippi State.

At the University of Kentucky, as the Associate Athletic Director of Development and Fundraising from 2002 to 2005, he not only helped raise their annual giving from $4 to 9 million, but he also helped them obtain $35 million dollars in capital giving.

When he was at Oregon State University from 1998 to 2002, as the Associate Athletic Director for Development, he helped increase annual giving from $1 to 5 million after replacing their old fundraising organization. In addition to the annual giving increase at OSU, he was also directly involved in helping generate over $42.5 million in capital giving.

Hiring quality coaches and administrators will also be a high priority according to Foglesong.

And Greg has not only worked with numerous athletic department administrators and coaches at four different institutions, but since his early teenage years he has been around athletics due to his dad, Bill Byrne, being an athletic director at such high-profile institutions such as the University of Oregon, the University of Nebraska and currently at Texas A&M University. On a more direct level, Greg has helped with the hiring of coaches at Oregon State and Kentucky. In fact, at Kentucky, he was a member of a four-person search committees that hired current football and baseball coaches Rich Brooks (football) and John Cohen (baseball).

On a side note, his dad is considered by many to be one of the most innovative, well-respected and admired athletic directors in the nation. And, as the saying goes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Doc also wants someone who can manage money and balance the budget.

Greg has managed departments at Oregon State, Kentucky and Mississippi State that had multi-million dollar budgets.

Foglesong also wants the next athletic director to be able to step right in with little on-the-job training and be able to work with the current MSU staff, administrators and coaches.

Greg has been at Mississippi State since April, 2006 as an employee of Mississippi State athletics, so he understands the department extremely well. And based on talks with many members of the MSU athletic department, he is well thought of and well liked.

Doc wants the next athletic director to keep MSU off probation. To do that the Director of Athletics should have an understanding of the NCAA rules.

At Kentucky, Greg was directly involved in updating various aspects of the athletic department, including updating the compliance programs. He also had personal dealings with the compliance offices at both Oregon State and Kentucky due to administering the men's and women's golf programs at both schools.

Doc, in his interview, said he wants the next Director of Athletics to "bring us together, somebody who can make the little Dogs feel as important as the big Dogs." To do that, communication will be very important. And Greg is a great communicator.

All you have to do is meet Greg Byrne once and he will make you come away feeling that you are very important to Mississippi State athletics. If that's not enough to sway you, he, in conjunction with the MSU Alumni Association, helped create the Road Dawgs Tour, a tour of MSU officials, both athletic department officials and non-athletic department officials, that appeared in front of more than 6,000 Bulldog fans. And regular emails are sent to over 16,000 MSU donors, both large and small, and season ticket holders notifying them of the latest news in regard to MSU athletics.

Doc also wants the next MSU Director of Athletics to understand the importance of SEC media contracts because, as he said, "it's not millions of dollars, it's tens of millions of dollars."

At both Kentucky and Oregon State, Greg was directly involved in the signing of major multi-media rights packages that included radio, television and stadium advertising.

And last but not least, Greg is also becoming one of us.

He is currently working toward a Masters of Science degree at MSU. In a few months he not only will be an employee of Mississippi State, but an alumnus.

Doc's criteria was presented. And Greg met them all and then some.

Now, let's do our part by supporting our new Director of Athletics, Greg Byrne!

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by 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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