A Q&A with Associate AD Scott Stricklin

Mississippi State Associate Athletic Director/External Affairs Scott Stricklin talked about the SEC meetings, the new indoor basketball practice facility and several other things of interest related to the athletic department.

What were some things at the SEC meetings that you felt were important to Mississippi State?
"A lot of it was legislative type things. Things like the class attendance policy, travel squad - things we have to deal with on a regular basis.

"And there were 17 potential NCAA proposals that we looked at. Some of those involved sports that we don't sponsor.

"One proposal involved sports that compete out of season. Volleyball has their primary and competitive season in the fall. They have spring practice just like football has but they are allowed to compete against other schools. There was a proposal to limit the out-of-season competition for sports like volleyball, soccer and softball."

What was the reason behind that proposal?
"It was a cost cutting measure."

Due to the economy, was there more emphasis put on cost cutting in these meetings?
"No. There was some talk of controlling costs but one of the big news items to come out of this meeting was the tv agreement.

"And the league averaged about 11 million (dollars) per school in the (SEC payout)."

Greg mentioned that Mississippi State received just a little below the league average from the SEC payout.
"That's right.

"The great thing about our league is I think everybody in our league was within a few hundred thousand dollars of each other (in the payout). And most BCS leagues don't do that. I know when I was in the Big 12, they really geared a lot of what they distributed to the schools based on tv appearances. If you are Texas or Oklahoma you are going to have a lot of tv appearances and you are going to receive a large chunk of the pie. But if you are Baylor, Kansas State or Iowa State, you are not going to have as many tv appearances. So, not only do you suffer from not getting the same type exposure, but you are not going to get as big of a chunk of the pie from the conference office. Because of that, there may be millions of dollars in differences in what those schools receive from their league. In our league it's thousands of dollars.

"And they actually had a conversation about having even more revenue sharing with the new deal. So, Mississippi State's share will be even more equitable than in the past from a conference standpoint.

"What you realize is the SEC has been very good to Mississippi State, and it will continue to be very good to Mississippi State."

Was anything referred to about recruiting during the meeting?
"There were two or three pieces of legislation that dealt with recruiting.

"The first one is an SEC rule. SEC coaches aren't allowed to go to a coaches or high school clinic that they aren't speaking at. Say, there is a clinic in Vicksburg and none of our coaches are on the agenda, then (none of them) can go to it and glad hand the people there. There was a proposal presented that would allow them to go within their state in the name of building relationships. There was also an NCAA proposal that we put forward. During the fall evaluation period (the SEC wants to) allow 10 football coaches to recruit off-campus during an off-week. That has to go through the NCAA process."

How will the new tv contract affect the televising of football games in the SEC?
"The 11:30 am (football) game that will be on local affiliates, instead of being called Raycom will be ESPN regional and have ESPN graphics. That game will still be on at 11:30. Then, you will have your CBS game at 2:30. At night, you will have 4, 5 or 6 games going on at one time between ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU. And they are farming out some games to FoxSports and CSS."

How much exposure will baseball and softball receive from the new tv contract?
"Baseball and softball will have a few regular season appearances on ESPN. And the tournament championship games for both of those sports will be on ESPN or ESPN2 instead of FoxSports. 100 million homes will be able to see our conference tournament championship games.

"With basketball, there are 96 SEC versus SEC games every year. I think in the past 45 to 55 of those games have been televised. This year, all 96 of them will be televised. You will have your Tuesday SEC game. You'll also have the Thursday night game on ESPN as well as the Saturday SEC game on ESPN. And CBS will still get their 5 or 6 conference games and non-conference games. They'll still have Saturday games. ESPNU will get a game of the week, probably on primetime on Saturday nights. And Comcast (Cable) will start carrying ESPNU. As part of that (deal), CSS will get a handful of men's games, maybe 20. I think FoxSouth is going to get a similar number. And there will also be the ESPN regional game on Wednesday night.

"The market value of the exposure that we will receive is remarkable."

Going back to baseball, will the non-championship tournament games be on tv?
"The early rounds will be on regional cable, which will be FoxSouth or ESPN Classic."

What about women's basketball in the SEC?
"There are going to be 16 games on ESPN, another 16 on ESPNU, another 8 on ESPN regional, and another 32 on some kind of regional cable such as FoxSports or CSS. They are going to have a game a week on ESPN, a game a week on ESPNU. And they are going to have a weekly, regionally syndicated SEC women's basketball game on Sunday afternoon. I don't know of another league that's got that kind of syndicated package.

"This is going to impact all of our sports."

What was going to the SEC meeting like on a more personal level?
"Something that was interesting was the reception they had one night. It was by the beach. All the football and basketball coaches, men's and women's, were there as well as a lot of bowl representatives The people who were staying at the Hilton Resort and weren't part of the SEC party were standing on their balconies taking pictures of the people at the reception."

This isn't related to the SEC meeting, but isn't there going to be a firm that will come in and do some revenue market research for the MSU athletic department?
"We are going to work with a national firm located in Dallas that specializes in sports and leisure activities. They will come in and evaluate what our market is for premium seats, for regular seats, for all various price points. They'll look at our demographics, look at the makeup of our fanbase. They have a set of benchmarks that they can compare that to. They can compare what we already have to what they believe we can have. So, instead of us going forward making plans based on what those numbers may be, this will give us some data that we can take to an architect and tell them to build us something that has a certain number of skyboxes or club level seats. This will be done for the three sports (football, basketball, baseball) that we generate revenue from.

"This firm also does a good job of laying out what you can expect to generate from that revenue over a period of time. And how, if you project that revenue over a period of time, you can invest it and build or renovate the facilities."

What does the practice facility proposal include at this time?
"A 4,000 square foot weight room. There will be a men's basketball court and a women's basketball court with a dividing wall in between them that can be raised or lowered. If you are running camps, you can raise (the dividing wall) up. And the courts going crossways (of the two college courts) are regulation high school courts, which will give you four courts. There will be offices for the men's and women's coaches. Also included will be a pavilion area that can be used for entertaining or a pre-game reception."

Will it be one or two stories?
"Two stories. The offices overlook the courts. And the weight room will be court level below the office."

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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