One on One with MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum

Mississippi State fans, for the first time in 36 years, will be allowed to walk into Davis Wade Stadium with cowbell in hand and not worry about them being taken away thanks to a new SEC by-law that allows traditional noisemakers, specifically the MSU cowbell, to be rung in Davis Wade Stadium.

Thanks to the efforts of two men who completely understand the importance of the tradition rich MSU cowbell, MSU president Mark Keenum and MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin, the by-law was put into place this week.

Dr. Keenum talked one on one with Gene's Page about the new SEC by-law.

Twenty minutes prior to boarding a plane that would take him back home to Starkville, Mississippi Dr. Keenum took time to talk to me about the new by-law.

Dr. Keenum's first words were, "we are leaving the SEC meetings that have just been adjourned with a nice victory for Mississippi State fans and their cowbells."

He and MSU AD Scott Stricklin worked very hard in making it clear to other SEC athletic directors and presidents the importance of the cowbells to MSU fans and MSU.

"It was made clear to all the other SEC institutions the importance that the cowbell tradition means to Mississippi State fans," said Dr. Keenum. "And in response to the proposal to fine a school for the use of artificial noisemakers by their fans Scott Stricklin and I put forth a proposal to eliminate the ban on artificial noisemakers altogether, a ban that has been in existence for the last 36 years. And in response to our proposal we received a nice victory for cowbells."

Dr. Keenum explained what the victory entailed.

"A resolution was agreed upon after Scott Stricklin met with the other ADS for three days and during the two days that I met with the other presidents that a new by-law would be put in place allowing cowbells to be rung in Davis Wade Stadium," said Dr. Keenum. "This resolution applies only to one traditional noisemaker, the Mississippi State cowbell. It does not apply to air horns or any other noisemaker, just cowbells."

The victory will take effect after almost four decades of Mississippi State fans having to hide their much beloved cowbells when entering their own stadium.

"For the first time in 36 years Mississippi State fans can walk into Davis Wade Stadium carrying their cowbells in their hands," said Dr. Keenum. "They no longer have to hide their cowbells. This is huge for Mississippi State and Mississippi State fans."

While MSU fans will now be able to ring the cowbells, stipulations were put in place as to when they can ring them.

"There is one stipulation to this new by-law - Mississippi State has to be in compliance with established guidelines for other "institutionally-regulated" noise," said Dr. Keenum. "They can only be rung based on when institutionally-ruled sounds can be made. Those times are during pregame, during timeouts, during halftime, after a team scores and at the end of the game."

And according to Dr. Keenum, Mississippi State will make sure MSU fans are informed of that stipulation.

"We, as an institution, will have to do everything in our power to inform Mississippi State fans of when they can be rung," he said. "And we are asking our fans to act responsibly when ringing their cowbells because this is a one-year trial period to see how it works. And even during that one-year trial period violations will be subject to a monetary fine of an unspecified amount."

In a released statement that was sent out today to all media, Dr. Keenum wrote about the importance of the cowbell to MSU fans.

"College football is such a popular sport in part because of its rich traditions. There is not a more unique example of that tradition than the cowbell at Mississippi State," he said. "For nearly 80 years, MSU's fans have embraced the cowbell as an expression of school spirit and have passed on this tradition to sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters. I can speak to that experience first-hand, remembering the pride I felt at age nine upon receiving my first cowbell from my father and just 17 months ago when I was presented a shiny chrome cowbell upon becoming president of Mississippi State. I related to my colleagues the passion those cowbells evoked for me and shared that MSU fans across the nation felt the same emotions. I made the point that I was not speaking simply as the institutional executive officer at Mississippi State, but also as a lifelong Bulldog with deeply-held feelings about this issue. Scott Stricklin spoke with the same authority and passion in making his case to fellow athletic directors."

While the efforts were put forth by Dr. Keenum and Scott Stricklin, it couldn't have succeeded without the SEC agreeing to the new by-law. And Dr. Keenum was very appreciative of their cooperation.

"I appreciate the willingness of the SEC's athletic directors and presidents to work with us to find a way to preserve a great tradition and still remain within the framework of SEC rules and regulations," he said.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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