SEC puts stop to cowbells at Mississippi State home games
Posted: Friday August 22, 2003 12:39PM; Updated: Friday August 22, 2003 12:39PM
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- The Southeastern Conference is putting out to pasture the cowbells Mississippi State football fans shake at home games to support their team and rattle non-conference foes.
The bell exodus actually began last year when the Southeastern Conference prohibited ringing of the bells at Mississippi State home games that involved another SEC school.
The conference athletic directors voted last week to expand the ban to all non-conference games beginning this season.
The first tests of the ban will be when Mississippi State hosts Oregon on Aug. 30 and Memphis on Oct. 11.
Under the SEC rule, referees will have the authority to warn and subsequently penalize a team for what they consider a "significant" amount of cowbell noise in the stands.
MSU athletic director Larry Templeton said he hoped fans "will respect it and not put our team in a difficult position. We don't like the rule, but we accept it being a member of this conference. We're going to abide by the rules of this conference."
Last season, the Bulldogs were warned and then penalized for cowbell noise in a game against Kentucky on Nov. 2 at Scott Field.
SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said the policy was not amended with the specific idea of extending the ban on artificial noisemakers.
"I would just say it happened to fall under this package," Bloom said. "I think it was really done just to standardize the game management operations for people working the games ... [so as] not to have four [home] games with one set of rules and two or three [home] games with a different set of rules."
The policy also changes sideline pass allotments and cheerleader location, Bloom said. After game "curtain calls" won't be permitted, while school bands will be limited in the number of songs they can play after games are finished, he said.
The changes arose from the SEC's "sportsmanship summit" in February, Bloom said.
"The athletic directors told the game management directors [from each university] to come up with some proposals that would help sportsmanship," Bloom said.
Templeton said the conference's athletic directors voted unanimously to approve policy changes.
"There was some debate on individual issues, but it was probably 12-0 when the whole package was voted on," Templeton said.