Once a month, the entire Mississippi State athletic department gets together.
Scott Stricklin, Dan Mullen, Rick Ray, John Cohen. The entire golf, volleyball, softball, media relations and marketing staffs gather in the team theater in the Holliman Center.
At the front, Bracky Brett welcomes them all to that month’s compliance meeting.
I sat in on the meeting for April earlier this week, and while much talk of bylaws, acronyms and assorted paperwork went over my head, it was a pretty revealing hour.
And it started off in a manner I didn’t quite expect when Chris Snyder, the dean of the Shackouls Honors College, stepped in front of every head and assistant coach on campus.
His message was asking for help from those coaches in identifying athletes who are exceptional not just for their sport, but in the classroom.
Snyder rattled off a list of recent student-athletes who had worked with the honors college and been up for awards. Guys like Taylor Luczak, a former basketball player who was in the running to be a Rhodes Scholar.
Often, Snyder said, they can’t find those kids until it’s too late to help them achieve what they’re capable of.
“In academics, the SEC is just like it is for all of you,” he told the coaches. “If we have students who are at the top of the SEC for awards and honors, they’re generally going to be one of the top in the country, too.”
Another interesting note was Snyder’s request for help with international students, something he said is currently lacking a bit. Apparently, he said, things like an honors college are “an American concept.” With an eye toward the tennis and golf coaches, Snyder offered an open door for prospective student-athletes across the globe.
As the meeting continued with its main goal of compliance, coaches and assistants were reminded of upcoming deadlines and situations to be aware of.
For example: with summer nearing, student-athletes must keep coaches and compliance aware of all summer activities, whether it be a part-time job or just volunteer work, as a means to prevent any violations, either incidental or intentional.
If student-athletes plan to take summer classes, the deadline to register and maintain their scholarships for summer coursework is fast approaching.
One particularly important item is a note on this summer’s SEC meetings in Destin – the deadline for new legislation proposals is May 9, meaning each school wishing to get an item on the ballot must do so in the next month.
Another timely note follows regarding the SEC’s policies for admittance and granting of scholarships to PSAs (prospective student athletes). On one of the several sheets of paper passed out, Brett points out, is a list of the seven triggers which will cause a PSA’s application to be reviewed by a school.
The two most common ones, he says, are Nos. 1 and 7, which are an abnormal jump in college entrance examination scores like the ACT and PSAs completing core coursework by non-traditional means such as online classes or correspondence courses.
Next up, the room is asked to look at the yellow (ed: it was canary, not yellow) sheet they were given, a front-and-back piece of paper with a list of 26 proposed NCAA rule changes voted on by the board of directors earlier this year.
Ranging from rules on benefits to family members and means of covering medical expenses, the majority of the proposals were adopted, meaning MSU’s coaches and staffs must now be familiar with them.
Two, however, were overridden, while two more were temporarily suspended for future judgment.
Proposal 11-2 (Recruiting Coordinator Functions) eliminates the rules defining recruiting coordination that must be performed only by a head or assistant coach.
That one sentence has been the subject of much scrutiny, media coverage and questioning, as it opened a rather large box of possibilities, particularly in the world of college football.
The proposal was suspended and will be re-visited, Brett says, on May 2 when the Board of Directors meets.
Rolling through proposals both adopted and suspended, Brett reviews the changes and what they mean for MSU’s various sports.
To end the monthly meeting, Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin takes the podium. After spending a few moments congratulating various coaches deserving of praise, the subject matter takes a pretty serious turn.
“Most of you are probably familiar with what’s been happening at Rutgers,” Stricklin says.
Just that morning, Rutgers fired their men’s basketball coach after video surfaced of physical and verbal abuse of players in practice.
Stricklin played that video on the projector for the entire athletic department to see.
“We live in a glass house,” Stricklin told them. “If you don’t want people to see your trash and dirty laundry on the floor, don’t have trash and dirty laundry on the floor.”
Reading a quote relating to the Rutgers story, Stricklin talked to coaches about the line between fiery and abusive.
“It’s good to be fiery and intense,” he said. “But we have to always be aware of that line.”
The meeting did, however, end on a light note.
Stricklin told the room at large he often receives nice notes of encouragement or thanks from coaches, but he had been given one the day before that didn’t have a name on it so he didn’t know who it was from.
After a click of the mouse, a picture popped up on the screen of an open card in front of an envelope with the MSU insignia.
It read, “You’re a baller.”