MSU Assistant AD Bart Gregory speaks at Rotary Club

 Mississippi State Assistant AD of Annual Giving Bart Gregory spoke at the West Point Rotary Club’s meeting on Thursday
Staff Writer

The West Point Rotary Club welcomed Mississippi State Assistant AD of Annual Giving Bart Gregory to speak at its meeting on Thursday.

Dudy Noble Field, recruiting, and coach’s salaries were among several topics of conversation that Gregory addressed over lunch.

West Point native Jim Ellis hired Gregory 17 years ago after he invited him to spot with him as a student. Gregory said before Ellis giving him an opportunity, he had expected to take a completely different career path.

“Jim invited me to spot back when he was doing the old CSS TV,” Gregory said. “That’s how I got to know Jim. I graduated college with a Turf Grass degree. I was going to build golf courses and Jim said ‘Hey, I’ve got a job for you if you want to take it.’ I started working with Jim in corporate sales, selling advertising and that kind of morphed into where we are now.”

Gregory did radio for 14 years and now does work for SEC Radio and its digital broadcasts. He spoke about how the SEC Network has made it possible for fans to see every game from their televisions, computers or smartphones.

“Our jobs and our lives have changed completely in 17 years by the way we go about athletics. The people we compete against the most is the 50-inch TV and the couch. That’s what we compete against the most as we try to get people back in the seats,” Gregory said. “Fifteen years ago, you come to West Point Rotary and you rely on me to get a lot of information. Right now, you all know more information than I probably do because I haven’t looked at Twitter in two hours. There’s just a difference in how we do our business now.”

Gregory also gave members an update on the progress of the new baseball stadium and what renovations the athletic department was looking to begin next.

“The baseball stadium is coming along. We’re going to be in Dudy Noble next month. March the 6th is our first home game and we will have the lower level and also the outfield ready,” Gregory said. “It’s an exciting time. Next, we’re going to renovate our club level seats, starting this year. We’ve looked at moving the home locker room. That’s one of the things that Mullen had wanted to do and Joe (Moorhead) is going to take a look at that and see if we want to do that or not. We’re just looking at things that are more cosmetic.”

Another topic of conversation was the implementation of the first-ever early signing period for college football. Gregory spoke about the advantages and disadvantages and West Point head coach Chris Chambless posed the question as to whether or not the NCAA would ever consider having the early signing period before the season starts.

“It takes a lot of pressure off you and it takes a lot of pressure off the kid. A lot of programs have signing day before the season though. It’s that way in baseball and it’s that way in basketball, too,” Gregory replied to Chambless’ question. “It’s going to be interesting to see what coaches come back with, as far as early signing day. Some coaches wanted it and some coaches are not for the early signing period. I think that is why you saw some of the midseason dismissals this year.”

Gregory talked about coaching salaries and what a contract like Jimbo Fisher’s 10-year, $75-million guaranteed contract does for college football and the fact that some coordinators make the same as head coaches within the same league.

“It has changed a lot and a lot of it is because of the ESPN contracts,” Gregory said. “Where you see the difference is in the assistant coaches pool. What kind of assistants can you get on staff? It’s very concerning when you look across the county because you’ve got some coaches who went 7-5 or 8-5 making $7 or $8 million. However, with the turnover and expectations from fans, it is a highly volatile business.”