The Mississippi State athletic department values many of the relationships it has established over the years.
One of the most important of those ties exists with WFCA-FM radio in French Camp.
As the flagship station for MSU sports, the voice of the Bulldogs is heard throughout the northeast part of the state along with the Christian message the station stands upon.
"There's the business relationship because of the radio station, but they do such great work with their mission and they are really special people," MSU Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said. "The fun part of this job is to spend some time with special people."
Stricklin was the keynote speaker at the WFCA Big Dawg Sponsors Dinner at the Palmeiro Center's Griffis Board Room on Monday night.
"We appreciate the fine folks at Mississippi State," WFCA station manager Chuck Carroll said. "They always open the Palmeiro Center to us so we can bring our sponsors here for the evening."
WFCA sports director Jason Crowder calls the relationship with Mississippi State over the last 10 years of being the flagship station "incredible."
The tradition of support has been passed down from athletic directors Larry Templeton to Greg Byrne and now Stricklin.
"They have been 100 percent sold out and supportive, not only with us carrying the games and what we do outside of that with our ministry as well," Crowder said. "The best way to describe our relationship with Mississippi State is a partnership and it's one we certainly hope to continue for years to come. They are definitely the best people in the world to work with."
Functions like the one put on by WFCA are just one of the ways MSU uses to kick off the new sports year.
As a new athletic director, Stricklin takes advantage of such events to promote what the Bulldogs are all about.
"We have a lot of these meetings leading up to kickoff and even beyond," Stricklin said. "We're in the relationship business. We're only going to be as strong as those relationships. We've got a staff that understands that and enjoys being around people. We have a lot of people that support us in some pretty powerful ways and we're fortunate to have people care about Mississippi State."
The head coaches from many of the sports were in attendance, including football coach Dan Mullen, men's basketball coach Rick Stansbury, women's basketball coach Sharon Fanning-Otis, baseball coach John Cohen and volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood.
Fanning-Otis has welcomed the Lady Bulldogs back to campus after an amazing run last season to the NCAA Sweet 16 and conditioning has already begun for the 2010-11 campaign.
"We started with our mile run (Monday) morning and started individuals," Fanning-Otis said. "We have a great group of young ladies. We're blessed with some great attitudes and we look forward to the progress we'll make as the next few weeks go along."
Fanning-Otis knows the bar has been raised after last season's postseason success and welcomes the challenge.
"We've set goals and everyone wants to take the next step," Fanning-Otis said. "That's what we're expecting. Whatever you achieve, you want your reach to exceed your grasp and let's get a little bit better this season."