By JOEL COLEMAN
Hello everyone. Hope you’ve all had a fantastic weekend. There is no 3-pointer this weekend, as this week was kind of the ‘calm before the storm’ with the football team reporting for fall camp today and practice beginning on Monday. Still, I’d encourage you to check out Monday’s SDN, as I did have a very interesting conversation with MSU head soccer coach Aaron Gordon for a story in the Monday edition. He’s about to begin his third year leading the program, and he is as hungry as ever to turn Mississippi State into a winner and says he is starting to see signs of things turning around. Check it out.
In place of the 3-pointer though, I’d like to share with you what has probably been my favorite story to write since returning to the SDN a few weeks ago. If you come to a Mississippi State athletic event this year, Jay Logan most likely had a large hand in your experience, as well as the experiences of players, officials, etc.
The son of a former MSU football captain, Logan has long had Starkville and Mississippi State roots.
Recently, he received a promotion within the athletic department. Travel down the winding road of his career and get to know one of the guys behind the scenes at MSU and how he built his career to the point that it is at.
Hope you enjoy Logan’s story, and hope you have an amazing week.
Make it great and count your blessings folks!
Logan’s winding road leads to new opportunity
By JOEL COLEMAN
Spend just a few minutes around Jay Logan and two things become very apparent. He loves helping others, and he bleeds maroon and white.
Having spent more than two decades working in a variety of full-time roles within the Mississippi State athletic department, Logan has turned his passions into his livelihood. Now, the school that has long held his heart has given him his greatest opportunity yet to serve both MSU and its people.
Logan, a Mississippi State alumnus who began his career as an athletic trainer before transitioning into an administrative position, was recently promoted to associate athletic director for event and facility management at MSU.
In his new role, Logan will oversee each of Mississippi State’s athletic venues, as well as have a wide range of additional responsibilities surrounding MSU games, practices and other on-campus happenings.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to continue working at a place I feel honored and privileged to work at,” Logan said. “It’s been a weird journey from sports medicine to this. But it’s still taking care of people and trying to make sure they have a great experience. It’s one of those things that I just feel privileged to be a part of at Mississippi State in the athletic department.”
Prior to being named to his new post, Logan’s career path was full of twists and turns, leading him everywhere from the breakfast table with legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, to the United States Naval Academy.
Long before any of that however, Logan’s Mississippi State and Starkville roots were already being grown. His mother, Margueritte, is originally from just down the road in Artesia. Logan’s father, J.E., was a captain on the 1958 MSU football team.
“Some of my earliest memories are from when Dad would come visit people out on campus that he may have played with, or coached him,” Logan said. “Coming with him, that was my first recollection of Mississippi State athletics.”
Fittingly, it was on a trip to Jackson to see Mississippi State play when Logan first realized his desire to work in sports.
“We stopped for gas on the way back,” Logan recalled. “I can remember seeing the (MSU) equipment truck. I couldn’t have been more than seven or eight years old. It was at the service station parked and getting gas where we were at after the game. I can remember how cool I thought those managers or trainers were. I thought that was great that those guys got to work with the team.”
Around a decade later, it was Logan wearing maroon and helping out the Bulldogs, only after he realized he wouldn’t have the chance to actually play for them.
“I didn’t have the athletic talent that my dad did to play college football,” Logan said with a grin.
So instead, he relied upon a previously-built relationship to get him into the athletic training game. Straton Karatassos, MSU’s former head athletic trainer who currently serves as an associate athletic director of development with the Bulldog Club, is the man Logan credits for giving him some of his first tips when Logan was just a senior at Starkville Academy.
“I always knew Jay and his dad,” Karatassos said. “Jay would come and help us during football games. It was more than just getting into games for free and standing on the sideline. You have to work. You see very little of the game.”
During those times, Logan soaked in all the information he could from Karatassos.
“He taught me how to tape ankles,” Logan said. “I played baseball and football (at Starkville Academy), but because all my friends played basketball too, I kind of became a manager or trainer for the basketball team. When I graduated from high school, Strat offered me a position as a student trainer (at MSU). I did it, just as a way to be involved. It was great. I was working in athletics. I didn’t know anything about being a student trainer, but I did whatever Strat wanted me to do and it really opened a lot of doors for me that way.”
The first opening came after Logan’s sophomore year. Thanks to Karatassos, Logan worked during three straight summers as an athletic training intern for the Dolphins, gaining more experience and getting to rub shoulders with guys like Shula and Dan Marino.
“That was when I realized I wanted to be an athletic trainer because I saw how valuable those guys were to those players,” Logan said. “But I also found out I didn’t want to be a trainer in pro ball because it was a business. There’s just a lot of business decisions. You get to be friends with people and then they’d get released. I didn’t like that, but I knew I wanted to be a trainer.”
Logan’s connections he made during his time with the Dolphins opened a door to a setting Logan was much more comfortable with – collegiate athletics. After graduating from MSU, Logan moved to Tallahassee and became a graduate assistant trainer with Florida State and head coach Bobby Bowden for two years. From there, Logan earned his first full-time gig as an athletic trainer at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, after a recommendation from Karatassos.
Having received a phone call about a job opening, Karatassos originally thought he was about to get a big opportunity himself. Instead, Navy was looking to hire an entry-level position. Karatassos knew just the man for the job.
“I was thrilled to even be asked for help, but even happier I could get them a quality person,” Karatassos said.
At Navy, Logan continued to learn, getting more acquainted with characteristics he would need in the years to follow.
“It taught me a lot about organization and administration,” Logan said. “Just the things that come with the nature of a service academy.”
After five years at the Naval Academy, Logan received exciting news. His mentor, Karatassos, was moving on from his role as head trainer into the Bulldog Club. Paul Mock was taking over the spot previously held by Karatassos. A position was open in the training room back home.
As you might expect, Logan accepted the offer he was presented.
“Paul actually pulled the trigger (to hire Logan),” said Karatassos. “But you can bet who I was pulling for the whole time. Paul knew where I stood, but Paul knew the quality of person that he was getting. It wasn’t like he was taking a chance on a guy. Jay had always been around us. He was one of ours.”
Coming back to Mississippi State was especially satisfying for Logan.
“You get your undergrad degree (at MSU), you graduate, you worked here, you’re from Starkville and your mom, dad and family is here, so it was really that whole full-circle thing,” Logan said. “Basketball and baseball were mine and that was a great time in the mid-90s. We had the Sweet Sixteen, Final Four and back-to-back College World Series.”
For about 15 years, Logan had plenty of great experiences courtesy of his time in the training room. He was also discovering other interests including the planning of road trips and such, long before there were administrative positions dedicated to that task. Knowing this, Logan had a conversation with former athletic director Larry Templeton, informing him he’d be interested in taking on a job with organizational responsibilities should that position ever be created. In 2007, Logan became the new coordinator of athletic event management and facilities.
“It was just me taking that step out of what I had known for so long and what I’d went to school to do, into something totally new,” Logan said. “It was scary. But I knew I wanted to do it.”
It wasn’t too long before Logan’s role changed again. In 2010, he was named director of Humphrey Coliseum and basketball game administration, a role he filled up until his recent promotion. Now, Logan will essentially be the go-to man for the Hump and any other venue the Bulldogs use.
“If we play in it, if we meet in it or if we run on it, it falls under me now,” Logan said to sum up his new tasks.
It’s an increased responsibility for Logan, but he says he knows he has the backing of an excellent athletic department and staff, which includes a pretty big supporter over in the Bulldog Club.
“Jay has always done well and he will do well,” Karatassos said. “You can count on Jay. He was always one of those guys, you could tell him to do something, and you didn’t have to come back and check to see if it was done. You never had to worry about anything.”
Logan simply plans to use all of the lessons he’s learned from the winding roads he’s been on to continue to serve both the Bulldogs and the people who come to see them play.
“The training room was the best job training I could have ever had for game management and facility management,” Logan said. “It’s not about the different problems. It’s about the people who have the problems. In the training room, you’ve got people who are hurt and can’t play. You have to communicate that to the coaches. You need to make sure you give the right treatments and get them to the right doctors. You’ve got to let Mom and Dad know. You’ve got to pull all these things together to get this problem resolved.
“The same things are there in event management. You want to give the best experience you can to the student athletes and the coaches. You want to make sure your fans and visitors have a great experience when they come into your facility. Even though it’s not a problem, like an injury, you’re still trying to take care of people either way.”