The Missouri Southern Athletic Department will host its 2017 Fall Kickoff on Saturday, August 26th at Fred G. Hughes Stadium and will also name the Athletics Administration Suite for a women’s sports pioneer as part of the festivities.

The event for the public will start at 6 p.m. Fans will be entertained by the MSSU cheerleading squad and marching band, as well as get a chance to get autographed schedule posters from the fall sports teams at MSSU. The Lions’ football team will also be hosting a public night practice inside of Fred G. Hughes Stadium.  There will be inflatables for kids in attendance, as well as free MSSU team posters being handed out. Various food trucks will be on hand in the parking lot in front of the stadium as Barkin’ Pig BBQ, SWEET Melts and Snowflakes Shaved Ice will be there to feed fans.

Members of the Lionbacker Booster Club are invited to meet at 5:30 in the Alumni Room of the North End Zone Facility to enjoy appetizers and to pick up booster club apparel and parking passes. An informational Lionbacker Town Hall meeting will follow at 6:00 p.m.

The University will also dedicate the Sallie Beard Athletics Administration Suite that night. The ceremony will take place in the North End Zone Facility at approximately 6:15 pm, immediately following the Lionbacker Booster Club annual meeting.

Beard served Missouri Southern State University as both coach and Athletic Director for 37 years before her retirement in 2009. She single-handedly created women’s athletics at Missouri Southern when she started the first women’s sports teams, serving as head coach of basketball, softball, tennis, and track and field. For 25 years, she was the Women’s Athletic Director. In 2001, she was named the first Athletic Director to oversee both the men’s and women’s athletic programs at MSSU.

Beard helped usher in a new era in MSSU Athletics when the university moved from the NAIA to NCAA Division II and the MIAA in 1989. She oversaw significant facility improvements at Southern, most notably the Lionpride Restoration Project, adding new turf, lighting, and track and field surfaces to Fred G. Hughes Stadium; the construction of the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center (a basketball and indoor track facility); and the Lea Kungle and Gene Wild softball fields. Missouri Southern consistently ranked among the best academically in the MIAA. Under Beard’s leadership, athletes recorded an Academic Success Rate of 87 percent, a full 36 percent higher than the general student population at MSSU.

In 2014 Beard was awarded the Nike Lifetime Achievement Award by NACWAA, the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators. She is a member of the Missouri Southern State University Athletics Hall of Fame, Joplin Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2010 she was inducted into the inaugural class of the MIAA Hall of Fame.

Those interested in making a gift in honor of Sallie can designate their gift to the Sallie and Larry Beard Academic Enrichment Award. Visit to make a gift online.  Please call the Office of Development at 417-625-9615 with any questions.

Admission to the event is free and the complete schedule of events is posted below.

Kickoff Event Schedule
5:30 – Lionbacker Social
6:00 – Lionbacker Town Hall Meeting
6:00- Special Teams takes the field
6:15 – Sallie Beard Athletics Administration Suite Dedication
6:30- Cheer performance
6:45- Band performance
7:00- Football team takes the field
7:15- Cross Country Autographs
7:30- Soccer Autographs
7:45- Volleyball Autographs
8:30- Football Practice Ends and Football Autographs