Monday, August 31, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
Mississippi State situation brings area emergency systems to light
During Thursday's shooting scare on Mississippi State University's campus, the university's emergency alert system, Maroon Alert, played a crucial role in keeping students and faculty safe and informed. Emergency alert systems, like Maroon Alert, are most often used in the event of severe weather, but Thursday showed how they function in a different type of situation. In the midst of a slew of misinformation circulating on social media, university officials have praised the Maroon Alert system for cutting through the noise to communicate accurate information to the campus. In light of the scare at MSU, the University of Mississippi sent an email to its students, faculty, staff and parents to remind them of the importance of its system, Reb Alert.
No charges against Mississippi State student
As of Friday, no criminal charges had been filed against the 20-year-old detained on Mississippi State University's campus Thursday after officials received a tip about a possible active shooter near the Drill Field. Sid Salter, the school's chief communications officer, confirmed freshman Phu-Qui Cong "Bill" Nguyen, of Madison, withdrew from the university after he was detained unarmed by law enforcement agents. Nguyen was transported to a treatment facility in Jackson for psychological evaluation Thursday and is no longer in MSU Police Department's custody. MSU officials met for two hours Friday and discussed the university's reaction, response times and other variables surrounding the incident. While praising law enforcement's handling of the situation, President Mark Keenum challenged university leaders to put all ideas on the table to improve for future events, Salter said.
SID SALTER (OPINION): Campus incident brings clarity to educators' job
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "I was in a second floor classroom in McComas Hall teaching 16 Mississippi State University students a course called News Editing and Design on Thursday, Aug. 27, when the 'Maroon Alert' came across my phone. The notification warns MSU students, faculty, and staff of impending danger. And as a member of the university's Crisis Action Team, I knew that this wasn't a drill. ...I was in my late 30's before I really understood the allure of teaching and working with young people that had been the bedrock of my parents' lives -- the family business, so to speak. ...The sounding of the alarm on the MSU campus, the notion that these young people I've had the great privilege of getting to know might be in danger, was like getting hit in the stomach. Whether it's the primarily small K-12 schools where my parents taught or at the state's largest universities, the instinct of teachers is much the same -- to protect the kids."
ROD GUAJARDO (OPINION): MSU situation can lead to review of emergency policies, procedures for all
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Rod Guajardo writes: "If the best way to learn is from experience, Mississippi State University and colleges across our region have a good opportunity to do so following a potentially dangerous situation earlier this week on campus that ended peacefully. ...University officials have praised the Maroon Alert system for cutting through the unofficial reports on social media and getting out accurate information to the campus. They also say the events of the day are sparking discussions about potential improvements to the system overall and possibly more hands-on training with faculty and staff on how to handle similar emergency situations. ...MSU shouldn't be the only organization to take a step back and examine what systems are in place to deal with such a situation."
OUR OPINION: Mississippi State clamps down in potential shooting
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal editorializes: "Mississippi State University police and officials responded efficiently and calmly Thursday in the arrest of a student who allegedly threatened to harm himself and others with a gun near the center of the 21,000-student Starkville campus. No injuries were reported and university officials said there is no evidence that shots were fired, although social media lit up with that claim during and after the mid-morning situation. ...'No shots were fired on our campus today,' MSU President Mark Keenum said at a noon press conference. 'No one was injured as a result of this.' ...Keenum on Thursday praised the swift action of campus police, and that fast response, it is hoped, will discourage repeat threats and similar incidents."
OUR VIEW (OPINION): Mississippi State 'active shooter' incident exposes flaws of social media in crisis
The Dispatch editorializes: "Active shooter. There is no phrase in our modern lexicon likely to produce more terror. ...Thursday morning, the terrifying phrase was sent out to thousands of students, faculty and staff on the campus of Mississippi State University. ... While it may take some time to sort out what really happened Thursday morning, the one fact no longer in dispute is that there was never an active shooter on the MSU campus. That is not to say that MSU acted irresponsibly. Far from it. Its actions were proper based on the information available at the time. The phrase 'active shooter,' despite the terror it was bound to create, was appropriate to the situation at the time. ... MSU officials certainly understood the gravity of the phrase 'active shooter' when the first Maroon Alert was issued. Social media took that chilling phrase and elevated it to a state of panic. It should serve as a reminder that we live in a world where information is not only plentiful, but often wrong."
ZZ Ward to launch Mississippi State's 2015-16 Lee Hall performance season
Mississippi State's 2015-16 Lyceum Series begins Sept. 3 with a concert featuring singer-songwriter ZZ Ward. The event also will feature The Young Wild and Marc Scibilia. As with all Lyceum events this season, the performance begins at 7 p.m. in Lee Hall's Bettersworth Auditorium. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 each, available in advance via MSU students can purchase tickets from the Center for Student Activities for $10. MSU Music Maker Productions and the Student Association are co-sponsoring the campus appearance by Ward, a Pennsylvania native who began her musical career in 2007.
MSU Extension Service to host chicken workshop in Newton County
Newton residents Jeff and Karen Pugh, along with their daughter, Audrey, 14, started raising chickens about eight years ago. The Pughs aren't alone. Newton County Extension Agent Leanne McGee said a growing number of people are raising backyard chickens, mostly for the fresh eggs. Next Tuesday, Mississippi State University Extension Service of Newton County will host a workshop on how to raise chickens for personal use. The workshop will take place at 6 p.m. at the MSU Extension Coast Plains Experiment Station in Newton.
Mississippi State's Sweet Potato Field Day Provides Research, Tips for Growers, Producers
Sweet potatoes have become popular throughout the nation, as Americans look for healthier options. Lots of restaurants now offer sweet potato fries on their menus, and Northeast Mississippi produces a huge part of the sweet potato crop. Last Thursday, the MSU Extension Service hosted a sweet potato field day. These producers, researchers, industry reps and crop consultants spent part of their day at the Pontotoc Ridge Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station. "This research station here at Pontotoc is kind of the epicenter of sweet potato research for the state of Mississippi," said Stephen Meyers, a sweet potato specialist at the Experiment Station.
Coast commemorates 10 years since Katrina's landfall
Across the Mississippi Coast on Saturday, people memorialized the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina, which slowly moved in on Aug. 29, 2005, and pulverized the Coast and the region. Residents, responders and volunteers gathered at the new MGM Park in Biloxi, where they were thanked for their service by federal, state and local leaders. Churches rang bells across the Coast on Saturday morning. "Katrina was biblical," Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich told the crowd at MGM Park. "But the response was miraculous."
Mississippi's Recovery After Katrina Holds Lessons for Policy Makers
Hurricane Katrina did not directly hit New Orleans, which flooded because of levee failures. Mississippi, it walloped. When the hurricane roared in from the Gulf of Mexico, it crushed pretty beachfront towns like Pass Christian and Waveland under a 28-foot surge and wrecked the cities of Gulfport and Biloxi, ripping up the Port of Gulfport and tossing around the floating casinos. It spun off tornadoes, wreaking destruction far from the coast. New Orleans may have gotten most of the attention, but the experience in Mississippi may be just as instructive for those debating the weighty policy questions raised by the nation's costliest natural disaster: what a 10-year recovery truly feels like, how to split up resources between grand ambition and pressing reality, and who is ultimately deserving of government help.
Retired House Speaker Billy McCoy was cited for key role in Katrina recovery
Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, the retired speaker of the state House, has been in his beloved Northeast Mississippi this week far away from the events on the Gulf Coast commemorating the 10th anniversary of the devastation and destruction known as Katrina. But when Hurricane Katrina slammed south Mississippi and continued to wreak damage through central and even north Mississippi, McCoy was in the middle of the response. And almost a month to the day after the killer storm pounded south Mississippi 10 years ago, a still shellshocked Legislature met in special session where McCoy played what all agreed at the time was a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term economic vitality of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Reeves, Gunn subject of public records request by Initiative 42 supporters
A grassroots organization advocating for a citizen-sponsored initiative to enhance education funding has filed a public records requests with both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn requesting correspondence from their offices related to their opposition to the initiative. The 42 for Better Schools request is for e-mailed exchanges an any other correspondence. The request for correspondence from Gunn and Reeves and from their staffs was sent via certified mail on Aug. 11, according to 42 for Better Schools information. The deadline to respond, under state law, is today, according to initiative supporters. The initiative supporters have questioned in recent days whether state funds have been spent on the campaign against Initiative 42.
Detailed state agency budgets available online
For political junkies who can't get enough of the legislative budgeting process, or for average folks just curious about how much money is being requested by Mississippi government agencies, the website is just the ticket. The Legislative Budget Office now provides information on the budget process, spending requests and budget terminology. And for folks wanting to see how state government spends tax dollars -- be their guest. Debbie Rubisoff, director of the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office, said the LBO website, since 2011, has provided annual budget information about revenue collections, spending recommendations and the state budget that's adopted each year.
Advocates hope to restore Amtrak service on Gulf Coast lost since Katrina
Transportation advocates are hoping to convince Amtrak to restore rail service on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Florida that has been dormant since Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago. Trains on Amtrak's Sunset Limited route, which used to run between Los Angeles and Orlando, have ended in New Orleans since the 2005 storm, which wiped out tracks along the Gulf of Mexico. A provision in a multiyear transportation bill that was approved in July by the Senate would provide funding for a study of the feasibility of restoring the service, which used to make stops in Alabama and the panhandle of Florida before it headed south to Orlando. "This is our chance, people," one advocacy group wrote recently. "This bill must be reconciled with the much less favorable House bill before it goes to the President for his signature. PLEASE write, email or call your US Representative, especially if they are Republicans. ALSO...if you live in Mississippi, PLEASE THANK Sen. Roger Wicker [R-Miss] for his bipartisan sponsorship of the Senate bill with Sen. Cory Booker [D-N.J.]."
U.S. developing sanctions against China over cyberthefts
The Obama administration is developing a package of unprecedented economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their government's cybertheft of valuable U.S. trade secrets. The U.S. government has not yet decided whether to issue these sanctions, but a final call is expected soon -- perhaps even within the next two weeks, according to several administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Issuing sanctions would represent a significant expansion in the administration's public response to the rising wave of ­cyber-economic espionage initiated by Chinese hackers, who officials say have stolen everything from nuclear power plant designs to search engine source code to confidential negotiating positions of energy companies.
How a new battery revolution will change your life
Scientists and engineers have long believed in the promise of batteries to change the world. Now -- finally -- energy storage is beginning to live up to the hype. Advanced batteries are moving out of the lab and into "gigafactories." They're scaling up from smartphones and into smartgrids. They're moving out of niche markets and creeping into the mainstream, signaling a tipping point for forward-looking technologies such as electric cars and rooftop solar panels. Done well, the revolution would mean energy used more wisely, more widely, and more cleanly. Argonne National Laboratory is a staple of postwar American science. The Argonne-led Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) is looking for the next big breakthrough in energy storage -- a technology that would store at least five times as much energy as today's batteries at one-fifth the cost.
California's Katrina Is Coming
California's always been for dreamers. Dreams of gold brought the forty-niners. Easy seasons and expansive arable acreage brought farmers, dreaming of an agricultural paradise. Fame, natural beauty, and the hang-loose cultural mosaic have brought dreaming millions to the state where summer never seems to end. The summer dream has become a nightmare drought. But the years-long dry spell isn't what keeps engineers, economists, and state water planners awake at night. No, they worry about the network of levees at the crux of California's plumbing -- a massive freshwater confluence called the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Even if you're not a California dreamer, this affects you. Delta water keeps Hollywood in the movie business, Silicon Valley in the tech business, and 750,000 acres of farmland in the business of producing half of America's veggies, fruits, and nuts.
Mississippi ACT scores average 19 for 2015 grads
Mississippi's ACT scores were flat last year, although a few more Magnolia State students are ready for college by the standards of the test. The state's 2015 high school graduates made an average composite score of 19 on the test, the same as in 2014. That's still below the national average, which stayed steady at 21 this year. "While the state saw an increase in 2014 in the average composite score for graduating seniors in public and private schools, this year's ACT score remained flat at 19," state Superintendent Carey Wright said in a statement. "This report shows that Mississippi must continue to challenge students with higher standards and rigorous coursework that will better prepare them for college." Average ACT scores for Mississippi students had been stuck between 18.5 and 18.9 for at least 20 years before 2014.
Mississippi University for Women named top grad school
Mississippi University for Women has been named among the top universities to pursue a master's degree by Washington Monthly magazine for the fourth consecutive year. This year, MUW came in at number 51 on the list. "This is a remarkable recognition for The W," MUW president Jim Borsig said in a release. "I'm delighted to see our student's accomplishments, along with the good work of our faculty and staff recognized nationally."
Ole Miss to offer new online master's degree
The University of Mississippi School of Education is offering a new online master's degree in early childhood education. The Master of Education program is designed to prepare professional educators for a variety of roles within the field. "If you look at the states leading in education, you will see that they have invested a substantial amount of resources in early childhood education," said Burhanettin Keskin, UM coordinator and associate professor of early childhood education. "All the research is clear on the long-term value of programs focused on pre-K education."
CONCORDE Grant to Study Sub-surface Oil Exposure Pathways
After the Deepwater Horizon incident, the coastline oiling that occurred raised questions about oil movement and impact. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative recently awarded CONCORDE a grant to study nearshore currents and circulation flows and their potential role in creating sub-surface oil exposure pathways. CONCORDE is the acronym for the CONsortium for oil spill exposure pathways in COastal River-Dominated Ecosystems. Director Monty Graham with the University of Southern Mississippi shared some thoughts about their consortium's project that will examine the circulation of particle-rich waters in river-dominated areas. The CONCORDE team includes USM, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Mississippi State, the Naval Research Laboratory, Old Dominion, Oregon State and Rutgers.
Sexual assault reported on U. of Alabama campus
University of Alabama police are investigating a sexual assault that happened on campus early Sunday morning. A female UA student reported that she was walking in the 800 block of Magnolia Drive around 3:15 a.m. when a white male in a white vehicle approached her, according to an advisory from the UA Police Department. The victim said the man said he was part of a church organization giving sober rides for people in need of a ride. The victim got into the vehicle and told police that the suspect kept her from leaving the vehicle when she arrived at her destination. The man then committed a forcible sexual act, according to police.
U. of Tennessee students asked to use gender-neutral pronouns
University of Tennessee students have been asked to use gender-neutral pronouns such as "ze." The University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion is asking students and faculty to use the pronouns in order to create a more inclusive campus, multiple media outlets report. University spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said there is no mandate or official policy to use the language. "The information provided in the newsletter was offered as a resource for our campus community on inclusive practices," Simsen said.
Supply Lags Demand for Osteopathic Residencies in Arkansas, Nationally
Two new osteopathic medical schools preparing to open in Arkansas aim to address the state's shortage of primary care physicians, but the pipeline of required residencies may be too narrow to handle a flood of new medical school graduates beginning in 2021. Dr. Dan Rahn, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, said the approximately 215 residency spots that come open each year in Arkansas won't be enough for the 187 M.D. graduates UAMS produces each year plus the 265 annual D.O. graduates expected from the two osteopathic schools. "So to have residency program capacity for this number of graduates really requires a very significant expansion," Rahn recently told Arkansas Business. "That is an increasing problem nationally."
With use of drones rising, Lexington begins discussion about whether to regulate them
The University of Kentucky does not allow students or amateurs to fly drones on its campus because of its proximity to two helipads, said Jay Blanton, a spokesman for the university. Both UK Chandler Hospital and nearby Baptist Health Lexington have helipads, which are considered airports by FAA standards, Blanton said. Les Dorr, a spokesman for the FAA, said the FAA doesn't clearly define airport in its regulations on drone use. But the FAA strongly encourages drone operators to treat helipads as airports. Even UK is struggling with all of the FAA rules. According to the FAA database on waivers for government agencies, UK does not have a waiver from the FAA to fly drones for research. Blanton -- after some checking -- found out the university is applying for a waiver. He said the university had formed a committee to set guidelines for drone use on campus.
U. of South Carolina student's start-up 'fig-ness' helps pay college expenses
Taylor Loveday's future is growing on trees. Well, his figs are growing on trees. And figs -- yes, of all things, figs -- are helping the 21-year-old lay a path for his future that includes an education, financial independence, business savvy and social competence. Over the past three years, Loveday has grown his own business from a pair of fig trees in his grandparents' yard. A junior in the University of South Carolina's online Palmetto College, Loveday is hands-on with every aspect of the business that's helping pay his college expenses -- from picking, cleaning and sorting the fruits to cooking them into baked goods, packaging and selling them.
Aggies urged to embrace creativity, burgeoning tech at Texas A&M undergrad convocation
Texas A&M University educators and administrators challenged this year's incoming freshman class to stand out in the "on-demand" generation by embracing creativity. Sunday's undergraduate convocation keynote speaker and A&M department of visualization head Tim McLaughlin, who worked with coders and artists to make ideas on paper come to life on the big screen in the Jurassic Park and Star Wars franchises, told students who filled the floor at Reed Arena their familiarity with digital tools will take them far. He said the environment the incoming students live in is a creative revolution, thanks to 3-D printing and open-source computing, and Texas A&M embraces it.
U. of Missouri warns of shots fired near campus
For the second time in nearly 24 hours, University of Missouri officials issued an alert of a gun-related incident near campus late Friday night. In a message posted on the MU Alert website at 11:23 p.m. Friday, police said they received a report of shots fired near Hitt and Cherry streets. It was the second straight day an MU Alert was issued because of a gun-related crime. A report of a car passenger brandishing a handgun near Lathrop Hall on the MU campus triggered a similar alert at about 7:54 p.m. Thursday, though no shots were fired, and the gun was not pointed at anyone.
New Missouri journalism school dean asks for faculty, staff input
University of Missouri School of Journalism Dean David Kurpius is asking for faculty and staff input before he sets an agenda for the school's future. Since arriving on campus this summer, Kurpius has been meeting with full-time journalism faculty and staff. The meetings, he said, are a chance for him to learn what each person sees as the school's successes, opportunities and areas for improvement. "That's a very important process -- and I take it seriously -- before I set a direction of exactly where we're going to go and what we're going to do," Kurpius said. "It's important for me to listen to them first." Faculty and staff in the school have been positive about the meetings, journalism school Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Lynda Kraxberger said.
U. of Missouri's Lafferre Hall gets $500,000 for renovation
The University of Missouri College of Engineering received a $500,000 gift for the ongoing Lafferre Hall renovation. Burns & McDonnell, an engineering, architecture and consulting firm based in Kansas City, donated $400,000, according to a Friday news release by the College of Engineering. The remaining $100,000 came from Ray Kowalik and his wife, Jill. Kowalik, executive vice president and president of global practice at Burns & McDonnell, earned his undergraduate degree in civil engineering at MU. The gift would go toward an "area dedicated to student collaborations" that will be named after the donors, MU College of Engineering Interim Dean Robert Schwartz said in the release.
'Haze' director wants film to start dialogue, show what really happens in frat pledgeship
David Burkman's film "Haze" does not seek to explicitly answer questions about the morals of college hazing, but rather wants to simply show how it actually all goes down behind the walls of fraternities across the U.S. Burkman instead wants his audience to leave with their own feelings about what goes on within those houses, as young men endure various rites of passage to obtain a very specific connection with certain people. Burkman, who earned an MFA in film at University of Southern California, attended Indiana University as an undergraduate and pledged in a fraternity he now chooses not to name while promoting his film. While fictional, the writer/director says the film is often a direct reflection of his own experience in college, down to specific hazing he endured at IU.
SAM R. HALL (OPINION): After unimaginable devastation, Coast still stands
The Clarion-Ledger's Sam R. Hall writes: "When Hurricane Katrina ripped through Mississippi, my wife and I were living in Forest. We sat in lawn chairs in the bed of my truck looking out the windows of our garage as we watched the storm. Throughout the entire thing, we kept asking, 'If it's this bad here, can you imagine the Coast?' ...We watched trees across the way bend. One in particular was almost bent its full length to the ground several times throughout the storm. ...The spirit of the Gulf Coast had been tested, but it had not been broken. Perhaps it was like that tree across the street from us, the one that bent all the way to the ground but refused to crack. Last I knew, that tree still stood. Ten years later, the Coast still stands."

Katrina forged path for future Mississippi State linebacker Richie Brown
A few hundred yards separated Richie Brown from his beachfront home. Piles of rubble closed the roads beyond Second Street. Behind his father, Richard, and mother, Melissa, 11-year-old Richie climbed through feet of splintered wood, crumbled concrete and mangled metal. Nails poked through two-by-fours that snapped like toothpicks when hit with Hurricane Katrina's 135 mph winds. "Shredded houses," Richard said. "We were walking on pieces of houses." When they arrived at their two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo on the second floor only its skeleton remained. The boy who would become an integral part of Mississippi State's defense began to cry. Katrina had destroyed everything -- or so he thought. "I released it all," Richie said. "It was the most mature thing I did as a child. I said, 'Lord, it's in your hands.'"
Mississippi State heads to Hattiesburg as big favorite
The final season of the Dak Prescott era begins for Mississippi State Saturday with the Bulldogs traveling to take on Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Prescott still has enough weapons in the receiving corps with De'Runnya Wilson, Fred Brown, Fred Ross and Joe Morrow, but there is some uncertainty along the offensive line and in the backfield. Even though MSU lost a good chunk of its offensive line, there's no reason to believe they can't handle what is a relatively inexperienced, but deep, Southern Miss front seven. The task will be for the line to protect Prescott after USM did manage to put some pressure on the quarterback early in last year's 49-0 win for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State hopes to repeat record year behind Dak Prescott
The August 10 edition of Sports Illustrated featured Dak Prescott holding Mississippi State's mascot, Jak, in his left arm. Prescott's second appearance on the cover symbolizes the upcoming season. Expectations haven't budged from Mississippi State's 10-win 2014, despite losing 15 starters. To reach the peak of college football again, the Southeastern Conference's best player will have to carry the Bulldogs through portions of the season. "He's coaching them, and they don't want to let him down," MSU coach Dan Mullen said. "And it really raises their level of play."
Mississippi State DE Johnathan Calvin helped by early arrival
When the season kicks off for Mississippi State this week, Johnathan Calvin has a chance for significant playing time. It is an opportunity that may not have been afforded the defensive end had he not graduated from Copiah-Lincoln Community College early. Calvin was able to enroll in January and go through spring drills with the Bulldogs and pick up the defense. "Getting here in the spring was really important," Calvin said. "I believe if I would've gotten here during the summer it would've been way harder. Now I feel like I'm ahead because I've learned the playbook and am trying to fit into the schemes and am more comfortable."
Mississippi State's Gerri Green embracing lofty expectations
Gerri Green stands out among Mississippi State's linebackers. His shoulder pads align with the helmet of most of his teammates. His arms resemble the legs of other Bulldogs. Within the unit, through physical appearance, he's that pre-teen in Little League that grew faster than everyone else. "Physically, I feel like I'm ready to step on the field," Green said. " Mentally, I'm still trying to get the little part together." Green's not a normal redshirt freshman looking to break out this season. He carries expectations almost as large as his physique.
Familial rivalry with Mississippi State vs. USM: Markets on opposite sides this week
Kendrick Market watches all of his cousin's high school games online. Demetrius Market watches all of his cousin's college games in an effort to learn from him and improve. The Mississippi State safety and South Panola athlete have developed a strong bond over the years, even considering themselves brothers. But something has temporarily come between them. In addition to being a star for South Panola, Demetrius Market also has verbally committed to play football for Southern Miss. As it happens, the Golden Eagles are hosting Kendrick Market's Bulldogs at 9 p.m. Saturday, causing a bit of friendly tension.
Mullen Family 36 Foundation hosts annual fundraiser
Mississippi State University Coach Dan Mullen and his wife Megan say they've been blessed to be a part of Mississippi, a state known for its charitable giving. Now, their focus is to give back. The Mullen Family 36 Foundation held its annual fundraiser Friday night to benefit the children of Mississippi. Country music star and North Mississippi native Mac McAnally helped raise money for their foundation, which benefits 36 children's charities across the state. The focus of the foundation is to enrich children's lives through healthcare, education, athletic programs, the arts and scholarships.
New season, new digs at Williams-Brice Stadium for U. of South Carolina football
South Carolina fans showed up every Saturday despite some often-sour results. It was past time for their loyalty to be rewarded. The area around Williams-Brice Stadium has been transformed from what was a grim and gray fortress at the edge of town into an area offering a pleasant location for pre- and post-game festivities. No longer will USC's stadium look like a taller version of the numerous warehouses and empty lots that dominated the area. Trees, greenspace, bricked walkways and gates resembling the iconic entries to USC's Horseshoe are in place. The latest entry in the Gamecocks' facility improvements brings to mind what its creators envisioned -- a game day atmosphere like The Grove at Ole Miss, but with a distinct South Carolina flair.
Any Plans for New Year's Eve? The College Football Playoff Has Some
Forget about the big ball in Times Square. Select a Champagne that pairs well with Buffalo wings. Make sure your New Year's Eve date likes college football as much as you do. That is the message the sport's powers that be would like to get across by Dec. 31, when the two semifinal games of the College Football Playoff are scheduled to kick off in the afternoon and the evening. If all goes according to plan, millions of viewers will ring in 2016 by watching the final minutes of the second game. "The College Football Playoff will change the paradigm of New Year's Eve in this country," said Bill Hancock, the Playoff's executive director. But grounds for skepticism are obvious.
U. of Illinois fires football coach over mistreatment of players
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Friday abruptly fired its head football coach, Tim Beckman, after an external review into the coach's behavior revealed that he put his players at risk by deterring them from reporting injuries and pressuring them to continue playing when hurt. The preliminary findings of the ongoing investigation -- which included a review of 200,000 pages of documents, interviews with 90 people and a "large volume" of practice and game video -- were presented to Mike Thomas, the university's athletic director, earlier this week. "It showed me enough evidence that Tim Beckman needed to be dismissed as the University of Illinois head football coach," Thomas said during a press conference Friday, adding that the findings left him "shocked and angry."
To Thrive, Many Young Female Athletes Need A Lot More Food
Participation in sports by girls and young women has soared in recent decades --- by 560 percent among high school students since 1972, and 990 percent among college students, according to the Women's Sports Foundation. Highly committed young female athletes now run track and play soccer, basketball, water polo and other demanding sports that require strong bodies. But many girls aren't eating enough to satisfy the physical demands of those sports, scientists say, and that's putting them at risk for health problems that can last a lifetime. These athletes are essentially malnourished. The danger they face is called female athlete triad syndrome because it typically includes three symptoms: irregular menstrual cycles, low energy and low bone density.

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