Wednesday, January 18, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State's Mark Keenum speaks to Columbus Rotary
Governor Phil Bryant ordered more budget cuts and that will affect public universities. Mississippi State University President Dr. Mark Keenum spoke to the Columbus Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon. He spoke about the importance of education and having a college degree and how that helps the economy. The recently ordered $51 million in budget cuts is the latest as state revenues continue to lag. Keenum says that, in turn, hurts the university.
 
Mississippi State President Mark Keenum Speaks At Columbus Rotary
Higher education funding was on the menu for Columbus leaders on Tuesday. Mississippi State President Dr. Mark Keenum spoke on the importance of a college education and the success rate at the university. He says that success is coming at a higher cost, with student enrollment growing and funding shrinking. University budgets have already been hit with two rounds of cuts this fiscal year, and Keenum says he's expecting more reductions. "The concern I have on that front is, we need to be putting more money into education and in particular to higher education because our future depends on higher educational attainment for our citizens, and we've got to make that investment for our future," he said.
 
Judge Larnzy Carpenter Jr. helps Mississippi State community honor King's legacy
Oktibbeha County Justice Court Judge Larnzy L. Carpenter Jr. challenged an overflow crowd at Mississippi State University to embrace faith, hope and love as keys to developing a sense of dignity and self-respect during Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Breakfast. More than 1,000 community members gathered at The Mill at MSU to celebrate King's legacy with the 23rd annual event and to remember the Nobel Peace Prize winner who dedicated his life to advancing civil rights while maintaining a steadfast commitment to nonviolence and love. MSU President Mark E. Keenum said MSU is the most diverse university in the Southeastern Conference. "I can tell you that we're very blessed, we're very enriched and empowered because of the rich diversity that we enjoy, and it is increasing every year on our campus," Keenum said.
 
The Lowdown on Gulfport's Mississippi Aquarium
The city unveiled the aquarium design to the general public Friday morning on the vacant site overlooking Gulfport's harbor. About 200 people gathered as Mayor Billy Hewes, Gov. Phil Bryant and others extolled the project's benefits. Aquarium aficionado David Kimmel said the campus-style design and anchor outdoor exhibit will set apart Gulfport's aquarium. Most aquariums, consultant Kimmel said, are in one building, but the Mississippi Aquarium will be spread through four buildings, with an outdoor exhibit as the anchor, thanks to the Coast's mild climate. Aquarium plans are as much about education as they are about tourism. Both the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University have signed on as aquarium partners. USM will be involved in saltwater research and education, while Mississippi State will provide veterinary services, with educational opportunities for students, and freshwater research.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant: 'Blue lives matter; taxpayers are sovereign'
Gov. Phil Bryant in his sixth State-of-the-State Address vowed that "blue lives matter" and taxpayers "are sovereign" and said continued improvements to the state's troubled foster-care system "will be my top priority." Bryant's address focused on familiar themes from recent and years'-past speeches and on goals he outlined in his recent budget proposal to the Legislature. The governor touted education-reform and economic development successes and chided "self-appointed education advocates" and creators of "fake news" who say public education or state finances are in the dumps. Bryant noted awards and recognition Mississippi has received, including its sixth "silver shovel" from Area Development Magazine and Mississippi State University being named the national center for excellence in unmanned aerial systems by the FAA.
 
State of the State: Governor touts potential state lottery, education reform
Gov. Phil Bryant said Tuesday it might be time to enact a state lottery to prevent money from leaving the state by Mississippians going to neighboring states to purchase lottery tickets. Referencing anecdotal evidence of people traveling to neighboring states to purchase lottery tickets, Bryant said, "We can no longer contain the people's desire for a lottery. We can only force them to travel." Bryant made his comments Tuesday during his annual State of the State speech to a joint session of the Mississippi Legislature in the House chamber. State agency heads, state elected officials and others crowded into the chamber to hear the televised speech that lasted 31 minutes and was interrupted numerous times by applause.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant Urges Lawmakers to 'Do People's Work' in State of State Address
Republican Governor Phil Bryant offered a reminder to legislators to do the people's work, using a remark coined by President-elect Donald Trump when talking about the Washington establishment. "Let us continue to do the people's work, so that no one gets the mistaken belief that this Capitol is a swamp that needs draining," said Bryant. Bryant went on to discuss gains in job creation. "In the last 12 months, we've announced more than 6,000 new jobs from projects incentivized by this Legislature through your team at the Mississippi Development Authority. These projects have generated more than $1.9 billion dollars in private investment," said Bryant.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant seeks leaner state government
Gov. Phil Bryant urged a leaner, more focused state government while adding his support to efforts to rewrite the state's education funding formula in his annual State of the State speech Tuesday night. Bryant touted the state's recent economic and educational achievements -- including several national awards for business and job growth and educational gains -- while pointing to room for improvement. "Tonight I'm reminded of the words of a popular song from 1969: 'You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need,'" Bryant said. "Let us now go about seeing what state government really needs." Lawmakers reacted to the speech along party lines.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant: BP money should be spent on Coast
Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday said money from the BP disaster settlement should be spent on the Mississippi Coast. In his annual State of the State address, he said the $110 million initial payment should go into a proposed new, separate savings account, which he called the Gulf Coast Restoration Reserve Fund. "When the time comes to assemble the budget for fiscal year 2019, I still believe the funds should go where the worst damage occurred -- our Gulf Coast," he said. "However, it would be wise to reserve these funds until appropriate projects and potential leveraging of other funds can be thoroughly considered." Mississippi is set to receive an additional $600 million over the next 17 years.
 
Panel tables plan for judges to be elected with party labels
House committee is setting aside a proposal to have Mississippi's judges run as Democrats and Republicans. The House Judiciary A Committee, on a split voice vote on Tuesday, tabled House Bill 496. Mississippi switched from partisan to nonpartisan judicial elections in 1994. However, House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden, a Meridian Republican, says he thinks the state should switch back. Snowden says the current judicial election structure is flawed because when more than two candidates run for a judgeship, runoff elections are held three weeks after the general election. Turnout usually falls off sharply.
 
First bill signing makes appointed superintendents the law
Gov. Phil Bryant signed the first bill of the legislative session into law Tuesday afternoon. The bill moves up the effective date of legislation approved in 2016 making all school superintendents appointed instead of elected. The original law did not go into effect until 2019, but some school districts with elected superintendents faced costs of holding a special election if the superintendent's spot became vacant before then. Lawmakers approved, as one of the first bills of the year, a change making the appointed superintendent's bill effective immediately.
 
Mississippi Sues Google, Saying it Violates Student Privacy
Mississippi's Democratic attorney general is once again tangling with Google, alleging in a lawsuit that the company is illegally violating student privacy, even as some Republicans try to muzzle his ability to file such civil suits. Attorney General Jim Hood's suit, filed Friday in Lowndes County Chancery Court, says the California-based computer giant is breaking Mississippi consumer protection law by selling ads using data from services it provides to schools. Google did not immediately respond Tuesday to an email from The Associated Press inquiring about the lawsuit. The move comes as some Mississippi lawmakers continue to try to trim Hood's ability to file civil lawsuits without outside permission.
 
Moody's to pay state $26 million for 'deceptive conduct'
One of the nation's largest ratings agencies will pay Mississippi more than $26 million to settle allegations that the company participated in deceptive conduct during the Great Recession. Attorney General Jim Hood said Tuesday that Moody's agreed to pay $863.8 million to 21 states and the District of Columbia. A Hood lawsuit alleged that "Moody's ratings of structured finance securities were tainted by the company's drive to win business and its concerns for market share. Structured finance securities, particularly those comprised of sub-prime mortgages, were at the center of the financial crisis."
 
State Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Olive Branch named to PEER Committee
State Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Olive Branch, has been appointed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves to serve on the Joint Committee on Performance Revaluation and Expenditure Review or PEER. Created in 1973, PEER provides the Legislature with timely and accurate information on Mississippi state government in order to enable that body to perform its function of legislative oversight. PEER analyzes state agency programs and operations and helps the Legislature make state government more effective, efficient and accountable. Blackwell is the only freshman legislator to be appointed to PEER.
 
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., tapped for Senate leadership
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has named Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi as part of his Republican leadership team for the next two years. The posting is likely a boon for Mississippi, with Wicker having such clout in the new Senate and as Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office this week. Wicker will be one of a handful on the leadership team that controls much of the operations of the Senate. "As a member of the Senate Republican leadership team, Sen. Wicker brings invaluable insight to our conference on issues that affect American families," McConnell said Tuesday. "He is firmly committed to working with our colleagues and the incoming administration on increasing jobs, improving the economy and strengthening our national security."
 
House Version of 'Law and Order:' Bennie Thompson's chief of staff sentenced
Rep. Bennie Thompson's chief of staff was sentenced Tuesday to four months in prison for failing to file income tax returns. Issac Lanier Avant was also ordered to pay $149,962 to the IRS for failing to file tax returns from 2009 to 2013 after he had assumed the role of Democratic director for the House Homeland Security Committee, earning more than $165,000, the Justice Department said in a statement. Prosecutors said Avant did not have federal taxes withheld from his paychecks from the House until the IRS contacted his employer. They also said Avant did not file tax returns until after he was interviewed by federal agents. Avant had worked with Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, since 2002. His work on the committee began in 2006.
 
Local attorney invited to inauguration
Attending a campaign fundraiser in Jackson this summer, Corky Smith shook hands with the man who would become President. He also met with members of then-Republican nominee Donald Trump's campaign staff, building a network of contacts that helped land the Columbus attorney an invitation to Friday's Presidential Inauguration. Smith and his wife, Lindsay, will depart Columbus on Thursday for the nation's capital to watch Trump's inauguration on Friday. "This is my first one," Smith said. "I haven't been invited to any of them in the past. On the chance that I don't get invited to any of the others, I figured I'd take them up on the chance." Mississippi District 39 Rep. Jeff Smith (R-Columbus), Corky's father, said he's very proud to see his son have the opportunity to attend an inauguration.
 
Trump team on inauguration boycott: We'll give your tickets away
Donald Trump's team is preparing to give away the seats of House Democrats who are bailing on the president-elect's swearing-in Friday. "We'd love for every member of Congress to attend but if they don't, we've got some great seats for others to partake in," said Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer on a Tuesday morning call with reporters. "It's a shame that these folks don't want to be part of the peaceful transfer of power." So far, at least 41 Democrats say they will be skipping the ceremony. But Democratic leaders still plan to attend the inauguration, and no senators have announced they will sit the ceremony out. Democratic lawmakers who have announced they are skipping Trump's inauguration in protest include Mississippi's Bennie Thompson.
 
GOP prescription of minority outreach forgotten with Trump
Together, they delivered a post-election autopsy with a dire prediction: Republican survival requires embracing a message of tolerance and respect in an increasingly diverse United States. Yet on the eve of Donald Trump's inauguration four years later, the authors of the Republican National Committee's 2013 "Growth and Opportunity Project" concede their report is little more than an afterthought as members gather in Washington to celebrate their party's success. "Frankly, there's a lot that those of us who wrote the report could have learned from Donald Trump," said another author, Henry Barbour, a Republican national committeeman from Mississippi. "Be more the party of working-class folks." Yet Barbour described the report's conclusion that the GOP must improve its standing with minority voters "a fundamental truth." "Trump's come a long ways in that regard," Barbour said.
 
Republicans Look to Reince Priebus, Trump's Chief of Staff, to Bring Stability
When Speaker Paul D. Ryan needed to stop rebellious fellow Republicans from defanging a popular congressional ethics watchdog office this month, he called a friend from Wisconsin, Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, for some stealthy help. Mr. Ryan asked Mr. Priebus, the congenial and cunning chairman of the Republican National Committee, for a favor: Could President-elect Donald J. Trump intervene? At the urging of Mr. Priebus, Mr. Trump quickly posted a pair of scolding posts on Twitter. In a city bracing for convulsive change, Mr. Priebus has emerged as an unlikely symbol of stability. Haley Barbour, the former Mississippi governor and former chairman of the R.N.C., said Mr. Priebus was the only kind of chief of staff, flexible and opportunistic, who could succeed in a Washington roiled by Mr. Trump and rived by partisan conflict.
 
TVA Board Vacancies Raise Possibility of Coal-Policy Shift
President-elect Donald Trump is poised to bring in new leadership to the Tennessee Valley Authority, prompting concerns that the nation's largest public power company could be in for a strategy shift. After Mr. Trump won, the renomination of three of the utility's board members, including its chairman, stalled in the Senate confirmation process and their terms expired on Jan. 2. The three Obama-appointed board members had been proponents of moving the utility away from coal-fired power to other energy sources such as natural gas and nuclear. With the terms of two more board members expiring in May, the Trump administration will be able to appoint a majority of the nine-member board to one of the biggest operators of coal-fired power in the country that supplies power to nine million consumers in seven states.
 
Vanderbilt printers churned out anti-Semitic fliers after suspected hack
Printers at Vanderbilt University started inexplicably printing anti-Semitic fliers on Monday in an incident that officials said could be linked to a round of hacking that targeted printers at several universities last year. University police are investigating the incident, which occurred "in a handful of offices on campus," according to an email from university spokeswoman Princine Lewis. The university also notified federal authorities. A white supremacist computer hacker took credit for a series of similar incidents at Princeton University, Brown University and several other colleges last March, when printers began churning out fliers filled with swastikas and messages that spoke against Jewish people. Lewis said the incident at Vanderbilt "appears similar."
 
Expert on human trafficking speaks at UGA
A nationally known expert on human trafficking -- whether for sex, labor or other purposes -- says the issue has gone from being one that attracted attention largely at the federal level to becoming a local issue affecting many communities in the nation, including Athens. "This is a local problem," said Laura Lederer of the Global Centurion Foundation, a Virginia-based nonprofit organization that works against human trafficking from what Lederer called "the demand side" --- the people who exploit and use other human beings for everything from forced labor to commercial sex. Lederer, who has worked on the issue for years -- in academia, government and now through Global Centurion -- spoke at a Tuesday seminar at the University of Georgia's Fanning Institute for Leadership Development.
 
Pat Summitt Clinic opens at U. of Tennessee Medical Center
The Pat Summitt Clinic officially opened at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, the hospital announced this week. The clinic, which is focused on Alzheimer's and other dementias, was a fulfillment of Summitt's wishes. Before she died June 28, she was involved in its planning and fundraising through the nonprofit foundation she and son Tyler created after her diagnosis in 2011. She was present in January 2015 when the foundation publicly announced a 5-year, $2.5 million fundraising campaign to help the medical center create the 7,500-square-foot clinic. With the clinic open, UT Medical Center can expand its treatment, research, and support and educational programs for Alzheimer's patients and their families. Joe Landsman, president and CEO of UT Medical Center, said it will be Summitt's "greatest legacy."
 
U. of Kentucky grad students holding 'Trump Teach-In' ahead of inauguration
The inauguration of Donald Trump on Friday as the 45th president of the United States brings with it a host of questions about how his administration will handle a wide array of issues, including education, security, immigration and science. A group of graduate students at the University of Kentucky will explore those questions Wednesday during "A Teach-In on the Trump Presidency," an afternoon of lectures and discussion about the future Trump presidency and what it could mean. "We don't want to be affiliated with either side (politically)," said Leif Johnson, a UK geography graduate student who is one of the organizers. "What we want to do as academics and educators is to bring people with different skills and knowledge bases to talk about what we think might happen."
 
U. of Kentucky pledges to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent
University of Kentucky officials have pledged to reduce carbon emissions on campus by 25 percent by 2025. The announcement by President Eli Capilouto last month credited student organizations, who have pressured the administration to do more to address climate change for several years. "We have been building a strong model for sustainability on this campus for more than a decade," Capilouto said. "Now, with the leadership of our students, faculty and staff -- particularly the President's Sustainability Advisory Committee -- we are ready to take this next, important step forward." The student organization Greenthumb first started pushing the administration to do more in 2012. UK's Office of Sustainability will report yearly progress on the goal.
 
Texas A&M to act as regional leader in robotics development
Texas A&M University's College of Engineering is set to act as a regional leader in a national partnership designed to develop and commercialize new ways for humans to work together with robotic technology in the manufacturing industry. The university will serve as the lead for one of five regional robotics innovation collaboratives in the plan to provide support to local industry and research projects as part of the a U.S. Department of Defense-inspired Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute. The institute will be led on the national level by the nonprofit American Robotics Inc., an offshoot of Carnegie Mellon University, and will bring together a growing number of more than 230 partners from academia, business and state and local government. Focusing on the aerospace, automotive, electronics and textile industries, the institute hopes to create more than 500,000 new U.S.-based manufacturing jobs.
 
Texas A&M librarian appointed to serve on national commission
Texas A&M University Libraries employee Rebecca Hankins was appointed by President Barack Obama on Monday to serve on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. As a member of the commission, Hankins will participate in efforts to support "a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States," according to the commission's website. "It's a real honor and I'm humbled by this acknowledgement of my long career as an archivist," Hankins said. "I'm looking forward to working with this commission that funds so many important projects and strategic work of the American people."
 
Governor's state funding cuts add to U. of Missouri's budget woes
Gov. Eric Greitens cut $83.8 million from college and university budgets Monday, wiping out state funding increases, cutting into core funding and eliminating budget lines for special projects. The cuts will add to budget woes at the University of Missouri, where lawmakers cut $3.8 million from system administration in the current budget and a precipitous drop in freshman enrollment forced a 5 percent cut to budgets on the Columbia campus. In a video news release, Greitens said lagging state revenue will force $700 million in budget cuts over the coming 18 months, with $146.4 million in immediate restrictions for the year ending June 30. A prepared statement from UM System spokesman John Fougere did not indicate where the university would cut spending to cover the shortfall.
 
In leadership positions women, minorities face pay gap, U. of Missouri study finds
Researchers from the University of Missouri and University of Delaware found that women and minorities serving on boards of directors receive less compensation and are less likely to hold leadership positions. MU Assistant Professors Adam Yore and Matthew Souther and University of Delaware professor Laura Field coauthored a study that reviewed more than 1,800 companies and 70,000 board members and their compensation. They found that there is a 3 to 9 percent pay gap for women and minorities who serve on boards of directors compared to other members of those boards. "We stumbled on this result kind of by accident," Souther said. "We were just testing different things and happened to have a variable in there for minorities and noticed that they got paid a little bit less. Then we started asking why they were getting paid less and found out a lot of it was driven by these opportunities."
 
Nominee Betsy DeVos grilled by Senate education committee
Democrats on the Senate's education panel grill Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, who generally avoids specific answers.An hour into Tuesday's confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, a clear pattern had emerged. Democrats on the Senate education committee sought to nail down answers from Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary on a series of specific questions -- but they received few or no specific answers. When Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an Independent, asked if she would support making public colleges and universities free, she called it "a really interesting idea" but was noncommittal. When Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey asked her whether she would uphold 2011 federal Title IX guidance on campus sexual assaults, DeVos said she knew there were many conflicting views about that guidance. For Democrats looking to find out more about DeVos's views -- especially regarding higher education issues -- it was a frustrating hearing.
 
Democrats Press Betsy DeVos on Privatization, ESSA, and LGBT Rights
Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump's pick to lead the U.S. Department of Education, used her confirmation hearing to try to beat back the notion that she would undermine public education as head of the department, as Democrats pressed her on everything from her views on the civil rights of gay and lesbian students, to states' responsibilities for students in special education, and guns in schools. "If confirmed, I will be a strong advocate for great public schools," DeVos said. "But, if a school is troubled, or unsafe, or not a good fit for a child -- perhaps they have a special need that is going unmet -- we should support a parent's right to enroll their child in a high-quality alternative." She also noted that her mother, Elsa Prince, was a public school teacher. But those assurances didn't seem to quell the anxieties of Democrats on the committee.
 
Arizona lawmakers' failed ban on 'divisive' college courses highlights new criticism of white studies
Proposed legislation against "divisive" courses or events at public colleges and universities in Arizona alarmed scholars in that state and elsewhere before the bill reportedly died a quick death Tuesday. The bill was prompted by a course on white studies at Arizona State University and came after a spate of controversies involving scholars of race, many of them white, commenting on white people. HB 2120 would have prohibited state institutions from offering any class or activity that promotes "division, resentment or social justice toward a race, gender, religion, political affiliation, social class or other class of people," or otherwise encouraged "solidarity or isolation" based on those categories. The state attorney general could have directed Arizona to withhold up to 10 percent of designated funding from any college district or university accused of violating the law.
 
Pursuit of more education funding kind of like searching for Bigfoot
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "For years, a belief has existed, perhaps like the Big Foot and the Loch Ness monsters, that if a simple change was made to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program to require the state to provide funds to local school districts based on total enrollment (or membership) and not average daily attendance, that those school districts would receive more money from the state. Many local school superintendents and other education advocates have chased that belief much like others pursue Big Foot here in the United States and others chase Nessie in Scotland."
 
Reality is judicial races are partisan
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "There is nobility in the idea that Mississippians would want to elect judges on a non-partisan basis. The idea that justice has an either Republican or Democrat leaning should be disturbing. The idea is noble, mind you. But since the 1994 judicial election reforms that gave us nonpartisan judicial elections, the idea of nonpartisan races is all well and good but the practice is that visible, identifiable partisanship in how we choose judges has never really left the field of political battle."


SPORTS
 
Wildcats weather storm: Turnovers, missed free throws hurt Bulldogs
No. 5 Kentucky appeared on the verge of running away with another win as it has done so many times under John Calipari. The Wildcats went ahead by 18 with 13 minutes remaining, but Mississippi State did not back down. The Bulldogs kept fighting and cut the deficit down to three going on a 22-5 run over the next five minutes. UK was however able to whether the storm down the stretch as well as a raucous crowd of 9,768 inside Humphrey Coliseum for an 88-81 victory. "We shot 54 percent tonight and lost and that doesn't happen that often unless you turn it over a lot and don't make your foul shots," said MSU coach Ben Howland. "(Kentucky) is a tough team to play, and you have to give them credit."
 
Mississippi State shows future potential in loss to No. 5 Kentucky
Students lined up outside of Humphrey Coliseum about four hours prior to Mississippi State's contest with Kentucky. Traffic congested the college town forcing some to find their seats and wave their white "Beat Kentucky" towels late. By the end of the first half Tuesday, the largest crowd since last January -- 9,768 -- rocked the Hump unlike any time since the Rick Stansbury era. When the Bulldogs walked off the court after an 88-81 defeat to No. 5 Kentucky, the student section stood and applauded the group built primarily of freshmen and sophomores. "That really touched me because I haven't seen that very often," said Ben Howland, with more than two decades of coaching experience. "It really makes me feel good that our fan base appreciates how hard these kids play." The defeat snapped a three-game win streak. But the fans exited the arena with a sense of optimism.
 
Kentucky survives roller-coaster ride at Mississippi State with 88-81 victory
Kentucky's 88-81 victory at Mississippi State Tuesday night provided an unwanted flashback. UK fans may recall Karl-Anthony Towns hanging on the rim after a dunk at LSU two seasons ago. A technical foul sent Coach John Calipari into a conniption fit. More importantly, it changed the tenor of the game and injected unneeded drama in a Kentucky victory. Another freshman, Malik Monk, played the role of Towns in this sequel. He hung on the rim after dunking a lob from De'Aaron Fox. A 16-2 Mississippi State run ensued. "We got into AAU mode," Calipari said. "When you're playing all freshmen and sophomores, there's a point in the game they just think, 'It's OK, watch this.'"
 
Dak Prescott to headline Mississippi Sports Awards banquet
Dak Prescott is coming back to Mississippi. The Pro Bowl rookie quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys will be the special guest and featured speaker at The Clarion-Ledger Sports Awards. The third-annual Sports Awards is set for May 25 at the Jackson Convention Complex, honoring the best in Mississippi high school sports. Those in attendance will also get to hear from Prescott, the Mississippi State legend and rookie sensation for the Dallas Cowboys. The awards show is presented by The Clarion-Ledger in partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi, Baptist Health Systems, Entergy and Mississippi Sports Medicine.
 
Ole Miss' Rasheed Brooks collapses, taken to hospital during Tennessee game
Ole Miss senior guard Rasheed Brooks is in stable condition after suffering a seizure during the Rebels' 80-69 win over Tennessee on Tuesday at The Pavilion. The arena went silent when Brooks collapsed to the floor shortly after the team broke from a huddle during a timeout with 17:21 left in the second half. He was quickly tended to by medical personnel and eventually wheeled off on a stretcher as coaches and teammates looked on, some of them huddling in prayer. Brooks was taken to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, according to an Ole Miss spokesman. Kennedy said after the game Brooks was conscious and undergoing further tests.
 
How Alabama quietly pulled off Greg Byrne AD hire without anyone finding out
Alabama pulled off a major hiring coup Sunday after months of behind the scenes movement to find a worthy successor to current athletic director Bill Battle. The news Sunday that Greg Byrne would be Alabama's new athletic director caught many off-guard considering Battle hadn't announced any plans of stepping down. But it was a culmination of months of meticulous planning, a strong desire to keep all proceedings quiet and a mindset that Alabama should hire the best candidate, with or without ties to the school, according to sources with knowledge of the search. After decades of staying in the Alabama family at the athletic director position, school officials saw value in bringing in an outside perspective. They put out early feelers to Byrne, the then-Arizona athletic director, and indicated interest in the 45-year old rising star.
 
Bill Battle's impact will be felt at Alabama for years
Bill Battle didn't have to do it. When his friend and former teammate, the late Mal Moore, approached and asked him to take over as the University of Alabama's athletic director, Battle was firmly entrenched in enjoying his life in retirement with his wife Mary on their ranch. A wildly successful businessman, Battle had all the security and luxuries he'd need in retirement. Yet he chose to delay several of those luxuries and wade into the sometimes-turbulent waters of intercollegiate athletics. He began the job in the spring of 2013 by conducting a listening tour of the student-athletes, coaches and fans across all sports. It was never uncommon to look up and see Battle an athletic venues from Bryant-Denny Stadium to Rhoads Stadium.
 
What we know about Tennessee's athletic director search
They spent a decade working together in the University of Tennessee football program, helping the Vols win two SEC championships and a national title. Phillip Fulmer was the head coach of the team and David Blackburn was an integral part of his staff. They now appear to be competing to be the next athletic director at Tennessee. Over the last few days, Fulmer's name has gained momentum in UT's search to replace Dave Hart, who announced on Aug. 18 he was retiring as AD. Hart's retirement goes into effect on June 30. Blackburn, the athletic director at Chattanooga, was the potential candidate that surfaced in the immediate aftermath of Hart's announcement. But Fulmer, 66, threw his hat into the ring publicly last week by saying he wanted to be considered for the position.
 
Time demands, concussion policies to be focus of NCAA meeting this week
One year after highly touted legislation designed to lessen time demands on Division I college athletes was suddenly tabled at the National Collegiate Athletic Association's annual meeting, the leaders of the association's most competitive level will once again attempt to adopt new rules meant to reduce the time athletes spend on their sports. "We are looking forward to the different time-demands legislation meant to enhance student athletes' full experience on campus," said Erik Hardenbergh, a spokesman for the Pac-12 conference. "We think the legislation will be a big step forward for student-athletes as they strive to balance academics and athletics." The legislation, if adopted at this week's meeting in Nashville, Tenn., would prohibit athletics-related activities other than competition during a continuous eight-hour period between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.; require a weeklong break after a season ends and 14 additional days off during a season; require a day off per week during preseason and campus vacations periods; and prohibit off-campus practice during vacation periods.



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