Thursday, January 26, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Supervisors approve Blackjack Road project preparations
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors on Monday unanimously approved two steps toward the Blackjack Road project in conjunction with Mississippi State University. The board first approved the university's master plan for the project, and then approved an agreement with the Mississippi Development Authority to receive no more than $3 million in funds for the project According to Golden Triangle Planning and Development Board Consultant Phyllis Benson, the county would be responsible for maintaining the parts of the project funded with the grant, while other parts of the project will fall under MSU maintenance.
 
Mississippi State pilot plans to soar in Ward 7 race
Career pilot Roben Dawkins has spent much of his professional career in the sky, but will now look to take the Starkville Board of Aldermen to new heights after qualifying to run for the Ward 7 seat. "I was just attending the Board meetings sitting back and watching and just got tired of sitting," Dawkins told the SDN on Wednesday. "I'm not a politician. I'm a voter that has sat on the sidelines long enough." Dawkins will be running as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Henry Vaughn and political newcomer Ann Moore. He officially qualified for the Ward 7 race on Jan. 3. Dawkins has been employed at Mississippi State University for 27 years.
 
Democrat Ann Moore to challenge Henry Vaughn for Ward 7 seat
Starkville's Ward 7 race will feature a competitive May Democratic primary after a second candidate qualified to represent the party in June's general election. Margaret "Ann" Moore, a 59-year-old Westside Drive resident, is challenging incumbent Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn, 64, who is seeking his third term. A first-time candidate for alderman, Moore said she is entering the race because "for the past eight years, Ward 7 has not seen much improvement" as the rest of Starkville has grown. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver faces two election challenges for his seat. Carver, 36, will first face a primary challenge from Republican Jason Camp. Camp, 29, represents Ward 1 on the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission and works at the MSU Extension Center for Government and Community Development. The winner of the primary will then face Democrat Christine Williams in June.
 
National Guard veteran qualifies for mayor's race
There's a new face in the Starkville political scene. Damion Poe, 26, recently qualified as a Democrat to enter the race for mayor of the city of Starkville, making him the youngest candidate to throw their hat into the ring. Poe is a graduate of Starkville High School and served in the Army National Guard from 2010 to 2016. "I wanted to run for something and get involved," he said. "I love Starkville with a passion, and I have so many ideas that I just want to see them play out." Poe is also a proponent of dividing funds received by the city based on need, instead of dividing them equally among the city's seven wards.
 
Meridian jet deal dead: Raytheon/Leonardo pull out of T-X competition
Raytheon Corp. announced Wednesday that it has withdrawn from the competition to build a jet trainer for the U.S. Air Force. The company announced in October that, if approved, it would build the jets in Meridian, creating 450 jobs in the process. The region was told those jobs would pay an average $80,000 annual salary. Mississippi House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden said the withdrawal had no reflection on the area or people. "It's a blow. It was very disappointing," Snowden said Wednesday afternoon. "As I understand it, when it got down to specifics, Raytheon and Leonardo could not work out the details of their internal deal. That had nothing to do with the site, county, community, proposal or state support, because all that was there. Raytheon and Leonardo just couldn't come to an understanding to move on."
 
Raytheon will not pursue jet trainer plant in Meridian
Raytheon is backing out of a deal that state and local leaders hoped would bring a plant to build U.S. Air Force jet trainers to Meridian and create 450 jobs. Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday said that from conversations with Raytheon, it became clear that because of "circumstances beyond the state's control" the company would not pursue the training jet production. Bryant praised the work of Lauderdale County officials and the Mississippi Development Authority trying to land the plant. Besides the governor's office, state and local officials, Mississippi's congressional delegation had reportedly helped push for the program to go to Raytheon and Meridian.
 
Raytheon, Leonardo End Partnership for T-X Trainer Program
Raytheon and Leonardo have decided they will no longer "jointly pursue" the US Air Force's T-X trainer competition, leaving the door open for Leonardo to bid on the program without a partnership with a US prime contractor. Raytheon made the announcement Wednesday in a short statement that said the "companies were unable to reach a business agreement that is in the best interest of the U.S. Air Force." Tensions have existed between the two companies over the business arrangement for the plane, with the partnership in danger during the fall before an Oct. 14 meeting seemed to clear the air. Just days after that meeting, Raytheon announced that Meridian, Mississippi, would be the site of its Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility, should the companies win the T-X contract. Raytheon hosted defense reporters in December at the would-be FACO location for a celebratory groundbreaking event featuring Mississippi lawmakers, southern food and T-100 mason jars.
 
Amazon to collect state tax
The decision of internet giant Amazon to voluntarily collect the 7 percent tax for the state on purchases made by Mississippians is welcomed news for many state leaders dealing with revenue shortfalls and budget cuts, but it will not provide any relief for municipal leaders who are facing many of the same problems. Under current state law, municipalities will not receive a portion of the tax collected by Amazon on sales made to Mississippians. But Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, said he expects legislation to be considered during the 2017 session to provide local governments a share of the windfall. "That will be considered," Smith said.
 
Property tax referendum, other ed bills advance
Voters would have to approve any increase to property taxes requested by their local school board under a bill that passed the House Education Committee Wednesday. Current law allows school boards to request an increase within 4 percent of the property taxes they received within the last fiscal year. House Bill 205, authored by William Shirely, R-Quitman, would require a referendum any time school boards seek to request an amount over 2 percent. Democrats, along with a few Republican lawmakers argued that such move infringes on local control. Also at play are an education consultant's proposal that could have the effect of shifting the responsibility of school funding to the local level for several districts.
 
In reversal, House votes to limit attorney general's powers
Mississippi's Democratic attorney general is lashing out at Republican lawmakers who are trying to limit his powers. The GOP-led state House reversed course Wednesday and passed a bill that would require the attorney general, the lone Democrat to hold statewide office, to receive permission from a three-member board before filing any lawsuit that might have at least a $250,000 award. House Bill 555 passed 63-55, mostly along party lines, with a few Republicans joining Democrats in voting no. The bill moves to the Senate. "Obviously, House leadership and proponents of this bill bow down to their corporate masters, and it's unfortunate that this bill's supporters put such pressure on conscientious Republican legislators to change their vote," Hood said in a statement.
 
AG Jim Hood has money ties to Google competitors
As Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood enters his second legal entanglement with tech giant Google Company, campaign contribution documents on the Mississippi Secretary of State's website show Hood has received thousands of dollars in from other entertainment and tech companies since 2011. According to the documents, companies with vested interests in intellectual property and copyright law -- including 21st Century Fox America, Inc., Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. and the Recording Industry Association of America -- have each contributed at least $1,000 to Hood's campaigns between 2011 and 2015. Additionally, tech companies including Facebook and Yahoo -- both competitors with Google -- have also contributed money. Earlier this month, Hood filed a lawsuit against Google in Lowndes County Chancery Court. Hood and Google have been embroiled in legal battles before.
 
State Rep. Ken Morgan talks deer, turkey tagging
A bill calling for required tagging and harvest reporting of deer and turkeys has been introduced in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Rep. Ken Morgan (R-Morgantown), who authored House Bill 1028, offered thoughts on the bill. One of the most common arguments against tagging deer and turkeys is that too many hunters will not tag or report their harvests. Comments on social media indicate some feel conservation officer numbers are too low to enforce bag limits, making tagging ineffective. Morgan feels differently. The bill, if passed, would make non-compliance a Class II violation. Hunters who violate any part of the tagging and reporting program would face fines of no less than $100 and no more than $500 for a first offense. Each offense after would bring fines of no less then $500 and no more than $1,000. The bill also directs where the money from tagging and harvest reporting fines will go. Under HB 1028, administrative fees will go to the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
 
Arts commission transitions often lead to less funding
The news was broken to the Mississippi Arts Commission's 15-member board in a conference call on Monday: A Senate bill would abolish their agency in its current form. And on Thursday -- just four days after the commission heard of the bill that would dismantle the current structure of the 49-year-old agency -- the Senate Appropriations Committee could vote to send the bill to the Senate floor. "My staff did not ask for this," Malcolm White, the commission's executive director, told Mississippi Today. "Their lives have been upended with no notice or explanation. They know they are state employees, and they cannot speak out about this. I'll soon have to make the decision about whether I'm more interested in a paycheck or standing up for my life's work." This week, as commission employees scramble to develop last-second lobbying strategies to fight the transition and the state's arts community rallied to defend the current Arts Commission, some ask: Could the merger work?
 
Schools could lose accreditation for violating constitution
The House Education Committee wants the state to withdraw the accreditation of school districts found in violation of any state law or section of the Mississippi Constitution. While supporters of the bill said it had nothing to do with the law that requires schools to fly the state flag, some opponents suspected otherwise. House Bill 280, authored by Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, and Rep. Dana Criswell, R-Olive Branch, would give districts 30 days to correct a problem before facing loss of accreditation. Rep. Ashley Henley, R-Southaven, a former teacher, spoke from a "boots on the ground" perspective. She expressed concern that the bill did not include any protection for teachers who file a complaint that could be tracked back to them.
 
Bill: Make Schools Fly Mississippi's Confederate-Themed Flag
A bill advancing in the Mississippi House would require all K-12 schools to fly the state flag or lose state accreditation. House Bill 280 passed the House Education Committee 13-8 Wednesday. It would require all schools to follow all state laws. One often-ignored Mississippi law says schools must fly the banner that has the Confederate battle emblem in its upper left-hand corner. Especially in districts with a majority of African-American students, officials sometimes object to the flag as racist.
 
22 state flag-related bills filed
In the state's bicentennial year, and a few months after two flag initiatives failed to receive enough signatures to make a statewide ballot, lawmakers have filed 22 bills offering to change, keep or let voters decide on the current state flag. Twelve bills, all drafted by black Democrats, propose a new state flag. Seven bills, all drafted by white Republicans, would support the current state flag and impose statutory punishments for governmental entities refusing to fly it. And for the second straight year, House Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, proposed adopting a second official state flag that does not contain the controversial Confederate battle emblem. Under his bill, governmental entities could decide which flag to fly.
 
Sen. Tommy Gollott chases longest serving lawmaker record
Cy Young's 749 complete games pitched. Wilt Chamberlain's 100 points basketball game. Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2,632 consecutive baseball games played. Those are records that probably will never be broken. In Mississippi, Sen. Tommy Gollott, R- Biloxi, is working on a record that may never be broken. On Sept. 26 of this year, Gollott will tie the late Walter Sillers Jr. as the longest serving state legislator. Sillers served for 50 years, from 1916 to his death, Sept. 26, 1966. Gollott will break the record if he serves past Sept. 26 of this year. Gollott said recently he is looking forward to claiming the record.
 
Ex-DeSoto Supervisor John Grisham, Sr. dies at 87
John Grisham, Sr., father of novelist John Grisham and a former DeSoto County Supervisor, died this past Sunday in Mountain View, Ark. He was 87. The elder Grisham, known to family as "Papa John" had ties to both Arkansas and Mississippi. John and Wanda Grisham moved to a farm outside of Black Oak, Ark. just after they married in 1952. By the early 1970s, the Grishams and their five children, John, Mark, Kenny, Beth and Wendy had settled in the Southaven area. John, Sr. owned and operated a heavy equipment company, Grisham Equipment, which was in operation for several years. John Grisham, Sr. was first elected as DeSoto County Supervisor in 1985 and served two terms.
 
'We respect you': SoS Delbert Hosemann praises law enforcement, Crime Stoppers
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has a deep seated appreciation of law enforcement. "The respect the community has for you (law enforcement) is minuscule, compared to what it should be," Hosemann said at the Crime Stoppers of Northeast Mississippi awards luncheon Wednesday in Tupelo. Hosemann pledged his support for the "Blue Lives Matter" bill making its way through the state Legislature. The bill would allow enhanced penalties for crimes against police and fire fighters.
 
With wall, Trump begins reset of America's role since World War II
Dubbing it a "big day for national security," President Trump took steps Wednesday to rein in immigration and harden America's borders -- notably by ordering the "immediate" construction of the wall that was the signature pledge of his campaign. The executive order begins to cast his "America First" campaign slogan in brick-and-mortar reality. In doing so, Mr. Trump signaled his intention to pursue the idea that higher walls and stronger borders – not global engagement -- best enhances national security. His decision earlier this week to formally withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was further evidence of this general vision. It marks a fundamental reversal of the national security approach that has defined America in the post-World War II era.
 
Trump's flashy executive actions could run aground
President Donald Trump's team made little effort to consult with federal agency lawyers or lawmakers as they churned out executive actions this week, stoking fears the White House is creating the appearance of real momentum with flawed orders that might be unworkable, unenforceable or even illegal. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, now a lobbyist, said he continues to have deep reservations about any aggressive use of executive action, whether it comes from a Republican or Democrat. "You don't want to have an imperial president," Lott said. "It's just not the best way to govern. These things need to be figured out by Congress. We have allowed the presidency to become too powerful."
 
U. of Mississippi's first diversity chancellor takes the reins
Katrina Myers Caldwell is trying to understand the University of Mississippi. As the university's first vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement, Caldwell said she wants to, "help build on the programs that have already been established that have been very successful and to look for, in terms of progress, what changes we may make in the future around the university." Caldwell has spent the last 20-plus years in the Midwest working with different institutions to handle diversity. She said she is looking forward to building a portfolio on diversity and community engagement for the campus. "I'm really intrigued about the University of Mississippi's history and its legacy," she said. "I think now the way diversity, equity, inclusion work is happening in the world, in terms of innovation and progress, places like Mississippi are important, I think, in terms of diversity."
 
Auburn University's Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art to close this summer for renovations
The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University will be closing its doors during the summer as its Grand Gallery and other rooms get an upgrade. Plans are to close the museum on May 8 to install sound dampening material to the ceilings of the Grand Gallery, the Dwight and Helen Carlisle Lobby and the Museum Cafe to improve the acoustics of those rooms, according to museum officials. "We reverberate beautifully," said Marilyn Laufer, director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art. "It's partially because of the ceilings arc. It's because of all the hard surfaces, and it just needs to be addressed." Another issue to be addressed during the closure will be the glare from the sun in the Grand Gallery, which has glass walls facing west.
 
UGA president announces drive for need-based scholarships after 'transformative' gift
The University of Georgia is launching a new need-based scholarship program, the university's president announced Wednesday. Any academically qualified student should be able to attend UGA regardless of how much money his or her family has, said UGA President Jere Morehead in his annual "State of the University" speech. "Scholarships are life-changing," Morehead said in his speech in the UGA Chapel. "They remove barriers and open doors." According to a recent study, UGA has a low percentages of lower-income students compared to other highly selective public universities, and one of the highest proportions of students from wealthy families. Under the new "Georgia Commitment Scholarship Program," the UGA Foundation will match any gift to the university of $50,000, $75,000 or $100,000 to fund a need-based scholarship, and will establish 400 to 600 annual scholarships.
 
U. of Florida law professor arrested on child abuse charge
A University of Florida law professor was arrested Tuesday on a child abuse charge, according to a Gainesville Police Department arrest report. Joseph Steven Jackson, 59, of Gainesville, tried to punch the child, a girl in her early teens, in the face during an argument, but the girl backed away as he swung, the arrest report says. The strike was a glancing blow, and the victim was not injured. Jackson has been a faculty member at UF's Levin College of Law since 1995. He is a senior legal skills professor and an associate director of the Center on Children and Families. He was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday, UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said.
 
Holocaust survivor, Texas A&M graduate speaks out 70 years later
A capacity crowd packed Rudder Theater on Wednesday night as Texas A&M graduate Thomas Gabor told his story of growing up in Slovakia and then Hungary during the Holocaust. Rabbi Matt Rosenberg and Texas A&M Hillel Jewish Student Center hosted Gabor, class of '61, who just recently started publicly sharing his memories after almost 70 years of silence. The Florida man, who hasn't been back to Texas A&M in 55 years, came to the university in the late 1950s and said his time with Hillel is one of his fondest memories. But when Gabor was about 10 years old and was a boy in Slovakia, the country was annexed by Hungary, and his family was forced to move to Budapest. During his time in Budapest, the family worked in different jobs, were constantly abused and harassed and were forcibly separated by Nazi soldiers. Gabor recounted being frightened to attend public school.
 
Texas universities fret about $1 billion in expected funding missing from budget plan
Texas universities entered the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature gearing up for fights over tuition and who can use what bathroom. But with the session underway, the schools have instead found themselves fighting for an arcane budgeting trick -- one that could affect up to $1 billion worth of appropriations for higher education items such as museums, research projects and new academic programs. The House has signaled plans to keep the trick essentially in place. The Senate's first crack at the state budget almost doesn't use it at all. It's unlikely that $1 billion will be missing when the two chambers reconcile the proposals months from now. But how the issue is settled could impact millions of dollars that usually goes to state universities.
 
College leaders discuss future of Title IX, sexual assault prevention efforts
As the Trump administration begins its term in office, college leaders remain unsure about how the new White House will regulate institutions' approaches to campus sexual assault. A panel discussion Wednesday on Capitol Hill reflected that anxiety, with college presidents calling on institutions to continue the Obama administration's increased focus on protecting students while urging the Trump administration to provide more clarity and to take a less adversarial stance. "My hope is that whatever Congress or the administration does in terms of peeling back federal regulations, that the universities in this country do not step away from this issue," said Diane Harrison, president of California State University, Northridge. The briefing was organized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
 
Freeze on Federal Activities Gives Scientists a Chill
Shelly L. Miller's next research project doesn't seem overtly political. A professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder, she hopes to study ways of helping homeowners affected by mold and dampness. But given the state of politics in Washington, Ms. Miller is hesitating on seeking a new grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to look into the matter. "Who knows," she said. "They may not want to fund that type of research any more." It's a concern that arose after the election of President Trump last November, and now -- less than a week into the administration -- is being amplified by various reports of a freeze on grants, new regulations and even public discussions by government agencies and officials. There's a lot that's unknown about the new Trump administration's policies, and some of them already appear to be shifting.
 
@RogueNASA: America's scientists are launching unofficial Twitter accounts to defy Trump
Employees from more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have established a network of unofficial "rogue" Twitter feeds in defiance of what they see as attempts by President Donald Trump to muzzle federal climate change research and other science. Seizing on Trump's favourite mode of discourse, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other bureaus have privately launched Twitter accounts -- borrowing names and logos of their agencies -- to protest restrictions they view as censorship and provide unfettered platforms for information the new administration has curtailed. The swift proliferation of such tweets by government rank-and-file followed internal directives several agencies involved in environmental issues have received since Trump's inauguration requiring them to curb their dissemination of information to the public.
 
Draft executive order would call for banning entry of individuals from some countries
A draft executive order that President Trump is reportedly considering signing would suspend and shrink refugee admissions and temporarily bar nationals of certain countries in the Middle East and Africa from entering the U.S. The draft order, published Wednesday by The Washington Post and The New York Times, can be read in light of Trump's campaign promise to temporarily suspend visa processing from certain countries. The draft order, if signed in its published form, would have immediate implications for higher education institutions bringing students and scholars from the Middle East and Africa. Figures from the Institute of International Education's annual Open Doors survey show that Iran sent 12,269 students to the U.S. in the 2015-16 academic year, making it the 11th-leading country of origin for international students in the United States, right after Mexico.
 
Harvard's New Fund Manager, Copying Yale, Will Farm Out Money
The new head of Harvard University's endowment moved quickly to remake the fund in the model of better-performing rivals such as Yale, pledging to cut its 230-person staff in half and shift most of its money to outside managers. The change marked an extraordinary repudiation of an investment strategy dating to the 1990s. Under that approach, Harvard hired its own managers -- offering multi-million-dollar paychecks to the top performers -- to oversee its wealth. Harvard hired Nirmal "Narv" Narvekar, who started in December, to turn around the $35.7 billion fund, the largest in higher education. At Columbia, where he outperformed Harvard with a staff of only 20, Narvekar used the outsourcing approach. "We can no longer justify the organizational complexity and resources necessary to support the investing activities of these portfolios," Narvekar, 54, wrote Wednesday in a letter to Harvard. "Therefore, we have made some important but very difficult decisions."
 
Curtain could be falling on ads starring elected officials
The Sun Herald's Paul Hampton writes: "I thought it was a mistake. It had to be a mistake. Two Democrats and two Republicans authoring the same bill. I checked it once. I checked it twice. I rubbed my eyes, walked around the hall and came back and checked it again. Dang. It said the same thing. Republican Reps. Jerry Turner and Noah Sanford and Democrats Tom Miles and Jay Hughes are behind a bill that would ban Jackson's star politicians from starring in commercials and the like that are produced at taxpayer expense. ...Most of the ads targeted by the bill are public-service announcements that serve a useful purpose. ...The problem is, when you put an office holder in a leading role, it starts, to the untrained eye, to look like a political ad. The bill, which has a long way to go, would end all that."


SPORTS
 
Aggressive Bulldogs pull away in second half
Missouri certainly did not look like a team that had lost 10 straight games Wednesday night as the Tigers shot 61.5 percent from the field and hit seven 3-pointers in the opening half against Mississippi State. The Tigers held a 43-39 lead at the break, but the Bulldogs came out as the aggressors in the second half. MSU made its first six shots of the second half to take the lead and never relinquished it in an 89-74 victory. "Our defense in the second half really keyed the comeback," said MSU coach Ben Howland. "We fought and really dug deep. They went from shooting 62 percent in the first half and we held them to 32 in the second half. That's a tribute to our defense and really fed our offense."
 
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters lead Mississippi State over Missouri
Ben Howland predicted earlier this week that Quinndary Weatherspoon would elevate his game to a higher level over the course of these final six weeks of the conference season. Mississippi State needed its sophomore leader to do that, too, Howland added. Howland looked smart on both those counts Wednesday night after the Bulldogs beat last-place Missouri 89-74 at Humphrey Coliseum in a come-from-behind win. MSU (13-6, 4-3) snapped a two-game skid. "We needed this win desperately today," Howland. It was Weatherspoon who kept the Bulldogs in the game, rallied a comeback and gave MSU its first lead, but Lamar Peters was the one who put the game out of reach.
 
Mississippi State dominates second half to prolong Missouri's losing streak
Missouri didn't play like it was on a 29-game losing streak in the first half of its game Wednesday night at Mississippi State. The Tigers broke recent custom by looking genuinely confident on an opponent's floor. Missouri went into the break shooting 69 percent from the field and 58 percent from 3, and four players had at least seven points. The familiar road woes returned with a vengeance in the second half. Mississippi State steamrolled Missouri in the second half, wiping out the Tigers' four-point halftime lead to prevail 89-74. The second-half tone was set early. Mississippi State hit their first seven shots coming out of the locker room, while Missouri (5-14, 0-7) missed their first seven. That fueled a 15-4 run which gave Mississippi State its first lead with 15 minutes, 58 seconds remaining. It wouldn't relinquish it.
 
Quinndary Weatherspoon leads Mississippi State over Missouri
Quinndary Weatherspoon had a career-high 29 points Wednesday night to lead Mississippi State to an 89-74 victory over Missouri. Lamar Peters had 23 points with a 7-of-11 showing on 3-pointers for the Bulldogs (13-6, 4-3 SEC). Mario Kegler added 16 points. Jordan Barnett and Jordan Geist each had 18 points to lead Missouri (5-14, 0-7). The Tigers dropped their 11th straight game. Mississippi State opened the second half on a 10-3 run to take the lead for good at 49-46. Then Peters went on a hot streak and made five straight 3-pointers to push the Bulldogs' advantage to 72-59 with less than nine minutes remaining.
 
Mississippi State Notebook: 'Spoon puts a fork in Tigers
Mississippi State coach Ben Howland met with Quinndary Weatherspoon earlier this week and encouraged his star guard to be aggressive and get back to his old self. Weatherspoon responded with a career-high 29 points in the Bulldogs' 89-74 victory over Missouri on Wednesday. "I was teaching him throughout the whole game," Howland said. "He started playing in the 9th grade. It is very rare for really good players to start playing basketball as late as 9th grade. His ceiling is so high because he is still learning the game. He was terrific tonight."
 
Experience helps Mississippi State's Braxton Hoyett shine as a sophomore
Braxton Hoyett's sophomore season went much differently than his first at Mississippi State. Hoyett's playing time and statistics increased as did his responsibilities along the defensive line. But the 6-foot-3, 305-pounder credits his improvement to experience. "Stepping on the field in games for the first time you really have all those nervous feelings because you don't want to mess up," Hoyett said. "But now when I get on the field I know what I'm doing and I'm playing faster. I'm confident in my play and know my plays so just go out there and play ball." This offseason might the most important one in Hoyett's three-plus years in Starkville.
 
Auburn planning new $28-million gameday facility at Jordan-Hare Stadium
Jordan-Hare Stadium could be getting a $28-million facelift beginning in May. A proposal for a new gameday facility was included in a meeting agenda for Auburn's board of trustees, which will meet next week to discuss the proposal. The proposed project is a 44,000-square-foot, multi-story facility in the southwest corner of the stadium that will include designated space for football and Olympic sports recruiting, a new club space for fans and a new press box area for the media, which will be relocated from the current press box on the stadium's west side. The project also includes a 16,000-square-foot renovation to the home locker room and within the existing footprint of the stadium.
 
With new video scouting room, full-time coordinator, LSU baseball seeks competitive edge
What used to be open space in a corner of the players' lounge at Alex Box Stadium is now a walled-off room LSU hopes will keep it on the cutting edge of the sport. This offseason, LSU hired a full-time video coordinator, Jamie Tutko, to run a revamped video scouting department. Tutko reckons he is one of roughly a dozen full-time video coordinators in college baseball. His work area still has all the markings of being freshly occupied. It's sparsely decorated, with one large painting hanging above the three workstations. But it's the tools of his trade that are important, and those are fully operational. Each workstation has a 49-inch flat-screen TV hanging on the wall above a desk that's adorned with two additional monitors. This is where LSU players and coaches will spend time off the field to seek an edge.
 
U. of Missouri athletics operated at $2.95M surplus in 2015-16
The Missouri athletic department's revenue reached a record level during the 2015-16 fiscal year thanks to a soaring media-rights payout of $33.5 million, but MU's expenses also increased to a record high, and its ticket sales revenue decreased. Missouri brought in $97.28 million in revenue from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, according to its annual revenue and expense report prepared for the NCAA, obtained Tuesday by the Tribune via an open-records request. The athletic department's expenses during the fiscal period totaled $94.32 million. Missouri operated at a surplus of $2.95 million, down from $4.36 million in the previous fiscal year. The Tigers ran in the black for the fourth straight year. Although revenue figures for the 2016 football season aren't yet available, attendance figures don't paint a promising picture.
 
Brent Musburger retiring from sportscasting
Brent Musburger is calling it a career at ESPN after being the play-by-play man in the booth at sporting events enjoyed by millions of Americans, most prominently when he was the lead voice for CBS Sports in the 1980s. Musburger, 77, said he's leaving active sportscasting to help his family get a sports handicapping business started and to use some of the millions of airline miles he's earned. His last game will be the Kentucky-Georgia men's basketball game on Jan. 31. That takes him back to Rupp Arena, where he called Villanova's historic NCAA championship upset over Georgetown in 1985. A former sportswriter, Musburger's broadcast fame took off through his work on "NFL Today," the pro football pregame show. He broadcast the NBA, college basketball, the Masters and tennis -- most of CBS' marquee events.



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