Thursday, March 23, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Board pushes for hospital RFP despite community opposition
The controversial discussions on the possible sale or lease of OCH Regional Medical Center continued Monday night. The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to move forward with a request for proposals for the sale or lease of OCH. District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery voted no, and District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard, one of the most vocal opponents of the sale or lease was absent. "I think everything is running in a great direction," said Board of Supervisors President Orlando Trainer, among the most vocal supporters of a sale or lease. "We're going to do everything within our power to make sure this is a good thing for the community." However, OCH Administrator Richard Hilton reaffirmed the hospital's position against any sale or lease agreement.
Starkville denies access to dash cam video, reports tied to alleged pedestrian incident
Starkville board attorney Chris Latimer denied a request made by The Dispatch Wednesday for dash camera footage and incident reports stemming from an alleged pedestrian accident involving a former Starkville Police Department officer under review by the district attorney's office. The newspaper filed its request after aldermen voted 3-2 Tuesday to tender a potential case against former Officer William Thrasher to Scott Colom's office for possible prosecution. Thrasher does not currently face any criminal charges, Mayor Parker Wiseman confirmed. An additional request made by The Dispatch for Thrasher's personnel file, which sought to answer whether or not the former officer faced disciplinary action in the past, was also denied.
Politicians will see campaign cash spending curbed
After two years of debate, the Senate on Wednesday sent to the governor a campaign-finance reform measure that would restrict politicians' spending campaign money on personal expenses and provide for some enforcement and oversight by the state Ethics Commission. "The overall rule on this is common sense," said Senate Elections Chairwoman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, author of the original Senate bill. "If an expense is related to your campaign or holding office, it is allowable. If it is a personal expense, it is not." Senate Bill 2689, in its final form passed Wednesday, was a compromise between Senate and House proposals over the last two sessions. It contains a mix of the Senate's tougher restrictions on spending -- and what constitutes personal use -- and the House's stronger enforcement, to be overseen by the Ethics Commission. Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to sign the bill into law, to take effect Jan. 1.
Senators send bill limiting campaign spending to Gov. Phil Bryant
Mississippi lawmakers agree that public officials shouldn't spend campaign money on themselves. Senators Wednesday agreed to House changes to Senate Bill 2689 . Only Sen. Juan Barnett, a Heidelberg Democrat, opposed the bill. The measure now goes to Gov. Phil Bryant for his approval or veto. Now, Mississippi public officials can spend campaign money any way they like, as long as they pay income taxes on money taken for personal use. Some take large sums when they retire.
Mississippi campaign finance reform bill heads to governor
A bill to prevent politicians from using campaign finance funds for personal use is heading to the governor – a little less than one year after being defeated during the 2016 legislative session in what was an embarrassing loss for the House leadership. The 52-member Senate, with only one dissenting vote, on Wednesday agreed to changes made to the Senate bill by the House. That action means the campaign finance reform bill, which House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, labeled as a priority before the session began, is on the way to Gov. Phil Bryant, who is expected to sign it into law. The issue came to the forefront because of various media reports of politicians using campaign finance funds for various purposes, ranging from clothing, to automobiles to home repairs and of politicians converting campaign finance funds to their personal accounts upon leaving public office.
Road, bridge repairs face roadblock
The prospect of a grand legislative bargain on funding road and bridge fixes is crumbling. A ranking Senate leader told Mississippi Today on Wednesday that a potential funding stream that some lawmakers hoped could provide millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements across the state is off the table. Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, and the Mississippi Economic Council, the state's chamber of commerce, have endorsed legislation that calls for some $40 million the state collects from users who voluntarily pay taxes on online purchases to be put toward repairs for roads and bridges. That proposal also involves authorizing $50 million in bonds for local governments to use for infrastructure and requires the Mississippi Department of Transportation to spend more of its budget on improvement projects. Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said he's only open to a bond package for infrastructure.
Chairman: School donation effort was 'crazy bill'
The Senate chairman who declined to advance a bill that would have allowed tax-deductible donations to public schools said Wednesday that the "crazy bill" would have diverted state tax collections, harming poorer districts. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, told Mississippi Today that he did not bring the bill up for consideration by his committee, essentially killing it, because it's a "crazy bill." "The reason it's crazy is it makes you feel good that you can donate money to a specific public school of your choice," he said. "What it actually does is takes money out of the general fund -- 62 percent of which goes to public education." House Education Committee Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, said he authored the bill after meeting with Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, over the summer. Both Hughes and Moore disagree with Fillingane’s assessment .
DeSoto tourism tax bill dies in House vote
The "Penny for the Parks" bill died Wednesday in the Mississippi House after a spirited and often acrimonious discussion that lasted more than 20 minutes on the House floor. Most are blaming the loss on an ultraconservative bloc of DeSoto County House lawmakers who have steadfastly refused to support similar initiatives in the districts of their fellow House colleagues across the state on a philosophical no-tax pledge. That means Southaven's tourism tax bill is all but dead, technically held on a motion to reconsider. "We're not going to give up hope until the session is over," Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite said Wednesday after the vote. "It's a tremendous hit. That's what I've been saying all along. The city has used that money very wisely to improve the quality of life in Southaven. When you take away $1.9 million, that hurts." The bill only received four votes in the House with 113 votes against -- a rare situation in that most local and private bills dealing with tourism tax initiatives are rarely opposed.
House revolts against DeSoto County delegation
After badgering city officials for weeks to get acceptable tax bills to the House floor, DeSoto County representatives saw both bills defeated. The two bills suffered overwhelming defeats Wednesday. It's extremely unusual for such local bills to be voted down, with legislators usually passing bills dealing with other members' districts nearly unchallenged. Jeff Hale, a Republican from Nesbit, says fellow DeSoto House members have a habit of voting against their colleagues' local bills, and other representatives took revenge. Hale didn't present either bill.
New research identifies a 'sea of despair' among white, working-class Americans
Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists. Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up. Education level is significant: People with a college degree report better health and happiness than those with only some college, who in turn are doing much better than those who never went.
Reports: No Ole Miss students injured in London
"By the grace of God, no one is in London right now," Ole Miss study abroad adviser Skip Langley said. Wednesday morning, news spread about a terrorist attack in London when a knife-wielding man plowed a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing a police officer at the gates of Parliament. Four were killed, including the attacker, and about 40 others were injured, in what Prime Minister Theresa May called a "sick and depraved terrorist attack," according to The Associated Press. All the other students in the United Kingdom have been confirmed safe. Langley, who oversees students in different regions including the United Kingdom, said this was the first time in his six-year tenure that no students were studying abroad in London.
USM probes tragic case of Clyde Kennard and how he inspired integration
"Can We Achieve This Togetherness In Our Time" is the first lecture series to analyze critical perspectives of the infamous Clyde Kennard case and its relationship to racial progress at the University of Southern Mississippi. The series will be held at the historic Eureka School in Hattiesburg March 23, March 30 and April 6. Each lecture will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Kennard wanted to complete his college education, so he sought to enroll at the all-white Mississippi Southern College, now the University of Southern Mississippi. Although Kennard was denied three times and never was admitted to the college, an interdisciplinary group of USM professors believe Kennard was a catalyst for desegregation of the school. In September 1965, Raylawni Branch and Elaine Armstrong were the first African-American students admitted to the university.
USM professor: 'I'm an old dog learning new tricks'
Southern Miss faculty member Cindy Blackwell doesn't get a lot of chances to improve her teaching skills. "You can go listen to speakers and conferences," she said. "Are they all related to what I do in the classroom? Not necessarily. There are not a whole lot of opportunities." But last year, Blackwell, assistant director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism, got some rare in-depth teaching training. She and 28 of her peers took an eight-week program offered at the university by the Association of College and University Educators' Faculty Development Institute. The intensive course focused on research-based techniques for promoting active learning, increasing student persistence, delivering effective lectures and facilitating engaging discussions.
Governor signs bill allowing development of Delta State property
On Tuesday, Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 919, which gives Delta State University the opportunity to lease the Derrall Foreman Golf Course property and develop it. Rep. Abe Hudson was the author of the bill. "By giving Delta State University the option to lease its land, an opportunity is provided to the university to explore a long-term revenue stream. "Also, it also has the potential for high-end housing options for students and employees. Lastly, it creates the chance to provide a conference center for the campus and the community," said Hudson. The law will go into effect July 1 and allows the university to lease the property for a conference center; hotel; residential houses or apartments, of which students and faculty would get first choice; parking; executive par-three golf course; or a walking/fitness trail.
Golfers continue search to save Delta State course
Concerned patrons of the Derrall Foremen Golf Course met for the second time Monday to discuss plans on reversing Delta State University's decision to close down the greens. Many at the meeting seem to correlate the closing of the golf course with Mississippi House Bill 919, which would give Delta State the authority to lease the property. Despite their concerns, President William LaForge has no plans to repurpose the property once the golf course closes on June 30. Many were left wondering what could be done to get LaForge to change his mind. LaForge's decision to close the golf course was influenced by five budget cuts over 14 months totaling a staggering $1.8 million.
Meridian Community College tops state on graduation rate
Meridian Community College has the highest graduation rate in the state among Mississippi's 15 community colleges, according to the "College Scorecard" released Tuesday by the National Center for Educational Statistics. MCC's graduation rate of 33 percent stood eight percentage points above the state average, the federal report indicated. MCC President Dr. Scott Elliott said the college's ranking is a testimony to "the quality of instruction provided by our outstanding faculty as well as the effectiveness of the services rendered by our support staff." Elliott, completing his 19th year as MCC president, noted that the college's reputation for academic excellence was established "long before I arrived on the scene."
Vanderbilt urges Congress to fight 'bad budget for America'
Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and other college leaders are turning to Congress for help beating back a White House push to gut research funding through what he called "a bad budget for America." President Donald Trump's "budget blueprint," released last week, called for unprecedented cuts to research funding from several federal departments. Under the plan the National Institutes of Health, a top funding source, would see its cash flow cut by $5.8 billion, or about 20 percent. Zeppos called Trump's budget proposal "very, very, very disappointing and short-sighted" in an interview where he laid out an argument urging Congress to take action against the plan. "Our biggest threat to innovation and economic growth is cutting American research funding," Zeppos said. "This is not a path forward to really sustain and grow the economy."
U. of Tennessee student interns at Parliament are safe
Three University of Tennessee students interning at Britain's Parliament are safe following an attack Wednesday that left five people dead and injured about 40 others in London. UT currently has 40 students interning and studying in the United Kingdom, including 28 in London, according to Karen Dunlap, distribution coordinator for the University of Tennessee Knoxville Office of Communications and Marketing. Parliament was placed in lockdown at around 2:40 p.m. London time and Prime Minister Theresa May was spotted by local media being rushed into a car near Parliament as shots could be heard. All UT students in London are safe and have been accounted for, Dunlap said. She said around 3 p.m. E.D.T. Wednesday that UT's Center for International Education was still working to get in touch with the remaining students elsewhere in the U.K.
Undocumented immigrants in Tennessee cheer another chance at in-state tuition
Tennessee law requires undocumented immigrants to pay substantially more than their peers to attend state colleges, but an effort to change that scored a big win -- and support from Gov. Bill Haslam -- Wednesday. Lawmakers, together with immigrant rights advocates, have worked for five years to pass a bill that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at schools like the University of Tennessee and Nashville State Community College. Their progress has come in fits and starts, with a 2015 bill passing in the Senate only to fail by one vote on the House floor. But advocates and students cheered from the steps of the Capitol after the latest bill -- sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, and Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis -- easily cleared a key hurdle Wednesday by winning support from the Senate Education Committee with a 7-2 vote.
UGA students in England safe, President Jere Morehead says
University of Georgia students in London are safe and accounted for, UGA President Jere Morehead said Wednesday afternoon in the aftermath of what police were describing as a terrorist attack there in which four people were killed and 40 were injured.. The university operates a year-round residential study-abroad program for its students in cooperation with Oxford University's Trinity College, and owns a residence for students in the city, about 50 miles from Wednesday's suspected terror attacks in London. The Guardian and other news organizations reported that four people, including a police officer, died in what was termed a "major terror attack" outside Parliament.
U. of Florida researchers still hope to control invasive cogongrass
After years of research, a University of Florida team has found a bug to combat cogongrass, an invasive weed that has been hurting area businesses. Cogongrass has been an issue in Alachua and Marion counties, and beyond, since the early 1900s, when it was brought to Florida for packing material and foraging grass. Over time, it has out-competed natural grasses. According to UF/IFAS Extension, cogongrass is an aggressive perennial that does not survive in cultivated areas but becomes established along roadways and in forests, parks and mining areas. It grows as far north as South Carolina and as far west as Texas. Within the last 50 years, it has become established in the southeastern US, with extensive infestation in Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, where it ranges from the Panhandle into south Florida.
Texas A&M tightens requirements for speakers on its campus
Texas A&M no longer allows outside speakers or groups without affiliation with the university to rent space in its campus facilities. Following a controversial visit from white nationalist Richard Spencer in December, A&M officials have been working to develop stricter guidelines for visiting speakers on the campus. One change already in effect is a policy that requires external speakers who wish to have an event on A&M's campus to first "secure sponsorship from a recognized Texas A&M student organization" before they can submit a request to rent space in one of the facilities operated by the office. A&M Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Amy Smith told CNN, "As one of the stewards for protecting and enhancing the brand, this is particularly troubling to me as the influx of these outside groups may connote to your viewers an environment of acceptance by our campus when none are actually our students or faculty."
Former Gov. Rick Perry questions election of first openly gay Texas A&M student president
Twenty days after being sworn in as U.S. Energy Secretary, Rick Perry is weighing in on Texas A&M University's recent election for student body president, questioning the motivation behind support for the first openly gay student to serve in the position. Former Texas Gov. Perry said he was "deeply troubled by the conduct of A&M's administration and Student Government Association" in an op-ed published online Wednesday by the Houston Chronicle following the disqualification of candidate Robert McIntosh. The opinion piece -- which described A&M allowing an election to be "stolen -- garnered attention from media across the country, including The Washington Post and CNN. The Dallas Morning News was quick to point out that McIntosh's mother, Alison, is a Dallas-based Republican fundraiser whose other children are featured in Facebook photographs with Perry.
U. of Missouri System president warns of closed programs amid budget crunch
The University of Missouri System must close programs and reduce costs to free resources for investment in high-demand and high-quality programs, President Mun Choi said Tuesday to the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. Choi also laid the groundwork for a substantial tuition increase in the coming year, providing figures for the past 10 years that show tuition in neighboring states has been climbing three to four times faster than at the university. Choi, who took over his job March 1, said decisions must be made quickly to meet challenges in the budget year that begins July 1. State lawmakers are considering a $40.7 million cut to UM's appropriation for the coming year, and declining enrollment makes it likely the Columbia campus will have to cover a $50 million or larger shortfall.
Fiscal crisis dominates faculty meeting with U. of Missouri System President Mun Choi
Frustrated, anxious faculty members directed pointed questions to the new UM System president Wednesday about looming budget cuts, incentive pay for administrators and transparency. About 150 faculty members packed Jesse Wrench Auditorium for a special general meeting with Mun Choi, planned weeks ahead so they could get a face-to-face session with the new president. "Faculty don't feel that administration has our backs," said Jeff Rouder, a professor of psychological sciences. "It's salary, it's buildings, it's benefits. When people come here and I'm going to sell them Mizzou, I'll tell them the parking is cheap." Faculty also told Choi how the controversial executive incentive program has affected morale. Four days after the audit revealing the incentives was released, Choi announced that the UM System would discontinue the incentives.
In the Trump Era, Even Commencement Politics Are More Charged
Six days after Mike Pence was sworn in as vice president of the United States, the president of the University of Notre Dame attended a small reception at the vice president's office for some participants of the Right to Life march, an anti-abortion demonstration. When they had a moment alone, the Rev. John I. Jenkins invited Mr. Pence to give the Roman Catholic university's 2017 commencement address, an invitation the former Indiana governor later accepted. Liberty University's president, Jerry L. Falwell Jr., sent a letter to then-President-elect Donald J. Trump last December inviting him to speak at the Christian institution's commencement this May. Mr. Falwell doesn't think Mr. Trump ever read the letter, which was sent to New York. But when commencement came up in a recent conversation with Mr. Pence, the vice president told Mr. Falwell the president would be happy to speak. On Wednesday, Liberty announced that Mr. Trump would be speaking to its graduating class, making him the first sitting president to do so since George H.W. Bush in 1990.
U. of Memphis sees drop in interest from abroad
University of Memphis graduate student Kanika Singh's biggest complaint about going to school here is the weather. "It snows and then it's sunny the day after," the 31-year-old native of India said on a nearly 80-degree day in March. But as positive as her experience here is, she wasn't surprised to hear international interest in U of M has dropped this year. Applications from abroad are down 19 percent. U of M isn't alone. A recent survey by six top higher education organizations found that nearly 4 in 10 U.S. colleges saw declines in applications from international students. The study also reported students were concerned about their ability to receive a visa to study in the U.S. and whether the political climate meant they would be welcomed. Jasbir Dhaliwal, U of M's vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the graduate school, said the school is worried about its drop in applications.
With Hacking in Headlines, K-12 Cybersecurity Education Gets More Attention
Amid a steady drumbeat of reports on cyber-espionage and election-related hackings, lawmakers are wrestling with questions of how to best protect the country from digital threats and address a severe shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers. That means new attention for nascent efforts to support cybersecurity education, including in K-12 schools. The National Governors Association, eight different federal agencies, and a national commission established by President Barack Obama are among those supporting a wide assortment of cybersecurity-related education and workforce-development initiatives. The administration of President Donald Trump has also been working on its own cybersecurity executive order, an early version of which would have mandated a sweeping review of the country's related education efforts. There's also an ongoing debate about whether cybersecurity education should prioritize national-security or workforce-development concerns.
Electing a statue for Mississippi
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "If you visit the U.S. Capitol you've likely been through National Statuary Hall and seen the collection of statues given by each state to represent itself in the collection. Beginning in 1864, Congress authorized each state to send two statues and in 1933 expanded the location for these statues throughout the Capitol. There has been a discussion about replacing the statues from Mississippi. The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics at the University of Mississippi hosted a panel discussion earlier this month. The 100 statue collection contains the famous, the impressive and the obscure."
Trump's Gorsuch nomination 'rational'
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "For all of the questionable, quirky, and downright bizarre actions and utterances of our newly-minted President of the United States, Donald Trump appears to have done yeoman's work in selecting a wise, deliberate, and qualified nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump's high court nominee, Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of Denver, faced Capitol Hill scrutiny from the U.S. Senate during his confirmation hearings this week. Confirmation hearings are complex events and those events usually have precious little to do with the qualifications of the nominee to serve on the federal bench. ...The partisan fight over Gorsuch's nomination will rage as expected. But the Roe v. Wade aspects of the judicial confirmation fight over Gorsuch is far more complex and nuanced. So far, the Gorsuch nomination may well be the most rational act of the Trump administration."

Energized Bulldogs push on to Sweet 16
The Dispatch's Adam Minichino writes: "It's possible to see why some might have considered the Mississippi State women's basketball team's trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament a forgone conclusion. Coach Vic Schaefer's team entered the 2016-17 season with one of the nation's most experienced squads. The Bulldogs were coming off their second trip to the Sweet 16, so conventional wisdom suggested they would be able to duplicate their accomplishments from the previous season. ...If MSU continues to bring the intensity it showed Sunday, there is no denying it can go all the way to the Final Four in Dallas. Listening to the Bulldogs after the victory against the Blue Demons, it sounded like they were ready to continue feeding, especially when you have someone like Holmes playing with a smile on her face and a confidence that no one can stop her. "
Vic Schaefer's surprising move pays off for Bulldogs
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Logan Lowery writes: "You've got to admire what Vic Schaefer did over the weekend. Advancing the to Sweet 16 for the second year in a row is quite the accomplishment, but that's not what I'm referring to. Schaefer had the grapefruits to replace four members of his starting lineup right before the Bulldogs' opening-round game against Troy on Friday. Not only did it work, but the team tallied their highest point total of the season in a 110-69 rout. Can you imagine the scrutiny Schaefer would've faced had MSU lost?"
Tight ends could play bigger role for Dan Mullen's Bulldogs
Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen looks around his meeting room and can't help but feel a little older than his 44 years old. It's the curse of a coach who has done it long enough to hire former players as assistant coaches. "Holy cow I'm getting old. But it's great," Mullen said. "You just take pride on seeing the success that these guys have as they move forward in life and knowing that maybe you had a little something to do with that. It's great seeing those guys on a nightly basis, knowing you helped get them there." That is the case with D.J. Looney, MSU's new tight ends coach, who takes over what Mullen expects to be a pivotal unit for his offense.
Mississippi State's Fred Ross ready for next NFL Draft step
After posting solid times and numbers at the NFL Combine, Fred Ross returned to Mississippi State Wednesday for Pro Day looking to show he can be consistent, explosive and run good routes in front of 34 scouts. "I think I definitely came out here and did that," Ross said. Ross, Mississippi State's alltime leading receiver, posted a time of 4.51 in the 40-yard dash during the combine, so he opted to only participate in position drills Wednesday. I trained hard before the combine and at the combine I felt like I competed well and did the best I could so I wanted to stay on those numbers and come out here and just worry about football and the drills," Ross said. Next for Ross is a meeting with the Patriots on April 4.
Bulldogs showcase skills at Mississippi State's Pro Day
Over 30 NFL scouts representing 27 league teams gathered to watch one of the winningest senior classes in Mississippi State football history at 2017 MSU Pro Day on Wednesday at the Leo Seal Jr. Football Complex. A total of 19 Bulldogs, including 14 from the 2016 squad, participated in drills, position workouts and testing. Players were given the option to participate in the tests and drills of their choosing following weighing in. "These guys and a lot of young guys have dreams of going off to play in the NFL," ninth-year head coach Dan Mullen said. "These are guys who have worked hard throughout their career. They worked hard and played hard for Mississippi State and they were successful on and off the field. This was another day for them to be able to come out and showcase their skills and go live their dreams."
19 former Bulldogs participate in Pro Day
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has watched Mississippi State Pro Day increase in numbers and NFL interest over the past few years. And for good reason, considering the success of former Bulldogs at the next level. The Bulldogs held their annual Pro Day event Wednesday, and it featured a total of 19 former Bulldogs in attendance along with Delta State quarterback Tyler Sullivan. The majority of the Bulldog players recently completed their eligibility in the 2016 season. But other former players were in attendance and that included running back Anthony Dixon, safety Jay Hughes, receiver Fred Brown, running back Josh Robinson and safety Deontay Evans.
Mississippi players help Mississippi State grow softball in state
Mississippi native Kat Moore made a diving catch in the outfield to help the Mississippi State softball team clinch an upset of No. 11 Alabama on Saturday at Nusz Park. Moore later earned her 10 seconds of fame when the catch was featured on ESPN SportsCenter's "Top 10" package, which highlights that day's best plays in sports. Two years ago, MSU beat then-No. 9 Georgia on a walk-off home run by Mississippi native Katie Anne Bailey. MSU coach Vann Stuedeman is proud to have Mississippi kids in her program. While players from the Magnolia state don't dominate the roster, a Mississippi flavor is vital to the recruiting process for the sixth-year head coach. "When I got here, I felt like my calling was to grow the sport in this state," Stuedeman said.
New Arkansas law would allow guns into Razorbacks' football stadium as soon as 2018
Arkansas football fans might soon be able to carry guns into Razorbacks games. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Wednesday signed into law HB1249, which allows concealed weapons into public buildings. That includes Reynolds Razorback Stadium and Bud Walton Arena, the school's basketball facility. According to the Associated Press, anyone who undergoes an eight-hour active-shooter training course can receive a concealed handgun license and carry a weapon into a public building. A 2013 law allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons at Arkansas colleges and universities was left up to the schools adopt, but none did so. However, the new law would take that option away from the schools.
U. of Kentucky extends Calipari, Stoops contracts two more years
Kentucky's two most high-profile coaches, John Calipari and Mark Stoops, have both agreed to two-year contract extensions, the school announced Wednesday. The Calipari amendment extends his deal from March 30, 2022, to March 30, 2024, according to a release from UK Athletics. The men's basketball coach's total guaranteed compensation, including base salary, media/endorsement payments and retention bonuses will be $8 million for the amended term. "John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in the news release. The amendment to Stoops' contract included much more significant changes than just a two-year extension, taking him from June 30, 2020, to June 30, 2022. Stoops' new deal provides for total guaranteed compensation of $3.5 million for the current year.
Coach sues Lane Kiffin saying he was promised a job to secure a recruit
Former University of Alabama receiver Antonio "A.C." Carter alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin that Kiffin deceived him to secure a prospect, USA TODAY Sports confirmed. Carter said he was promised the assistant strength and conditioning coach job at FAU after Kiffin was hired by the school in December to curry favor with a family friend who ultimately signed with the Owls, according to the website SEC Country that obtained the full complaint. Carter wasn't ultimately hired by FAU "due to two prior minor misdemeanor criminal charges." Court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports show at least four arrests, all misdemeanors.
The most wonderful time of the year?
Mississippi syndicated sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "If you've played golf or baseball, you surely know about the sweet spot. In baseball, it's when you swing the bat and hit the ball, and you can't even feel the percussion. You hit the ball flush, right in the middle of the barrel of the bat and the ball just jumps off the bat. Ted Williams knew all about the sweet spot. Same deal in golf. You swing that driver and catch the ball perfectly on the clubface, right in the center, in the sweet spot. If you've never felt it, it's hard to describe. If you have felt it, you want to feel it again and again. It's the sweet spot. Heaven on Earth. We are entering, as March winds down and April arrives, this sports fan's sweet spot on the calendar. For me, at least, it doesn't get any better than this."

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