Wednesday, March 29, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State, OCH study impact of freezer meals on readmission rates
Mississippi State University and OCH Regional Medical Center have come together to study the impact of freezer meals on hospital readmission rates for older adults. The study is titled "Meals Enhancing Nutrition after Discharge," or MEND. The study evaluates the efficacy and feasibility of a frozen meal program designed to improve nutritional intake and reduce hospital readmissions for recently discharged older adults. MSU researcher Dr. David R. Buys and OCH Registered Dietitian Nicky Yeatman, believe this approach is worth a try. "The most critical time after discharge are those first few days back at home," Buys said. "Research shows when older adults go home from the hospital, many are living on a fixed income and having to make the decision to either get their prescriptions filled or purchase food. These meals are intended to bridge the gap from the hospital to the later phase of recovery."
 
Study tracks turkey movement in Mississippi
It sounds like the makings of a bad joke -- a turkey with a backpack. But that's exactly what the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has been placing on a number of turkeys. MDWFP Wild Turkey Program leader Adam Butler said the department, along with Mississippi State University wildlife ecology assistant professor Guiming Wang and the Mississippi Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation have joined forces to study habitat use by turkeys. At the heart of the study are backpacks containing GPS units. The data collected from the units will provide biologists with better knowledge of how turkeys relate to different landscapes. And the data isn't just for biologists.
 
MSU-Meridian and Meridian Community College: College Connect in its 5th year
Prospective students considering attending college locally had the chance Tuesday to enroll and apply for financial aid. College Connect is a one stop shop where students in Lauderdale County and surrounding areas may find out information about Mississippi State's Meridian Campus and Meridian Community College. Organizers say this event helps prospective students and their parents. Anyone interested in attending MCC or MSU Meridian in the future may still contact the institutions directly for help with enrollment and financial aid.
 
Starkville mayoral candidates pledge accessibility
Starkville mayoral candidates Johnny Moore, Damion Poe and Lynn Spruill all say they'll keep their future City Hall office door open to the public if elected and pledged to remain accessible to the community during Monday's first public forum of this year's municipal election cycle. All three Democrats laid out their platforms and visions for the city in front of a crowd of about 100 people. For the most part, the aspiring mayors stuck to their general messages and perceptions of city government -- all three agreed tending to jobs, infrastructure and partnerships are high-priority items on their agendas -- while mostly avoiding calls for new policies or delving into their intricacies. The May 2 Democratic Primary will decide the mayor's race after no Republicans or independents qualified for the race. A runoff election will be held May 16 if a candidate fails to get more than 50 percent of the vote.
 
Mayoral candidates discuss their plans for Starkville
More agreement than disagreement was on view as candidates for mayor pitched their visions for the city's future during a Monday evening public forum. Johnny Moore, Damion Poe and Lynn Spruill are all Democrats seeking to succeed incumbent Parker Wiseman as mayor of Starkville. After two terms, Wiseman chose not to run again. During Monday's forum at the Greensboro Center, all emphasized a need for accessibility in government, smart management of growth and stronger relationships between the city and Mississippi State University. A discussion of interactions between MSU and the city prompted all three candidates to urge greater cooperation. Moore was particularly grim in his evaluation of current relations.
 
Starkville traffic impacted by repair work on North Montgomery St.
Traffic may be affected for several hours today as crews repair a water line. North Montgomery Street will be closed to through traffic near 214 N. Montgomery Street beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Crews will work to fix the water line as quickly as possible.
 
Starkville police seek burglary suspects
The Starkville Police Department is asking for the community's help to identify burglary suspects. Police responded around 4 a.m. Friday to a residential alarm in a neighborhood on Louisville Street, south of Academy Road. The investigation uncovered evidence of attempted burglaries. A surveillance camera captured images of three male suspects.
 
Bicentennial: How Mississippi -- and its Coast -- came into statehood
Mississippians are not letting a major birthday such as the 200th slide into the history books as a footnote. Not this time, anyway. Residents learned their lesson well a century ago when they began organizing to celebrate the state's 100th birthday in 1917. Amazing plans were laid for a World's Fair-like exposition, aptly named the Mississippi Centennial Exposition, and construction of the buildings was begun when the state was forced to cancel. The United States' entry into World War I quashed plans for the 1917 birthday party, and it became The Centennial That Never Was. Twenty-first century Mississippians who believe it is time to make up for the birthday-party deficit have designated 2017 as the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration. In a nod to history, opening events for this year-long 200th observance will be Friday and Saturday at the same Gulfport site chosen for the centennial expo. The events at Centennial Plaza are billed as the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration South - the Party of the Century.
 
Governor can use another $50M to cover deficits, Mississippi lawmakers say
Mississippi lawmakers Tuesday gave Gov. Phil Bryant permission to withdraw another $50 million from state reserves to cover deficits in the budget year that ends June 30. The move to shore up this year's budget came as House and Senate leaders remain at a standoff over parts of next year's budget, even as other business in the 2017 Legislature begins to wrap up. A special session will likely be needed to approve spending plans for the Mississippi Department of Transportation and Attorney General Jim Hood's office before the 2018 budget year begins July 1. To guard against further cuts during the current budget year, the House and Senate on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 2649 and sent it to Bryant, who is expected to sign it.
 
BP funds fuel more controversy
The Legislature is pulling $9.5 million for Gulf Coast projects from the reserve fund from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill -- despite refusing to address how the entire fund should be used. That fund currently holds $109.6 million. If Gov. Phil Bryant signs the bill authorizing funding for the three projects, the total would sit right around $100 million. Last year, lawmakers also earmarked $42.6 million from the BP settlement fund for projects based on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. "This bill has withdrawals from the Budget Contingency Fund (where the BP money sits), and it's unfortunate it's come to this after seeing BP spending legislation fail earlier this year," Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, said on the Senate floor late Monday night. The years-long question of how to spend the BP settlement funds provided fireworks this session.
 
Mississippi passes domestic abuse divorce reform
The Legislature on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would allow abused spouses to more easily get a divorce, the first major change to the state's antiquated divorce laws in more than 40 years. "Many victims of domestic violence are too embarrassed, ashamed or afraid to pursue divorce," said Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, who has championed divorce reform for two years, working with anti-domestic abuse advocates. "Specifically including domestic violence as grounds for divorce makes clear that domestic abuse is unacceptable and there is a way out of a toxic relationship." Clay Chandler, spokesman for Gov. Phil Bryant, said: "Gov. Bryant has supported victims of domestic violence his entire career. He appreciates the Legislature's work on the bill and will sign it."
 
Medicaid fraud bill OK'd in House
The House passed a controversial Medicaid reform bill on Tuesday despite several unsuccessful attempts from Democrats to derail the legislation. House Bill 1090, known as the Act to Restore Hope Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone, will amp up the beneficiary vetting process for Medicaid and the Department of Human Services to root out fraud. The legislation provides for a new computer system to track the Medicaid system and would allow private companies to bid on a contract to do the vetting of beneficiaries. Democrats' problems with the legislation ran the gamut from concerns that the stringent vetting would accidentally kick qualified beneficiaries off the rolls to concerns that the third party vendor would add another layer of bureaucracy to state government.
 
Firing squad possible means of execution in Mississippi
A bill is on the way to the governor to allow firing squads as an option to carry out executions. House Bill 638 still has lethal injection, which is now used, as the first option. But if the state's lethal injection protocol is ruled unconstitutional, then other options for execution would be successive if one is ruled unconstitutional. The final bill adopted Tuesday says the method of execution following lethal injection would be gas, electrocution and firing squad. The House adopted the House and Senate conference committee report on the bill Sunday, and the Senate adopted it Tuesday, meaning it has passed the Legislature and is now headed to the governor.
 
Legislation to allow to go cup districts in Lee County heads to governor
The Lee County Board of Supervisors will be given the authority to create what is known as leisure and recreation districts where liquor can be consumed outdoors. The proposal has now passed both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature and is heading to Gov. Phil Bryant. Bryant signed similar legislation into law last year. Lee County was not included in the original bills filed this session to expand the number of areas where the leisure and entertainment districts can be located. The bill was to expand on legislation passed last year allowing several towns, including Tupelo, Corinth and towns on the Gulf Coast, to create the so-called "to go cup" areas. n a conference committee, where House and Senate leaders work out the differences in legislation between the two chambers, Lee County was added. Sen. Chad McMahan, R-Guntown, said he worked to get Lee County added.
 
Mississippi school takeover rules bill sent to governor
Mississippi could take over school districts for longer periods of time in an attempt to focus on academic improvement. House and Senate members agreed Tuesday to Senate Bill 2431, sending it to Gov. Phil Bryant for his approval or veto. It would change the Department of Education's current takeover model, calling the person appointed by the state an interim superintendent rather than a conservator. State Superintendent Carey Wright has said she wants to focus more on academic improvement and less on complying with state rules and improving finances. "MDE needs to invest as much, if not more time, in fixing academic problems as clearing accreditation violations," said Senate Education Committee Chairman Gray Tollison, an Oxford Republican. "That's what they're trying to do, is return a district to stability and implement best practices that are sustainable."
 
Legislature toughens superintendent qualifications
The House and Senate passed the final versions of several education bills on Tuesday, including a makeover of the school conservatorship law and a new set of qualifications for school superintendents. Senate Bill 2398 would require new superintendents to have at least six years of classroom or administrative experience, three of which must be as a principal of an A- or B-rated school or a school that increased its rating by a letter grade during the time the individual was principal. The State Board of Education will also develop a set of alternative qualifications for potential superintendents who don't meet those standards.
 
Wilson 'Bill' Minor, civil rights journalist and former Times-Picayune reporter, dies at 94
Wilson "Bill" Minor, who chronicled the civil rights movement in Mississippi for The Times-Picayune, persevering for decades despite vandalized offices, repeated death threats and cross burnings, died Tuesday at a hospice in the Jackson area. He was 94. Mr. Minor, a Hammond native whose father was a newspaper Linotype operator, decided on his vocation in high school, when a high school English teacher in Bogalusa praised his writing talent and suggested he go into journalism. He started working for The Times-Picayune in 1937, covering football games as a part-time writer, his son said. Mr. Minor majored in journalism at Tulane University. After The Times-Picayune closed its Jackson bureau in 1976, Mr. Minor had offers to go elsewhere to work for other newspapers, but he chose to stay put. "I wanted to see how the story ended," The Clarion-Ledger quoted him as saying.
 
Bill Minor, Journalist Who Was Called Conscience of Mississippi, Dies at 94
Bill Minor, whose courageous reporting helped open Americans' eyes to everyday racial discrimination in the South in the 1960s and won him recognition as the "conscience of Mississippi," died on Tuesday in Ridgeland, Miss., outside Jackson. He was 94. His death, at a hospice, was confirmed by his son Paul. Mr. Minor was already a fiercely independent and fearless muckraker, exposing corrupt Mississippi politicians in The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, when his news articles and commentary emerged as the region's lonely but conspicuous witness to the fledgling civil rights movement and the brutal efforts by Southern politicians to suppress it. Hodding Carter III, a fellow Mississippi journalist and later an assistant secretary of state, said in a phone interview that Mr. Minor's understanding of the perniciousness of legal segregation had evolved. "But," Mr. Carter added, "his evolution, in the face of the society he was covering, looked like a revolution."
 
Lead senators upbeat Congress will avoid shutdown, CR, but DoD taking no chances
Senate leaders say they are advancing long-overdue spending legislation for 2017 to avert both a government shutdown and a stopgap spending resolution before federal funding runs out on April 28. But the Pentagon and hawkish lawmakers are taking no chances. The service chiefs plan to testify at the House Armed Services Committee April 5 on the consequences of the ongoing continuing resolution, which generally binds them to last year's spending levels and bars new-start acquisition programs. The normally taciturn chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said Tuesday that defense appropriators were "making good progress" to avert a shutdown and a year-long CR. "We're trying to do what's best for the economic and security interests for the country, make sure the bill is responsive to our genuine needs," Cochran said, adding: "We're not looking to shut anything down. We don't need to do [a year-long CR] either. We need to get the bill done, reconcile our differences."
 
Republicans seek to lower odds of a shutdown
Stung by the defeat of their ObamaCare repeal plan, GOP leaders are doing what they can to avoid a messy spending fight with Democrats that would risk a government shutdown. Senate Republican leaders signaled Tuesday they would set aside President Trump's controversial request for a military supplemental bill that would include funding to begin construction of a wall along the southern border. Speaking at a leadership press conference at the request of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the supplemental bill would likely move "at a later time." The signals from the House and Senate indicate Republicans are coming to grips with the reality that they can't pass critical legislation on their own. Keeping the government open may be one of the few areas where Republicans can expect assistance from Democrats, who are otherwise ardently opposed to their agenda.
 
Lawmakers Hope to Avert Government Shutdown
After weeks of partisan fighting over health care and the Supreme Court, lawmakers have less than one month to come together and avert a government shutdown. Government funding for the 2017 fiscal year expires on April 28, five days after lawmakers return to the nation's capital after a two-week recess. But negotiations appear to be moving forward. The spending process could set up a clash with the White House. In December, Congress extended the government funding deadline through April because the Trump administration wanted input into the fiscal 2017 spending process. The administration sent that input to the appropriators, which was publicly circulated Monday, suggesting nearly $18 billion in cuts. They proposed cuts largely to domestic programs like medical research at the National Institutes of Health, student loan assistance, and Housing and Urban Development. "We just plussed up NIH funding the end of last year, I doubt there'd be a lot of appetite for dramatic cuts this year," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Tuesday.
 
Fame, Fortune and an Itch to Run for Office
In Florida, they know John Morgan from his law firm's colorful personal injury ads and 1-800-number billboards. In New Orleans, Sidney Torres IV became a local celebrity after parlaying his real estate fortune and flashy lifestyle into crime-fighting and a reality TV career. And in Nevada, Stephen J. Cloobeck, the gregarious founder and former chief executive of Diamond Resorts, vaulted into popular culture on the TV show "Undercover Boss." What do they have in common? Like the man who became president of the United States, all three are finding that wealth and fame can go only so far in fulfilling overwhelming personal ambition. Chasing the greater riches of power and prestige, each is considering a campaign for high office. "A lot of people are saying, 'My God, if Donald Trump can get elected, anybody can get elected,' " said Steve Westly, a former eBay executive who ran for governor of California in 2006.
 
Three killed after two Weather Channel storm chasers crash into a third while pursuing tornado
A few miles west of Spur, Tex., three storm chasers died while tracking a tornado when their two vehicles collided at a rural intersection on Tuesday afternoon. One storm chaser, driving a black Chevrolet Suburban, disregarded a stop sign and slammed into another storm chaser's black Jeep, authorities with the Texas Department of Public Safety said. The Suburban's two occupants and the Jeep driver were pronounced dead at the scene, Sgt. John Gonzalez, a representative for the department, told Lubbock's Avalanche-Journal in a statement. Williamson and Yarnall worked as contractors for the Weather Channel, which released a statement mourning the storm chasers. The three deaths in Texas on Tuesday came at a time when the storm chasing community had already been subject to scrutiny, in part fueled by thrill-seeking chasers who shared "tornado selfies" and other risky exploits on social media.
 
Police seek man for indecent exposure on MUW campus
Mississippi University for Women police are investigating a rash of indecent exposure reports around campus. An email sent to students, faculty and staff notes university police have received "multiple reports" of indecent exposure near campus academic buildings. The email describes the suspect as a black male, medium complexion, who is six feet tall, athletic build, late 20s to early 30s, usually wearing eyeglasses with gold frames. It further notes he may wear a sports cap with a straight bill and a backpack to appear as a student. According to the email, the suspect loiters in buildings and says he's waiting for a relative to get out of class when asked if he needs assistance. University Relations Executive Director Maridith Geuder said university police believe the suspect may not be a student.
 
At UM, attorney Vicki Slater calls for more female involvement in Mississippi politics
Vicki Slater talked women in Mississippi politics Monday and said she wants to fill a Mississippi ballot from top to bottom with women. Slater, an attorney at law, discussed the history and future roles women have played in the state's politics yesterday afternoon in Barnard Observatory at the University of Mississippi. In 2015, she ran for governor of Mississippi, a position a woman had not run for in more than three decades, and those who did run were not successful. Slater lost in the Democratic primaries to Robert Gray, but that didn't stop her from encouraging other females to be the first. She said middle-class white women as a whole tend to be politically complacent, meaning while they may be in favor of something, they may not actually get out to vote for it, protest about it or stand up and speak about it. "But this [presidential] election that happened in November of 2016 has lit a fire in so many women and men of all colors and ages," Slater said.
 
Ivanka Trump hires Ole Miss grad Bridges Lamar as personal assistant
Recent Ole Miss graduate and Oxford native Bridges Lamar has been hired as a personal assistant for Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President Donald Trump who recently moved into a White House office. Lamar, a 2016 graduate of Ole Miss and a graduate of Oxford High School, had been working in Washington since college as an assistant for Republican Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. It was Sen. Shelby who made the recommendation of his assistant to Ivanka Trump, the Eagle has learned. The President's daughter was looking for assistants and Sen. Shelby was asked if he had any good names -- he suggested Lamar, and she was hired. Lamar's father, Chad, is an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi and head of the criminal division. Ms. Lamar, who received a degree in public policy at Ole Miss and was a member of Chi Omega sorority, is reportedly one of two new personal assistants hired by Ivanka Trump.
 
Southern Miss SGA puts Eaglepalooza on indefinite hiatus
After 13 years of providing free concerts for Hattiesburg-area residents, Eaglepalooza is on an indefinite hiatus. Cameron Cloud, 2017-2018 president of the Student Government Association at Southern Miss, said because of statewide budget cuts, the SGA budget has been reduced and the organization will no longer have the funds to sponsor the concert. "It's budget cuts across the state that have greatly affected our institution, and they trickle down into affecting the community and each one of us personally," Cloud said. "Eaglepalooza costs a lot of money. People want to see it grow and want to see it expand, but for us to bring larger artists to put on larger events, that costs money. You can't cut homecoming. You can't cut the homecoming parade. And you can't cut out the students' hand and the student voice because that's what SGA represents here on campus."
 
NCS4 school safety summit held at USM
A school safety summit was held on Southern Miss' campus Tuesday. From a panel of experts, participants learned how to handle school-based emergencies or incidents, where school personnel are often the first to arrive on the scene. The event is intended to give safety and security officials the opportunity to discuss best safety practices to reduce risks at school programs. This is the third year for the conference sponsored by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety (NCS4) at USM.
 
USM theater scholarship honors retired professor R.B. Hill
Thanks to a wedding anniversary and a daughter's creative gift idea, senior theater majors at the University of Southern Mississippi will benefit from a new foundation scholarship celebrating the esteemed career of retired professor R.B. Hill, who served 30 years at Southern Miss. Hill was an associate professor, technical director and auditorium manager. The scholarship, which will help defray travel costs for theater-related auditions and interviews the department's graduating seniors may have, is a wedding anniversary gift from Amie Hill, R.B. and Carolyn Hill's daughter. "My parents were nearing their 50th wedding anniversary, and I was still struggling to choose the perfect gift for such a momentous occasion. My mom mentioned that she always wanted to start a scholarship in my dad's name. I asked her why not both of their names? She replied, 'Well, he was the professor, I was just tagging along for the ride,'" said Amie Hill, a Southern Miss alumna.
 
Auburn University opens Korea Corner
Auburn University students wanting to learn more about Korean culture will now have the chance inside the Haley Center on campus. The university opened Korea Corner, an educational and cultural resource center, Tuesday. Korea Corner was established with support from the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Atlanta and the Office of the Vice President for University Outreach. Kim Seong-Jin, consul general for South Korea, was at the ribbon cutting for the new center. "As far as I understand, Auburn University is one of the best state universities, not only in Alabama, but also in the southeast," Kim said. "That's why we decided to open this Korean Corner." Royrickers Cook, vice president of university outreach, said he was excited about the new center.
 
New U. of Tennessee code of conduct closer to approval
A new student code of conduct is on its way to being implemented at the University of Tennessee Knoxville after a UT board of trustees subcommittee gave it unanimous approval Tuesday morning. The code also will need support from the academic affairs and student success committee and the full board of trustees before state officials have the chance to give their approval. Vincent Carilli, vice chancellor for student life at UT Knoxville, said the hope is to have the new code in place by the fall of 2017. The settlement of a federal Title IX lawsuit last year initiated a change in the code such that students cannot serve on student disciplinary boards in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct without the consent of both the respondent and the complainant.
 
Mumps cases reach 20 at LSU: Fox 8 report
There have been about 20 cases of mumps on the LSU campus since the outbreak began earlier this month, Fox 8 reported Tuesday. The first cases were reported by the Louisiana Department of Health in mid-March, after an outbreak in Arkansas. The mumps virus is highly contagious, leaving crowded areas like a college campus at high risk for infection. LSU requires immunizations for new students, and most of the cases involve patients who were vaccinated.
 
U. of South Carolina student placed in chokehold 'felt like I was going to die' outside Five Points bar
Ryan Chisolm was out having a good time in Five Points at a bar when he saw a friend of a friend in what seemed like an argument. Chisolm, 22, said he walked over to check on his acquaintance. But before he knew it, the University of South Carolina student was being pushed outside of the bar, placed in a choke hold until he passed out and hurled onto the side of the street where he landed face first. But Chisolm said he doesn't remember much of what happened except feeling like he "was going to die." "Out of no where, I was out of breath and I couldn't breathe," Chisolm said. "When I woke up... I couldn't even talk." Chisolm said that he believes he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. But he also said that he was frustrated with how today's generation, instead of taking action, just watched on as he was attacked.
 
Study finds connection between alumni legislators and public higher ed funding
It pays to have friends in high places -- and for public colleges and universities, it pays to have alumni in state legislatures. A new study from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business found a positive relationship between state funding levels for higher education and the share of legislators who attended the public colleges and universities in their states. In other words, legislatures where more lawmakers have ties to in-state colleges and universities provide more funding to those public institutions. In fact, every legislator who has attended an in-state public college or university is associated with an additional $3.5 million in funding, according to the study's authors.
 
Moody's Calls Trump's Proposed Budget Cuts a Credit Negative for Higher Ed
Steep cuts in research funding and the elimination of some programs in President Trump's budget blueprint would be a credit negative for the higher-education sector, according to a report released on Tuesday by Moody's Investors Service. In the "skinny budget" released this month, President Trump called for a $9-billion cut at the U.S. Department of Education, reductions at academic research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and the elimination of several programs aimed at helping low-income and minority students. "If Congress passes the budget as proposed," the credit-rating agency's report states, "it would largely be a negative for U.S. higher education and the not-for-profit sector." The likelihood of that happening, the report notes, is slim to none.
 
Anxiety and depression are the primary concerns for students seeking counseling services
More than half of the college students who visited their campus counseling centers during the 2015-16 academic year reported symptoms of anxiety, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. This marks the seventh year in a row that anxiety has been the top complaint among students seeking mental health services. This year, 51 percent of students who visited a counseling center reported having anxiety, followed by depression (41 percent), relationship concerns (34 percent) and suicidal ideation (20.5 percent). Many students reported experiencing multiple conditions at once. Since 2009, when anxiety overtook depression as the No. 1 concern among college students, the number of students experiencing anxiety has steadily increased.


SPORTS
 
Women's Final Four: Preview of UConn-Mississippi State, USC-Stanford
You might not believe this, but the year did not start off well for UConn women's basketball. About two weeks into the start of the college basketball season, coach Geno Auriemma was convinced that his team wasn't going to be very good given how poorly it was approaching practice. The idea that UConn would struggle -- at least relative to recent years -- was not so far-fetched. In the opening game of the season against Florida State, Auriemma's fears became manifested. With a little under two minutes remaining in regulation, the Seminoles drew within two points of UConn, 73-71, the closest game the Huskies had faced in some time. The glare gets bigger on Friday night in Dallas when UConn meets Mississippi State in the late game (9:30 p.m. ET) of the Women's Final Four. While UConn will understandably draw the most attention given it's on a 111-game winning streak and has won four consecutive national titles, Mississippi State is also a great story.
 
Bulldogs begin Final Four preparations
Video: Mississippi State now knows it will face defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Connecticut in the Final Four on Friday. Before leaving for Dallas, Bulldogs' head coach Vic Schaefer spoke with the media about the match-up along with seniors Dominique Dillingham and Breanna Richardson.
 
Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians, Morgan William claim All-American status
Mississippi State had two junior guards recognized on the Associated Press All-America teams on Monday. After earning an honorable mention by the AP last year, Victoria Vivians was selected to the third team this season. The 6-foot-1 native of Carthage leads the Bulldogs averaging 16.3 points and also was a first team All-SEC selection as well as the Gillom Trophy winner for the third straight year. William received an honorable mention for the AP All-American team as the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer with 10.9 points. The 5-foot-5 point guard from Birmingham, Alabama is MSU's career assists leader was the MVP of the Oklahoma City Region. She was also picked as a second team All-SEC and was on the SEC All-Tournament team.
 
Coach who came close vs. UConn says what Mississippi State should do
In an example of just how dominant UConn has been during its run of 111 straight wins, the Huskies have beaten an opponent by less than five points only twice this season. As if almost winning against UConn is a prize for opposing teams, one squad that came close to pulling off the upset is Florida State, which was eliminated in the Elite Eight Monday night. UConn beat Florida State 78-76 on Nov. 14. "We probably shouldn't have (won)," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. The other team to make UConn sweat late in a game this season was Tulane, which went 18-15, didn't make the NCAA Tournament and lost to Mississippi State 66-49 on Nov. 16. After losing to UConn 100-56 on Jan. 22 in the team's first AAC meeting, Tulane lost to the Huskies 63-60 on Feb. 18. "Well, it's obviously going to be tough," Tulane coach Lisa Stockton said.
 
Coaches at Women's NCAA Final Four Have Deep Connections
Geno Auriemma, Tara VanDerveer and Dawn Staley have decades-long connections through women's NCAA Final Fours and Olympic gold medals. The coaches in Dallas this week for the Final Four are hardly strangers. "It really is an interesting dynamic," Auriemma said Tuesday during a national conference call. "You really couldn't orchestrate something like that. It kind of just has to happen. It's unique. You don't see that generally anywhere, much less in a Final Four." Even Vic Schaefer is in the same conference with Staley, was part of a championship-winning staff that beat Stanford in the 2011 Final Four, and met with Auriemma last summer after UConn delivered an embarrassing end to Mississippi State's first NCAA Sweet 16 trip. After Schaefer had a chance meeting with Auriemma while recruiting in Colorado Springs last summer, the two were in Houston at the same time in September when they got together for dinner.
 
Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State are 'heartbroken' no longer
The Dispatch's Adam Minichino writes: "There have been humbling times for Vic Schaefer in five years in Starkville. A 22-day stretch in January 2013 was the most trying time for the veteran coach, as the Mississippi State women's basketball lost to Vanderbilt by 51 points, Kentucky by 53, and Texas A&M by 48. A season that showed so much potential in a 50-38 victory against then-No. 11 Georgia at Humphrey Coliseum ended with a thud to Alabama in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament in Duluth, Georgia. Schaefer talked after that game about being 'heartbroken' and 'disappointed' for the way his first season at MSU ended. He also spoke with hope that the seeds for growth were there. ...Schaefer's consistency and passion have driven the Bulldogs and paved the way for a memorable journey in which he and his coaches have transformed a program that went through so many humbling lessons early on into one of the best in the nation."
 
Mississippi State vs. UConn: David vs. Goliath, Round 2 in Women's Final Four
Sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes for Mississippi Today: "t happened 367 days ago, but Mississippi State players have not forgotten. Nor will they. Ever. Connecticut 98, Mississippi State 38. 'You don't forget something like that,' State senior Breanna Richardson said Tuesday. 'You can't flush that away.' ...State coach Vic Schaefer remembers it, as well. 'Embarrassing doesn't even cover it,' Schaefer said. 'It was hard for me to deal with personally.' ...And now, little more than a year later, State will play UConn again in Friday night's Final Four semifinals at Dallas. Schaefer has decisions to make: How much do you dwell on last year? Do you show the tape of last year's game? Or do you, to use Richardson's words, try to 'flush' it? Schaefer says he has done neither."
 
Early offense secures Mississippi State victory at Memphis
A five-run first inning was all the Mississippi State baseball team needed on Tuesday, downing Memphis 8-3 at AutoZone Park. The Bulldogs (16-10) scored five or more runs for the fourth straight game en route to the midweek victory. Memphis (16-8) scored three runs on just three hits in the contest, with two of the hits coming late in the ballgame. Ryan Gridley led the charge with three hits and four RBI. Brent Rooker had two hits -- a double and a triple -- to extend his hit streak to a career-long 11 games. Jake Mangum and Cody Brown also had a pair of hits. Josh Lovelady had a pair of doubles, and Brant Blaylock had one hit. "This was an outstanding win for our club tonight," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "I was really proud of the way our guys started off tonight. We started fast offensively."
 
Mississippi State continues hot hitting against Memphis
Mississippi State's hot hitting over the weekend when it swept Tennessee carried over into a midweek matchup against Memphis. The Bulldogs beat host Memphis 8-3 Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to four games going into their series against Ole Miss, which starts on Thursday. MSU got going offensively with a five-run first inning that was capped by Josh Lovelady's two-run double. The Bulldogs added another run in the second when Ryan Gridley hit an RBI-single. Cole Gordon pitched four scoreless innings out of the bullpen for MSU (16-10, 3-3 SEC). He didn't allow a hit, struck out five and walked three.
 
Ex-ECS star Brent Rooker leading Mississippi State
Mississippi State outfielder Brent Rooker, a former Evangelical Christian School three-sport star, leads the Southeastern Conference in eight offensive categories entering Tuesday night's game against the University of Memphis at AutoZone Park. He's hitting .424 with eight home runs and 38 runs batted in. He has 13 doubles, 14 stolen bases and 80 total bases. He has a slugging percentage of .870 and an on-base percentage of .518. "His statistics are just mind-boggling right now," said Memphis coach Daron Schoenrock. "He is having an SEC Player of the Year-type season." At ECS, Rooker had a memorable senior season. As the team's starting quarterback, he led the Eagles to the state title game. He also started on the basketball team that reached the state finals. And in baseball, he helped direct ECS to a state title over Harding.
 
Bulldogs want to continue to see production throughout lineup
The decision came sometime earlier this month: Brent Rooker was too good to limit his at-bats. In the first month of the season, Rooker was locked in as the Mississippi State baseball team's cleanup hitter. MSU coach Andy Cannizaro then opted to try to get Rooker as many plate appearances as possible. As a result, Rooker has hit third once, first once, and second three times. The good news is Rooker's production hasn't dropped. The new problem is the vacancy in the No. 4 spot in the lineup. Enter Elijah MacNamee. The sophomore outfielder has benefited the most from the lineup shuffle -- which also has affected Cody Brown and Luke Alexander -- with two multi-hit games in five games in the No. 4 hole. He also has a hit in all five games and has four RBIs to lift his batting average from .225 to .276. MSU likely won't make many lineup changes prior to its three-game series against Ole Miss in Oxford. The series begins at 7 p.m. Thursday (ESPNU).
 
Former Mississippi State baseball great Brad Corley helping to give St. Stanislaus hitters an edge
Brad Corley was locked in behind the batting cage Monday, focused on his batters. As the dueling pitching machines alternated 85 mile-per-hour fastballs with tight curveballs, the St. Stanislaus batters were tasked with reading and attacking. "C'mon, big man. You're all right," Corley said. "You have to stay on top of the ball. Straight to it." Ping. "C'mon. That's no focus right there. You swung at a curveball. You're not supposed to do that." Ping. "Get ready to hit. No leg kick here." Ping. "YEAH, NATE!" The Rockachaws stepped out of the box once finished with their round of batting practice and migrated over to a slimmed-down Corley who looks like he could still take the pitcher yard. The former Mississippi State standout and Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand has been a popular mentor at SSC since rejoining the team's baseball staff last year as hitting and outfielders coach.
 
LSU 'aggressively working' to open beer garden in Tiger Stadium for football season
Limited beer sales in Tiger Stadium could become a reality by the start of the fall football season. LSU officials confirm that plans for a beer garden in the stadium are firming up, though the deal hasn't been finalized yet. "We are aggressively working to have it in place in the fall," says LSU Spokesman Ernie Ballard. "But we are still working through everything to make it happen." LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva has said for years that he would like to bring beer sales to Tiger Stadium. In 2014, he told the Baton Rouge Press Club that "it's going to happen at some point---I don't know if it will be five years from now, 10 years from now." The SEC prohibits its 14 member schools from selling alcohol at athletic events, which is why beer sales at LSU home games are only allowed in the stadium club and suites, technically separate structures from Tiger Stadium.
 
Arkansas panel backs gun ban at college stadiums after SEC plea
An Arkansas House committee advanced a measure Tuesday to exempt college sporting events from a state law allowing guns after the Southeastern Conference appealed for guns to be banned from facilities such as football stadiums. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the new state law last week allowing concealed handguns at colleges, government buildings, some bars and even the State Capitol. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the exemption measure after it was amended. Under the amended exemption, college stadiums such as the University of Arkansas' Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences would be able to designate sensitive areas where they wouldn't want people to carry concealed handguns. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said the measure signed into law last week by the governor creates concerns for the conference and its member institutions.
 
Q&A with new Alabama AD Greg Byrne
Greg Byrne officially took over as the University of Alabama's director of athletics on March 2, replacing Bill Battle. In nearly four weeks in his new post, Byrne, who came to Alabama from the University of Arizona, has had a chance to see virtually every Alabama team, either in competition or spring practice, as well as to familiarize himself with the UA staff, coaches and facilities. He took time this week to sit down with The Tuscaloosa News for a brief question-and-answer session in which he addressed several of those issues.
 
U. of Tennessee sets world record with human Power T
The University of Tennessee broke the world record for the largest human letter Wednesday when 4,223 people formed a giant Power T on the field at Neyland Stadium live on NBC's "Today" show. The school surpassed the 3,374 people needed to break the record previously held by Queen's University in Ontario. The record was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, who had an official on hand for the event. The crowd had to hold their pose for five minutes. The record-breaking Power T was part of a weeklong tour of college campuses by the morning show's famed weatherman Al Roker. UT head football coach Butch Jones was also at the live broadcast, where he ran out from the tunnel toward the T with Roker, something that's typically a game day tradition. He tossed a football with Roker on air.



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