Wednesday, April 12, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State's Grant Gallery expected to open later this year
Mississippi State University officials say the somewhat unconventional trip former President Ulysses S. Grant's collection of official documents, personal letters and other artifacts took to Mississippi should formally conclude this winter when a new addition housing the papers at Mitchell Memorial Library is expected to open. Barring unforeseen construction delays, the fourth-floor addition to the library -- a $7.2 million project that will house the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library Gallery and other space supporting the collection -- is expected to open in either November or December, Grant collection coordinator John Marszalek said. Marszalek, Grant publications editor Louis Gallo and assistant editor David Nolen updated Starkville Rotarians on the project Monday and outlined their vision for the 21,000-square-foot addition. Floor plans show the new space will feature separate areas for exhibits, research, archival processing and storage.
 
Mayoral candidates weigh in on education
With municipal elections fast approaching, the SDN caught up with the three mayoral candidates, Johnny Moore, Damion Poe and Lynn Spruill to discuss education in Starkville, including the city's relationship with the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District. Spruill said while the district and the city were separate entities, it would be important for her to stay in contact with the superintendent. She added the relationship would be especially important when the time came for the aldermen to fill one of the city's three school board seats, a vote which was decided by sitting Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman the last time a school board member was appointed. All three candidates voiced support of the ongoing Starkville/MSU Partnership School project.
 
Starkville mayor candidates mostly agree at forum
Johnny Moore, Damion Poe and Lynn Spruill -- the three Democrats vying to become Starkville's next mayor -- spent most of Monday's Starkville-Oktibbeha Voter Education Initiative's town hall agreeing on numerous issues while saying their own unique vision for the city's future deserves a majority of voters' support in the May 2 primary. Improvement was a constant theme, as all three candidates said Starkville needs to work on various issues, including redeveloping the Highway 182 corridor, strengthening its relationship with Mississippi State University, granting tax increment financing packages only to deserving projects and investing in various quality-of-life initiatives. As in previous forums, economic development and infrastructure improvement pitches were the lead topics of the night.
 
Wicker: Appalachian Regional Commission will survive presidential cuts
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Tupelo Republican, said Tuesday he believes the Appalachian Regional Commission, which encompasses much of Northeast Mississippi, can be saved even though President Donald Trump proposes eliminating the economic development program. Wicker, speaking at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/capitol press corps luncheon, said he believes the ARC and other programs that help Mississippi, such as grant programs for small airports, will survive. Wicker said that, if a spending level is agreed to by Congress and if ARC is funded within that spending level, "We ought to do that. I think we can." In the past two years, the federal program has spent $14.9 million in Mississippi on a host of projects such as $1.2 million to help with jobs training at Itawamba Community College.
 
Wicker support strike but warns 'Syria is complicated'
Sen. Roger Wicker says he supported the military strike against a Syrian air base, but warns "Syria is complicated" and the U.S.'s next moves should be carefully measured. Wicker, a senior member of the Armed Forces Committee and chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, said any chances for quick or relatively easy solutions to the Syrian crisis were blown long ago by the Obama Administration's inaction. He said he is pleased with the team Donald Trump has in place including on military and foreign policy and "Let's let them be a little cautious about our next step in Syria." Wicker spoke Tuesday at Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government Capitol press corps luncheon.
 
Wicker Praises End of Partisan Filibuster on Judicial Seats
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi is praising fellow Republicans for blocking Democrats' ability to filibuster judicial nominations -- a move that led to confirmation of Neal Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. "This is why I am unapologetic and I had a spring in my step as we left the Capitol," Wicker said Tuesday in Jackson. Gorsuch was sworn in Monday to a seat left vacant by the February 2016 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Wicker said each judicial nomination should be voted on, not blocked by a partisan filibuster. "We ... have ended an unfortunate 14-year experiment with partisan judicial filibusters," Wicker said at a forum sponsored by Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government and the Mississippi Capitol press corps.
 
Wicker: Congress can slash spending and save state programs
After lawmakers cut next year's state budget by about 5 percent, Mississippians in need of support for government services could eye Congress as it finalizes the federal budget for next fiscal year. But with several Mississippi programs potentially on President Donald Trump's chopping block, Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker said Congress has to rein in spending first. Wicker told an audience at a Stennis Institute-Press Corps luncheon in Jackson that "if we can get to our overall spending goal," Congress might be able to save the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority as well as "small airport funds that keep us flying, I want to do it, and I think the Appropriation Committee has shown that they can."
 
Campaign finance reform signed by Gov. Phil Bryant
Legislation that would prohibit politicians from using their campaign finance funds for personal use was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant Tuesday in his state Capitol office. When the 2017 session began in January, the bill was labeled as a priority by both House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate. Efforts were made to pass similar legislation during the 2016 session, but it was killed in the House. Mississippi was one of a handful of states where politicians could spend their campaign finance funds on personal items. Under the bill signed into law by the governor Tuesday, personal use would be defined as any use of the campaign finance funds that would have to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service as gross income.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant signs campaign finance reform into law
Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law a campaign-finance reform measure that would restrict politicians using campaign money for personal expenses. "I remember (The Clarion-Ledger) once asked me in an editorial board, would you convert money from a campaign to your personal use?" Bryant said. "I said, that's against the law, because a lot of us thought that it certainly was ... This is an example of where the media can move forward good legislation by educating even members of the Legislature and even the governor of what a good law can do. We signed it into law today. We're proud of it." Bryant signed Senate Bill 2689 at a ceremony at his Capitol office, surrounded by lawmakers who pushed for its passage, including Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn, Sen. Sally Doty and Reps. Hank Zuber and Jason White.
 
Governor signs legislation for Alan Nunnelee's name to go on MDEQ building
Governor Phil Bryant has signed legislation that names the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality building in Jackson after the late Alan Nunnelee. The public servant served in the Mississippi Senate for nearly 20 years before being elected to the U.S. House in 2010. The Republican from Tupelo died in 2015.
 
Legislator Charles Young Jr. says state trying to redirect education funds
School choice appears to be gaining a foothold elsewhere in the country, and a state legislator is concerned Mississippi could be moving in that direction. Arizona recently passed a Voucher School Choice initiative that was supported by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. State Rep. Charles Young Jr. (D-Meridian), who represents District 82, which includes Lauderdale County, said Mississippi is also attempting to restrict funding sources for public education. "The state is doing everything it can to reduce funding sources for public education. We are taking public dollars and moving them into the private sector," Young said Monday during the EMBDC Council of Governments meeting at The Checker Board. "In addition to tax cuts and tax incentives, the Appropriations Committee budgets through the General Fund are being reduced."
 
Biloxi again going after the state to get casino rent
Biloxi is going after the money the state is holding from rent paid by the Golden Nugget Casino Resort. The city filed a lawsuit Monday in Harrison County Chancery Court to protect its right to $606,350.52 in rent. The management of Golden Nugget Casino Resort has paid the rent into a state holding fund, but state legislators again failed to turn it over to the city. The city, the state and the Institutions for Higher Learning each own part of the Golden Nugget land in East Biloxi. The lawsuit says for many years, the secretary of state turned over a share of the rent to the city and IHL under a 2002 contract. The problems started in 2016, when the state Legislature erroneously transferred the city's money into the state general fund. Provisions to restore the lease payments to Biloxi were attached to three bills, all of which died in this year's legislative session.
 
Nosef says it's been 'fascinating' to watch evolution of figures in Trump administration
The head of Mississippi's Republican Party says it's been "fascinating" to watch the evolution of figures like Reince Priebus and Sean Spicer as they've grown into their roles in President Donald Trump's administration, an administration that he concedes has had some missteps. Joe Nosef, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, said Tuesday he has worked with Spicer and Priebus for the past five or six years on the Republican National Committee. "I don't think many people, including them, expected them to be in the roles they're in," said Nosef, who visited DeSoto County to encourage local party leaders in advance of the May 2 municipal primaries across Mississippi. Nosef said he's eager to see how Mississippi is affected by issues such as health care and defense spending. He also said the party expects to announce soon that several Democrats statewide are switching to the GOP side.
 
White House to lift federal hiring freeze
The White House will lift President Trump's federal hiring freeze on Wednesday, following fire from critics who said it hampered the government from carrying out core functions. The end of the freeze is part of guidance ordering federal departments and agencies to submit restructuring plans to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) by the fall. "It does not mean the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters Tuesday. Trump signed an executive order on his first full work day in the White House that temporarily halted all non-military federal hiring, an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp" and reduce the size of government. The budget director denied that the move violates Trump's promises of cutting and streamlining the federal government.
 
Famine now threatens more people than at any time since World War II
Our world produces enough food to feed all its inhabitants. When one region is suffering severe hunger, global humanitarian institutions, though often cash-strapped, are theoretically capable of transporting food and averting catastrophe. But this year, South Sudan slipped into famine, and Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen are each on the verge of their own. Famine now threatens 20 million people -- more than at any time since World War II. At this time of unprecedented need, the world's biggest supplier of humanitarian relief is getting ready for a major cutback. Humanitarian aid makes up a tiny fraction of the U.S. government spending -- less than 1 percent -- but the Trump administration's proposed budget would eliminate much of it. Although the cuts would have to withstand bipartisan opposition, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) could see their budgets reduced by more than a third. U.S. funding to the United Nations might drop by more than half.
 
USM Mass Communication and Journalism to induct McDowell, Mims in Hall of Fame
The School of Mass Communication and Journalism at The University of Southern Mississippi will honor film director and producer Steve Mims and former faculty member Dixon McDowell at its Hall of Fame induction Thursday, April 20 at the Hardy Hall University Club on the Gulf Park Campus of The University of Southern Mississippi. The event will begin at 4 p.m. with a question and answer session facilitated by Dr. Phillip Gentile and highlighting Mims and McDowell's illustrious careers, followed at 5:15 p.m. by the awards presentation and a reception. "Hosting this event on the Gulf Park Campus allows us to showcase the School's film program as well as Steve and Dixon, who have both achieved great success in the film industry," said Dr. David R. Davies, director of the School of Mass Communication and Journalism. "Steve and Dixon's success and willingness to give back to the School make it our honor to induct them into the MCJ Hall of Fame."
 
Alcorn State fight video circulating on social media
A video is circulating of a fight on the Alcorn State University campus that involves several people. The university released a statement saying, "Alcorn University is aware of the incident that took place on campus last night. Campus police are currently investigating. Anyone in violation of campus code of conduct will face disciplinary action."
 
Meridian Community College offering 3-week May term classes
Meridian Community College is offering a three-week online May term, giving student an opportunity to earn college credits quickly. MCC is offering 22 courses, ranging from one to three credit hours, from May 15 through June 2. They include nutrition, anatomy and physiology I, anatomy and physiology II, human growth and development, English composition I, English composition II, American literature II, world civilization II, personal and community health, health concepts, First Aid/CPR, introduction to kinesiology, recreational leadership, preventative care of athletic injuries, college algebra, trigonometry, statistics, general psychology and public speaking. One-hour credit classes include Anatomy and Physiology Lab I, Anatomy and Physiology Lab II.
 
Arrests, citations up during Coast spring break, but attendance was double
Arrests and citations increased during this year's Biloxi Black Beach Weekend and other related events as a record -breaking number of 60,000 or more turned out to party. The number of arrests and tickets was minuscule in comparison with the number of revelers, but was higher than the number of felony arrests and tickets police issued at last year's Biloxi gathering. Biloxi police over the weekend arrested 46 people, nine on felony charges; issued 196 citations; and ordered 67 vehicles towed, numbers released by a city official show. Gulfport police have not reported spring-break related arrests, but the city's patrol officers at times blocked U.S. 90 at Cowan Road, diverting cars away from Biloxi until extreme traffic congestion eased up. Visitors who came for the weekend unexpectedly arrived early Friday night and remained here past noon Sunday.
 
U. of Tennessee search for vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs underway
A search is underway for a vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The position is among three positions Chancellor Beverly Davenport is expected to fill in her cabinet, including a vice chancellor for communications position that the university is also seeking applicants for. Search firm Aspen Leadership Group is recruiting for the position with the intent of bringing candidates to campus in June, according to an email from Davenport to the UT-Knoxville faculty and staff Monday. The vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs is the university's chief development and alumni officer for the Knoxville campus. Chip Bryant has been serving as interim vice chancellor since August 2016 and will continue to serve until the position is filled, the email said.
 
In-state tuition for undocumented students fails in Tennessee House committee
Despite endorsements from Gov. Bill Haslam and college leaders statewide, an effort to give undocumented students in-state tuition at public colleges was struck down by a panel of state lawmakers Tuesday. The bill, which has notched victories in other committees this year, was killed in the House Education Administration & Planning Committee with a vote of six for and seven against. Among the no votes was Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, who had co-sponsored similar legislation in the past. Tuesday's vote was another brutal defeat for Tennessee students and advocates who have been pushing the legislation for five years. A similar measure failed by one vote on the House floor in 2015. Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, blasted Tuesday's vote in a statement.
 
Students mix art, science and hammers in UGA-aided project at middle school
Students in two Coile Middle School art classes are learning a little about design and building this week, with help from University of Georgia students and Chris McDowell, the materials reuse coordinator for the UGA College of Environment and Design. Five basic wooden structures were arrayed on the school's back lawn Tuesday morning, each one alike yet different -- one would be a composting station, another a giant loom, while another would house a kind of giant game board. It was the job of the gloved students to add the final touches, which the students got to design themselves in small teams. Their projects include painting a garden scene on one of the structures, making wooden boxes to grow herbs, building a rough table for another and fashioning a huge wind chime of bamboo sticks hung beneath a plastic lead -- all of it made with recycled building materials.
 
State of Florida adds up costs for university degrees
The average "net" cost for students earning baccalaureate degrees at Florida universities last year was $14,820, according to a new measurement that will be used to evaluate the schools this summer. The net cost represents tuition, fees and textbook expenses offset by scholarships and grants. In the 2015-16 academic year, the costs for earning a degree with 120 credit hours of classes ranged from $5,920 at New College of Florida to $18,790 at Florida Gulf Coast University, according to the university system's Board of Governors. The average systemwide cost has declined 2 percent since the 2013-14 academic year, when it was $15,110. The new measurement is in line with Gov. Rick Scott's call for more "accountability and transparency" in higher-education costs.
 
Medicaid funding changes pressure state higher ed funding
When Republicans in the House of Representatives seemed to be nearing a vote on a health care reform bill last month, several prominent Democratic governors spoke out to criticize the proposed changes, arguing they would impose high costs on states. California Governor Jerry Brown said that the proposed changes would cost California $6 billion per year by 2020. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the federal reform bill would create a gap of almost $7 billion in the state's budget because of changes to Medicaid reimbursements. Republicans did not bring their bill to the floor for a vote after they were unable to drum up enough support amid intense opposition. But even without changes, many states are shouldering a larger share of Medicaid costs than they have been over the last several years. When federal spending requirements for states grow, public funding for colleges and universities -- one of the largest so-called discretionary pots of money most states control -- tends to be the target.
 
DeVos withdraws consumer protections from servicing contract process
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday withdrew guidance issued by the Obama administration aimed at improving the contracting process for student loan servicers. That guidance, issued by former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. and former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, directed the Office of Federal Student Aid to consider past behavior of servicers in awarding contracts and to include consumer protections in those contracts. The procurement process was an opportunity to improve the experiences and outcomes of student loan borrowers, King said last year. DeVos echoed those sentiments in a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie. But she said the process had unfortunately been "subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives." That new guidance followed warnings from one industry group that contracts have become too burdensome for servicers of federal student loans.
 
Penn State's President Warns Fraternities and Sororities to Shape Up
Are we "witnessing the beginning of the end of Greek life" at Pennsylvania State University? Many administrators and trustees are wondering if that will be the case, Eric J. Barron, the university's president, says in a bluntly worded open letter to fraternity and sorority members. In the letter, published Monday on his blog, Mr. Barron notes that the problems of binge drinking and campus sexual assault are national in scope, yet his tone seems exasperated and at times despairing as he writes that, despite Penn State's numerous steps over the past 10 years to deal with those problems, "excessive drinking and sexual assault continue." The letter comes almost two weeks after the university imposed new restrictions on Greek life following the alcohol-related death in February of a fraternity member.
 
Rolling Stone settles with former U-Va. dean in defamation case
Rolling Stone has reached a confidential settlement with Nicole Eramo, a former University of Virginia associate dean who had sued the magazine alleging that it defamed her in a 2014 story about an alleged gang rape on campus, according to lawyers for both parties. The settlement brings an end to a lawsuit that had roiled the U-Va. community with a case study in the practice and ethics of journalism. "We are delighted that this dispute is now behind us, as it allows Nicole to move on and focus on doing what she does best, which is supporting victims of sexual assault," said Libby Locke, a lawyer for Eramo, in a statement Tuesday. Rolling Stone called the settlement an "amicable resolution."
 
How Colleges Use Big Data to Target the Students They Want
While few colleges follow the same admissions playbook, they are all taking their cues from the invisible array of algorithms that recommend music on Spotify, movies on Netflix, and books on Amazon. While colleges say the data help to target their marketing efforts, the new methods also explain why students with similar academic backgrounds now get varying degrees of outreach from colleges. The pinpoint accuracy of data-driven marketing might shove aside old-fashioned name-buying among colleges in the future as admissions officials become more conscious of the cost of purchasing tens of thousands of names that result in enrolled students.
 
What do we know so far about changes to U.S. visa and immigration policies?
President Trump has said he wants "extreme vetting" and ideological testing of visa applicants. What will that look like, exactly? As American colleges wait to hear whether accepted applicants will take up their admission offers for the fall, what can they expect students who are coming from other countries to encounter when they apply for visas and when they show up at border security checkpoints at U.S. airports? A lot remains in flux. But here's what we know so far about what's changed and what hasn't, and the likely effects of the government's moves to strengthen screening processes on the ability of American colleges to attract international students. At issue are not just changes in actual practices or protocols but also what some say are widespread perceptions that the U.S. has grown less welcoming, fueled in part by the Trump administration's temporarily halted travel ban and the crackdown on illegal immigration.
 
Legislative process not like private sector
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "In the midst of the 83-day special session in 2002 where legislation was passed to limit lawsuits against businesses and medical providers, a journalist took a photo of two south Mississippi legislators sleeping at their desk in the House chamber. The photo, which ran in multiple newspapers, proved embarrassing for the two rural legislators. It has to be difficult for a legislator to explain back home why he was sleeping in plain sight in the Mississippi Capitol on the taxpayers' dime. Indeed, though, there is a lot about the legislative process that is hard to explain."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State throws shutout to beat Mississippi Valley State
Jacob Billingsley is more than a starting pitcher for Mississippi State, he's the definition of an innings eater. MSU has been in dire need of both in his absence; it took him no time to refill the role he vacated. Billingsley has been MSU's midweek starter since the beginning of the season, but injured his ankle in late March and missed three starts. In his return Tuesday night, he pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks as MSU (23-12) beat Mississippi Valley State (4-22) 5-0 at Dudy Noble Field. "It's gigantic, because he's been outstanding for us all year," MSU coach Andy Cannizaro said. "Any time you can add that to your pitching staff is certainly a good feeling."
 
Bulldogs blank Mississippi Valley State, 5-0
Pitching took center stage for the No. 21 Mississippi State baseball team Tuesday night. Jacob Billingsley, Peyton Plumlee, Denver McQuary and Spencer Price combined on a four-hit shutout as Mississippi State beat Mississippi Valley State 5-0 Tuesday night at Dudy Noble Field. The quartet struck out 12 and walked six. It was MSU's second shutout of the season. "Billingsley was outstanding tonight," head coach Andy Cannizaro said. "He was a welcome contribution to our pitching staff. We shut out an opponent that can sneak up on you and beat you. It was a good way to start the week." State returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at No. 17 South Carolina that begins Friday at 6 p.m.
 
Mississippi State blanks Valley State
After winning the weekend series over Kentucky, Mississippi State rolled to a 5-0 win over Mississippi Valley State Tuesday night at Dudy Noble Field. The No. 21 Bulldogs (23-12, 8-4 SEC) will carry a three-game winning streak into their series this weekend at South Carolina. MSU leads the all-time series with MVSU 26-0 with all of those games having been played in Starkville. Mississippi State was without Jake Mangum, who injured his wrist on Sunday. Brent Rooker batted leadoff in Mangum's place and went 2-for-4.
 
Bulldogs have answered questions to climb to top of SEC
With two losses to teams with Ratings Percentage Indexes (RPIs) higher than 50 and two more to teams with RPIs higher than 100, the Mississippi State baseball team gave its fans reason to doubt. Home losses to Morehead State, Louisiana Tech, Florida International, and Marist allowed the curiosity that accompanies a team at the start of a season to turn into skepticism. After the loss to Louisiana Tech, MSU was near the bottom in the Southeastern Conference in several pitching statistics and had a strikeout problem that prompted coach Andy Cannizaro to talk about possible lineup changes. One month later, the same team is tied for the lead in the SEC. With more than one-third of the SEC schedule complete, the Bulldogs have faced plenty of questions through 34 games. In climbing to No. 13 in this week's Baseball America national rankings, MSU has answered all of the questions or proven it can win without answering others.
 
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker: Wildly successful, but not overnight
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: "No Mississippi State baseball player in history, including legends named Clark, Palmeiro and Renfroe, has had a more impressive run at the plate than Brent Rooker recently. ...The best description of what Rooker is doing probably comes from his coach, Andy Cannizaro, who says, 'He's putting up power numbers right now that are like people were doing back in the 1990s before they changed the bats to reduce the trampoline effect. He's hitting balls with the new bats the way guys used to hit them with the old hot ones. It has been amazing to watch.' ...The story of Rooker's college career is much like the story of his baseball career, period."
 
That's a wrap: Bulldogs put a bow on spring drills
Mississippi State may have played its spring game on Saturday, but that wasn't the end of things. The Bulldogs didn't officially put a bow on spring drills until Tuesday afternoon when they held their final practice. "The spring game is kind of a different deal," said MSU coach Dan Mullen. "It's very watered down because you're splitting guys up into teams and there's a bunch of guys not playing because of the live tackling, so you're protecting guys. Today was probably much more in-depth than the spring game was with us getting a look at things on film that we really needed to get done."
 
Spring review: Where defensive position groups stand at Mississippi State
Mississippi State's spring game on Saturday provided the first look at the Bulldogs' defense under new coordinator Todd Grantham and the unit showed that it may be improved from its poor season last year. When Grantham was introduced in February, he said all positions were up for grabs and that the Bulldogs would play "fast, physical and aggressive." Judging from practices, both were true statements. A couple of players have switched positions while the defense is a base 3-4 with multiple fronts. Look for a lot of mixing and matching under Grantham in games because his defense will feature multiple packages designed for specific opposing personnel and situations. Dan Mullen said he was pleased with the defense and how it has looked under Grantham.
 
Safety becomes second nature for Mississippi State's J.T. Gray
Safety is, "second nature," to Mississippi State's J.T. Gray. "It's what I've been growing up on." It was the position that got him to the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and to the second round of the playoffs in his senior year of high school. That natural ability was apparent to new Mississippi State football defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, so much so that a week into spring practice, MSU changed his official roster listing from linebacker to defensive back. It was moment making official what the defensive coaching staff was already publicly discussing early in spring practice: moving Gray to a position exclusive to safety duties. It's not that Gray was ever far removed from his natural position -- the Viper, a hybrid linebacker-defensive back position, that he played last year for Peter Sirmon thrust him into familiar situations at times -- but the feel is certainly different now that he is a full-time safety with no other responsibilities.
 
Improvement in ball-handling focus of off-season workouts for Mississippi State basketball
In a matter of weeks, the summer of transformation is set to begin for Mississippi State men's basketball. It's the summer where the youngest team in America is supposed to make the big jump expected of freshmen and sophomores, in theory enough to compete among the top of the Southeastern Conference. It can still happen that way, it will just have to be shorthanded. In his season review press conference Tuesday, MSU coach Ben Howland said sophomore guard Quinndary Weatherspoon had wrist surgery in New York on March 30 and freshman center E.J. Datcher will have surgery on his right shoulder Wednesday for a torn labrum. He expects Weatherspoon to be out of full contact for five months and Datcher for four to five months. Howland said they will mostly be missing individually-based skill work, as that will be the focus for this offseason as opposed to five-on-five drills, given the team did a lot of that in its trip overseas in last year's offseason.
 
Mississippi State's Ben Howland gives timetable for Quinndary Weatherspoon after surgery
Mississippi State's leading scorer Quinndary Weatherspoon underwent surgery on his wrist on March 30 in New York City and is expected back on the court in five months, Ben Howland said on Tuesday. Weatherspoon is in a cast and pins were put in. The cast will be removed and replaced with a soft cast after three months, Howland said. From that point, he will rehab and the process is expected to end with Weatherspoon able to be perform full-contact activity by five months without missing any time for what will be his junior season. Weatherspoon, who averaged 16.5 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, isn't the only one on the team who will be rehabbing from a surgery this summer. Backup center E.J. Datcher will have surgery Wednesday in Columbus for a labrum tear and is expected to be back on the court in four or five months, Howland said. Interestingly, Howland said Datcher's issue may have stemmed from an injury during his junior year of high school.
 
Longtime U. of Florida athletics official Chip Howard leaving Gainesville
The Tuesday senior staff meeting at the University Athletic Association was an emotional one. "I cried like a baby," said Chip Howard. Howard, the executive associate athletic director for internal affairs at Florida, is leaving after 28 years at the school and in the athletic department. Howard will be the Chief Operating Officer for Tailgate Guys, a company that specializes in "hassle free" tailgating. Florida is one of the schools with an account with Tailgate Guys. Howard will remain at Florida until June 1 and assume his new duties Aug. 1. "Needless to say the impact of Chip leaving the UAA will be significant," said Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin. "Chip's been invaluable in assisting with my transition to Florida, and I'll miss him as both a colleague and a friend." He will be moving to Auburn, Ala., -- where Tailgate Guys is headquartered -- this summer.
 
John Calipari found 'One and Not Done' hard to watch; that's why you should watch it
At the end of Monday night's screening of "One and Not Done," ESPN's "30 for 30" feature on the life and times of John Calipari, the Kentucky basketball coach took the stage along with wife Ellen at the Kentucky Theatre. "That was really hard for me to watch," said Calipari and you could understand the sentiment. Put yourself in his shoes. ESPN has said that what was unusual about this particular "30 for 30," which debuts Thursday night, was that the subject is still well into his career. Usually their largely excellent pieces deal with past events or retired sports figures or moments that have shaped the sports world in one form or another. Calipari is one of those figures, depending on where you stand, for better or worse. That "One and Not Done" was hard for John Calipari to watch, both the good and bad, is why you should.



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