Thursday, April 27, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Local resident receives MSU 2017 Spirit of State award
Lauren M. Kiefer of Meridian is among 14 Mississippi State students who are receiving the university's premier student recognition for exceptional personal contributions to campus life. Kiefer, a senior elementary education major was recognized as MSU-Meridian's 2017 Spirit of State Award recipient at the recent Spirit of State Awards ceremony in Starkville. Now in its 12th year, the Spirit of State Awards program organized by the university's Division of Student Affairs formally honors those who have made a positive impact on peers and the broader campus community through organizational involvement, service to the institution and personal actions promoting school spirit and tradition. Nominated by assistant professors, Penny Wallin and Ksenia Zhbanova, Kiefer is described as a bright, empathetic, visionary, articulate student with a big heart.
 
Starkville mayor's race raises $80K
The three Democrats running in Starkville's mayoral race -- Damion Poe, local attorney Johnny Moore and former city chief administrative officer Lynn Spruill -- have raised a combined $80,000 in campaign contributions this year, but that figure lags behind how much their counterparts had raised by this time in 2013's municipal race. Tuesday was the deadline for mandatory, pre-primary filings from candidates seeking municipal office this election cycle. Moore's ($53,450) and Spruill's ($25,405) intake makes up the lion's share of mayoral campaign donations, while Poe rounds out the candidates with $1,180 in contributions for the year. In comparison, records show the city's three mayoral candidates in the 2013 municipal cycle -- Mary Lee Beal, Dan Moreland and Parker Wiseman -- reported a combined $93,195.99 in campaign funds by April 30. Moreland led the pack at this time in 2013 with $41,810 worth of contributions, but records show he loaned his campaign $31,500 of that total.
 
Nine aldermen candidates raise $17K for elections
Nine Starkville aldermen candidates reported taking in $17,108.25 in combined campaign donations this year as they worked to secure their respective ward races. Tuesday was the deadline for mandatory, pre-primary filings from candidates seeking municipal office this election cycle, and City Clerk Lesa Hardin's office released documents detailing contributions and spending for 10 of the 15 candidates from Jan. 1 to Tuesday. Reports from Ward 2 candidate Jesse Carver, Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker, Ward 4 candidate Pete Ledlow, Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn and Ward 7 candidate Roben Dawkins were unavailable. Hardin said those candidates whose races will be decided in June's general election were not required to file Tuesday.
 
City GPS trackers helping with efficiency
Long idling times for vehicles, joyriding and other misuses -- a 2014 J5 Broaddus study of Global Positioning System (GPS) data from trackers mounted on Columbus city vehicles found these and other inefficiencies. Now, Oktibbeha County supervisors are hopeful a similar, in-house analysis will cut wasteful habits in its road department. As last week's conversation surrounding Oktibbeha County's potential purchase of GPS implements to track its own vehicles and equipment turned to the effects of how monitoring employees' performance will affect morale, Columbus Public Information Officer Joe Dillon said his city's experiment with the trackers has helped officials better understand its maintenance and police departments. Both Oktibbeha District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller backed the purchase, saying they've received numerous calls from constituents who have spotted workers off-site in county vehicles during work hours.
 
Southern Cross submits route plan for energy line
Southern Cross Transmission filed a petition with the Mississippi Public Service Commission on Tuesday formally proposing a route for the company's 400-mile, 500-kilovolt wind energy line. The next step is for the Public Service Commission to OK the project, and commissioners indicated that vote could be several months down the road. The company, a subsidiary of Pattern Energy Group, has been in informal talks with landowners and public officials about the $700 million project, which will involve a transmission line starting in Texas, crossing Louisiana and ending with a $300 million converter station in Lowndes County. The project would have a $1 billion direct impact in the state, according to an independent economic analysis Southern Cross commissioned back in December.
 
Arts, entertainment museum coming to Meridian
For too long, Meridian has been a drive-through city for many along Interstate 20. Organizers hope a new museum featuring the state's rich arts/entertainment history will change all that. "The museum will be along I-20, just over the 22nd Avenue, bridge," Erica Pannell to the Columbus Rotary Club during its Tuesday meeting at Lion Hills Center. Pannell is the director of development for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience (MAEE), which is set to open in the spring. The museum, an estimated $43 million project, is being funded by a combination of private, local and state funds. Mississippi is in the middle of a museum-building boom of late. Last year, the Grammy Museum Mississippi opened in Clarksdale. In December, two more museums -- the Mississippi Museum of History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum -- will open next door to each other in Jackson.
 
Special session agenda not complete, Bryant spokesman says
A top Democrat is calling on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant to expand the list of topics for a special legislative session, but the governor's spokesman says the budget remains the only agenda item for now. Bryant on Tuesday announced that a special session will begin June 5 so lawmakers can set budgets for the attorney general's office and the Department of Transportation. Only the governor can call lawmakers back to the Capitol after they have finished their regular session, and he tells legislators what topics they may consider. The House Democratic Caucus chairman, Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis, said Wednesday that he wants the governor to let lawmakers consider criminal justice issues that were in a bill Bryant vetoed after the regular session ended. Bryant's spokesman, Knox Graham, said the governor has not decided on every issue he will ask lawmakers to consider.
 
Key Democrat hopes to include bonds in special session
The state Senate's minority leader said Wednesday he hopes Gov. Phil Bryant allows the Legislature to consider a bond bill in the upcoming special session. Via social media, the Republican governor announced late Tuesday he would call a special session on June 5 to take up the three budget bills that died during the 2017 regular session that ended in late March. Bryant is yet to issue the official proclamation, and he has yet to release the call (agenda) for the special session. Bill Stone, D-Holly Springs, said he's hoping to have some type of bond bill included among the other items that need to be taken care of during the session. "I would like to see that especially for county roads and bridges," said the state Senate's minority leader.
 
Questions as Mississippi seeks to tax online lodging rentals
Mississippi's tax collector wants to make sure people renting rooms or vacation properties online pay sales and lodging taxes. Some people, though, told Revenue Department officials at a Wednesday hearing that the department was overstepping its legal power, as well as not correctly following procedures for issuing new government rules. At stake is whether Mississippi and local governments will collect tax from properties rented through services including Airbnb and VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner. The move comes as the Revenue Department continues to consider a rule requiring large retailers to collect taxes on internet sales. Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson has pledged to enact that rule by the end of the month, though he acknowledges it's a challenge to U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
 
Feds seek fraud probe of Mississippi Department of Education programs
The federal government is calling for a forensic audit -- an effort to look for potential fraud -- of two of the Mississippi Department of Education's programs, according to State Auditor Stacey Pickering's office. The state auditor's office is performing the audit on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education's Inspector General's office, spokeswoman Kelley Ryan said. "We're coordinating our efforts with the U.S. Inspector General's office and are doing this work on their behalf and to their satisfaction," Ryan said. She declined to answer additional questions about the audit. Requests for comment from the Inspector General's Office of the U.S. Department of Education, which requested the special audit, were not returned Wednesday. The areas being audited are 21st Century Community Learning Center and Title I funds, both federal programs.
 
Amid state budget cuts, East Mississippi State Hospital cuts 74 jobs
Following a $5 million state budget cut, East Mississippi State Hospital (EMSH) in Meridian will eliminate 74 positions and consolidate services with the main state hospital in Whitfield. Recreational staff, administrative staff and teachers at the adolescent unit make up the 74 positions the hospital will have to abolish. EMSH, a state-run facility, provides behavioral health, chemical dependency and nursing home services to residents in East Mississippi. Charles Carlisle, the director of EMSH, said the hospital will try to move some employees to the main hospital, also known as the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield, or arrange transfers to other government positions that will let them keep their retirement benefits. In Newton, Central Mississippi Residential Center, the only facility of its kind in Mississippi, expects to take a $1.1 million cut in funding, according to the DMH.
 
Negotiations ongoing in Medicare coverage
Almost two months after an Alabama children's hospital stopped accepting Mississippi Medicaid, the state director said negotiations are ongoing. In early March, Alabama Children's Hospital announced it would no longer be accepting Mississippi Medicaid patients due to failed negotiations. "We are saddened that, after more than 18 months of trying, we have not been able to successfully negotiate provider agreements with acceptable terms with the managed care contractors," the hospital said in a statement on their website. From Jan 1, 2015 to March 2017, Alabama Children's treated 143 unique Mississippi Medicaid patients, according to Adam Kelly, manager of corporate communications. However, Dr. David Dzielak, executive director of the Division of Medicaid, said the suspension of service was affecting 300 of Mississippi's Medicaid beneficiaries.
 
Republicans Propose Short-Term Funding Plan to Avert Shutdown
Congressional Republicans introduced a measure late Wednesday to keep the government open past Friday's deadline, giving themselves more time to finalize a spending bill. The stopgap legislation would continue government funding through May 5, averting a government shutdown this weekend. The measure still needs to be approved by the House and Senate. Lawmakers are working to finish up a spending package that would fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. Senator Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said lawmakers had made "substantial progress" on a spending agreement covering the rest of the fiscal year.
 
Trump says no plan to pull out of NAFTA 'at this time'
President Trump told the leaders of Canada and Mexico on Wednesday that the United States would not be pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement "at this time," opening the door to future negotiations on the same day that Trump was considering signaling a strong intent to withdraw as a potential way of bringing the parties to the dealmaking table. But Trump said NAFTA's three-nation partnership could still hang in the balance if the talks do not produce "a fair deal for all." Trump spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late Wednesday afternoon after reports circulated during the day that the president was contemplating withdrawing from NAFTA.
 
Honoring Those Who Donate Their Bodies to Science at UMMC
Every year Mississippians facing death donate their bodies to medical education and research. Families rejoice and sometimes struggle with their loved one's decisions. Families of those who've donated their bodies to further health education and research fill the cemetery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. They're here for a ceremony to honor anatomical donors. Dr. Allan Sinning, who directs the Body Donation Program, reads a list of more than100 Mississippians who've donated their bodies this year. Dr. Sinning says having real bodies to study is invaluable. "This is the only opportunity most of these students will have to really see how a body is made up. You can learn the muscles by looking at pictures and all that stuff, but you don't get the three dimensional relationship," said Sinning. Sinning says more than 9,000 Mississippians have signed up to donate their bodies after their death, outpacing other medical teaching facilities in the country.
 
USM's president receives honorary degree from William Carey University
University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree Wednesday morning at William Carey's honors convocation ceremony. "There is no person better deserving of being honored than Dr. Bennett," said William Carey's Provost, Dr. Scott Hummel. Dr. Hummel helped robe Dr. Bennett. When Bennett heard about the damage the EF-3 tornado did to William Carey's campus in January, he rushed back to Hattiesburg from a meeting in Atlanta. By Noon, he was on WCU's campus inviting students and staff to use the University of Southern Mississippi. USM had just finished construction on their nursing building and Dr. Bennett lent the building to Carey's medical and physical therapy students. "More than just offering assistance and making promises he and USM has followed through," said Dr. Hummel. "[Dr. Bennett] making it possible for Carey to come back."
 
USM study brings economics of Gulfport aquarium into focus
Up to 600 jobs and an economic impact approaching $380 million a year are part of a study by the University of Southern Mississippi that analyzes what the Mississippi Aquarium will mean to Gulfport and the Gulf Coast. City leaders and the aquarium's lead consultant David Kimmel are just digesting the new findings. Kimmel tells WLOX News Now the preliminary analysis shows the jobs, the revenue and the taxes created by the aquarium should make the project quite successful. Kimmel says the study's researchers believe the aquarium across from Jones Park will create 400-600 jobs, have an economic impact of $300-380 million, and generate taxes in the $13-20 million range. Kimmel is using his own numbers to build plans for the Gulfport aquarium. His numbers are based on a conservative estimate of 350,000 people a year walking through turnstiles.
 
Auburn selects 'The Circle' by Dave Eggers for its 2017-18 Common Book
"The Circle" is the first work of fiction selected for the Common Book: One Book One Auburn program since its inception in the fall of 2010. Author Dave Eggers will be on the Auburn University campus Sept. 12-13 to speak about the international bestseller and his experiences. The big-screen adaptation of Eggers' book opens this week in theaters around the country. The story investigates themes of privacy, democracy and connectivity in the digital age. In the plot, protagonist Mae Holland is granted the opportunity to work for the Circle, a powerful Internet company which uses social media and technological innovations to constantly be connected to its users. "The Circle" has been compared to George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World." The Common Book: One Book One Auburn program is an initiative of the Office of Undergraduate Studies in partnership with the Auburn Public Library.
 
U. of Tennessee professor gets $200,000 to study economic inequality
A University of Tennessee Knoxville professor has been awarded $200,000 for his work studying how economic inequality reinforces itself through politics. Nathan J. Kelly, associate professor of political science, has been named a 2017 Andrew Carnegie Research Fellow and is among 35 scholars nationwide to receive the award from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to complete a book or major study, according to the university. Kelly's research shows that rising economic inequality reduces the prospect of major reforms and policy changes within U.S. political institutions. Economic inequality reinforces itself through politics, public opinion, elections, policy stagnation and policy making.
 
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp requests delay on vote to extend contract
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp is requesting that a controversial vote to extend his contract be pushed back until the August meeting of the Board of Regents, ensuring its newest member will be able to participate. In a letter to board Chairman Cliff Thomas obtained by The Eagle, Sharp said he hoped pushing back the vote may dispel the "goofy rumors" that pursuing the extension now is an attempt to get it passed before incoming regent Tim Leach can be confirmed. "Nothing could be further from the truth," Sharp said. "Tim is a dear friend and he has said publicly he is a supporter of the direction we are going. ...I realize you have the votes to do it now, but I think it's better to do so in August just to stop these goofy rumors someone has started." A class of '82 graduate, Leach is a successful oilman and longtime donor to Texas A&M University. In January, the Midland native was selected as Gov. Greg Abbott's pick to replace outgoing regent Judy Morgan.
 
U. of Missouri System considering 8 to 12 percent budget cuts
The University of Missouri faces systemwide budget cuts of 8 to 12 percent in the coming fiscal year because of declining enrollment and state support, system officials said in a document prepared for the Board of Curators. The curators will meet Thursday and Friday in Rolla, where members will discuss a proposed 2.1 percent increase in undergraduate tuition and the financial challenges facing the UM System. A final decision on tuition will be made in May, and the budget for the coming year will be set in June. The cuts will be focused on the $1.2 billion academic operations budget, which receives 87 percent of its funding from tuition and state appropriations. Meeting the goal will require short- and long-term solutions, according to the memo prepared for curators.
 
Later-start classes are better for undergrad health, study finds
University of Missouri sophomore Jennifer Mosbrucker used to wake up about 6 a.m. every morning during the fall semester and drive to campus. She hurried to find a parking spot to be ready for class at 8 a.m. Because she had to wake up that early, her performance wasn't her best. "So if I went to class, I didn't absorb anything," Mosbrucker recalled. "My grades suffered because of that." Mosbrucker is far from alone among her peers in struggling to concentrate during early classes. A study published in March found that undergraduates have different sleep needs because their bedtime is an hour and a half later than people in other age groups. The authors suggested starting college classes between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The peer-reviewed study, conducted by researchers at the University of Nevada and the Open University in the United Kingdom, questioned 190 undergraduates and discovered that if they started their day between 11 a.m. and noon, they demonstrate peak performance until about 7 p.m.
 
Higher ed observers call James Manning a steady hand at Department of Education
Recent personnel choices at the Department of Education have received scrutiny for connections to private industry and personal ideologies at odds with the mission of their office. But the appointment of James Manning, a career public official, has drawn a different sort of reaction. Manning was named acting under secretary of education last week, one of nine hires officially announced by the department. The details of his role are not entirely clear, but former officials who have worked under Republican and Democratic administrations described Manning as an administrator with a broad skill set and a deep understanding of the workings of the student financial aid system. Even critics of recent steps taken by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on student loan servicing said it was important to have an expert on the complex federal loan program in place at the department.
 
Berkeley paradox: Birthplace of free speech now offended by it
What started as a debate over conservative pundit Ann Coulter's scheduled talk at the University of California, Berkeley, has become a nationwide showdown over freedom of expression, with a lawsuit filed and riots in the offing. Ms. Coulter's brand of polemic conservatism -- often associated with white nationalism and the "alt-right" movement -- has come up against left-wing elements who refuse to tolerate such ideas. In insisting Coulter be allowed to speak, conservatives are asserting the right to speak freely. In protesting her presence, groups like By Any Means Necessary are wielding the right to assembly. "You have these two groups that are ideologically opposed to each other that are both trying to express their First Amendment rights," says Lata Nott, executive director of the First Amendment Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington. "People need to be reminded that free speech rights are indivisible. When you try to silence one group, the precedent you're setting will be used against you."
 
At Berkeley, a Speaker's Cancellation Spurs New Battles Over Free Speech
One week ago, the conservative commentator and firebrand Ann Coulter insisted that she would be speaking at the University of California at Berkeley, over administrators' objections that the event wouldn't be safe. But following heavy posturing, a legal challenge, and plenty of Berkeley bashing, Ms. Coulter dropped her plans. On Wednesday, she said on Twitter and to news outlets, including The New York Times, that she was concerned about the safety of the event, and laid the blame for the lack of security at the feet of the university. The student groups who had helped book Ms. Coulter's speech, the Young America's Foundation and the Berkeley College Republicans, pulled their support from the event on Tuesday afternoon because of safety concerns. The kerfuffle and subsequent recriminations show just how charged the political atmosphere is for Berkeley, heralded as the cradle of the free-speech movement on college campuses.
 
Seminary apologizes for tweet of five white professors posing as gang members
Every Halloween and plenty of weekends during the year, undergraduates at many campuses anger black students and faculty members by dressing up or posing as black people (the stereotypical variety), either wearing blackface or pretending to be gang members. Campus leaders criticize the actions -- frequently discovered when the students themselves post photos on social media -- as insensitive, racist and more. This week's example of white people behaving badly through dressing up as black people -- gang members, this time -- comes from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, and from its faculty, not students. David L. Allen, a professor of preaching, posted to Twitter a photograph of himself and four other professors (the image is above) with the line "Why you should come study at the School of Preaching @swbts! Rap the word. Reach the world." Scrawled above is "Notorious S.O.P.," a play on a rapper's name with "S.O.P." for "School of Preaching."
 
Gap ad raises eyebrows among academics with portrayal of tenure-track fashion
"Dress codes and good style aren't mutually exclusive," according to an online Gap ad that was panned by academics on social media this week. The display, featuring a "tenure-track professor," struck many as random, tone-deaf to the realities of the academic job market or unrealistic if not a tad sexist (possibly all of the above). "The Workwear Spectrum" ad features four young female models in clothing that Gap for some reason thought might be appropriate for the following professions: "start-up partner" (short-sleeve denim shirt and white chinos); small-business owner (striped shirt, white jeans and, according to Gap, a "never-ending supply of coffee"); financial adviser (boho orange blouse and khakis); and, of course, the tenure-track professor (loose navy blazer, blue top, light gray pants and suede pumps). Karen Kelsky, an academic career coach who runs the blog The Professor Is In and a frequent critic of the flagging tenure-track job market, was among those who posted the ad to Twitter. With a simple "seriously?" Kelsky let her followers provide the commentary.
 
Want To Finish College? Go Full Time, At Least Part Of The Time
A recent report by the nonprofit Center for Community College Student Engagement demonstrates that students who enroll full-time in community colleges fare better than their part-time counterparts. The report, Even One Semester: Full-Time Enrollment and Student Success, shows that 50 percent of always-full-time students earned an associate degree or certificate. In contrast, only 23 percent of always-part-time students complete their degrees. But here's the key new insight for students: Attending just one semester as a full-time student can make a difference in academic performance and campus life engagement. 34 percent of these students complete their degrees. This is one of the first reports to look specifically at the pattern of fluid attendance.
 
Marshall University Board of Governors on evaluation of President Jerry Gilbert
Marshall University Board of Governors Chairman Wyatt Scaggs this week released this statement following the board's positive annual performance evaluation of President Jerome A. Gilbert. "It was an excellent evaluation. The board is in full support of Dr. Gilbert and feels he is doing an exemplary job," said Scaggs. "When we hired him as our president just over a year ago, we had high expectations. He has lived up to those expectations, and in many ways, surpassed them." Gilbert was named the 37th president of Marshall University in October 2015 and assumed the presidency in January 2016. A Mississippi native with a background in biomedical engineering and research, Gilbert came to Marshall after serving nearly 30 years in various administrative, academic and research positions at Mississippi State University.
 
An app a day may pave the way
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership in the College of Education at Mississippi State, writes in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: "It is no secret that funding for education is currently a hot topic for administrators and legislators alike. What is clear is that no one expects a surprise, excess allocation to save the day. Regularly, schools are trying to do more with less and less and less. Therefore, one of the only options available is to reimagine both the construct of schools as well as the delivery of educational content. Part of this new vision will require a way in which to educate using alternate tech tools to supplement and support the process."
 
What happened to pre-special session transportation discussions?
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "It has been about a month since the 2017 legislative session ended, yet, at least in public there has been no discussions between the House and Senate leadership on how to deal with the state's crumbling infrastructure. During the final days of the 2017 session, which ended March 29, the House members, prompted by their leadership, killed the budget bills for the Department of Transportation and the state Aid Road Program, which provides state funds for major local thoroughfares. ...Perhaps, there has been all sorts of talking going on behind the scenes, but nary a word has been spoken publicly since the session ended about transportation. What gives?"


SPORTS
 
Tanner Poole's choice to walk on at Mississippi State pays off
Tanner Poole was a two-time All-State selection at Itawamba Community College and had his share of options to continue his baseball career at the next level. Instead of accepting one of several scholarship offers available, Poole decided to roll the dice and walk on with his childhood favorite, Mississippi State. "I had a few D1's and a good many D2's but I told myself that it was either State or nothing," Poole said. "(Walking on) is what I wanted to do. This is where I've always wanted to play as a kid and that's the route I took." Poole's gamble did not immediately pay off. John Cohen chose to redshirt the Amory native last season as the Bulldogs won the SEC regular season title and hosted two regionals as a national seed.
 
Mississippi State's Spencer Price up for Stopper of the Year Award
Spencer Price may not have been on the preseason watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award but after leading the country with 14 saves has helped the Mississippi State closer earn a spot on the midseason list. A total of 40 closers from around the country were selected to the list by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. A list of finalists will be named on June 7 and the award announced 10 days later. Price, a sophomore, is tied with Virginia Commonwealth's Sam Donko for the national lead in saves.
 
Q&A with Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen
Mississippi State held the first of its Road Dawg Tour stops in Biloxi Wednesday evening at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum. Logan Lowery of the Daily Journal caught up with Bulldogs athletic director John Cohen at the event to talk about his first few months in his new position.
 
Mississippi State bullish about future at Biloxi's Road Dawgs event
Vic Schaefer and Dan Mullen were all smiles as they waded through the capacity crowd at the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi on Wednesday. The kickoff to the annual Road Dawgs Tour, Mississippi State brought both the women's basketball coach fresh off of a run to the NCAA Tournament and the football coach, who just reclaimed the Golden Egg Trophy for Starkville. Men's basketball coach Ben Howland and athletic director John Cohen were also among the school's dignitaries on the Coast. "We've been smiling for the last several months and will continue until kickoff next year," Mullen told media before addressing the maroon-and-white clad audience. "Definitely smile through Thanksgiving, at least, having that trophy in our possession."
 
Mississippi State's Nick Fitzgerald was a known secret to high school coaches
Ed Dudley watched with dread on Oct. 18, 2013 as Nick Fitzgerald, then the quarterback at Richmond Hill in Georgia, warmed up his right arm in preparation for playing Dudley's Ware County team. Fitzgerald completed 12 of only 29 attempts in the six prior games. But there he was as a senior, making the short throws, the long throws and the quick ones in preparation for a game against Ware County. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Fitzgerald was making it look easy -- too easy for a guy his size. Uh-oh. "There's a 6-foot-4 kid back there taking drops and firing the ball all over the field," Dudley said. "So we were like, 'Oh, my goodness, what are we going to do and how are we going to defend this guy?'" The high school passing totals while playing in an option offense are surprising, given Fitzgerald's success as Mississippi State's quarterback. Or maybe it's the other way around.
 
International flavor works for Mississippi State men's tennis team
Matt Walters doesn't spend much time in the United States in the offseason, but he doesn't complain. It's just part of the life of a college tennis recruiter. As assistant men's tennis coach at Mississippi State, Walters will spend close to two months overseas this summer as part of the new norm in college tennis: recruiting international players. MSU coach Matt Roberts said coaches need to spend so much time overseas because of the competitive nature of the Southeastern Conference and a relatively shallow talent pool in the United States, where he said a drop-off exists after the top 20 or 30 players. To make matters more difficult, many of the top players opt to stay in the programs closer to home. No. 18 MSU's roster of eight players from eight countries will return to action at 5 p.m. Thursday when it takes on the winner of the match between Alabama and Vanderbilt at the SEC Championship in Knoxville, Tennessee.
 
David McFatrich adds two to Mississippi State volleyball staff
As the 2017 season stands just months away, Mississippi State head coach David McFatrich announced the additions of coaching standouts Diego Castaneda and Garrett Bitter to his staff on Wednesday. "I'm very excited to welcome both Diego and Garrett to our Mississippi State Volleyball family," McFatrich said. "Not only do they each bring the experience and qualities I was looking for, such as integrity, social responsibility and great work ethic, they also share my passion for developing this program and a desire to give our volleyball student-athletes a wonderful collegiate experience." Both Castaneda and Bitter bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the Maroon and White, as the two have become rising stars in the coaching ranks over the last several years.
 
A Struggling ESPN Lays Off Many On-Air Figures
The "Worldwide Leader in Sports," as ESPN brands itself, laid off scores of journalists and on-air talent on Wednesday, showing that even the most formidable media kingdom was vulnerable to the transformation upending the sports broadcasting industry as more and more people turn away from cable television. Among the prominent people let go were the former N.F.L. players Trent Dilfer and Danny Kanell, the former N.B.A. player Len Elmore, the former baseball general manager Jim Bowden and the longtime N.F.L. reporter Ed Werder. The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to an eight-year, $15.2 billion deal extension with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.
 
ESPN layoffs mark big shakeup for LSU, SEC, New Orleans Saints coverage
ESPN's large layoff of on-air and online talent has filtered in throughout the day Wednesday, marking a major shift for the sports news juggernaut. Many of those layoffs and changes will directly affect coverage of LSU, the SEC as a whole, as well as the New Orleans Saints, NFL and New Orleans Pelicans. The layoffs were announced Wednesday in a message to employees from network president John Skipper. "A necessary component of managing change involves constantly evaluating how we best utilize all of our resources, and that sometimes involves difficult decisions," Skipper wrote. As the list of recognizable names grows, as do the changes in store for coverage for many in Louisiana. Ed Werder, on the eve of the NFL Draft was among the first to announce he had been laid off. Werder had been assigned to cover the New Orleans Saints at the league's annual selection meeting.
 
Athletics headed up, says UGA President Jere Morehead
The University of Georgia's NCAA athletic programs are headed in a good direction, the university's president said in response to a reporter's question during a regularly scheduled press conference Wednesday. "I think the prospects for the future are bright," Jere Morehead said. The question came in the wake of UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity's decision, announced this week, to replace gymnastics coach Danna Durante, the second person to head that program since Suzanne Yoculan retired in 2009 after winning 10 national championships, including five in a row in her final five years at UGA. Morehead praised the job Durante did in five years. UGA had finished as high as fifth in the national team championships, but UGA has a high standard in that sport, said the president, citing Yoculan's 10 national championships.
 
College athletics: Oklahoma opens courtroom to bad booster lawsuits
A new law lets universities sue sports boosters and agents who expose the school to sanctions. Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 425 on Thursday. It goes into effect Nov. 1. The measure allows a lawsuit against third parties who trigger penalties and economic losses against schools for breaking a governing body's rules. For example, if a booster gives cash to a student athlete in violation of NCAA rules and the NCAA fines the university, a court could order the booster to pay damages to the school. The bill doesn't specifically mention sports, but colleges and universities have lost major revenue from sanctions that prevent playoff appearances and other missed games. While collegiate sports supporters praised the law, it might also create hesitation among legitimate supporters who worry about getting sued if they accidentally break the rules.



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