Friday, April 28, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State tightens ban on golf cart and ATV use on campus
Mississippi State University on Thursday announced it would restrict the use of non-university golf carts, ATVs or other off-road vehicles on campus beginning July 1, 2017. MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter said the policies are necessary to maintain a safe environment for students, faculty and staff, but also the scores of people who visit campus. "These guidelines bring MSU into line with our colleagues in the Southeastern Conference and the vast majority of NCAA Division 1 universities," Salter said. Mississippi state law maintains all street legal vehicles operated on a public roadway have the proper safety equipment, proof of insurance and a license plate. MSU Police Chief Vance Rice said the driver of any golf cart on campus must possess a valid driver's license and proper insurance.
 
Marnita Henderson: Oktibbeha GOP ready to spend on candidates after primaries
The Oktibbeha County Republican Party has more than $10,000 on-hand to help push its candidates to victory in June's general election, while Democrats say they have not yet identified if and how they'll spend any money raised following Tuesday's primaries. While both Oktibbeha County GOP Chairwoman Marnita Henderson and Democratic Party Chairman Albert Gore said their respective parties will not back any candidates in Tuesday's intraparty races, Henderson said the Republican executive committee is expected to convene next month and decide how to spend a portion of its war chest advancing their representatives' campaigns. Support, Henderson said, could include advertising efforts or get-out-the-vote assistance.
 
GOP looks to gain ground in municipal races
The city of Starkville has never had a Republican mayor, which won't change in 2017. However, local GOP leaders are looking to hold the ground they still occupy, while attempting to unseat incumbents in several Board of Aldermen races. Marnita Henderson, chairwoman of the Oktibbeha County Republican Party's executive committee, told the SDN on Wednesday that low voter turnout has been a consistent problem in the past, but something the party hopes to remedy in the races for Wards 1, 2, 4 and 7. The task may seem Herculean in practice, but Henderson is confident that high voter turnout could mean positive results for local Republicans.
 
Many Candidates Are Using Social Media Outlets To Reach Voters
Primary elections for municipal races are less than a week away, and candidates are working hard to get their messages to voters. Purchasing signs and ads, and walking door-to-door handing out flyers, are vital for any candidate who's campaigning. However, so is being active on social media. The candidates running for mayor in Starkville said having a strong media presence is a top necessity to running an effective campaign. Being active and engaging with users on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram helps them connect with voters. "Social media gives you a dialogue opportunity, because Facebook, they'll ask you a question and you can respond," said Lynn Spruill, one of the three candidates running in the Starkville mayoral race.
 
Stars come out as sun sets on MEC's Blake Wilson era
Blake Wilson bade farewell Thursday to the Mississippi Economic Council after 19 years of leading the state chamber of commerce. Wilson's retirement, effective June 16, as only the third director of the 68-year-old organization, added a dimension to the annual meeting at the Jackson Convention Complex, which drew more than 2,000. The growth of the organization under Wilson's leadership was recounted. In 1997, there were 478 organization members, and membership has grown to 1,067. Effective Monday, Scott Waller will become interim president and chief executive. He is now executive vice president and chief operating officer. After a video of the state's leaders complimenting Wilson for the achievements under his guidance, and a standing ovation, He said, "You're too generous. The strength and the life's-blood of the MEC is all you, our membership."
 
Mississippi Economic Council bids farewell to Blake Wilson, welcomes William Yates
Mississippi business leaders on Thursday bid farewell to longtime Mississippi Economic Council President Blake Wilson, welcomed William Yates III as incoming MEC chairman and were entertained by acclaimed singer-songwriter Mac McAnally who grew up in Belmont. At the luncheon ceremony, 2016-2017 MEC Chairwoman Robin Robinson of Sanderson Farms Inc. handed over chairmanship to Yates, president of W.G. Yates and Sons Construction Company. MEC's 68th annual meeting at the Jackson Convention Complex drew about 2,000 business leaders from across the state. In conjunction with the annual meeting, MEC honored more than 280 Student Teacher Achievement Recognition scholarship winners.
 
HGTV hosts: Show is '100 percent positive' about Mississippi
The hosts of a new HGTV show say their program "Home Town" is shining a positive light on their home state. Erin and Ben Napier live in the south Mississippi city of Laurel, population 18,800. Along with two other couples, they own a downtown general store that focuses on American-made goods. The Napiers spoke Thursday to hundreds of people in Jackson during a meeting of Mississippi Economic Council, the state chamber of commerce. "This is a show that is 100 percent positive about the state of Mississippi. There will not be anything negative or salacious or anything like that," Ben Napier, a former United Methodist youth minister, said to applause from the audience. "We could use the positive light here in Mississippi." Erin replied, "Yes, we could."
 
Mississippi Business Leaders Talk About Need for Infrastructure Improvements
The buzz at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual conference was about transportation, more specifically the importance of making improvements to roads and bridges to help business. The MEC says investments in transportation are vital grow the state economy. The group's executive vice president, Scott Waller, say he's optimistic the state legislature will do something, but there's no right answer on how to fund it. The MEC's 2015 study says it will take $375 million to maintain the state's infrastructure system Former MEC chairman Tom Gresham is in favor of raising fees, like the gasoline tax, for the sake of economic growth. He's president of Double Quick convenience stores in Northwest Mississippi. Gresham and Waller say they hope state lawmakers tackle the infrastructure issue during the special session this summer.
 
Mississippi Economic Council panel: Take infrastructure seriously
The state's voice for business -- the Mississippi Economic Council -- used part of its annual meeting Thursday in Jackson to emphasize again its support for improvements to the state roads and bridges. A panel discussion on infrastructure pointed towards a special legislative session to address Department of Transportation funding that is a little more than a month away. The takeaway from Thursday's session as part of the Mississippi Celebration program at the Jackson Convention Center was an underscoring of the multilayered impact that increased transportation funding could have on the state. Mike McCormick of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation said that the sector he represents depends on investments in the state's infrastructure plan: "There's an old saying that farming is the only occupation that buys and retails, sells and wholesales, and drives the highways both ways," McCormick said. "We don't have the opportunity to pass along the cost to anybody else."
 
Mississippi Economic Council hears from Belmont's Mac McAnally
Mac McAnally, eight times in a row selected the Country Music Association's musician of the year, credits his hometown of Belmont in Tishomingo County for any success he has had as a singer/songwriter. McAnally spoke of his Northeast Mississippi heritage and performed Thursday during the annual meeting of the Mississippi Economic Council at the Jackson Convention Complex. During a conversation with Scott Waller, MEC's executive vice president, in front of about 2,000 attendees, McAnally said he was shocked and honored that the state's chamber of commerce would want to hear from him. "I am a very proud Mississippian, but it never occurred to me that Mississippi might be proud back," said McAnally, who has written songs and performed with some of the biggest names in the recording industry. For a person interested in the arts, "This dirt we grow up in provides great benefits," McAnally said.
 
Mississippi justices uphold judgment against developer
The Mississippi Supreme Court will not reconsider a decision that requires a Jackson developer to pay more than $650,000 for securities violations. Justices Thursday rejected the request from David Watkins to rehear the case. In an administrative proceeding brought by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a hearing officer found Watkins committed financial misdeeds. Watkins transferred money loaned to him to redevelop Metrocenter Mall in Jackson to instead buy a building in Meridian that Watkins renovated for police headquarters there.
 
Watchdog: Mississippi made $21M Medicaid mistake, owes refund
The state Division of Medicaid could face an unwelcome expenditure, following a federal audit's findings that the agency, in error, claimed $21.2 million in unallowable reimbursements from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over a three-year period. The report released by the Office of Inspector General last month recommends the state refund that amount to the federal government. The review centers on administrative costs submitted for the state's school-based Medicaid program for the fiscal years 2010-2012. Under the program, states can be reimbursed for certain services carried out at schools such as identifying and enrolling potentially eligible children in Medicaid. Mississippi's school-based program is administered by the state Department of Education, and the years in question predate current state Superintendent Carey's Wright's tenure.
 
Iowa's ag secretary Bill Northey eyed for USDA deputy post
Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey is on the short list for the No. 2 spot at USDA, as the administration faces pressure to mollify Midwestern farmers who are still coming to terms with having a Southerner lead the department. A handful of contenders are said to be in consideration for deputy secretary, but talk of Northey getting the position has been increasing in recent days, multiple sources familiar with the process told POLITICO. The three-term Iowa agriculture secretary, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, checks several boxes: He hails from a Midwestern farm state, has a decade of experience implementing government farm programs and has powerful friends in the Senate. Some farmers in the Midwest are skeptical of newly installed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and his Southern roots. The last Southerner to lead the department was Mike Espy, a Mississippi native, who served during the first two years of the Clinton administration.
 
Exclusive: Trump says 'major, major' conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday a major conflict with North Korea is possible in the standoff over its nuclear and missile programs, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute. "There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday. Nonetheless, Trump said he wanted to peacefully resolve a crisis that has bedeviled multiple U.S. presidents, a path that he and his administration are emphasizing by preparing a variety of new economic sanctions while not taking the military option off the table. "We'd love to solve things diplomatically but it's very difficult," he said.
 
Trump To Be First Sitting President Since Reagan To Address NRA
Friday, for the first time since 1983, a sitting president will address the National Rifle Association at the group's annual convention -- when President Trump, along with a who's who of gun rights advocates, is scheduled to talk at the NRA Leadership Forum in Atlanta, Ga. NRA spokesperson Jason Brown says the group is hoping to hear a clear message from Trump. "Protecting gun rights, expanding gun rights and getting rid of legislation and gun rights restrictions in this country to make the Second Amendment more powerful than it ever has been before," Brown said of the group's hopes for the president's speech. While Trump hasn't always had the easiest relationship with the NRA, the group proved crucial in electing him last November.
 
Graduates Find Job Market in State Good For Some
Shannon Campbell is experiencing college life as parent and as an employee. She's director of the Trent Lott Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern Mississippi. Her son graduates next month from USM with a degree in construction management and he's already working full-time in his field. "He did an internship with a company. It went very well for him. They kept him on part-time and they offered him a full-time position," said Campbell. Campbell says college grads with degrees in technical fields that include science, math, computer programming or logistics can find jobs in Mississippi. Employment in healthcare including social work is also strong. She says with liberal arts degrees like history, graduates should explore a range of occupations.
 
USM Honors College Students Present Research at U.S. Capitol
Two University of Southern Mississippi Honors College students recently participated in Posters on the Hill, an event in which 60 undergraduates from nearly every state in the nation shared their research with legislators and administration officials in the U.S. Capitol April 25-26. Britton Strickland, a senior from Hattiesburg majoring in biological sciences, and Maya Rex of Ocean Springs, a junior majoring in Psychology, were chosen to take part in the event coordinated by the Council of Undergraduate Research. In addition to showcasing their work in poster form in the rotunda in the U.S. Capitol, students also learned how to advocate for undergraduate research as they met with members of both the Senate and House of Representatives.
 
'Substantial' tuition hikes likely at MGCCC, PRCC after state's cuts
The Coast's two biggest community colleges are considering raising tuition after the state College Board last week approved unusually high increases for Mississippi's eight public universities. The reason: State budget cuts. Gov. Phil Bryant has made several rounds of cuts because tax collections fell short of expectations. And next year's budget will be about 2 percent less than this year, although the Legislature ended is regular session without hashing out how the cuts would affect each department. They will have to do so during a special session called for June 5. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Pearl River Community College are likely to lose millions of dollars in state funding for the upcoming school year, and officials say they have few options.
 
284 STAR students and teachers shine at MEC celebration
This year's class of 284 STAR students was honored Thursday during the Mississippi Economic Council's Education Celebration at the Jackson Convention Complex. The Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program, sponsored by the Mississippi Economic Council and its M.B. Swayze Foundation, encourages scholastic achievement among the state's high school students and recognizes outstanding teachers. Each of the top 20 STAR Students --- ALL-STAR Scholastic Scholars --- received a $1,000 scholarship. The top three students this year are Andy Zhao of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, who received a $24,000 scholarship, Allen Yang Huang of Oak Grove High School, $20,000 scholarship, and Benjamin W. Roberson of Jackson Preparatory School, $16,000. Scholarships are provided by the Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Charitable Foundation Inc.
 
Annual Big Man on Campus event at Auburn raises $90K for breast cancer research
The 22nd Annual Big Man on Campus event raised a record $90,000 for breast cancer research, education and awareness. The annual male talent show and beauty pageant was hosted by the Auburn University Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha on April 13 at the Auburn Arena. The event began with a choreographed group dance. Afterward, participants were judged on the money they raised, talent, formal wear and onstage questions. Each year, they participating guys say they "park their pride at the door for a good cause," said Edna Phelan, ZTA Housing Corporation President. They worked for four months to prepare for the competition. "Everyone has fun getting ready, and the Zetas strive to make it a great evening," Phelan said. "Lots of details and work goes into it for weeks ahead."
 
Speaking Out in Troubled Times: F. King Alexander, president, Louisiana State U.
Video: F. King Alexander, president of Louisiana State University, says he will continue to speak out for public higher education and against politicians who undermine it. But he sometimes wonders where the voices of his peers are.
 
UGA raises will average 2.5 percent this year, university President Jere Morehead says
University of Georgia workers will get an average 2.5 percent pay raise this year, pending Gov. Nathan Deal's final approval of the state budget. That budget adds money to raise state workers' pay by 2 percent on a merit basis --- some will get more than 2 percent, some less. UGA President Jere Morehead also said he planned to raise the starting pay for UGA's lowest-paid jobs by $500 a year. Those jobs start at $23,500, but beginning July 1, will go up to $24,000. As of Thursday, 305 workers were being paid that $23,500 rate, according to university records. The unsigned budget also contains $18.7 million in construction money for the third and final phase of UGA's new Terry College of Business complex.
 
Famed Southern writer Ron Rash donating personal archive to U. of South Carolina
Inspiration hit Ron Rash the other day as it often does -- while he was driving. The internationally acclaimed writer pulled over, grabbed one of the notebooks he keeps handy and scrawled down a bit of Appalachian dialogue for his next novella. "With not a bit of hoping-so involved, which way would you bet on them surviving?" The line of near-iambic pentameter could fit into a spinoff from Rash's 2008 New York Times best-selling novel "Serena." But the notebook itself, after an announcement Thursday, will end up at the University of South Carolina. Rash, whose novels, short stories and poems have explored themes of the South's Appalachia region, has pledged his personal archive to USC's already burgeoning collection of Southern writers. Rash and USC say the soon-to-be-public collection will offer an insightful look into his writing process.
 
Texas A&M regents vote to approve more than $334M in construction projects
A quiet undercurrent of tension permeated Thursday's meeting of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, nearly one week after it was revealed members would consider extending Chancellor John Sharp's contract by an additional three years into 2023. While the action on Sharp's contract was ultimately tabled for a later date, the regents approved moving forward on more than $334 million in construction projects. Toward the end of the meeting, Regent Tony Buzbee -- who told the Texas Tribune last week he opposed an extension of Sharp's contract -- took a few minutes to address potential dangers associated with contracts that last longer than three years. Buzbee spoke before the board voted to authorize Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young to execute a new contract for head women's basketball coach Gary Blair. While he said he was not directing his concern "at this particular contract," Buzbee said the board should be careful not to approve more than three years of employment for "any administrator" if the deal includes appropriated funds.
 
Post-retirement benefit changes push some U. of Missouri faculty out
As Phebe Nichols prepares to retire from the University of Missouri this year, she's making some tough choices. The first is to sell the property west of Ashland where she lives. The land was acquired by her parents in the 1950s and she lives on the portion she received when it was divided among her siblings. It is home but because it has a mortgage, she can't keep it, she said. Nichols, 65, is retiring before she wants to in order to keep as much as possible of the university's subsidy toward her health insurance. The move will cost her about $150 a month in pension income, increase the cost of health insurance by $30 per month and force her to take a diminished Social Security benefit for two years. The Board of Curators made dramatic changes in post-retirement benefits last April that will increase costs for many employees who remain on the payroll as of Dec. 31. The choices Nichols is making are on the minds of many retirement-eligible MU employees.
 
U. of Missouri curators approve new policies on faculty conduct
The University of Missouri approved four new policies Thursday intended to address issues raised during the political storm over former faculty member Melissa Click and 2015 protests on the Columbia campus. Three policies, including rules for dealing with faculty misconduct off campus, won approval from the UM Board of Curators. Along with conduct, the policies will require regular performance reviews for tenured faculty and require academic departments to set teaching workload requirements for each faculty member. The fourth, a policy governing the use of university grounds for political demonstrations, took effect for the Columbia campus. President Mun Choi told the curators the speech policy will become a model for the system.
 
Study: Profs widely oppose campus carry but fewer would alter teaching habits
One of the major arguments against campus carry laws like the one imposed on Texas public universities last year is that having guns in the classroom chills academic freedom. Professors might avoid hot-button issues in class discussions, for example, or fear meeting one-on-one with students. But how many faculty members actually feel that way? Preliminary research being presented today at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association gives new insight into what share of professors feel intellectually limited by the specter of guns in their classrooms or would adjust their teaching styles if they had to teach under campus carry. Business professors were more supportive of campus carry than were their peers in other disciplines. Science and engineering and architecture and public affairs participants were significantly less likely than other groups to agree that their approach to teaching controversial issues would remain the same.
 
Advocates for HBCUs Aim to Keep Pressure on Lawmakers
The Trump administration indicated early in its tenure that it would place a heavy focus on historically black colleges and universities --- with the president signing an executive order in February that moved the White House Initiative on HBCUs back to the White House from the Department of Education. But as the administration's 100-day mark looms, there is scant evidence of that extra attention. On Thursday members of the HBCU Collective, a group of alumni, students, and supporters of HBCUs working in politics and advocacy, journeyed here to urge legislators to take direct action on HBCUs in the absence of increased support from the administration. Dozens gathered at the U.S. Capitol to meet with more than 30 lawmakers and their staffs. The collective wants Congress to permanently restore the year-round Pell Grant program and to indefinitely protect the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The group is also recommending that Congress authorize federal agencies to increase to 5 percent the share of STEM grants awarded to HBCUs, among other requests.
 
New study demonstrates rise of tuition discounting and diminishing returns
Attracting students with tuition discounting has its limits -- and one study suggests a surprisingly large number of small colleges and universities are flirting with those limits. The study, which is being presented Friday at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting, looks at the practice and effects of tuition discounting over 10 years at a group of 448 small liberal arts colleges across the country. Tuition discount rates have risen substantially as institutions offer larger and larger scholarships and grants to students in order to entice them to enroll. Colleges and universities use tuition discounting as they try to meet enrollment goals and increase net tuition revenue. Under the strategy, institutions offer grant aid to some students in order to lower those students' cost of attendance. The idea is that the grant aid entices students to enroll who would not have attended if an institution was charging more.
 
Purdue Faculty and Students React Warily to Kaplan Deal
Several faculty members and students at Purdue University said they were surprised Thursday at the announcement that their institution was acquiring the giant for-profit Kaplan University. And along with the surprise came many questions about what the announced deal will mean for the long-term quality and reputation of the Indiana land-grant institution. "My initial reaction was: What the hell?" said Christopher F. Kulesza, who is finishing his doctoral degree in political science at Purdue and teaches online classes in the summer. The university has, for years, discussed ways to increase its online offerings, said Mr. Kulesza, because it felt a step behind its peers in that area. "I just never thought this was where we would be going," he said. Mr. Kulesza, the former president of the Graduate Student Government, said he remains ambivalent about the partnership between Purdue and Kaplan but wonders how two institutions with such different missions and ways of operating will find a way to work together.
 
Oak Ridge National Lab, Department of Energy work with small businesses
Oak Ridge National Lab is one of eight national labs given funding this year to partner with small businesses across the country through the Department of Energy's small business voucher program. The Department of Energy announced the 38 participating small businesses at Earth Day Texas last Friday. The businesses are working on technology in advanced manufacturing, fuel cells, buildings, vehicles and renewable energy fields. "Small businesses are the engine of our economy," said Energy Secretary Rick Perry, "and those working on advanced energy technologies play an important role in ensuring our nation's energy, security and independence. Businesses are competitively selected from the DOE's open "requests for assistance" calls. Then they are matched with the national lab that can best suit needs.
 
Budget cuts threaten future agriculture
Mississippi newspaper publisher and columnist Joel McNeece writes: "Rural Mississippi is in trouble and the purveyors of these dangerous times are the current state leadership. That was the message Sen. Russell Jolly delivered at the quarterly Soil and Water Conservation District meeting in Calhoun City Monday night. Jolly expressed his concerns about the future of agriculture and how we're supposed to feed a world population expected to reach 10 billion in the next 30 years when farmers seem to be in the government's crosshairs. 'Agriculture got cut 12 percent, all the universities 9 percent, soil and water, Extension Service, everything is getting cut that impacts the rural districts, and they (state leaders) act like they're proud of it,' Jolly said of the state budget dilemma. 'We don't have people representing rural people. Out of 52 members in the Senate, there are only seven that have a vested interest in agriculture and only two of us are farmers,' he said."


SPORTS
 
Auburn vs. Mississippi State: Reunion weekend arrives in Starkville
Mississippi State has a chance to create some space in the SEC West race this weekend. The 10th-ranked Bulldogs have won five straight SEC series and enter the weekend atop the division standings at 13-5. MSU (29-14) will host an Auburn club that enters the week tied with Arkansas for second place, one game behind the Diamond Dogs. "We certainly have a task at hand and our goal is to win the weekend and do everything we can to play as well as we can to keep our momentum going," said MSU coach Andy Cannizaro. The series gets underway at 6:30 tonight and continues Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at noon. The final two games will be televised on the SEC Network. This weekend will be the first time Auburn head coach Butch Thompson has returned to Starkville since departing last fall. The Amory native served as the Diamond Dogs' pitching coach for seven seasons under John Cohen.
 
Auburn coach Butch Thompson makes first trip back to Starkville for pivotal series
At some point this weekend, coach Butch Thompson said, the magnitude of Auburn's three-game series at Mississippi State is going to hit him. It could be when he visits his father in his nursing home near Starkville or grabs breakfast with his daughter, Anna, who just started school there in January. It could be when he enters the visitor's dugout at Dudy Noble Field and stares across the diamond at the home dugout he occupied for seven years as an assistant and associate head coach with the Bulldogs. Or maybe it will be when his current and former teams, both ranked in the top 10 nationally, take the field for a crucial conference series that could determine first place in the SEC West. "If it wasn't for Mississippi State, I probably wouldn't be sitting in this chair with the opportunity of a lifetime," said Thompson, who will be making his first trip to Starkville as Auburn's head coach. "They prepared me well, Auburn has given me the opportunity, and to get to tangle, at some point this weekend, that's going to be a pretty neat feeling."
 
'How cool is this?': Butch Thompson embracing return to Starkville
It's a 248-minute drive from Starkville, Mississippi to the athletics facility building at Auburn University. And in each of those 248 minutes on the afternoon of Oct. 22, 2015, Butch Thompson had says approximately 248 conflicting emotions as he drove for his introductory head coach press conference at Auburn. When he headed east early on that morning on Interstate Highway 82 toward Birmingham, Thompson couldn't help but think one more time about what the seven and a half years of experiences he was leaving in his rear view mirror. "(Former Mississippi State head coach) John Cohen let me speak to the team and I got to tell them personally and I thought about being able to hug every one of those boys that morning," Thompson said. "I needed to do that." Thompson will make that same 248-minute trip again this weekend when the No. 7 Auburn Tigers (30-13, 12-6 in SEC) face No. 10 Mississippi State (29-14, 13-5 in SEC), the current Southeastern Conference leader, at Dudy Noble Field.
 
Mississippi State thriving with position players pitching
In a hitters' meeting nearly two months ago, Andy Cannizaro asked a question that he felt the need to preface as a "very real" and "serious" inquiry, considering the amount of Mississippi State pitchers out with injuries. "OK," he recalled saying, "Who can pitch? Do we have anybody in this room right now that can go get us some innings that will like to start throwing bullpens? Who had a really good high school career as a pitcher?" Outfielder Brant Blaylock was the first to raise his hand. "Really?" Cannizaro asked. "Yeah," Blaylock said, "give me the ball." With that, Blaylock went off to throw a bullpen session under the guidance of pitching coach Gary Henderson 45 minutes later. Henderson offered a positive review to Cannizaro, noting Blaylock showed command with an ability to spin a breaking ball. Cannizaro said there is an "excellent chance" Blaylock will see more time on the mound and Blaylock could make another appearance for No. 13 MSU (29-14, 13-5 SEC) as early as this weekend against No. 9 Auburn (30-13, 12-6) at Dudy Noble Field.
 
RHP Casey Mize 'available' to pitch for No. 7 Auburn at No. 10 Mississippi State
Casey Mize isn't yet a part of No. 7 Auburn's starting rotation this weekend. Coach Butch Thompson announced Thursday morning that Keegan Thompson would start Friday at Mississippi State, Davis Daniel would pitch Saturday and that Sunday was still to be announced. But after missing last weekend's home series against Arkansas with arm fatigue, Mize -- who is 6-1 and atop the SEC in both ERA (1.23) and strikeouts (82 in 52 2/3 innings) -- "is available" to pitch in Starkville this weekend and could start on Sunday. Butch Thompson just wasn't ready to set that in stone quite yet. "It gives us flexibility and it allows me as a coach to take responsibility," Thompson said. "Somehow if the player got to where he didn't feel good, if Casey didn't feel good tomorrow, instead of having him in there and taking him out, it seemed like the right thing to do."
 
Mississippi State AD John Cohen finds a new way to compete
Back in November, John Cohen's work attire changed from a baseball cap and uniform to a sport coat and tie as he became Mississippi State's 17th director of athletics. Nearly six months into his new line of work, the ultra-competitive Cohen has found a new way to fill that daily void of not coaching. "Every day is just another opportunity to do what I can to help represent Mississippi State athletics the right way," Cohen said. "Every day we're trying to give our kids a better experience. Every day we're trying to give coaches what they need to go win championships. Every day we're working with the best fans in the country. Every day we're trying to find a way to make our athletic department better. That's a thrill for me. The opportunity to watch our kids perform in every sport is like a dream come true."
 
Mississippi State Notebook: Vic Schaefer values trips to the Coast
Mississippi State made the first stop of the Road Dawgs Tour on the coast Wednesday night. Athletic director John Cohen and coaches Ben Howland, Dan Mullen and Vic Schaefer spoke to hundreds of Bulldogs faithful outside the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It wasn't long ago that Schaefer brought his women's basketball team to the coast to play. The Bulldogs defeated Tulane 66-49 at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on Nov. 16 and plans to return to Biloxi during the 2018-19 season. "We're going to play in Jackson this coming season and then I want to come back to the coast," Schaefer said. "I've got two kids from down here and I love it down here."
 
Arrested Auburn softball players will be in uniform vs. Mississippi State, but remain suspended indefinitely
Haley Fagan, Makayla Martin and Brittany Maresette, the three Auburn softball players who were arrested in the early morning hours on April 20 and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, are practicing with the team and will be in uniform for this weekend's series against Mississippi State. But they remain suspended indefinitely. "They have to earn their way back onto the team," coach Clint Myers said Thursday. "When that happens? That's solely up to them." Fagan, the team's starting shortstop, Martin, the No. 2 pitcher, and Maresette, a freshman reserve, did not travel with the team to South Carolina over the weekend or to Montgomery for Wednesday's win over Alabama State. Myers said "it's always possible" that any of three could play against the Bulldogs this weekend, but as of Thursday, "they're just not eligible."
 
Mississippi State and Cincinnati schedule basketball series
Mississippi State has reached an agreement with Cincinnati to meet in men's basketball over the next two seasons. The Bulldogs and Bearcats will play the first game of the series on Dec. 12 at BB&T Arena in Newport, Kentucky due to renovations. Cincinnati will make the return trip to Starkville on Dec. 15, 2018 with tipoff times released at a later date. MSU have played Cincinnati on four previous occasions with each team winning twice.
 
Arkansas closes spring football game to public due to expected bad weather
Arkansas has closed its spring football game to the public due to expected bad weather, though the game will still be televised. The Razorbacks' Red-White Spring Game kicks off at noon Central on Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. With forecasts calling for possible tornadoes and flooding, the school made the decision late Thursday to close the game to the public. The game will still be televised live on the SEC Network. Associated fan events, such as the annual pre-game HogFest, have been canceled.



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