Thursday, May 18, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Starkville-Oktibbeha School District breaks ground for new Partnership School
In the wide space amidst a canopy of trees hidden next to Mississippi State University's campus, ground was broken Wednesday for the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District. The partnership school will include all sixth- and seventh-grade students in the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District. It also will serve as a demonstration site for student teachers in MSU's College of Education and will give the middle school students and faculty easier access to learning resources. The groundbreaking ceremony occurred at the future location, the intersection of George Perry Street and Highway 12, and included the prominent leaders and benefactors of the partnership school. David Shaw, MSU's vice president for research and economic development, opened the event, saying the school will revolutionize the learning community.
Mississippi State, school district break ground on new Partnership School
Construction will begin soon on a one-of-a-kind school on the campus of Mississippi State University. State officials along with leaders at Mississippi State and the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District broke ground on campus. This $27.5 million Partnership School is for sixth and seventh grade students in the district and will be a demonstration site for student teachers and faculty members at MSU. "This is going to be a transformational school not just for this community but for the entire state of Mississippi," MSU President Mark Keenum added. Construction starts immediately and it's expected to be complete in January 2019.
Work officially begins on Partnership School
An ongoing project moved a step closer to completion when ground was broken on the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Partnership School Wednesday morning. Once complete, the $27.5 million school will house all SOCSD sixth and seventh grade students and serve as a laboratory for the Mississippi State University College of Education. The groundbreaking ceremony included remarks from Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, MSU President Mark Keenum, donor and Oasis Petroleum CEO Tommy Nusz and SOCSD Superintendent Lewis Holloway. Keenum called the school a "win, win, win" for MSU, Starkville and Oktibbeha County.
SOSD Partnership School Groundbreaking Held
Starkville-Oktibbeha students are one step closer to having a brand new school. Mississippi State University, the Starkville-Oktibbeha School District and statewide officials gathered Wednesday morning to witness breaking of the ground for the Partnership School. "This is a great partnership between Mississippi State University, our consolidated Starkville-Oktibbeha County School District, the county, the city, and the state of Mississippi. This is a unique one-of-a-kind school we are about to build here. That will educate the students that are in their last year of elementary, first year of secondary and prepare them for their next step into higher education," said Mississippi State President Mark Keenum.
Uncertified results: Lynn Spruill beats Johnny Moore in Starkville's mayoral race
Lynn Spruill is set to become Starkville's first female mayor after she retained a seven-vote lead over challenger Johnny Moore once affidavits from the Democratic Primary runoff were processed Wednesday. Moore eroded a portion of Spruill's 12-vote Election Day lead during the processing but couldn't find enough votes to put him over the city's former chief administrative officer. Spruill's uncertified victory came after the Starkville Election Commission accepted 17 of 43 affidavits after a four-hour processing session. City Clerk Lesa Hardin said the election commission will certify runoff results at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and address the pending affidavit.
Lynn Spruill wins mayor's race by 7 votes, Johnny Moore to review rejected ballots
Starkville's mayoral race saw a close finish Tuesday night and Wednesday morning saw the margin of victory become smaller as affidavit ballots were processed at City Hall. Property owner and former chief administrative officer for the city of Starkville Lynn Spruill was named the winner over attorney Johnny Moore by seven votes on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday night, Spruill's lead was only 12 votes. Unofficial results show Spruill winning 1872 to 1865, after 43 affidavit ballots were processed. In total, 26 affidavit ballots were rejected. Moore told the SDN Wednesday afternoon he plans to review the rejected absentee ballots and some of the rejected affidavit ballots. "At this point, we just want to ensure that every vote cast was properly counted or rejected," Moore said. Spruill told the SDN on Wednesday afternoon she understands the path Moore is taking.
Incumbent Ben Carver moves on in Ward 1
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver held off challenger Jason Camp Tuesday to become his ward's Republican nominee for June's general election. Carver will now face Democrat Christine Williams on June 6. "In the general election, you don't have to vote by party, so you can vote for whomever you want to," Carver said. "Being the only candidate from Starkville, raised in Starkville, in the public school system ... I feel like I'm the most qualified with eight years on the board. I think we set the catalyst for growth." The two-term incumbent's 147-124 victory on Tuesday starkly contrasted from the tie declared between the candidates on May 2. Though Camp said he hoped for victory, he wasn't altogether disappointed in the results of his campaign.
Ethics claim filed against Starkville's airport board
Starkville is preparing to defend its airport board from a new ethics complaint lodged by former George M. Bryant Airport fixed-based operator Kenneth Aasand, Mayor Parker Wiseman confirmed. Aldermen acknowledged the claim in executive session Tuesday, Wiseman said, but took no formal action on the matter. Few details about the nature of the allegations are known at this point, as a copy of the claim was unavailable Tuesday. Wiseman, however, alluded to possible communication issues between the airport board and Aasand.
Water line break could mean no water in Vicksburg for 5 days
Too much water will mean none at all for almost 30,000 customers in and around Vicksburg for five days or more. The line carrying treated water from the city's water plant to all customers broke Wednesday morning in an area that's currently flooded by a Mississippi River backwater. With no way to deliver clean water, the city shut down its pipes. "We have absolutely no water anywhere in Vicksburg," Mayor George Flaggs Jr. told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Flaggs said that the city now must build a levee around the ruptured line and pump floodwater out of a low-lying area before repairs can begin. He said repairs are likely to take at least until Monday.
Groundbreaking: Distribution center planned for Marion, adding 40 jobs
Over the past 45 years a small farm and garden store in Texarkana, Texas has grown to 17 locations in nine states, stretching across the Southeast and Midwest. Now, the second-generation company, BWI Companies, Inc., will open a new distribution facility in Marion, as announced at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday morning at the Northeast Industrial Park in Marion. The Lauderdale County Supervisors, Marion Mayor Elvis Hudson, the Mississippi Development Authority and the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation worked together to attract the company, competing against locations such as Montgomery, Ala. Mickey Milligan, the director of existing industry and business at the Mississippi Development Authority, said that since the excitement of a proposed Raytheon deal that eventually was withdrawn, he has seen a difference in East Mississippi.
Mississippi Supreme Court hears appeal over school funding
The 21 Mississippi school districts suing lawmakers over a 2006 mandate to spend certain amounts on schools each year say their case is simple: The law is nonnegotiable. The state says the school districts are wrong, and for equally simple reasons. Lawmakers from 11 years ago can't tell today's legislators what to do, and courts have no business wading into the subject. Mississippi's Supreme Court justices were confronted with those opposing positions in oral arguments Wednesday. At stake is the demand from the school districts to be paid back $236 million that the 21 districts say the state owes them for the budget years 2010 through 2015, representing their shares of how much the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula was shorted. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, arguing for the districts, was defending his legacy. He guided the adequate education program into law as lieutenant governor in 1997.
Justices press both sides in school funding lawsuit
Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove on Wednesday drilled home his argument that by under funding the state's school funding formula the Legislature is not fulfilling requirements of the state Constitution. In oral arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court, Musgrove told justices the Mississippi Adequate Education Program is the Legislature's attempt to meet the requirements of Section 201 of the Constitution to "provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of free public schools." By not fully funding it, he said, the Legislature is failing to meet constitutional requirements. Several other justices also expressed concern over separation of powers and the judiciary branch's role.
State argues Legislature can ignore MAEP
Justin Matheny, an assistant attorney general, argued Wednesday before the state Supreme Court that a law passed by the 2006 Legislature could not mandate that future legislators fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. "The MAEP (funding) formula does not reduce legislators' fiscal discretion to a rubber stamp," Matheny told the nine-member high court during more than 60 minutes of oral arguments. But former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, one of the architects of the MAEP, said that the Legislature had a "constitutional mandate" to provide free public schools and the Legislature had chosen to adhere to that mandate through the MAEP and had stated in general law that the school funding formula "shall" be fully funded.
Republican donors panic as Donald Trump's controversies expand
Pangs of fear and frustration are rippling through the Republican donor and operative classes as Donald Trump's self-inflicted wounds threaten to fully derail the GOP legislative agenda and tarnish the party's brand headed into the midterms. At a Miami donor retreat and at a high-powered Washington dinner, on Capitol Hill and at political firms across the country, Republican donors and operatives this week watched the barrage of bad headlines about Trump with a mixture of awe, angst and anger, worrying about the political implications for their Republican majorities---and about the legal implications for the president. "If you're not concerned, you're not paying attention," said Austin Barbour, a Mississippi-based GOP strategist and veteran fundraiser.
Robert Mueller, Former F.B.I. Director, Is Named Special Counsel for Russia Investigation
The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III, a former F.B.I. director, as special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian officials, dramatically raising the legal and political stakes in an affair that has threatened to engulf Mr. Trump's four-month-old presidency. The decision by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, came after a cascade of damaging developments for Mr. Trump in recent days, including his abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the subsequent disclosure that Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to drop the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Mueller's appointment was hailed by Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who view him as one of the most credible law enforcement officials in the country.
Trump calls appointment of special prosecutor 'the single greatest witch hunt'
President Donald Trump on Thursday blasted the appointment of Robert Mueller to be the special prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Russia's meddling into the 2016 election, calling the probe "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history." He also accused former President Barack Obama's administration and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of committing "illegal acts," complaining that his campaign will now face the scrutiny of a special prosecutor while neither his predecessor nor 2016 opponent never have. The two posts struck a more combative tone for Trump, who was more conciliatory in a statement released by the White House Wednesday night.
Roger Ailes, former Fox News chairman, dead at 77
Roger Ailes, the bombastic and controversial founder and CEO of Fox News ousted last year in a sexual harassment scandal, has died. Ailes, who reshaped television news over five decades in the TV and entertainment industry, was 77. His death was announced in a statement by his wife, Elizabeth Ailes, according to Fox News. Ailes resigned July 21 following a storm over a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson. The suit triggered similar claims from other women and an in-house investigation at Fox. Ailes strongly denied the claims, but stepped down with a $40 million severance package.
Former first lady Laura Bush: Knowledge of history basis for 'engaged citizenship'
From the tumultuous days after Sept. 11, 2001 to the strange return to normalcy after her husband's presidency, former first lady Laura Bush on Wednesday shared personal stories from her life that fell in between the headlines of history. Bush offered her behind-the-scenes perspective during the 117th annual Spring Outing at The Hermitage, the Nashville home of President Andrew Jackson. "The knowledge and understanding of American history is the basis of intellectual inquiry, engaged citizenship and national pride," Bush told roughly 700 people who attended the event. "And through the educational programs at The Hermitage, the Andrew Jackson Foundation is teaching our nation's history to over 30,000 students and 200,000 visitors a year. And for that, I am grateful." Bush's speech was the highlight of The Hermitage's yearlong celebration of Jackson's birthday.
Buried at an Asylum, the 'Unspoken, Untold History' of the South
For thousands of patients, a stay at a state asylum in Mississippi ended in unmarked graves. Not much is known about the more than 11,000 patients who died at the state asylum in Mississippi from 1855 until it closed in 1935. But a group of researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson is trying to change that. The news has renewed the hopes of descendants that they can find out more about what befell their distant relatives who went into the asylum and never came out. And with those hopes, came the stories. "I get emails from descendants to see if I can confirm their ancestors are buried there," said Dr. Molly Zuckerman, an associate professor at Mississippi State University, one of the seven universities involved in the project. "They relate the stories of their lost loved ones. Some are detailed and others tragic. They represent the unspoken, untold history of this phenomenon, specifically in the postwar South."
Ole Miss-based Winter Institute helped New Orleans address Confederate monuments
When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu first publicly called for the removal of four of the city's Confederate monuments, he was sharing the stage with community leaders brought together in part by the Ole Miss-based William Winter Institute. Landrieu made the announcement in June 2015 at a program marking the one-year anniversary of citywide discussions facilitated by The Winter Institute, an organization housed at Ole Miss that serves as a facilitator for race-related conversations across the nation. In the months following Landrieu's announcement, the city has become ground zero for the debate over what to do with public Confederate memorials, particularly in the South. Perhaps no learning institution in the country memorializes the Civil War more explicitly than the University of Mississippi, and no other state more directly supports the Confederacy's most notable image, the Confederate battle flag.
Southern Miss staff members take home top awards at 2017 PRAM state conference
The University of Southern Mississippi staff members from four offices took home two of the top awards. at the Public Relations Association of Mississippi's (PRAM) annual state conference. Southern Miss received two PRism Awards, PRAM's highest honor for outstanding work in the field of public relations, and two Awards of Excellence, PRAM's second highest honor. PRAM is a professional organization of public relations practitioners in Mississippi, consisting of approximately 600 public relations professionals from advertising and public relations agencies, corporations, nonprofit organizations, government, education, industries and others.
USM Graduate Student Excels as Mentor, Polymer Science Researcher
Recalling the adviser shortage she faced as a high school student in Independence, Mo., Abagail Williams takes immense pride in serving as a mentor to younger students while pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Southern Mississippi. A first-generation college student, Williams has spent the past two years working the lab of USM Polymer Science Assistant Professor Dr. Joseph Lott. She is quick to point out that her continuing education experience has produced abundant rewards as both student and teacher. "I really just enjoy teaching students. When I work with students in the research lab, it is usually one-on-one which allows me to tailor my mentoring strategy to the individual," she said.
Two Jackson State students killed in Clinton crash
Two Jackson State University students are dead after a one-vehicle crash in Clinton. Mississippi Highway Patrol spokesman Eric Henry said Clinton Police Department requested MHP to investigate the crash, which occurred sometime before 3:45 a.m. Wednesday. WAPT reports that a suspicious vehicle call came in to police from the Shell Station on Springridge Road. When officers arrived at the gas station, the driver of the dark-colored Honda fled at a high rate of speed, with officers following. According to MHP, the driver of the car lost control and hit a tree off the North Frontage Road near the Natchez Trace. Johnathan Thomas, 21, and Skylar Liddell, 19, both died at the scene.
Itawamba Community College recognizes more than 600 graduates
More than 600 graduates of Itawamba Community College walked across the stage at the Davis Event Center on the Fulton Campus Saturday during two commencement ceremonies and were rewarded with Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science degrees or certificates. They were among more than 1,400 graduates who have earned degrees from ICC this year. During the Associate of Arts ceremony, Glenn McCullough Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, called ICC's graduates a "huge talent pool. Most are from Mississippi." McCullough said it was quite an honor and privilege to visit with the audience and graduates for a few minutes.
New partnership creates training program at Northeast Mississippi Community College's Iuka campus
More than $200,000 have been committed to a new job training program at Northeast Mississippi Community College's Iuka campus. Exactly $237,033 in funds will be used to provide specialized job training. The money will also be used to provide gas cards for unemployed and underemployed people who which to attend the training. The program will consist of several courses, including the Manufacturing Skills Basic Certification course, among others. The courses will be taught online, as well as in a classroom setting at the Iuka campus. This is all possible due to a partnership with NEMCC, Mississippi Silicon, Rural Development Partners, Appalachian Regional Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Learning the language of barbecue at U. of Alabama
At lunchtime on Wednesday, people lined up in the parking lot between Bryant-Denny Stadium and Reese Phifer Hall for free plates of barbecue and sides dished up by a University of Alabama assistant professor and his students. The communications class spent Wednesday morning preparing the meat in smokers. The diners and cooks chatted across folding tables spread with pork butts, beef brisket, smoked chickens, ribs and sausage. Diners retreated to shade trees, tailgates and electrical boxes to eat the sampling of different styles. The meal, part of an interim course offered between the spring and summer semesters, was simultaneously a community gathering for the pure pleasure of barbecue and an academic dive into the cooking style's culture and role as a conduit for communication. This is the first year for the class, which was created by assistant professor of Communications Studies Darrin Griffin.
Longtime U. of Alabama employee recognized for service
Longtime University of Alabama athletics department employee Judy Tanner received the Rotary Rose from the Rotary Club of Tuscaloosa during its weekly meeting Tuesday. Tanner began work at UA in 1976 and served as administrative assistant to Mal Moore and Bill Battle during their tenures as director of athletics. She continues to work with Battle in his position as a special assistant to the president of the university. "Her tenure includes helping UA work through probation to become the model NCAA citizen, along with 11 championships amongst five athletic teams, countless conference and individual championships and thousands of acts of kindness," said Rotary member Jackie Wuska, who presented the rose to Tanner. Wuska said the annual recognition is for community service that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Sexual misconduct complaints jump 68 percent in 2016 at U. of Tennessee
Reports of sexual misconduct at the University of Tennessee Knoxville jumped 68 percent from 2015 to 2016, with 38 complaints reported in 2015 compared to 64 in 2016, according to a newly released report from the university. The 64 reports made by students in 2016 include 50 reports of sexual assault, three reports of sexual harassment, three reports of sexual exploitation and eight reports that were unclassified. For the first time this year, the report also includes additional data on relationship violence and stalking, with a combined 39 reports made in 2016. The data was released Wednesday as part of an annual report UT has prepared each year since 2015 detailing reports of sexual misconduct occurring both on and off campus and reported by students. Officials at UT said the rise in complaints this year reflects increased educational efforts and training around sexual misconduct, rather than a rise in violence on campus.
Initiative puts Texas A&M on 'front line' of cybersecurity
The Texas A&M University System is looking to position itself as a leader in the field of cybersecurity amid global headlines demonstrating the dangers of such attacks. Vice Chancellor, Dean of Engineering and Director of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station M. Katherine Banks said the timely cybersecurity initiative is envisioned to have a far-reaching impact on several areas of research and study throughout the A&M System. Stephen Cambone who previously served as the first U.S. undersecretary of defense for intelligence under President George W. Bush -- was announced as the initiative's leader Monday. Cambone said he was drawn to accept the system's offer as he learned more about the land grant mission of Texas A&M and the impact it had in driving the initiative's mission.
Texas A&M professors call for President Michael Young to apologize
A group of Texas A&M professors are asking President Michael K. Young to apologize for what they believe is a lack of understanding of the black American experience, a request voiced after the administrator recently condemned comments about race violence made by a tenured faculty member. A radio interview given almost five years ago by philosophy professor Tommy Curry and uploaded to YouTube with audio and still photographs surfaced May 8 in an online article for The American Conservative, accusing the teacher of talking about killing white people for the sake of liberation and equality. Curry -- who has taught at Texas A&M since 2009 and has received national awards for his work on critical race theory and Africana philosophy -- told The Eagle his words were taken out of context. Young could not be reached for comment.
Dean of U. of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine takes job in Grenada
Neil Olson, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, on Wednesday became the eighth dean to depart the University of Missouri in the past 18 months. Olson, dean since 2007, will become dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine at St. George's University in Grenada on Aug. 15, interim Chancellor Garnett Stokes wrote in an email memo to faculty and administrators. In the memo, Stokes credited Olson with increasing the college's endowment, establishing a Veterinary Health Center in Wentzville in St. Charles County and earning full accreditation for the college from the American Veterinary Medical Association and full accreditation for the diagnostic laboratory. The university currently has two openings for other dean positions, in the College of Arts and Science and the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
NIH Is Firm on Plan to Limit Per-Person Grant Awards
Despite facing protests, the National Institutes of Health promised Wednesday to move ahead with a plan to impose a general limit of three major grants per researcher, persuaded by data linking quantity to declining effectiveness. "We are determined to take some action now that we have this data," the NIH's director, Francis S. Collins, told a House appropriations subcommittee. "When you've seen that data," he added after the hearing, "you can't just walk away and say, 'Oh, that's fine.'" Dr. Collins was referring to statistics compiled in recent months by Michael S. Lauer, the top NIH official in charge of external grant awards, showing that researcher productivity as measured by journal citations tends to decline once a scientist holds at least three major NIH grants.
Trump's first full education budget: Deep cuts to public school programs in pursuit of school choice
Funding for college work-study programs would be cut in half, public-service loan forgiveness would end and hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish under a Trump administration plan to cut $10.6 billion from federal education initiatives, according to budget documents obtained by The Washington Post. The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies. The proposed budget would also reshape financial aid programs that help 12 million students pay for college.
U. of Wisconsin at Madison Restores Twitter Account After Hack
The University of Wisconsin at Madison's Twitter account, @UWMadison, was hacked early Wednesday morning and published some bizarre tweets before the university regained control of it, according to a university news release. Four rogue messages, including a link to a music video, were tweeted from the account within minutes of one another. University staff members contacted Twitter once they were made aware of the tweets, and the tweets were deleted around 9:30 a.m., the release said. The university's communications office plans to review the social-media account's security after the incident.
Senator Stennis and Watergate
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey last week generated comparisons to President Richard Nixon's 'Saturday Night Massacre.' Nixon ordered the firing of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, precipitating the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus who both refused to do so. The job of firing Cox then fell to Solicitor General Robert Bork who also opposed firing Cox, but believed it was within the President's constitutional authority to do so, and terminated the special prosecutor. ...The Saturday Night Massacre almost didn't happen. It was nearly averted because of the respect many had for Mississippi Senator John C. Stennis."
Legislative leaders miss opportunity to couple transportation needs, tax cuts
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "During the 2016 session, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and business groups, including the Mississippi Economic Council, pulled out all the stops to pass the largest tax cut in the state's history. ...Many people from various political points of view concede the franchise tax is in essence bad tax policy and at times unfair to businesses. But at least some people who are not enamored with the franchise tax still argued against eliminating it in Mississippi without more changes in the state's tax law. ...But the legislative leadership -- led by Reeves -- refused to consider broader tax reform. Instead, Reeves pushed through his proposal to eliminate the franchise tax and to cut the personal income tax. ...Many of the same business groups that are benefiting from the tax cut and will benefit more in coming years are pushing the legislative leadership, including Reeves, to come up with a plan to raise additional revenue -- more than $350 million annually by some estimates -- to pay for infrastructure needs."

LSU vs. Mississippi State: Andy Cannizaro's past meets present
Andy Cannizaro's past will meet his present this weekend. As late as November, Cannizaro was serving as LSU's recruiting coordinator and hitting coach. Now the first-year Mississippi State head coach will be staring into an opposing dugout full of Tigers he helped recruit and coach. "It's going to be really cool," Cannizaro said. "I don't think it'll be awkward or weird. I've pulled for those kids all season long because you develop that relationship with those kids for 2 1/2 years. ... I want the best for those kids, but at the same time, we're in a completely different jersey now, and we want to beat them." There is much more at stake than personal bragging rights in this series to close out the regular season.
Plenty on the line for Mississippi State in final series against LSU
The odds are stacked against Mississippi State as it enters its final series of the regular season. For the Bulldogs, that's nothing new. That's why there is a sense of familiarity with that feeling for Andy Cannizaro and the Bulldogs. Mississippi State (34-19, 17-10 SEC) hosts LSU (36-17, 18-9) in a three-game series starting at 6 p.m. Thursday and the best the Bulldogs can finish is tied atop the SEC. Florida (19-8) and Kentucky (18-9) play each other this weekend and are both ahead of the Bulldogs. Kentucky must win two out of three against Florida, and the Bulldogs must sweep LSU to force a three-way tie of MSU, UK and Florida. If MSU takes two out of three against LSU, the Bulldogs are in good position to claim a share of the SEC West.
Andy Cannizaro has Miss. St. soaring; how he got there has series with LSU dripping with drama
The boxes that sit unpacked in Andy Cannizaro's office have just arrived there. He's spent the last two Sundays, not unpacking boxes, but moving them from his new Starkville home to his new office near Dudy Noble Field. That's just how crazy the last six months have been for the former LSU assistant and current Mississippi State head baseball coach. Unpacking said boxes might have to wait until after the season. "It's been makeshift all spring," Cannizaro said, "but it's been amazing, man." In this case, makeshift has a double meaning. His team is that way, too. Over the course of the season, he's down eight pitchers to injury. What's so "amazing" about all of this? Mississippi State is ranked in the top 15 in four of five major polls, has won six of nine Southeastern Conference series and still has a shot to win the SEC West. Naturally, the only thing standing in the way of the latter is Cannizaro's old team.
LSU to face Mississippi State's version of Greg Deichmann -- but with better numbers
Greg Deichmann knows all about Brent Rooker. The two competed against each other in the college home run derby last summer in Omaha -- Rooker hit 15 to Deichmann's 12 -- and stayed in touch ever since. They'll see each other again Thursday for the start of a series between LSU (36-17, 18-9 SEC) and Mississippi State (34-19, 17-10) that will likely determine the SEC West champion. "We talk hitting," Deichmann said. "It's cool -- he's been a guy that leads the SEC in all those categories and I've been right up there with him. We're kind of going back and forth." But for as great a season Deichmann is having for LSU, the numbers posted by Rooker are better.
Dudy Noble Field Groundbreaking Ceremony Set For 2 p.m. Saturday
Prior to its final regular season baseball game of 2017, Mississippi State will break ground on the new, state-of-the-art Dudy Noble Field in a 2 p.m. Saturday ceremony. The groundbreaking will take place between the Palmeiro Center and the current Dudy Noble Field. It leads up to the series finale between the Diamond Dawgs and LSU at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. "We are excited to get this project started," MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen said. "Years of hard work and creativity have gone into the planning process and now is the time to begin building what will be the finest ballpark in college baseball. Our fans, student-athletes, coaches, alumni, faculty and staff deserve to have the best college baseball experience in the country." Fulton-based JESCO, Inc., has been awarded the contract to construct the new Dudy Noble Field.
Mississippi State's Andrew Mahoney makes SEC Community Service Team
Mississippi State reliever Andrew Mahoney's charitable spirit has been rewarded with a spot on the SEC Community Service Team. Mahoney has logged over 50 hours of community service since August in the Starkville Area. Much of Mahoney's work was as a mentor in the ACCESS Program, which helps students with learning disabilities transition to higher education. He was previously given the Volunteer Spirit Award by the Maroon Volunteer Center. The junior from Daphne, Alabama also excels in the classroom where he was a Dean's Scholar and on the honor roll majoring in biological sciences.
Mississippi State softball meets BYU in postseason return
After a one-year absence, Mississippi State makes its return to the NCAA Tournament today against No. 21 BYU at 5 p.m. in the Salt Lake City Regional. The Bulldogs (36-20) are making their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000 and fifth in the last six years under coach Vann Stuedeman. MSU has won at least one game in each of its last three tournament trips. The Bulldogs do have history with BYU and lead the overall series 2-1. The Cougars won the last meeting 4-3 in nine innings at Oregon during the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
Dak: 'It'll be a privilege' to speak at banquet
In his first offseason as the starting quarterback of a NFL team, Dak Prescott is trying to keep his day-to-day process the same as it always has been. "It's still working and just trying to get back, making a push and making as much as improvement I can with this team so we can get back to where we were and continue," said Prescott, who has gone from relatively unknown Louisiana high school quarterback to Mississippi State's ascendant star to Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback. Prescott's profile has never been higher than it is now. He recently picked up endorsement deals with Pepsi and Frito-Lay, joining existing agreements with Adidas and Beats by Dre. As one of the NFL's rising young stars he's been a sought-after public speaker this offseason as well.
Ole Miss deputy athletic director Stephen Ponder resigns
Ole Miss is losing one of its top athletic administrators. Stephen Ponder, the Rebels' deputy athletic director, has resigned because of a personal matter. Ponder also served as the senior executive associate athletic director for external affairs for the last five years. Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork commended Ponder's work and wished he and his family well but did not comment further on the move when reached by phone Wednesday other than to say it was not related to the NCAA's investigation into the football program. Michael Thompson, the school's associate athletic director for communications and marketing, and Ole Miss Athletics Foundation Executive Director Keith Carter will share Ponder's responsibilities for now. Bjork said there's no timetable on finding a permanent replacement.
Ole Miss' Hugh Freeze makes AP list of coaches who need to show improvement
"Hot seat" is a term often thrown around for college football coaches. In a piece from The Associated Press, national college football writer Ralph Russo, a former AP sports writer for Mississippi, downplays "hot seat" talk but does provide his list of six coaches who should be concerned if their teams don't show improvement and six more who are right behind them. Honorable mention picks, you might say. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is in the first group of six. Obviously, the NCAA investigation is a factor in Freeze's future, but Russo is looking mostly at on-field performance.
Watch Hugh Freeze walk off when asked about 'NCAA sanctions stuff' at Regions Tradition
It is a question that has followed Hugh Freeze and the Ole Miss football program for years. On Wednesday, the Rebels head coach was in no mood to answer a reporter's question about the "NCAA sanctions stuff." Freeze, who is attending the 2017 Regions Tradition Pro-Am Wednesday morning, was asked ABC 33/40 the following question: "How anxious or eager are you guys to get over this NCAA sanction stuff?" Freeze simply said no before the question was finished and walked off. Clearly, the Ole Miss coach had no interest in the topic. In February, Ole Miss received its second, or amended, Notice of Allegations and it presents a lack-of-institutional-control charge.
Pearl River Community College announces David Saunders won't be back
After the conclusion of a disappointing 2-7 season, Pearl River Community College has announced head football coach David Saunders "will not return" to the program. Saunders was previously an assistant at PRCC in 2015. "Coach Saunders is a good man and a dedicated football coach," PRCC President William Lewis said in a release. "We thank him for his efforts and wish him every success in the future." Tuesday's announcement is surprising in that the Wildcats only gave Saunders one season at the helm of the program. However, when Saunders was announced as coach it raised plenty of eyebrows as the well-traveled assistant coach was at the center of an investigation involving his previous employer, Louisiana-Lafayette. Prior to coaching at ULL, Saunders also coached at Jacksonville State, Baylor, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Millsaps.
Resignation sad but 'just feels right' for Tennessee baseball coach Dave Serrano
The resume was about as good as any coach Tennessee ever hired in any sport. He had taken two different California schools to the College World Series and had Tennessee ties to boot. But the West Coast magic never followed Serrano to Tennessee. UT announced his resignation as head baseball coach Wednesday, pending the imminent end of his sixth season coaching the Vols. Tennessee (27-22, 7-18 SEC) hosts Missouri starting Thursday and needs a formula of wins coupled with Georgia losses to rally into the 12th and final berth in the SEC tournament. Barring a dramatic weekend, Serrano will coach his last game Saturday afternoon. "It's been six years and I didn't feel we were making headway," Serrano said Wednesday on WNML radio. "No hard feelings. I think we're both at peace. My only regret is I didn't get this place to where I wanted to get it."
Indiana ban on sexual assault offenders applauded, but not adopted elsewhere
When Indiana University at Bloomington last month adopted a policy barring athletes with a record of sexual violence, people questioned: Why aren't all institutions doing so? Amid high-profile cases and an increased awareness of sexual assaults perpetrated by college athletes, advocates have lobbied the National Collegiate Athletic Association to institute some sort of blanket measure. The NCAA, and even individual conferences, has shied away from an associationwide decree, however. A rule from the Southeastern Conference inspired Indiana's policy, though Indiana's is more expansive, said Jeremy Gray, Indiana's senior associate athletic director. Indiana disqualifies both freshman and transfer students who have been convicted of or pleaded no contest to a felony sexual violence charge, including dating or domestic violence and rape. The SEC rule, though similar, applies only to transfer students across the conference.
New Lawsuit Alleges Baylor Players Gang-Raped Women As 'Bonding Experience'
A new federal lawsuit against Baylor University accuses football players of drugging and gang-raping young women as part of a hazing or bonding ritual -- and the university of failing to investigate the pervasive sexual assault. The players often took photographs and videos as they carried out the gang rapes, the suit alleges. It was filed by "Jane Doe," who says she was raped by four to eight Baylor players in February 2012. Her Title IX suit says the school's "deliberately indifferent response" effectively denied her educational opportunities. The suit also describes dogfighting at football parties and burglaries carried out by football players, without consequence. The alleged assaults and other criminal activities took place during former head football coach Art Briles' tenure at the school in Waco, Texas.

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