Thursday, June 1, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Ridgeland student at Mississippi State receives prestigious NOAA scholarship
An aerospace engineering major at Mississippi State University is receiving a national scholarship designed to promote undergraduate training in ocean atmospheric science, research, technology and education. Martin McCandless, a junior from Ridgeland, has been awarded an Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As part of the scholarship, McCandless will receive up to $9,500 in academic assistance per year and the opportunity to complete a paid internship at a NOAA facility. The Bagley College of Engineering student is a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College and is a Provost Scholar at MSU. In middle school and high school, McCandless was able to work on weather balloon projects as part of a program sponsored by NASA and MSU, which he said gave him a curiosity about meteorology and ways to engineer new balloon designs.
 
Enrolling at MSU-Meridian
Photo: Rashard Shields of Preston and Adriane Peters of DeKalb stopped by the new G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Advising and Career Center at MSU-Meridian to enroll in fall classes. Shields, a kinesiology major and Peters, a psychology major both transferred from East Mississippi Community College's Scooba Campus. The first day of fall classes at Mississippi State will be August 16.
 
Starkville industrial park back on track after judge affirms zoning
Plans for a proposed 360-acre, Golden Triangle Development LINK-backed industrial park are back on track after Circuit Judge James Kitchens affirmed a previously issued zoning change for the combined properties. In a May 16 order, Kitchens wrote Starkville aldermen "had a reasonable evidentiary basis" for its decision and the rezoning "was not arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory or illegal." "I'm pleased with the outcome, and I have high hopes for what the park will enable for the future of industrial development in Starkville and Oktibbeha County," said Mayor Parker Wiseman. "Hopefully, this will enable the city to get about the work of building the park as quickly as possible." The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors and Starkville Board of Aldermen previously pledged a combined $14 million in bonds toward the project, and LINK officials are expected to approach the two governing bodies about the issuances soon.
 
Starkville Dairy Queen welcomes huge crowd at store opening
Starkville's newest fast food eatery is officially open, and customers arrived at the Dairy Queen located at Lynn Lane and Louisville Street as early as 7 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. opening on Wednesday. Around 200 people were awaiting the opening, with the line wrapping around the store. Debbie Vanderford of Corinth and Laura Smith of Starkville were first in line for the opening. Smith said the pair had been excited for the opening since it was announced. "We have one in Corinth," Vanderford said. "Every time I make a trip there, I get a Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard." A group of children that were escorted by Brittany Nichols, an employee at the Sprint Mart one street down from the Dairy Queen, were looking forward to the food and seeing the inside of the store.
 
8 Starkville aldermen candidates raise $28K this year
Eight Starkville residents running for four aldermen seats have raised about $28,000 since Jan. 1, campaign finance reports filed Tuesday show. The latest round of filings were submitted by all but one of the nine candidates still in competitive races set for the June 6 general election. Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn, who is seeking a third term, failed to submit the mandatory document to City Hall by 5 p.m. Tuesday was the deadline for the pre-general election report, which covers campaign donations and expenditures from Jan. 1 through May 27. Those who filed pre-May 2 primary reports, which covered Jan. 1 through April 22, were allowed to report receipts and disbursements recorded after April 23.
 
AG Jim Hood hopes some cuts restored in special session
Attorney General Jim Hood is hoping to convince Mississippi legislators to give his office an additional $4 million during Monday's special session. "They (legislators) are cutting programs to victims and law enforcement that are desperately needed," Hood said during a Wednesday news conference from his Cyber Crime Division in the Sillers state office building. "Protecting children from sexual predators and adults from cyber crime scams and other cyber predators is my passion," Hood said. "...Unfortunately, our efforts to aggressively investigate and prosecute these perpetrators have become entangled in the current budget mess at the Capitol." Gov. Phil Bryant, who has the authority to set the agenda for the special session, has not formally done so. He has announced via social media that it would begin at 10 a.m. Monday.
 
Mississippi Attorney General Seeks to Ease His Tight Budget
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is urging lawmakers to restore a portion of the money they have cut from his budget the past two years. Hood said Wednesday that the cuts are hindering work in his office, including efforts to prosecute people who exploit children and commit other crimes online. The Legislature begins a special session Monday to complete the final parts of the state budget. They need to fund the attorney general's office and the Department of Transportation for the year that starts July 1.
 
Attorney General Wages Campaign To Save Programs
Cyber Crime, Law Enforcement and Firefighter Disability Benefits and Crime Victim Compensation are some of the programs Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood's office oversees. He says lack of funding is hindering work like prosecuting people who sexually exploit children. Hood says his agency needs $4 million added to his 2018 budget allocation to keep the programs going. "We're calling on citizens to contact their legislators before Monday's special legislative session and ask them to put back that $4 million that our office desperately needs," said Hood. Hood says in the past, traffic fines and fees generated more than $6.5 million to support programs like Domestic Violence Training. But he says lawmakers have diverted those dollars to the general fund and the revenue hasn't been replaced. Hood says the money wasn't a part of his budget. He adds his office has been cut 28 percent over the past two years.
 
Attorney general warns legislators could cripple cyber crime detection
On the 17th floor of the Walter Sillers building, those who visit a particular room overlooking downtown Jackson hear a repetitive dinging noise. According to Jay Houston, the noise occurs every time someone posts in an online chat room where children are being exploited. Houston is assistant director of the Cyber Crime Division and commander of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Both fall under the purview of the state attorney general's office and investigate crimes committed against children on computers and the internet. On Wednesday, Attorney General Jim Hood spoke with reporters at a press conference called to highlight the importance of the Cyber Crime Division, which he warned may cease to exist if legislators slash the budget for the attorney general's office in the upcoming special session.
 
Former President George W. Bush in Jackson on Friday
Former President George W. Bush on Friday is attending a Jackson fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. The former president is not making any public appearances nor speaking to media, Wicker campaign officials said. The fundraiser is being hosted by Ann and Rick Calhoon at their Jackson home. To be an event sponsor requires a $2,700 donation per couple; patrons, $5,400 per couple and hosts, $20,800 per couple. The donations will go to the Wicker campaign, Wicker Majority Fund and Responsibility and Freedom Work PAC. Bush, as president was a frequent visitor to Mississippi. He had close ties to former Gov. Haley Barbour and made many trips after Hurricane Katrina hit Mississippi in 2005.
 
Funding of $67.5 million announced for Army Corps projects in Mississippi
U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will allocate an additional $67.5 million in FY2017 appropriations funding to support flood control, navigation and other projects throughout Mississippi. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 provided funding above the budget request for the Army Corps to use at its discretion to advance ongoing Civil Works projects and ensure continued improvements to the national economy and public safety. The new funding for Mississippi is outlined in the Army Corps FY2017 Work Plan. The additional $67.5 million brings total Army Corps funding in the state to more than $136.9 million this fiscal year. he state will also benefit from $22 million provided in the legislation for research activities primarily carried out at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg.
 
Lobbyists Don't Get Business Boom With Trump
With a unified Republican government in Washington, lobbyists hoped that 2017 would offer a long-awaited opportunity to push big proposals through Congress -- but records do not indicate any large uptick in clients during the early months of the Trump administration. Unlike the beginning of Barack Obama's presidency, lobbying registrations made available by the secretary of the Senate show almost no change from previous years in the number of clients lobbyists started working with early this year. The last time one party controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House, the number of new clients was noticeably higher. Lobbyists took on 3,433 clients in 2009 in the months after Obama won his first presidential election -- more than double the amount after President Donald Trump won. "The beginning of the Obama administration in 2009 was a rare time -- it was the perfect storm," said Rich Gold, who runs the lobbying practice at Holland & Knight.
 
Trump Targets German Trade, and the South Grimaces
No matter that this small Southern city sits squarely in the middle of Trump country: The president, with his criticism of German trade policy, was setting off alarm bells in the mind of Greer, S.C., Mayor Richard W. Danner. Mr. Trump, on his recent trip to Europe, reportedly declared the Germans "bad, very bad" on trade; Greer's City Hall sits mere miles from a BMW automobile plant that employs about 8,800 people. And so after Mr. Danner read the news here, he quickly organized a call with Chamber of Commerce officials, who on Tuesday brainstormed ways to reassure BMW executives that they in fact considered them to be good. Very good. Mr. Trump's brewing feud with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on trade policy -- which included an early-morning tweet Tuesday bemoaning "a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany" -- has struck a disquieting chord in thriving Southern areas like this one that have opened themselves to global trade, and particularly welcomed German auto manufacturers, considering them a gold standard of prestige and economic stimulus.
 
Jackson State proposing to slash employees, programs due to budget woes
Jackson State University is planning to lay off 42 employees, eliminate 65 vacant positions, consolidate programs and continue with a hiring freeze Interim JSU President Rob Paige, appointed Nov. 1 by the state College Board, outlined the cost-cutting plan Wednesday. The plan includes implementing a hiring freeze, suspending all internally funded travel, eliminating all unfilled positions, reducing spending on commodities, discontinuing several terminable contracts, resizing satellite campuses and academic and administrative restructuring. Further, to achieve the necessary cost-cutting goals, the university is implementing a reduction in force that will bring the FY2018 budget in balance and allow the university to focus on rebuilding depleted cash reserves, Paige said in a statement.
 
JSU recovery plan slashes 42 jobs, merges schools and departments
Immediately following the announcement of a new president for Jackson State University, the university announced plans to solve its financial crisis by eliminating jobs and merging some academic departments. Around 2:30 on Wednesday, the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning announced Dr. William Bynum would be JSU's next president; he formerly was president of Mississippi Valley State University. Thirty minutes after the announcement, JSU officials distributed a Budget Reduction and Recovery Plan under which 42 jobs that are currently filled are recommended for termination. This will affect one dean, seven department chairs and one program coordinator, but no faculty will be lost. These moves coupled with an earlier reduction of 65 vacant positions should result in $6 million in savings for the university.
 
Bynum named JSU president, meets with alumni, students
Students and Jackson State University alumni made it clear Wednesday that the College Board's decision to name Mississippi Valley State University president to lead JSU is a forced marriage they don't want. William Bynum met with and heard from students, alumni and others during sessions on JSU's campus. With the fervor of a Baptist minister, Bynum attempted to win over students and alumni, saying he is a God-fearing, God-loving man, who believes in faith, family and the future of higher of higher education. Earlier Wednesday, a group of black lawmakers filed a lawsuit in Hinds County Chancery Court to try to block the College Board from naming Bynum, saying the board hasn't lived up to the settlement agreement in the Ayers discrimination case.
 
Bynum withstands protests; takes reins as Jackson State president
Despite widespread criticism of the selection from students and alumni, Dr. William B. Bynum was named president of Jackson State University on Wednesday afternoon by the Board of Trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning. Bynum, former president of Mississippi Valley State University, was grilled by JSU students, faculty, alumni and interested parties in a series of meetings on campus earlier in the day. The board picked Bynum as its preferred candidate last week. After being appointed, Bynum acknowledged criticism of his selection but said he would lead JSU to become the premiere historically black university. His first priority is getting the university's finances in order, he said. Bynum also said he would nominate Dr. Jerryl Briggs, current executive vice president and chief operating officer at Mississippi Valley State University, to follow him as president of MVSU.
 
Student move-out means more work for Oxford sanitation
When summer comes, the City of Oxford sees the move-out and move-in of thousands of students who formerly attended the University of Mississippi, and with their departures, a significant amount of discarded furniture, decor and garbage. When students leave Oxford, they often leave a lot behind. Amberlyn Liles is the director of environmental services for Oxford. She said that the busiest time for the sanitation department in terms of roadside debris is at the end of May, the early weeks of August and then toward the end of December. The first wave at the end of May comes from the students who leave immediately after graduation. The second wave that comes in August corresponds with leases in the city. Because Oxford is a college town, most of the leases expire at the end of the summer.
 
East Mississippi Community College offers cyber security degree, addressing shortage
East Mississippi Community College is offering a new program in cyber security to help meet the growing demand for information technology security professionals. Students who complete the program will earn an associate's of applied science degree in Network Security Technology. Financial institutions, corporations and government agencies are scrambling to hire cyber security experts to offset the increased threat posed by computer hackers, EMCC Local Area Networking instructor Brandon Sesser said. "The need for cyber security professionals is immense," Sesser said. "Corporations, the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the CIA and the FBI all want them."
 
Meridian Community College's summer session begins
Students are back in the classroom as Meridian Community College's summer session is officially underway. Classes resumed earlier this week on Tuesday. For many students, the summer session serves as a way for them to jump ahead or stay on course for their graduation date. "They can go ahead and get anywhere from one to four, five classes taken during the summer and if they're going to a university of course our cost is a lot more affordable than a university," Soraya Welden says. Cost is always a concern for students and parents, but there are still scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students looking to still enroll for the summer term.
 
U. of Florida's top lawyer resigns, will get $175K severance
University of Florida General Counsel Jamie Keith, under investigation and the subject of a lawsuit, resigned Wednesday. Keith will get a severance package of $175,000 plus legal fees of up to $50,000. She will be required to turn over public records in her possession, according to the agreement and UF Communications Director Margot Winick. Keith, one of UF's senior administrators under UF President Kent Fuchs, has been on paid administrative leave since April because of the investigation. The resignation is effective June 28 but Winick said in an email Keith will remain on leave until then. In a statement to The Sun from the Holland & Knight law firm, Keith is quoted as saying it would be impractical for her to continue at UF. The $175,000 severance includes $10,000 to relocate from Gainesville and a payment of $50,000 reflecting two full years of service under her 2014 contract. Her annual salary was $389,500 plus a $10,000 car allowance.
 
Budget deal strips power from South Carolina's college oversight agency
The state agency that weakly oversees S.C. colleges will lose its authority to review plans for new athletics stadiums, parking garages, dorms or building renovations. The move, approved by state budget negotiators Wednesday, is part of the state budget that takes effect July 1. Some college leaders -- including the presidents of the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina -- had asked lawmakers to limit the Commission on Higher Education's "redundant oversight" of construction projects, saying they can police themselves. The move means that, in the future, at least 70 percent of the projects that the commission now reviews instead will go straight to other state boards for approval, commission leaders have said. Commission chairman Tim Hofferth said the move was the wrong one at the wrong time.
 
Texas A&M announces partnership with Fort Hood medical center
Texas A&M University is continuing to honor its military roots through a new partnership with the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood. The Texas A&M College of Medicine formally established an agreement with the medical center Wednesday, giving medical students from the university the opportunity to serve rotations in a military setting. Carrie Byington, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for Health Services at The Texas A&M University System, said she sees the partnership in natural alignment with the core values of A&M. A&M President Michael K. Young said he believes the partnership will be an "enormously valuable" experience for students.
 
New petition filed in U. of Missouri campus concealed weapons case
The latest petition in a case pushing the University of Missouri to allow concealed weapons on campus is intended to better organize the lawsuit and speed up its resolution, Assistant Attorney General Ryan Bangert wrote in a motion filed Tuesday. The new version of the lawsuit does not raise any new issues and no trial date has been set in the case, originally filed in August. It does, however, lay out in detail three demands that would resolve the issues. Neither the UM System nor Attorney General Josh Hawley's office would say whether any negotiations are underway to settle the case, a move that would require the university to rewrite its regulations governing guns on campus.
 
International Educators Confront a New Political Reality -- and Find a New Resolve
The biggest buzz at last year's conference of Nafsa: Association of International Educators was about a survey of prospective international students that showed nearly two out of three would reconsider studying in the United States if Donald Trump became president. Conference goers thought the findings scary. They also thought such a thing could never happen. What was merely academic a year ago is, at this year's meeting, which runs through Friday, harsh reality. "When we wrote the proposal [for the session], we knew this would be a topic of interest," said Lisa Heyn of the Alliance for International Exchange, speaking to a packed house in a panel discussion on policy making and international education. "But we never could have imagined this." Despite some occasional gallows humor, what comes through most among the nearly 10,000 educators gathered here is a sense of solidarity, of resolve, even a rededicated commitment to the field.
 
'These are serious times' for international education, NAFSA conference goers told
In welcoming more than 9,000 attendees from over 100 countries to the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference here, the organization's new executive director and CEO, Esther Brimmer, delivered what turned out to be a pep talk. "There are many challenges, and we could focus on the difficulties -- the chilling effects of the executive orders on enrollments or the rise of populism and nativism in several countries -- or we could focus on what we are going to do," Brimmer said in her welcoming remarks Tuesday. "We are composed but not complacent. These are serious times; serious times demand serious action from us. We are international educators. We work to bring people together. We are part of the solution." International education professionals met this week amid a tough political climate, to say the least.
 
To Counter Opioid Crisis, NIH Pushes Researchers to Invent More Drugs
At a time when opioid abuse is killing tens of thousands of Americans a year, government-funded university scientists are now being asked to pursue a solution many of them find deeply misguided: Invent even more drugs. After private consultations with drug-industry leaders, National Institutes of Health directors proposed a strategy on Wednesday that centers on new medications and devices to manage pain and counter addictions. More than a dozen invited drug companies are eager to help, the NIH's director, Francis S. Collins, said of his agency's new opioid strategy. "They have all responded with a great deal of enthusiasm," he said. But academic experts in opioid abuse are aghast, saying the NIH plan appears to greatly overemphasize the prospect of meaningful help from the drug companies -- which the scientists blame for creating the crisis in the first place.
 
Survey finds regrets among most former college students but belief in quality of their education
A majority of Americans who attended college say they received a quality education. But half would change at least one of these three decisions if they could do it all over again: the type of degree they pursued or their choice of major or institution. Those are among the key findings from a new annual survey conducted by Gallup and Strada Education Network, the former USA Funds. While 51 percent of the nearly 90,000 respondents said they would change one big decision, the most common regret was their choice of major, with 36 percent saying they wish they'd chosen differently. The survey found that 40 percent who pursued or completed a bachelor's degree would pick a different field of study compared to 31 percent of those who hold a technical or vocational certificate. The report said these findings suggest that people's regrets about higher education are not driven entirely by their thoughts about the colleges they attended.
 
Today is the day to begin discussions on next steps
Angela Farmer, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Mississippi State, writes in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: "For thousands of students across the nation, high school graduation signals a dramatic change. The fortunate few have parents or families who have planned for this day for years. These students look eagerly toward the next school year as they have a clear plan. Perhaps they are going to a local, community college to master a trade or as a first step toward beginning their journey to a university education. Others, similarly blessed, may be headed directly to a university to explore their options and plan for a future they have yet to imagine. It is not these students who are facing the most dramatic realizations. It is, instead, the students for whom no one has planned, for whom no one has registered, for whom no one has given a second thought. It is these students who most desperately need an advocate."
 
Sen. Roger Wicker preps for reelection bid in 2018
Jackson-based consultant and columnist Brian Perry writes: "This time next year Mississippi voters will hear pre-primary pitches from candidates for U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate in any contested elections. It is still too early for official announcements, but every indication is Mississippi's House delegation will all be seeking re-election: Republicans Trent Kelly, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo, and Democrat Bennie Thompson. Kelly and Palazzo have modest campaign war chests based on first quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission with $129,749 and $210,911 respectively. Harper has $675,418 cash-on-hand while Thompson sits comfortably with $1.2 million. The big race for 2018 could be the reelection of U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, were he to draw major primary or general opposition. Wicker's first quarter report showed $1.9 million cash-on-hand. Wicker, fresh off his stint as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is taking nothing for granted."


SPORTS
 
Bulldog pitchers adjusting on the fly
Mississippi State announced that sophomore right-hander Cole Gordon will start on the mound when the Bulldogs begin the Hattiesburg Regional against South Alabama Friday at 6 p.m. While Gordon will get the ball first, the rest of MSU's short-handed pitching staff will be prepared to follow suit. Counting Jake Mangum, the Diamond Dogs have lost 10 pitchers over the course of the year and left the staff in dire straits. "One of the best things our entire staff has done this year is make adjustments on the fly," said MSU coach Andy Cannizaro. "When you're dealing with a short pitching staff like we have right now, you just try to prepare guys and put them in situations that they can have success in. Some have been small roles and some have been bigger roles but those guys have all had opportunities to get out on the mound."
 
Mississippi State's Riley Self will get the ball with game on the line in regional
Andy Cannizaro has made it clear multiple times who will get the ball for Mississippi State this weekend when a game is on the line. That is Riley Self. Yes, that is likely a tough task for a freshman. But Cannizaro, who was formerly an assistant at LSU and scout for the Yankees, said Self's maturity and makeup is more advanced than most freshmen he has been around. "He is not scared at all," Cannizaro said. "He wants the baseball in the biggest moments of the game." Added Self: "I've always tried to have that tough mentality that, yeah, I have to get this guy out." So, from mental and emotional standpoints, there is a belief Self is up for the challenge starting Friday at 6 p.m. in the Hattiesburg regional when MSU plays South Alabama.
 
Mississippi State takes a chance with starter vs. South Alabama
Mississippi State baseball coach Andy Cannizaro has decided to take a chance against South Alabama on Friday in his team's 6 p.m. opener of the Hattiesburg Regional. Cannizaro announced Wednesday that right-hander Cole Gordon will be the starting pitcher against a South Alabama lineup that's loaded with left-handed bats. Gordon is 2-2 with 4.59 ERA in 16 appearances, seven starts, this season. That pushes back MSU ace left-hander Konnor Pilkington to pitch on Saturday. The East Central product is 7-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 15 starts this season. If MSU wins, it will face the winner of Friday's 1 p.m. game featuring No. 1 seed Southern Miss (48-14) and No. 4 seed Illinois-Chicago (39-15). Cannizaro is holding Pilkington for Saturday in order to set up a more favorable match-up against Southern Miss, which has had more problems with left-handers than righties this season.
 
Mississippi State pushes ace to Saturday, will start Cole Gordon
The safe thing to do, as conventional wisdom likely dictates, is to have your ace start on the mound in Game 1. Mississippi State isn't doing that. Andy Cannizaro announced on Wednesday evening that Cole Gordon -- and not No. 1 starter Konnor Pilkington -- will start for the Bulldogs (36-24) against South Alabama (39-19) Friday (6 p.m.) in Hattiesburg. When Cannizaro spoke to the media earlier in the day on Wednesday, the first-year head coach said that either Pilkington or Gordon would start Friday and "Obviously we have a ton of confidence in both of those guys and we're excited to put both on the mound this weekend." In other words, that means Pilkington will start Saturday.
 
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker named Golden Spikes semifinalist
Mississippi State's Brent Rooker was selected as a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top college baseball player. The junior first baseman from Germantown, Tennessee, currently leads the SEC in batting average (.404), slugging percentage (.843), on-base percentage (.505), hits (90), RBIs (76), double (29), home runs (21), total bases (188) and stolen bases (18). Rooker leads the country in slugging and doubles. Finalists for the Golden Spikes Award will be announced on June 14 and the winner selected on June 29. Will Clark is the only Diamond Dog to ever win the award back in 1985.
 
Southern Miss' Hattiesburg Regional may be the nation's deepest
You may as well call it the Regional of Death. Southern Miss, which drew some serious consideration as a national seed, serves as the No. 1 seed and the host in this weekend's Hattiesburg Regional at Pete Taylor Park. The Golden Eagles, who are the Conference USA regular season champs, rank second in the nation in total wins with a record of 48-14. When the other three participants in the Hattiesburg Regional were revealed on Monday, it was obvious that USM had no easy road ahead to reach the Super Regional. No. 2 seed Mississippi State, No. 3 South Alabama and No. 4 Illinois-Chicago help make up one of the toughest regionals in the tournament. Mississippi State, which was a strong candidate to host before losing in five of its last six regular season games, is 36-24 after a 2-2 run in the SEC Tournament.
 
Bullpens will be key to Hattiesburg regional
The Hattiesburg American's Jason Munz writes: "The bullpen. I'm calling it right now. Each of the four teams' respective bullpens will be what the Hattiesburg regional hinges on. How each team uses it. How each one performs. How often each one has to be called upon. It's all part of what will ultimately be the biggest factor in exactly how the Hattiesburg regional shakes out. And what makes that so intriguing is how good each team's bullpen has been this season. ...What about Mississippi State? Spencer Price and Riley Self are as good a one-two punch as there is among bullpens in the SEC. ...Whether these four teams will hit and hit big isn't really a question. One would have to assume they will. Which is why there will be a heightened emphasis on each one's bullpen this week."
 
Go for baseball, but explore (and more importantly, brunch) in Mississippi's Hub City
It will be hard to find a seat at Pete Taylor Park over the weekend, as the Southern Miss baseball team is hosting an NCAA regional for the first time since 2003 and already has sold out the tournament. The Golden Eagles, along with Mississippi State University, the University of South Alabama and the University of Illinois at Chicago, will play in the tournament, and that means thousands of people will be spending the weekend in Hattiesburg. Hattiesburg, known as the Hub City, is about 90 minutes away from several major cities in the South -- Gulfport, New Orleans, Mobile, Jackson and Meridian. Sure, it's a quick trip to Bourbon Street or to the Mississippi Coast (and we hope you come visit us) but there's plenty to see, do and eat in Hattiesburg.
 
Hub City hotels, restaurants to see boost in business during NCAA Tourney
Hattiesburg hotels and restaurants are planning for more business as the city prepares to host the NCAA Regional Baseball Tournament at the University of Southern Mississippi this weekend. The event, from June 2-4, will be held at Pete Taylor Park and will feature teams from USM, Mississippi State, South Alabama and the University of Illinois-Chicago. VisitHattiesburg estimates that nearly 2,000 people, including players, coaches and spectators, will directly spend about $1.7 million in Hattiesburg over the weekend. The organization projects a $2.3 million overall impact on the Hub City economy. Meanwhile, the timing of this weekend's tournament couldn't be better for some fans of the team from the University of Illinois-Chicago. On Friday, American Airlines will begin offering a daily flight to and from Chicago at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport.
 
Kickoff time set for 2017 Egg Bowl
This year's Egg Bowl will be a Thanksgiving evening affair. Ole Miss and Mississippi State will face off at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 23 on ESPN, the two programs announced Wednesday. It's the first time the game has been played on Thanksgiving since 2013. The Bulldogs snapped a two-game losing streak to the Rebels with a dominating 55-20 road win in the Egg Bowl this past November. MSU also announced its home game against LSU will kick off at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 on ESPN or ESPN2.
 
Dusty Smith named Mississippi State men's golf head coach
One of the top assistant coaches in the nation will be heading the Mississippi State men's golf program as Director of Athletics John Cohen tabbed Vanderbilt assistant Dusty Smith as the Bulldogs' eighth head coach. This season Smith and head coach Scott Limbaugh took Vanderbilt to a program-record fourth consecutive NCAA Championship, where it won the stroke play portion of the championship by 12 shots and advanced to the semifinals of match play. Vandy recorded its third-straight appearance in match play and is the only SEC team currently on that stretch. "We are excited to welcome Dusty, Janie and Ella to the Bulldog family," Cohen said. "Integrity, work ethic, recruiting prowess and student-athlete development were of the utmost importance throughout our search for a new men's golf coach. We feel Dusty fits all of these criteria."
 
Dusty Smith named new Mississippi State golf coach
One of the top assistant coaches in the nation will be heading the Mississippi State men's golf program as Director of Athletics John Cohen tabbed Vanderbilt assistant Dusty Smith as the Bulldogs' eighth head coach. Since joining Vanderbilt in 2011, Smith has assisted the Commodores to 12 team tournament titles, with 10 players earning individual medalist honors. While at Vanderbilt, seven of his golfers earned All-America status, including three first-team selections. He also tutored 11 players to All-SEC accolades, with four earning first-team honors. The 2007 Lamar graduate made the move to Nashville after spending three seasons as the assistant men's and women's coach at his alma mater. The Woodlands, Texas, native earned All-America accolades as a junior as he tied for 10th individually and helped Lamar to a tie for ninth at the NCAA Championship in Sunriver, Oregon.
 
Lawyer for ex-Ole Miss football staffer says NCAA case 'as close to a death penalty as you can get'
The attorney for a former Ole Miss coach embroiled in the school's NCAA investigation told an Indiana TV station this week that he believes his client is being singled out in what has become one of the most talked-about cases of alleged rules-breaking in many years. Fox 44 TV in Evansville, located about three hours' drive from the NCAA's Indianapolis headquarters, broadcast an interview late Monday with Bruse Loyd, an attorney with the Houston-based law firm of Jones, Gillaspia & Loyd. Loyd represents Barney Farrar, Ole Miss' former assistant athletic director for high school and junior college relations. During the course of the interview, Loyd invoked the phrase no one wants to hear about his or her favorite college football program. "It is as close to a death penalty as you can get, without having that actually happen," Loyd said.
 
Ole Miss' crossroads: Freeze faces NCAA, Patterson to endure another empty season
Shea Patterson didn't sign up for any of this. It was hard enough for the Ole Miss quarterback to consider burning a redshirt as a true freshman in 2016 to rescue what was left of a 5-7 season. It was quite another to start 2017 with diminished hopes. You see, Ole Miss could go 12-0 this season and it might not qualify as improvement. Before a ball is snapped, the Rebels know they can't win the SEC. The school self-imposed a bowl ban earlier this year in hopes of mitigating further penalties amidst an embarrassing major infractions investigation. "I'm looking forward to [the bowl ban] in a weird kind of way," Ole Miss' coach Hugh Freeze added Tuesday during the SEC spring meetings. "I have the opportunity to really model for a group of young men how real life can be like when you're faced something you didn't ask for." Certainly that's not what Freeze was selling during his quarterback's recruitment.
 
Alabama football will continue to avoid scheduling in-state schools
Don't expect Alabama football to play any in-state school not named Auburn. That was the message new athletic director Greg Byrne delivered at the SEC spring meetings in Sandestin, Fla. Alabama hasn't faced a non-Auburn in-state opponent since 1944 and Byrne doesn't see any reason to change that. "I think we have a very good model that's worked well for us and I don't see that changing," Byrne said. Byrne squashed any hope that a new Capstone regime might mean good things for UAB, South Alabama, Troy and Samford. Alabama has long refused to play any of those non-SEC Alabama schools, yet the reasoning has always been ambiguous.
 
For AD Jay Jacobs, the Auburn to SEC East talk is a 'legitimate conversation to have'
To many, the "Auburn to the SEC East" discussion is nothing more than offseason talk radio fodder. Longtime Auburn coach Pat Dye brought the subject up on The Paul Finebaum Show earlier this month, saying, "We touch Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. We need to be in the East, and Missouri needs to be in the West." Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs, though, believes it's more than just a discussion for stir-crazy fans and media members 142 days removed from the last college football game and 87 days away from the next one. He believes it's "a legitimate conversation to have at some point as a league." SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said Wednesday that Jacobs has spoken to him about Auburn moving to the SEC East, but reiterated that "it's still not an agenda item." As to whether or not it ever will be, Sankey said he wasn't going to speculate. Jacobs did.



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