Thursday, September 7, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Mississippi State Collaborates Internationally to Create Self-Driving Car
A team of international collaborators met Wednesday at Mississippi State for a symposium all about advanced vehicle technology. "In different states there are already legal opportunities for these autonomous vehicles, and self driving cars but even more than that we're seeing driver assisted autonomy and that's in cars we can buy right now in terms of lane keeping, helping you manage your blind spot and things like that," says Clay Walden, executive director of the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at MSU. Walden showcased the advancements in technology the university has made and the work they are currently doing. The university is using virtual reality to test the interactions between humans and these vehicles.
 
Jimmy Abraham addresses Jackson Academy staff and faculty
Photo: Dr. Jimmy W. Abraham, retired associate vice president of Mississippi State University, addressed Jackson Academy's staff and faculty at the start of teacher work week. Several of his former MSU student workers now in the JA family joined him at the end of the presentation. Shown are (from left, back) Brad Reeves, Greg Johnston, Mandi Stanley, Scot Thigpen, Kimberly Thigpen; (front) Katie Chustz, Nancy Cheney, Jimmy W. Abraham, Kristen Nations, John Worley, and Ronnie Rogers.
 
Aldermen interview Starkville-Oktibbeha school board candidates
Three Mississippi State University employees vying for a spot on the Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees appeared for interviews before the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday. Aldermen expect to fill the open seat on Sept. 19 to finish the unexpired term of Anne Stricklin, who left the school board in June. That term ends in 2019. Sumner Davis, head of the MSU Extension Center for Government and Communication Development; Lisa Long, a research associate in the Social Science Research Center; and Debra Prince, an associate professor in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations, have all applied for the post. In other business, aldermen held the first of two public hearings on proposed changes to loosen the city's ordinance on alcohol sales.
 
Additional work OK'd for police department headquarters
The Starkville Board of Aldermen passed the authorization to allow engineer Clyde Pritchard to install two additional borings through the floor of the new SPD building of the basement and slight elevation work at the cost of $1,200. During the presentation, the architect of the building Gary Shafer was addressed by Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins. "Why are we just now determining that we need to try and fix this," Perkins said. "Why was this not done earlier in the process?" The architect responded by saying each recommendation to fix the water problems was fulfilled, but after a rain event of 12 days there was more water that appeared in the basement. Perkins said the city and department were promised a first class building and the results are not very becoming of that promise.
 
Oktibbeha supervisors open bids for road work
Itawamba County's B&M Paving Company could soon be the recipient of infrastructure Oktibbeha County road improvement contracts totaling $2.6 million. Supervisors opened bids Tuesday for 28 road projects that will be addressed by June 2018 using a portion of the county's recent $14.5 million general obligation bond. B&M was one of two companies that submitted bids for projects in each of the county's five districts and beat out its competitor, Kimes and Stone Construction of Booneville, by about $700,000. Supervisors took the bids under advisement and are expected to award contracts next week.
 
OCH Regional Medical Center posts $5.1M loss in 10 months
OCH Regional Medical Center reported an approximate $5.1 million loss after the first 10 months of the current fiscal year, and that loss could affect potential bids for the public health care facility, said consultant Ted Woodrell. Hospital Chief Executive Officer Richard Hilton cushioned the loss Tuesday, saying its true total was about $606,000, a figure he reached by subtracting about $4.5 million in depreciation and amortization -- traditionally noncash losses -- from the amount. While revenues from inpatient and outpatient services have grown almost $7 million from July 31, 2016, to July 31 of this year, a reduction in third-party insurance payments for covered services, as well as a $2.3 million increase in operating expenses, led to a decrease of the hospital's bottom line, Hilton said.
 
Auditor, education officials differ on MAEP recalculation
Republican Auditor Stacey Pickering says the state Department of Education has underestimated by $732,757 the amount needed to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1. A private audit firm hired by the state Board of Education, as mandated by state law, estimated that full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for the next fiscal year would require $2.47 billion. In a statement released by Pickering's office Wednesday, he said that number is $732,757 underfunded, based on the calculations done by his office. The law mandates that the Auditor's office verify the figures from the state Board of Education.
 
Mississippi voters can update address online after moving
People who move within Mississippi can now update their voter registration online, the state's top elections official said Wednesday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said legislators this year authorized online updates for voters who are already registered. This allows people to skip a trip to the circuit clerk's office to update information after moving. First-time voters still must register in person or by mail. Mississippi has nearly 2.3 million residents who are 18 or older, and about 1.8 million are registered voters.
 
Hosemann, Bryant urge voters to check online registration
State leaders are reminding Mississippians they can go online to ascertain whether they are registered to vote and to update their voter registration information. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who oversees the Mississippi election process, and Gov. Phil Bryant held a joint news conference Wednesday to tout the features offered under the existing www.yallvote.sos.ms.gov website. They displayed to the media at the Secretary of State's offices in Capitol Towers how a person could go online to determine whether he or she is registered to vote and then update information on where the person votes if he or she has moved.
 
Legislator wants to cap K-12 chief's salary
A legislator says she will file a bill to cap the salary of future state superintendents of education and require the Legislature to approve any raises following a report showing Mississippi's superintendent is the highest paid in the nation. Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, a member of the House Education Committee, said her bill as written would cap any future education chief's salary at $250,000. Current State Superintendent Carey Wright makes $300,000. Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison, who authored the 2011 bill that removed the requirement the K-12 head be compensated at 90 percent of the higher education commissioner's salary and put the board back in charge, said it will undoubtedly be a topic for discussion in the 2018 legislative session. "Quite frankly, though, if we're going to look at this one (salary) we need to look at the IHL commissioner and other salaries" as well, Tollison said.
 
Tutwiler fights state auditor effort to collect money paid to officers
Tutwiler lays claim -- like some other towns in the Mississippi Delta -- to being the birthplace of the blues with a site where the legendary band leader W.C. Handy reportedly discovered the blues in 1903. Over the years, this town of approximately 3,550 residents in Tallahatchie County has seen some hard times. And now Tutwiler is locked in a legal battle in court with State Auditor Stacey Pickering over the amount paid to part-time police officers. Pickering has demanded the town officials repay almost $80,000 to the state for paying its part-time officers more than what state law allowed. State law says a part-time police officer can't be paid more than $250 a week or $1,075 monthly. However Tutwiler officials say the law is unenforceable because it conflicts with the federal minimum wage standard. Tutwiler aldermen say they were required to pay their part-time law enforcement officers the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
 
Congress wrestles with gaps in cyber workforce
Members of Congress are putting the spotlight on the persistent challenges facing the government as it seeks to beef up its cybersecurity workforce. Lawmakers on a House panel with oversight of the Department of Homeland Security will meet Thursday to explore how to better recruit and retain personnel to fill key federal roles in defending the nation from cyberattacks. The matter is getting attention as the Trump administration grapples with vacancies in high-level cybersecurity positions, including one at the helm of the agency tasked with guarding civilian federal networks and critical infrastructure from cybersecurity threats. The hearing, representing the committee's first since lawmakers returned to Washington this week from the August recess, follows the exit of several high-level IT officials from the federal government over the summer.
 
Thousands of Facebook Ads Tied to Bogus Russian Accounts
Amid ongoing concern over the role of disinformation in the 2016 election, Facebook said Wednesday it found that more than 5,000 ads, costing more than $150,000, had been placed on its network between June 2015 and May 2017 from "inauthentic accounts" and pages, likely from Russia. The ads didn't directly mention the election or the candidates, according to a blog post by Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos, but focused on "amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum---touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights." Facebook declined to discuss additional details about the ads. Speculation has swirled about the role Facebook played spreading fake news during the 2016 election.
 
Trump cuts deal with Democrats in Congress to avert immediate budget and debt crisis
President Trump on Wednesday reached a deal with Democratic leaders of Congress to avert an economy-shaking fiscal crisis at the end of the month, a sudden move that caught Republican leaders off guard and severely undercut their legislative strategy. Under the deal, the first of significance that the president has reached with Democrats, Congress would extend the nation's borrowing limit and fund government operations until mid-December while Trump and lawmakers address other looming issues. The agreement could, however, simply delay the possible crisis until then. Trump's agreement, which he described to reporters as he flew to an event in Bismarck, N.D., came over the objections of his fellow Republicans, who ostensibly run Congress. In effect, Trump further empowered the Democratic minority to influence the outcome of a range of budget, immigration and tax issues through the end of the year. The bargain left several Republican lawmakers seething that Trump, the self-proclaimed deal-maker, had given such leverage to their political rivals.
 
GOP livid after Trump cuts deal with Democrats
President Donald Trump's and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's tête-à-tête on Tuesday -- after a summer of sniping between the two -- lifted Republican hopes that the GOP was finally back in sync ahead of a brutal fall of fiscal deadlines. Not 24 hours later, the president cut a deal with Democrats on a short-term debt ceiling increase opposed by McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Just Wednesday morning, in fact, Ryan had scoffed at the Democratic offer that Trump accepted minutes later. In the aftermath, Republicans seethed privately and distanced themselves publicly from the deal. "Obviously, it would have been better not to make us vote repeatedly on the debt ceiling. But I wasn't surprised," sighed Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). "I think Mitch would rather have done it differently, but it's not worth having a big old fight over."
 
FEMA is almost out of money as hurricane threatens Florida, source says
With Texas still reeling from Hurricane Harvey and another storm barreling toward Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to run out of money by Friday, according to a Senate aide, putting pressure on Congress to provide more funding this week. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund, which pays for the agency's disaster response and recovery activity, had just $1.01 billion on hand. And of that, just $541 million was "immediately available" for response and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey, according to a spokeswoman for FEMA who asked not to be identified by name. The $1.01 billion in the fund Tuesday morning is less than half of the $2.14 billion that was there at 9 a.m. last Thursday morning -- a spending rate of $9.3 million every hour, or about $155,000 a minute.
 
Hurricanes Irma, Harvey restart debate on climate change and warmer oceans
Hurricanes Harvey and now Irma became monster storms while swirling over two separate stretches of unusually warm ocean water, a feature that has reignited debate on climate change and the degree it is adding to the intensity of hurricanes. Scientists all agree that global warming is not the cause of hurricanes, a fact made obvious by the long history of tropical cyclones. But there is scientific consensus that a warming planet will produce bigger and more destructive hurricanes, with many scientists arguing that those impacts are already occurring. Peter J. Webster, an atmospheric scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology, said it's clear that Harvey intensified amid some abnormally warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, and that Irma formed during a season when the Atlantic was also warmer than average. Webster cautioned, however, that sea temperatures are just one factor in spawning hurricanes.
 
Alabama community colleges hire director for aviation programs
The Alabama Community College System is ramping up its programs to help fill what officials say is a surging demand for aircraft mechanics, assemblers and other positions with aviation companies. ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker announced the creation of a new position, director of aviation programs, and named Michael "Mac" McDaniel to the post. McDaniel, who began his career as an aircraft mechanic, said aviation education programs need to connect with employers and make sure students are attaining the skills to launch and advance their careers. Baker noted that Boeing, Airbus, GE Aviation and other major aviation companies have a presence in Alabama.
 
U. of Arkansas Team Awarded $2.4M To Develop Energy-Efficient Fertilizer
University of Arkansas researchers and researchers from two other institutions have received a $2.4 million National Science Foundation grant to develop a chemical process that converts nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater into commercial fertilizer. The goal of the project is to make an energy-efficient fertilizer that competes with conventional, commercially available fertilizers. It will also be environmentally less harmful to produce. The research team consists of lead principal investigator and UA professor Lauren Greenlee, UA professors Greg Thoma, Jennie Popp and Kristofor Brye; Andrew Herring from the Colorado School of Mines and Julie Renner from Case Western Reserve University.
 
Louisiana scholarship panel begins review of program with goal to find stable funding
Most states that offer college aid like the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students rely on a dedicated revenue source, a veteran of the issue said Wednesday. But Louisiana is not on that list, and initial hopes that gambling revenue would finance the assistance never happened, said James A. Caillier, executive director of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation. The foundation is named for the founder of the scholarship. Caillier made his comments to a 10-member legislative committee that launched a study of TOPS, and lawmakers have said ensuring long-term funding for the program is their key goal. TOPS pays tuition for college students who meet modest high school and college academic requirements. About 50,000 students get the assistance.
 
Texas A&M University president 'Dreamers' welcome in Aggieland
Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young released a statement Wednesday morning that "all students, faculty and staff of Texas A&M University are here legitimately, working and/or pursuing their degrees, and that we benefit from their presence in many ways including scholarship and friendship." Young's statement comes in response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions's Tuesday announcement to rescind the executive order for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, giving Congress the responsibility to pass a legislative solution for those in the program, commonly known as "dreamers." Sessions announced in the press conference that DACA would be phased out over six months. There are 800,000 dreamers nationwide, and 120,000 in Texas. The number of Dreamers who attend Texas A&M University was not immediately available.
 
New U. of Missouri chancellor discusses protests and plans for the future
There are more online degree offerings, research opportunities and students in the University of Missouri's future, Chancellor Alexander Cartwright said Wednesday. What is uncertain, he said, is how he would handle another episode where scholarship athletes refuse to participate in their sport in protest of some university policy or personality. The November 2015 protests that ended with the resignations of President Tim Wolfe and Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin burst into the national and international news cycles when members of the Tigers football team announced they would boycott practices and games. The team members, later backed by Coach Gary Pinkel, said they would not play until Wolfe resigned as demanded by the Concerned Student 1950 demonstrators camped on Carnahan Quadrangle. In a wide-ranging session with reporters Wednesday, Cartwright noted the potential for athletics to showcase the institution and build pride among supporters.
 
Chancellor: Missouri, as AAU, land-grant university, can become trailblazer
Alexander Cartwright, the University of Missouri's first permanent chancellor since late 2015, has high hopes for his new home: He wants MU to champion a new model of a land-grant institution. In a Jesse Hall conference room, Cartwright answered questions from about 20 members of the news media for just over an hour. He repeatedly emphasized the need for enhanced engagement between MU and the state, and he called for a culture to be instilled where innovation, risk-taking and creativity can blossom. This combination of improved coordination between the school and its community and an emphasis on a successful academic culture was wrapped up by Cartwright in the term "New Land-Grant" institution.
 
U. of Missouri wins court battle over intellectual property rights
The University of Missouri won a court victory Wednesday when a jury awarded the school $600,000, concluding an eight-year fight over intellectual property rights of faculty members. The jury found in the university's favor on two of three allegations -- that Galen Suppes breached his contract and duty of loyalty by his actions that the university claims scuttled a deal to market a process for making propylene glycol developed in Suppes' lab. The jury found in Suppes favor, however, on the allegation that he was responsible for the deal's failure. The jury awarded $300,000 damages on each of the two counts where it ruled in the university's favor. Suppes is a former tenured engineering professor fired by MU for reasons that included harassment of students and willful violation of university rules. The verdict came at the end of an eight-day trial.
 
For Students Imperiled by Trump's DACA Rollback, a Scramble for Answers
Jose Guillermo Rivas was immersed in the first day of his internship on Tuesday when news broke that could crush his dream of becoming a high-school guidance counselor. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' announced that the Trump administration was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, provoking different levels of panic among Mr. Rivas and the hundreds of thousands of other so-called Dreamers who face the possibility of deportation over the next few years unless Congress acts. As they sifted through news reports about what the gradual phaseout of the DACA program would mean, Dreamers and their supporters shared and updated details on how applications and renewals are likely to be handled.
 
ACT scores are up, but gaps remain by preparation and race/ethnicity
ACT scores are up this year, but the scores of black and Latino students and those who did not complete recommended college preparatory courses remain far behind those of other students. Data released today cover those who graduated from high school this year, many of whom are now enrolling in college. The College Board releases data on SAT score a little later than the ACT does, and so those statistics are not yet available. This year the average composite score on the ACT was 21.0, up from 20.8 a year ago. (The maximum score on each part of the exam, and on the composite, is 36.) Last year, ACT officials attributed a decline of 0.2 points in the composition score to a large increase in the number of students taking the ACT. A major theme of the ACT's annual reports is that preparation is key to doing well on the exams, and that significant gaps exist based on wealth, race and other factors.
 
College Activists March on the Cafeteria: What Do We Want? Hydroponic Cilantro!
College students across the U.S. are making some precise demands of school chefs and dining halls. For a generation animated by a desire to make a difference and raised to believe personal wellness is paramount, a meaningful academic experience begins with minding what you eat. "If you're not eating good things, how do they expect your brain to grow?" said Hannah Logan, a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in sustainable food and farming. UMass Amherst and other schools say passing that test is increasingly important as the college-age population plateaus and competition for the best students intensifies. "A strong dining program can attract top students," said Garett Distefano, UMass Amherst's director of residential dining and sustainability.
 
Editorial in 'Nature' sets off debate over building names and statues that honor racist scientists
Historians like to say that everything has a history. Yet the natural sciences remain somewhat removed from academic debates over what to do with monuments tied to dark chapters in American history. That's changing, though. In a twist to discussions about campus memorials linked to slavery and racism, the natural sciences are facing new questions about monuments tied to eugenics and to individuals who denied basic rights to those non-white people on whom they did research. In one example, scientists and other academics lit up social media Wednesday in a response to an editorial in Nature called "Removing Statues of Historical Figures Risks Whitewashing History." Some critics objected to the term "whitewashing," itself, saying that leaving memorials to eugenicists and other problematic figures unchallenged is the real whitewashing.
 
Lottery puts state in position of urging people to gamble
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "It is not uncommon to see billboards and other advertisements trying to convince people to visit casinos on the Gulf Coast or along the Mississippi River. In states with lotteries, it is common to see similar advertisements urging people to purchase lottery tickets. In each instance, of course, the advertisements are trying to entice people to gamble -- to participate in games of chance. It should be pointed out, though, that there are games in casinos where skill is of great benefit to the player, though, luck still plays a major factor in the outcome of the games. The big difference between the two types of advertisement, though, is that private companies are urging people to visit their casinos and spend their money trying to beat the odds while the state is urging people to plop down their money for an extremely remote chance to hit a lottery jackpot."


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State's offensive line set for experienced opponent
Last year's Louisiana Tech defense ranked 25th in the nation in tackles for a loss against FBS teams, 7th among Group of 5 conference teams, in averaging 6.46 per game. It also returns five defensive linemen responsible for 33 of those 88 tackles for a loss. On Saturday, that unit could be a handful for a Mississippi State offensive line breaking in two new starters with the three familiar names taking on new positions. MSU coach Dan Mullen is well aware of the talent that's come from the Louisiana Tech defensive line in recent years -- Vernon Butler was drafted in the first round of the 2016 draft just a couple of years after Justin Ellis went in the fourth round -- but he also sees his own offensive line coming into Week Two as an improved product.
 
Montez Sweat could emerge as Mississippi State's top pass-rusher
On Mississippi State's first defensive play on Saturday, Montez Sweat was the first player to get a hand on Charleston Southern quarterback Shane Bucenell to help stop him for a 2-yard gain. On the third play, Sweat went untouched and came face-to-face with Bucenell before the ball was released. On the first play of the second series, Sweat mauled the quarterback as soon as he delivered a pitch to the running back. On and on it went. Sweat saw less than 20 snaps in MSU's 49-0 win and was either around the ball or in the backfield on nearly every play. The edge-rusher and JUCO addition from Co-Lin finished with three tackles in his Mississippi State debut. "He's fast. He's an explosive player. He really is," MSU defensive line coach Brian Baker said.
 
Mississippi State's Stephen Adegoke making impression on, off field
Pete Smith has been teaching long enough to know one generality about college students: they don't make unprompted visits to their professors unless they have a to-the-point question about the class. Stephen Adegoke was different, and Smith found that out immediately. One day last spring Adegoke made an unannounced visit to Smith's office with no questions about the course he was taking or an upcoming exam. Adegoke simply wanted to bring a related subject to his attention and discuss it. "I knew at that point that I was dealing with a really special student, the kind that, as a professor, you want in multiple classes," Smith told The Dispatch. "He mentioned it and I was a little taken aback and impressed. This guy is for real." At that point, Smith gathered what those in the Mississippi State football program already had: Adegoke is one of the smartest people in the building wherever he is.
 
Traver Jung's journey leads to Starkville
Traver Jung's journey to becoming an SEC linebacker nearly took a different route entirely. Jung had his sights set on becoming an Arkansas Razorback when he was being recruited as a senior at Greenville Weston High School. Grades forced him to detour through junior college, which ultimately led him to Mississippi State. "I had a lot of D-I schools talking to me and I almost went to Arkansas but my ACT backfired and messed me up and sent me to Holmes," Jung said. "But to be honest, that was a blessing. Going to Holmes was a blessing to develop my playing style and I'm glad I went." Jung was a two-time first team All-State selection at Holmes and was rated a four-star prospect and the nation's No. 2 juco linebacker prospect by ESPN. The 6-foot-4, 226-pounder signed with the Bulldogs in 2015 but redshirted his first season in Starkville.
 
Departed seniors leave big shoes to fill
Four seniors -- Ketara Chapel, Dominique Dillingham, Chinwe Okorie and Breanna Richardson -- are all gone from Mississippi State's remarkable run to the national championship game last season. Coach Vic Schaefer is now tasked with seamlessly replacing that quartet with a crop of new leaders and newcomers while maintaining the expectation level those departed players created during their careers. "Those four seniors aren't here anymore and aren't going to be able to do what they did," Schaefer said. "Someone else is going to have to step up which means there will be a new four player that takes the place of two fours that won 111 games for us and a three player that started 3 ½ years of her career playing over 35 minutes a game." MSU will conduct its first official practice on Oct. 1 and has an exhibition against Arkansas-Fort Smith on Nov. 3 and open the season at home against Virginia a week later.
 
Mississippi State soccer match at South Florida canceled, will host SEMO on Friday
Mississippi State's soccer match at South Florida that was scheduled for Thursday evening has been canceled due to approaching inclement weather from Hurricane Irma, USF officials announced Thursday. In place of the match against the Bulls, State will host Southeast Missouri State on Friday at 11 a.m. at the MSU Soccer Field. The Bulldogs improved to 5-0 under first-year head coach Tom Anagnost with a 6-2 win against Colgate in a Senior Day match last Sunday. The Maroon and White scored five of its six goals in the first half, with A.K. Ward and Gracie East scoring two goals apiece. Brooke McKee got the Bulldogs' scoring barrage started with a goal 40 seconds into the contest -- the third-quickest score to open a match in program history. State wraps the weekend at home Sunday with a 1 p.m. kickoff against South Alabama.
 
Crowd for Southern Miss opener was disappointing after leading the pack last year
The official attendance for last week's Southern Miss-Kentucky football game in Hattiesburg had to draw a double take from most USM fans. It was apparent at kickoff that the crowd had fallen well short of expectations, but the final number was stunning -- 22,761. It's all the more surprising when you consider that USM led Conference USA in attendance last year with an average of 28,588 fans at 36,000-seat Roberts Stadium. USM senior associate athletic director Stephen Pugh, who handles external operations, said that the number announced Saturday accounted for all tickets sold and distributed for the game. Pugh emphasized that he and athletic director Jon Gilbert are focused on generating more revenue through ticket sales. USM hosts Southern University at 6 p.m. on Saturday and SWAC opponents typically draw some of the better crowds to Roberts Stadium.
 
SEC coaches will be able to use voice, not signs to call pitches
A coach in the dugout using a wireless device will be able to speak directly to his catcher to call pitches in SEC conference baseball games and in the postseason tournament in 2018, a move that is expected to significantly reduce the length of games. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel last month approved a request from the Southeastern Conference to allow the technology on an experimental basis. It won't be used in nonconference games or NCAA postseason games. The conference will share with the NCAA its findings about the trial's effect on pace of play. The NCAA did not have complete regular-season game length data for 2017. College World Series games averaged 3 hours, 15 minutes this year, and the average has been 3 hours or longer all but one of the last 13 years.
 
Irma update: Florida football home opener now a noon start
The kickoff for Florida's home-opening football game against Northern Colorado has been moved up to noon Saturday due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, UF announced Wednesday. The game was originally scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. and be televised by the SEC Network, which now will show the game on one of its alternate channels. "We have worked closely with campus and regional authorities during the last 48 hours to find the best possible solution that allows us to play the game and takes into account the safety of our fans, players, staff and personnel working the game," UF Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said. "With tropical conditions possibly expected in our region on Saturday night or Sunday morning, moving the game from 7:30 to Noon will give people a chance to come to the game and return home before any expected weather or effects hit our area."
 
Texas A&M announces 'Relief Out' T-shirt partnership for Saturday's game at Kyle Field
Texas A&M Athletics announced a "Relief Out" T-shirt campaign for Saturday's game at Kyle Field, a partnership with Maroon Out and C.C. Creations. Fans can buy "#BTHOharvey" T-shirts to wear for the 6 p.m. game against Nicholls State, like the annual Maroon Out game. The white shirt features the state outline within a hurricane symbol, and a heart over the Gulf Coast. The press release states that the campaign came out of an idea by A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. Proceeds benefit BTHOharvey, a student-led relief campaign. As of Wednesday afternoon, the organization has raised more than $35,000 for hurricane relief efforts.
 
Attendance at Razorbacks' opener in Little Rock didn't satisfy AD Jeff Long
Arkansas Razorbacks Athletic Director Jeff Long said he was disappointed with the announced attendance of 36,055 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock for the season opener against Florida A&M last Thursday. "We had hoped for more, obviously," Long said Wednesday after speaking at the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club. "The crowd gives the team energy and excitement. It lifts the team. I hope people aren't going to be upset with me when I say disappointed. We were disappointed there weren't more fans." Long said he believed the threat of rain was a factor in attendance. Long said on Arkansas' pregame show last Thursday that he and Chancellor Joe Steinmetz will need to make some tough decisions about the future of games in Little Rock.
 
Report: LSU drops mandatory pat-downs at student entrance to Tiger Stadium
LSU has agreed to stop mandatory pat-downs at the student section entrance to Tiger Stadium this football season, according to an LSU student media report. In story posted Wednesday, LSUnow.com reports that the LSU Student Government worked with LSU's Office of the President to end to practice of checking each student for alcohol and other forbidden items. SG President Jason Badeaux told LSUnow.com the mandatory pat-downs were only required at the student section entrance, causing extreme delays for students trying to get into the game. "Obviously, there are still alcohol rules in place, and we still encourage students to follow those rules," Badeaux said.
 
Tennessee state rep/gubernatorial candidate to urge reinstatement of Lady Vols name
Gubernatorial candidate and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh will bring his campaign to the University of Tennessee Friday where he plans to announce a legislative resolution that would urge the school to reinstate the Lady Vols name. Fitzhugh, the democratic leader in the Tennessee House of Representatives, said he plans to introduce the nonbinding resolution during the upcoming legislative session. And, he said, if elected governor and de facto chair of the UT Board of Trustees, he would put the resolution before the university's governing board. "I think there was a mistake made, I think folks have realized the mistake and sooner mistake is corrected and the sooner we move back with Lady Vols, the better off all will be," Fitzhugh told the USA Today Network-Tennessee Wednesday. Former UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and former Athletic Director Dave Hart announced in 2014 a decision to drop the long-used 'Lady Vols' moniker for all women's sports except basketball.
 
Baylor Settles Lawsuit in Sexual Assault Case
A lawsuit filed by a former Baylor student that heightened concerns about sexual assaults by members of the football program has been settled, the latest in a series of claims that the university has tried to put to rest as it seeks to move on under new leadership in its administration and its athletics department. The plaintiff accused the university of violating the federal gender-equity law Title IX in cultivating a climate that helped lead to her rape in 2013 by two former football players, who have since been arrested on sexual assault charges. The lawsuit charged that at least 52 rapes were committed by at least 31 players from 2011 through 2014. The plaintiff and Baylor filed a joint notice of settlement Tuesday in federal court.
 
NCAA lawsuit: Lawyers asking for $44.9 million for legal fees
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in a presumptive class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and 11 major conferences that is heading toward a $208.7 million settlement are asking a federal judge to award them $44.9 million of that amount in legal fees and costs, according to documents filed Wednesday night. When the settlement was reached in February, the plaintiffs' lawyers wrote that they would ask for an amount not to exceed 25 percent of the settlement fund -- which would have been roughly $52 million. The settlement would compensate tens of thousands of college athletes who received traditional sports scholarships rather than a new version that covers the full cost of attending school. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken gave preliminary approval to the deal in March, and she is scheduled to hold a final-approval hearing on Nov. 17.



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