Friday, September 8, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
MSU's Clay Walden takes wheel at CAVS; Glenn Dennis to lead CAVS Extension
Bagley College of Engineering alumnus Clay Walden is the new executive director of the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems at Mississippi State University. He succeeds Roger King, who retired in June after a distinguished career with the university. Walden most recently served as director of CAVS Extension in Canton. Glenn Dennis has been named director of that unit. Walden has more than 25 years of experience implementing quality and productivity enhancements for a wide range of companies, including Mueller Industries, Nissan, Faurecia, PFG Optics, Dover Elevator, Tower Automotive, Herman Miller, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and others. Dennis, who previously served as CAVS Extension associate director, is a registered professional engineer and holds a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from MSU and a master's degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Memphis.
MSU's Center for Continuing Education offers 13 online high school courses
The Mississippi State University Center for Continuing Education's high school online program is offering 13 full and half-credit courses. Mississippi public, private and home-school students may register at any time to take these courses, which fulfill high-school graduation requirements. All course content has been approved by the Mississippi Department of Education, and all courses were developed and are taught by licensed Mississippi teachers. For more information, including a list of courses, people may visit
MSU, Habitat for Humanity partner to build ninth Maroon Edition home
PHOTO: Mississippi State University and Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity officials recently broke ground on the ninth Maroon Edition home, which will be built this fall by volunteers from Habitat for Humanity and MSU. The groundbreaking ceremony officially kicked off construction of the house on Owens Street, which is being built for Habitat partner family Kareema Gillon and her two young children. MSU President Mark E. Keenum hammered the house's first nail. Pictured, left to right, are City of Starkville Community Development Director Buddy Sanders; Starkville Area Habitat for Humanity Board President Barbara Coats; Habitat partner Kareema Gillon; Gillon's mother Vanessa Gillon; Gillon's grandmother Corinne Shumpert; and President Keenum.
City to hold public hearing on smoking ordinance
The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved the consideration of calling a public hearing to amend the city's smoking ordinance. The amendment for the ordinance will include electronic cigarettes and "vaping" within the definition of prohibited smoking products. When the ordinance was passed, electronic cigarettes and "vaping" were not popular trends. However, the increased popularity of the new form of tobacco use has spurred city officials to address its use in public spaces. The proposed public hearing was presented by Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins. Perkins said "it is completely necessary" to amend the ordinance in order to fully ensure smoking is banned in the Starkville.
Rep. Tyrone Ellis backs Cheikh Taylor for House seat
Outgoing State Rep. Tyrone Ellis, a Starkville Democrat, on Thursday officially threw his support behind Cheikh Taylor for the upcoming November special election to fill his seat. Taylor serves as executive director of the Brickfire Project and qualified to enter the House District 38 race in August. Ellis told the SDN he was initially planning to wait before giving an official endorsement, but opted to move forward after fielding calls and questions from those in the community wondering who he would support. "I needed to dispel that and make my choice known," Ellis said. Taylor told the SDN he figured Ellis would wait until later in the campaign to endorse him, but expressed his gratitude for the support. Other candidates running against Taylor include former Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn and entrepreneur, activist and former fashion model Narissa Bradford.
Models starting to agree: South Florida is going to get a direct hit from Irma
Hurricane Irma tightened her grip on South Florida early Friday, becoming overnight what everyone has long dreaded: a monster hurricane bearing down on Miami and a coast with 6 million people. Reliable forecast models projecting the storm's path predictably began to agree on a final, fateful track, with a direct hit along the south coast Sunday, although any wobble at this point could still change the storm's course. At two days, forecasts still have an 80 to 90-mile margin of error, National Hurricane Center forecaster Mike Brennan said. Sometime Saturday, the storm should begin making a critical turn to the north. But the turn will likely be too late to spare Florida from punishing hurricane winds that extend 70 miles from Irma's center.
Yates Construction to build models of Trump's border walls
Philadelphia-based W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Company will build two prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Thursday issued a news release announcing contract awards to Yates and three other companies. Each company will build one alternate-material prototype wall. On Aug. 31, Yates was among four companies selected to each build a concrete prototype wall. Yates is the largest construction company in Mississippi. The 53-year-old company has received more than $560 million in federal contracts since 2007, according to the Center for Investigative Reporting. According to the business's website, the company provided construction services for the U.S. Border Patrol Station project in Eagle Pass, Texas, a 1,300-square-foot station that monitors 56 miles of the Mexico-Texas border.
Legislators explore MDOT civil service protection removal
The cash-strapped Mississippi Department of Transportation met with members of the House Transportation Committee and other key legislators Thursday about removing civil service protection for its employees. MDOT has about 3,800 employees who are covered by the Personnel Board, which is the method of providing civil service protection to state employees to ensure they are not fired for political reasons. The Republican leadership of the state -- Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn -- have touted removing civil service protection for state employees as a method to bring more efficiency to state government. Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert said removing Personnel Board protection "is certainly a way to make us more efficient," but would not solve the problem of the 18.4-cent-per gallon tax on motor fuel not generating enough money to pay for all the needs the agency has.
MDOT has more than 350 vacant positions; pay cited
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has 354 vacant positions, with 58 of those occurring in the last year. "We can't maintain a workforce because of our pay structure," MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath told the House Transportation Committee on Thursday. McGrath is advocating for the Legislature to give her office the flexibility to realign employees' positions and salaries, and institute performance-based compensation in an effort to retain workers. "We need to stop the revolving door," McGrath said. McGrath said not only is MDOT losing workers to the private sector, it is also losing employees to other state agencies that pay more.
Former lawmaker who helped usher in Mississippi casinos dies
H.L. "Sonny" Merideth Jr., a former Mississippi lawmaker who helped open the way for casino gambling in the state, has died. He was 86. Merideth was an attorney from Greenville and served as a Democrat in the Mississippi House from 1960 to 1992. He was chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee from 1980 to 1988 and played a role in passing the Education Reform Act of 1982 and a highway program in 1987. In 1990, other lawmakers filed a bill to legalize gambling on boats cruising the Mississippi River. Merideth was chairman of a subcommittee that removed a few words from the bill to allow gambling on riverboats that were docked.
Unanimous Supreme Court: City of Columbus violated Open Meetings Act
The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled in favor of The Commercial Dispatch in an Open Meetings Act case against the city of Columbus. The court unanimously upheld the ruling of Chancery Court Judge Kenneth Burns. Burns ruled in May 2016 that the city in 2014 violated the Open Meetings Act when the council split to groups of two or three councilmen to discuss city business. The pre-arranged meetings -- each attended by two or three councilmen -- took place in January and February 2014. They concerned the city's retail partnership with the Golden Triangle Development LINK and project management on the Trotter Convention Center renovation. After one of the meetings the city issued a press release indicating a decision had been made prior to conducting a formal vote. Former Dispatch reporter Nathan Gregory filed a complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission after being denied access to the meetings and learning of their subject matter.
AG Jim Hood steers clear of DACA immigration lawsuit
Mississippi's top law enforcement officer is staying out of a legal battle over a recent controversial announcement from President Donald Trump. Fifteen Democratic attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration on Sept. 6 over the announcement that he would eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program unless Congress intervenes. Speaking at a press conference in his office on Thursday, Attorney General Jim Hood, the only statewide elected Democrat, said his office did not have enough time or a large enough staff to review the suit before it was filed. "Immigration's really a federal issue and normally I don't get involved unless it affects a Mississippi law," Hood told reporters.
Data of 143 million Americans exposed in hack of credit reporting agency Equifax
The credit reporting agency Equifax said Thursday that hackers gained access to sensitive personal data -- Social Security numbers, birth dates and home addresses -- for up to 143 million Americans, a major cybersecurity breach at a firm that serves as one of the three major clearinghouses for Americans' credit histories. Equifax said the breach began in May and continued until it was discovered in late July. It said hackers exploited a "website application vulnerability" and obtained personal data about British and Canadian consumers as well as Americans. Social Security numbers and birth dates are particularly sensitive data, giving those who possess them the ingredients for identity fraud and other crimes.
For Superpowers, Artificial Intelligence Fuels New Global Arms Race
For many Russian students, the academic year started last Friday with tips on planetary domination from President Vladimir Putin. "Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind," he said, via live video beamed to 16,000 selected schools. "Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world." Putin's advice is the latest sign of an intensifying race among Russia, China, and the US to accumulate military power based on artificial intelligence. All three countries have proclaimed intelligent machines as vital to the future of their national security. Technologies such as software that can sift intelligence material or autonomous drones and ground vehicles are seen as ways to magnify the power of human soldiers. "The US, Russia, and China are all in agreement that artificial intelligence will be the key technology underpinning national power in the future," says Gregory C. Allen, a fellow at nonpartisan think tank the Center for a New American Security.
Mississippi ACT Scores Up in 2nd Year of Statewide Testing
Mississippi's ACT scores inched up in the second year that all public high school graduates in the Magnolia State took the test. The state's 2017 graduates, public and private, had an average composite score of 18.6 on the college entrance exam. That's above last year's 18.4, but below the 19 that students scored in 2014 and 2015. The dip came when Mississippi started paying for all public high school juniors to take the test, starting with the class that graduated in spring 2016. The effect of that move was to push more students who weren't taking strong academic offerings into the testing pool, driving down the state's average scores. The number of Mississippi students tested in the class of 2017 was 36,000, almost 7,000 more than in 2015.
Few high school students college ready despite slight ACT gain
Two years ago the Mississippi legislature provided funding for all public high school students to take the ACT, the college readiness exam. The average score for public and private high school grads has risen slightly from 18.4 out of a possible 36 last year to 18.6 in 2017. The national average is 21. The Mississippi Department of Education reports more than 82 percent earn a diploma. Still, the testing organization finds only 12 percent of grads are college ready in English, math, reading and science. "When you look at what is required for students to graduate high school, they don't have to be proficient on those state exit exams in order to get a diploma. They just have to pass and in some instances they don't even have to pass if their grade is high enough. There's a gap between what is required to exit high school and what is required to be successful at the next level," said Rachel Canter of Mississippi First.
Vice chancellor at UM releases statement in response to DACA decision
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc released a statement to all university emails Thursday morning in response to President Donald Trump's recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Act. In the statement, Hephner LaBanc said the university will "do as we always have done: support all of our students." DACA, a program enacted under former President Barack Obama, allowed undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to work without fear of deportation. It does not grant citizenship. This decision will affect more than 2,800 young Mississippi residents.
USM Police reminding students about crosswalk safety after car/bicycle accident
University of Southern Mississippi police officials are reminding cyclists about the rules of the road when it comes to riding through campus crosswalks. A student received minor injuries Thursday when he was hit by a car as he was riding his bicycle through a marked crosswalk near the USM Police Department. Officers say the student should have walked his bike across the intersection. The driver was not charged. "It is state law to walk your bike across a marked crosswalk," said Rusty Keyes, assistant chief of the USM Police Department. Now, if you're walking in a marked crosswalk, a vehicle should stop for you and give you the right of way, but if you're on your bicycle and you ride across, you do not have the right of way."
Southern Miss lecture series to feature Gen. David H. Petraeus
he Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at the University of Southern Mississippi has announced retired Gen. David H. Petraeus will deliver the 2017 Lt. Col. John H. Dale Distinguished Lecture in International Security and Global Policy. The event will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at the Saenger Theater in downtown Hattiesburg. It is open to the public. The Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy honors the late Lt. Col. John H. Dale, Sr., a career U.S. Army officer who served in World War II and the Korean War and earned the Bronze Star. Lt. Col. Dale held a graduate degree from Southern Miss and later served as professor of military studies for the university's Reserve Officer Training Corps program. The lecture series is made possible through a generous donation by Southern Miss alumna Dr. Beverly Dale, in honor of her late father.
Associate Professor Charkarra Anderson-Lewis Named Interim Chair of Public Health at USM
Dr. Charkarra Anderson-Lewis has been named Interim Chair of the Department of Public Health at The University of Southern Mississippi. Anderson-Lewis began her career with Southern Miss in 2004 in the Department of Public Health, which is housed in the College of Health, and after a two year stint at the University of Florida, she returned to USM in 2015. A diligent researcher, Anderson-Lewis focuses her research efforts on community engaged research, health equity and disparities, mHealth and Digital health, qualitative research methods, community health workers, hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Florida's Governor Closes Public Colleges as Irma Bears Down on Peninsula
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida announced Thursday evening that he was ordering all state universities and colleges, along with public schools and other government offices, to close, effective Friday, as the state braces for the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Multiple major colleges on the peninsula and in eastern Florida had already made the decision to close before Gov. Scott issued his order. Other institutions in the western parts of the state said earlier Thursday they were holding off on any decision to close down, as major forecasts at that time appeared to show Irma bearing east. Mr. Scott said closing public facilities through Monday would give "local and state emergency officials the flexibility necessary to support shelter and emergency response efforts."
U. of Arkansas Professor Receives $3.2M In Grants for Energy Projects
University of Arkansas professor Alan Mantooth has received $3.2 million through the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for two projects that will accelerate the development and deployment of a new class of efficient, lightweight and reliable power converters. Mantooth will serve as lead investigator for "Reliable, High Power Density Inverters for Heavy Equipment Applications," which received $2.16 million. The project focuses on developing a 2-by-250 kilowatt, dual-power inverter system for use in the electrification of heavy equipment and other, higher-volume transportation vehicles, such as trucks and buses. The project will focus on developing a lighter and more efficient on-board electric vehicle charger.
Tennessee spending less per college student than it was 10 years ago
Tennessee added more funding to higher education than most states last year, but per-student funding levels remain below what they were when the recession hit in 2008, according to a new report. Across the country, inflation-adjusted state spending at public colleges and universities is below historic levels, contributing to increases in tuition and reduced quality of education, according to the report from the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In Tennessee, per-student funding levels from the state for 2016-17 were almost 14 percent below what they were in 2008, the report said. Some states have made progress toward restoring higher education funding, but only five currently spend more per student than they did in 2008, the report said.
How will $56 million renovation transform the U. of Kentucky law school?
The University of Kentucky College of Law unveiled a $56 million renovation plan for its original 1965 building Thursday, and officials say it will provide state-of-the-art teaching and research space for its students. The changes will include a new main entrance that faces Memorial Hall and enters onto a 122,513-square-foot building, a 26 percent expansion. "This project goes beyond a building," UK Law Dean David Brennen said. "This project is about coming together and investing in UK Law's future, the success of its students, its impact on public understanding of legal issues, and its engagement in law reform. It will certainly help us provide a 21st-century legal education." The project is being financed with $35 million in state bonds and $21 million in bonds issued by UK.
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp: 'Even better' coast will be rebuilt
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp has been chosen to lead state efforts to rebuild public infrastructures along the Gulf Coast where Hurricane Harvey left the greatest damage in its wake -- a mission he said he is ready to serve. During a press conference in Austin on Thursday morning, Gov. Greg Abbott said there were many factors that made Sharp the right man for the job -- from his history as a resident and elected official serving the Gulf Coast region to his time serving as state comptroller and, importantly, his ability to "cut through red tape." "I have a simple charge for Commissioner Sharp: That is to rebuild Texas ahead of schedule, under budget and with a friendly smile of constant consumer service," Abbott said.
U. of Missouri institute to be named for former fast food executive
David Novak, who made his fortune selling tacos, pizza and fried chicken, will be in Columbia next Friday to announce a major gift to the University of Missouri that will create an institute in the School of Journalism, President Mun Choi said Thursday. The size of the gift from the former CEO of Yum! Brands won't be revealed until the ceremony, Choi said, speaking after the Board of Curators voted unanimously to create the David Novak Leadership Institute. The institute will be led by Margaret Duffy, a professor of strategic communication at the journalism school, he said. Novak, born in 1953 in Beeville, Texas, graduated from the journalism school in 1974, majoring in advertising.
Citing Obama-Era Failures, Betsy DeVos Will Replace Landmark Directive on Sex Assault
The Education Department will begin the process of replacing a signature Obama-era piece of guidance that laid out expectations for colleges from the federal government on protecting students from sexual violence, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, announced on Thursday during a speech at George Mason University. "The system established by the prior administration has failed too many students," Ms. DeVos said. It wasn't immediately clear on Thursday whether it was possible that a 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter on complying with the gender-equity law known as Title IX would be left in place after the department put it through a process called notice-and-comment. But a department spokeswoman later clarified that the guidance would be replaced, and that, "in the interim, the department will make clear to schools how to fulfill their current obligations under Title IX."
Campus administrators reassure students of protections after Title IX announcement
Following Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's announcement that she will replace Obama administration guidance on how colleges should adjudicate campus rape cases, administrators across the country have begun assuring students and sexual assault victims that their rights will be protected, while awaiting the federal department's new orders. DeVos pledged Thursday to end "rule by letter," a reference to a Dear Colleague letter the Obama administration issued in 2011 clarifying how institutions should handle sexual misconduct cases under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law barring gender discrimination. The Education Department will accept comment before releasing new regulations, a more concrete decree than the 2011 guidance, DeVos said. In the interim, it will give more information to colleges and universities on addressing sexual assault procedures, which will likely come this month.
DeVos: U. of Tennessee response to student's quiz question example of Title IX failure
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Thursday pointed to a University of Tennessee student's quiz answer referencing a lingerie model and an investigation into a sexual harassment claim that followed as an example of what's not working under current Title IX policies. Last October, UT student Keaton Wahlbon was given a grade of "0" on a geology quiz after he wrote the name of a semi-famous porn star, Sarah Jackson, in response to the question, "What is your lab instructor's name?" His professor, William Deane, told Wahlbon the response was "inappropriate" and "meets the Title IX definition of sexual harassment," though Wahlbon said he had forgotten his instructor's name and simply wrote a random name that popped into his head. The university then launched an investigation after faculty who spotted a post about the incident on the website raised concerns. The case was wrapped up shortly thereafter after staff in UT's Office of Equity and Diversity met with both parties involved in the case and "understood that they had resolved the situation," said UT spokeswoman Karen Simsen, who hesitated to call the response an investigation.

Mississippi State gets ready for road game vs Louisiana Tech
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen knows better than to underestimate a team that's not in a Power Five conference. Traveling to play at their place makes the task even tougher. Mississippi State (1-0) goes on the road to face Louisiana Tech (1-0) on Saturday in a game that should provide a much bigger challenge than its opener, an easy 49-0 victory over FCS opponent Charleston Southern. Louisiana Tech won its opener 52-24 over Northwestern State last weekend. This will be the 13th meeting between the two programs, but just the second time Louisiana Tech has hosted Mississippi State in Ruston. "They have explosive playmakers," Mullen said. "They have some great athletes that they put out there on the field. You can see it not just within the offense but within the return scheme and in the kicking game."
Dan Mullen wants Mississippi State to use depth on defense to keep attacking
Dan Mullen keeps going back to the Charles Mitchell example. Mullen wants to change how his Mississippi State football program uses its defensive backs and uses what Mitchell did on Nov. 20, 2010. On that day MSU hosted Arkansas and played a double overtime game, a 38-31 loss. Mitchell played something like 109 snaps in that game; Mullen remembers other starters on that team playing something like 40 snaps and making important plays down the stretch. With that in mind, Mullen gave new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham one task. "I keep telling Todd I want to find 30," Mullen said. "I want to find enough guys where we can roll guys through and go wave after wave, keep attacking you." That creed matters more in the secondary than any other this week as MSU prepares for the Louisiana Tech offense and its offense more geared to the pass.
Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State defense have Skip Holtz's attention
Louisiana Tech produced 497 yards, three turnovers and two special teams touchdowns in its 52-24 opening-week win over Northwestern State. La. Tech coach Skip Holtz has spent enough time in and around the SEC to know it will likely take that and even more for his team to come out on top this weekend as it hosts Mississippi State. "It is going to be a great challenge for us as a football team," Holtz said. "We are excited to play them here and excited for the opportunity and challenge ahead of us. I know it is going to take a much greater effort than what we put forward in the opening game, but I think we will have our players' attention." Much of Holtz's concern comes from the MSU's defensive showing in the season opener in which it surrendered a school-record 0.7 yards per play. State also notched a pair of safeties and did not allow the Buccaneers to cross midfield.
Mississippi State's offensive line will get tested against Louisiana Tech
Mississippi State's starting offensive line deserved to receive at least a passing grade in the season-opening win against Charleston Southern, but the group got away with some mistakes that can't be repeated against tougher opponents. This is nitpicking because the Bulldogs won 49-0 and didn't allow a sack against the FCS school, but a few of center Elgton Jenkins' snaps weren't accurate and Stewart Reese got beat a couple of times at right tackle. And none of that should have surprised too many. After all, Jenkins hadn't played center in a game since middle school and Reese is a redshirt freshman. But guys playing roles they aren't experienced in is the reality for Mississippi State, and the Bulldogs know improvements need to be made Saturday at Louisiana Tech (6:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network), which has a strong defensive line.
Gerri Green comfortable, confident at outside linebacker
Gerri Green had an instant impact in 2015 making 49 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pair of interceptions at outside linebacker earning Freshman All-SEC honors for Mississippi State. Green was shifted inside last year where he recorded 43 stops and recovered a fumble but was unable to make the same amount of spectacular plays that he did in the previous season. When new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham arrived in January, he decided to move the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder back to the outside where he can make more use of his size. "I'm comfortable in it and confident in it," Green said. Green made his second career start this past Saturday and first since the 2015 Belk Bowl. He recorded three tackles before giving way to some of the younger players on the roster.
Leadership will be focal point for Mississippi State women
It is less than a month before the official start of practice, but Blair Schaefer already is taking to a bigger leadership role. At 12:57 p.m., Schaefer and her coach, Vic Schaefer, walked into the media room at Humphrey Coliseum three minutes early for a scheduled gathering. "Write it down, I'm early," said Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State's women's basketball coach, as he settled into his seat behind the table. Said Blair, a senior guard who also happens to be his daughter, "It's because I'm with him." With that, the 2017-18 season started with a light-hearted tone, but the issue of leadership, presence, and chemistry remained a point of conversation for the nearly 40-minute introductory news conference that signaled the unofficial start to a new campaign.
Marci Hoppa hired as Mississippi State women's hoops strength coach
Marci Hoppa joins Mississippi State as the program's strength and conditioning coach. Hoppa, who comes to MSU from Western Kentucky, will be in charge of the daily strength and conditioning regime for Vic Schaefer's program that is coming off a record-setting 34-win season and an appearance in the national championship game. She served the past three seasons as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at Western Kentucky. In that three-year span, her development of the Lady Topper players helped the program to an 84-19 record, two Conference USA regular season and tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Hoppa earned her bachelor's degree in exercise and sports science in 2009 from the University of Georgia and a master's degree in exercise physiology in 2012 from Northern Illinois University.
Marci Hoppa, Dominique Dillingham join Mississippi State women's hoops staff
A new addition and a familiar face are joining the Mississippi State women's basketball staff this season. Marci Hoppa joins the Bulldogs as the program's strength and conditioning coach, while Dominique Dillingham moves from the court to the bench as a student assistant coach. Hoppa, who comes to MSU from Western Kentucky, will be in charge of the daily strength and conditioning regime for Vic Schaefer's program that is coming off a record-setting 34-win season and an appearance in the national championship game. "I am very grateful for the opportunity here with Coach Schaefer and the Bulldogs," Hoppa said. "The culture and spirit of this program and the university drew me in, and it continues to excite me for the future."
Vann Stuedeman announces Mississippi State softball 2017 fall slate
Seven contests, including two doubleheader matchups within the friendly confines of Nusz Park, highlight Mississippi State softball's fall schedule. MSU head coach Vann Stuedeman announced the Bulldogs' fall state on Thursday, which features four games in Starkville. "I am excited about getting back into the swing of things," Stuedeman said. "We scheduled a challenging fall slate, highlighted by a strong FSU squad, to give our 10 newbies a taste of what big-time college softball is all about. We are looking forward to another year filled with Bulldog fans in Nusz Park." The Bulldogs open their fall season with a doubleheader at Nusz Park on Oct. 20 against East Mississippi Community College. State and EMCC begin play at 5:30 p.m. with the second contest following 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
Set for Encore, Cowboys' Dak Prescott Ignores 'Sophomore Slump'
Dak Prescott stared blankly at a reporter who asked how many times the new face of the Dallas franchise had heard the term "sophomore slump" in recent months after one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in NFL history. "Say again?" the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year said. The reporter repeated the question. "What's that?" Prescott shot back. Without using any words, the sudden star of America's Team suggested there's plenty he thinks he can do for an encore starting Sunday night against the New York Giants after leading the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC. "All I've ever known is hard work, and hard work pays off," said Prescott "That's what I did in this offseason as I've done every offseason in my career." He also signed endorsements, attended packed youth football camps bearing his name and celebrated from the second row when his alma mater, Mississippi State, ended UConn's record 111-game winning streak at the women's Final Four in Dallas.
Alcorn State football team bus involved in wreck in Vicksburg
A charter bus carrying the Alcorn State University football team to Birmingham, Ala. for their game against Florida International was involved in a wreck on Interstate 20 in Vicksburg Thursday afternoon. The accident occurred at 2:30 p.m. Thursday near the on-ramp from US 61 South when a Chevrolet Tahoe crossed into the lane where the bus was traveling. Vicksburg Police Department officer Russell Dorsey said the Tahoe swerved to avoid a vehicle in front of it that had slammed on its brakes, causing it to hit the bus. Dorsey said no members of the Alcorn football team were injured in the crash, but they did have to switch buses due to the damage. The Braves were originally scheduled to play FIU in Miami this weekend, but the game was moved due to Hurricane Irma. The teams will face off at Legion Field in Birmingham Friday at 6 p.m.
'Flim Flam' book sells big in first week
Steve Robertson, or "Rose Bowl," as fans affectionately call him, doesn't exactly blend in among the crowd of reporters regularly around Mississippi State. A longtime writer for, the Scout site that covers the Bulldogs, Robertson is easily identified by his dreadlocks and sleeve of tattoos on both arms. But even he is a little taken aback by the level of fame he's experiencing these days as the author of a new book, Flim Flam, which was released last week in stores around Mississippi and online and documents the NCAA's investigation into Ole Miss. Robertson said Thursday Flim Flam has sold roughly 4,100 copies in the span of a week, exceeding expectations, and that he already has an offer to write a sequel, presumably encompassing the fallout from Ole Miss' hearing in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions beginning next Monday.
Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin received threatening letter with racial slur
Charlene Sumlin, wife of Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin, tweeted a picture Thursday afternoon of a letter sent to the Sumlin home. The letter, addressed to Kevin Sumlin, included a racial slur. The letter was not signed. The address listed on the envelope was 1 Potomac in Houston. The Houston Country Club's address is 1 Potomac Drive. Texas A&M President Michael Young and Athletic Director Scott Woodward issued a statement Thursday night. As of late Thursday, Charlene Sumlin's tweet detailing the letter had been retweeted almost 3,000 times and had received 1,600 comments. Among the comments were statements of support from both Aggies and college football fans from around the country, including from the North Carolina State athletic director and fans of schools such as University of Texas, Alabama, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Mississippi State.
Evacuee scenes set off move to cancel Florida home opener
Athletic Director Scott Stricklin knew Tuesday night the Florida home opener Saturday would be in jeopardy. Coach Jim McElwain knew Thursday morning. On Thursday afternoon, any hopes of playing the Gator home opener were vanquished under the weight of evacuations. With the roads clogged with people trying to escape Hurricane Irma and convenience stores looking like used car lots, the University Athletic Association decided to cancel UF's game with Northern Colorado. It was the second straight year Florida has lost a home game to a hurricane and the third home game that has been lost in four seasons to a storm. "We really wanted to play the game, but everywhere we turned it wasn't a good answer," Stricklin said. "As (Thursday) went on, it became more and more obvious it wasn't going to work."
Jeff Long's comments reignite SEC realignment talk but it's not happening any time soon
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long reignited SEC divisional realignment talks Wednesday after only a brief period of dormancy. Long argued on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly that Missouri, as Arkansas' closest geographic rival, should switch from the SEC East to SEC West. Embattled Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs is no doubt thrilled another SEC AD has publicly supported his pet cause. Before Wednesday, divisional realignment talk was largely relegated to the talking season of summer months to give us all something to do in the absence of actual games. It was especially popular this June at the SEC spring meetings as Jacobs argued why Auburn should switch spots with Missouri. Jacobs even cited all the travel Missouri fans have to do in the SEC East, a gesture intended to be charitable but born out of self-interest.
No plans for metal detectors yet at U. of Arkansas football stadium
After earlier seeking bids for metal detectors, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville does not include them in the school's "current plan" for security at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, a UA spokesman said Wednesday. But while metal detectors will not be part of the fan experience as the first Razorback home football game kicks off Saturday, no decision has been made about possibly adding the technology for future seasons. Guns are prohibited at the stadium, which is hosting six games this fall. "While not obligated to provide information related to the University's security plans, we can share that metal detectors are not a part of the current plan," UA spokesman Mark Rushing said in an email.
Pat Summitt documentary inspired by her influence in Iraq
Khoshee Mohammed punctuates the documentary "Pat: A Legacy of Love" by saying: "I will become her legacy." She added some drama to her pronouncement Thursday night by striding onto the Bijou Theatre stage as the lights came up following the film's premiere. Eight years ago, Mohammed attended former Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt's basketball camp along with other girls from her native Iraq. Today, she's an English teacher who coaches and plays basketball. "I didn't do anything for you," Mohammed told the crowd. "You've done a lot for us." Her story, along with those of the other Iraqi/Lady Vols campers inspired the film, was co-produced by Sarah Hillyer and Ashleigh Huffman. They direct The Center for Sport, Peace & Society at the University of Tennessee. In 2007, Summitt gave Hillyer and Huffman, then doctoral students, all the basketballs they could carry to stage a camp in Iraq. Several of the Iraqis then came to the Lady Vols camp two years later as part of a U.S. Department of State-sponsored trip.

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