Friday, August 23, 2013  SUBSCRIBE   
Consolidation Public Hearing In Starkville
Nobody ever said that merging two school districts was going to be easy. Parents in Starkville and Oktibbeha County are getting a good idea of the obstacles that lay ahead. Thursday they made their voices heard at a public hearing in Starkville. Parents who packed the Greensboro Auditorium had plenty to say. While the consolidation commission focused on buildings, finances for both districts and funding, some parents were worried about keeping the public school system attractive to those who come to work at Mississippi State University or Starkville, in general. "My hope for all the children in Oktibbeha County and the city of Starkville is that they get the same opportunities that my girls did and that people who come to Mississippi State will be attracted by the strength of our public school system because I think there's a real connection there," said parent Nelle Cohen.
Mississippi State is recognized for improved energy efficiency
Mississippi State is being honored by a national publication for its facility maintenance decisions resulting in more than $20 million in savings over seven years from decreased energy consumption. In the just-published August edition, Facility Maintenance Decisions magazine announced winners of its annual Facility Maintenance Decisions Achievement Awards. The university is among eight public and private organizations receiving top honors in the 2013 competition. J.D. Hardy, associate director of utilities in MSU's campus services organization, said the land-grant institution is being recognized for its major sustainability and energy efficiency efforts.
Sweet potato outlook: Good crop, prices
The best news growers got at Thursday's Sweet Potato Field Day was what they already knew: Even though the cool, wet spring had delayed plantings, the mild summer has provided excellent growing conditions. "Overall those planting beds look better than could have been expected," said Stephen Meyers, specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, which hosted the event at its Pontotoc Ridge/Flatwoods experiment station. Greg Bohach, MSU vice president of agriculture, forestry and veterinary medicine, said ag research is crucial to feeding an ever-growing population. "By 2050 there will be nine billion people," he said, "mostly in areas of the world that are very poor."
New technology hits the sweet potato fields
It will soon be harvest time for sweet potato farmer Jamie Earp. He is among those eager to learn new technology being unveiled by crop consultants and other agricultural professionals. "It really helps us out, gives us more tools in our tool box." Tools like an undercutter or what some here call a razor plow. It would be used prior to the harvest, and while it moves through a field, it severs the root. MSU Extension Service Assistant Professor, Dr. Jason Ware, is a big believer in the undercutter.
Sweet Potato Day
Agriculture professionals, consultants, and sweet potato growers converged on the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station this week. For them it's a learning experience that leads to high yields of their sweet potato crop. Hoping to get the latest information on how to maximize their potato crop and by doing so sweeten up their bottom line, this experiment station is the place to be. It's an overall good year for the 100 commercial sweet potato farmers in the state. "About 80% of our crop is excellent in good shape, we just need to get it to harvest. 20% is a little rough, a little patchy but overall the condition of the crop is excellent," said Mississippi State University's Steven Meyers. "One of the best ways for our farmers to learn about the research that we are doing is for them to get out here and see it experience the work that we're doing at Mississippi State University," said Meyers.
Construction on campus results in opposite flow of traffic
Recent changes to a central road on Mississippi State University's campus mark the continuation of progress for the university's master campus plan. Following summer alterations, commuting on Lee Blvd. between Walker Road and the YMCA building will now be restricted to one-way, east-flowing traffic. Additionally, Walker Road will now admit only one-way, west-flowing traffic. Roger Baker, campus master planner, said these modifications are necessary to accommodate future construction projects and larger road renovations in the surrounding area. Mike Harris, director of parking and transit services, said the recent changes to central campus infrastructure will also help to promote a new system of commuting at MSU, prompting motorists to remain primarily on the outer edges of campus.
More school districts consider adopting energy curriculum developed by MSU
An energy curriculum developed by Mississippi State University for high school students is entering its second year, and the pilot program could add school districts for the current academic year. Conceived with a handful of the state's energy companies and developed by MSU's Research and Curriculum Unit, the program focuses students on several areas of the state's energy sector. That includes energy generation, industry regulations, major employers and traditional and emerging technologies the first year. The second year delves into alternative sources of energy, including wind, solar, nuclear and biomass.
July unemployment numbers fall
Unemployment numbers in the Golden Triangle and across the state decreased noticeably in July. With the exception of Clay County, the rates were down at least more than one percentage point in Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Noxubee counties, according to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, which released updated figures Wednesday. Oktibbeha County saw nearly a two percent decrease, according to state estimates. Its rate was 9.7 percent last month compared to 11.5 in July 2012. MDES chief of labor market information Mary Willoughby said July numbers typically reflect a large amount of high school and college students who have been unable to find work during the summer months.
Ceremony will rename Starkville Sportsplex building after Outlaw
Starkville Parks Commission will formally dedicate one of the Sportsplex's main facilities after famed NBA forward and Starkville native Travis Outlaw on Friday. Parks Director Herman Peters said the event, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., will serve as a kickoff for Saturday's annual Travis Outlaw Day at McKee Park. Peters said the commission will announce a donation from Outlaw in tandem with the event. The Sacramento Kings' forward's name is expected to grace the building for 15 years, Peters said.
Open carry watchers still waiting on high court
Both proponents and opponents of the law passed by the 2013 Legislature making it legal for Mississippians to openly carry a gun with no permit still are waiting on the state Supreme Court to weigh in on the controversy. A search of the state Supreme Court's website indicates that there has been a litany of motions filed by the parties interested in the law. The latest action on the issue occurred on Aug. 14 when a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court consisting of Chief Justice William Waller Jr. and James Kitchens of the Central District and Randy G. Pierce of the Southern District agreed to allow several groups to intervene in the case.
Gov. Bryant Touts Manufacturing in the State
Gov. Phil Bryant says Mississippi is one of the best states in the country at attracting new manufacturers. "The state's been very successful. Mississippi is now ranked number nine in the nation for economic development opportunity. Number two, we're the second in the nation for the cost of utilities for manufacturers." said Bryant. Bryant made that statement at the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Summit in Orlando, Fla., yesterday. He says the reason for Mississippi's top ranked business climate is because of the state's hands-off approach. While many applaud Mississippi's efforts so far, some say more can be done to attract manufacturers to the state. Bob Neal is a senior economist with the Institutions of Higher Learning. He says creating more skilled workers would help bring more businesses to Mississippi.
Nunnelee: Government shutdown would not be the proper tactic
While U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee works to repeal Obamacare, he does not believe a government shutdown is the proper tactic. The Republican congressman from Mississippi's 1st District met with the Daily Journal's editorial board on Thursday. He was asked about a plan proposed by some GOP lawmakers that would defund the Affordable Care Act, even if it meant shutting down the government. "I just don't think shutting down the government is a responsible approach," he said. The Tupelo Republican, who was first elected in 2010, said he plans to seek re-election to a third term in 2014. He noted that because of high turnover in Congress, he is close to having seniority to head a subcommittee on the powerful Appropriations Committee. "I'm in a position to effectively represent the people of Mississippi and be a leader in Congress," he said.
Tate Reeves touts state's education reforms during speech in Ocean Springs
Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told a group of shipbuilders in Ocean Springs on Thursday that state improvements in education are the key to providing a well-trained workforce for the future. Reeves, speaking to the Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium, noted some 47 percent of Mississippi 3rd graders can't read at the proficient level. "We have to do something about that," he said. "We're investing everything we have at the K-4 level. We also invested $9.5 million this year for reading coaches to assist children who are struggling." He also touted school consolidation, the charter school legislation passed this year and the $6 million increase in funding for community colleges. He praised Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College President Mary Graham for her school's partnership with Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, adding that the new maritime academy will open at MGCCC this fall.
Snowden elected to serve on national committee
Meridian lawmaker Greg Snowden has been elected to serve on the National Conference of State Legislatures' Executive Committee. Snowden represents District 83, which includes Lauderdale and Clarke counties, in the House of Representatives. Snowden, a Republican, said one of the good things about the Conference is that it is bipartisan. "They make a conscious effort to be bipartisan," Snowden said. "They work on nuts and bolts issues. They'll give you research on issues and let you know what other states are doing. They are kind of a go-to organization." As speaker pro tempore, Snowden holds the second highest office in the Mississippi House of Representatives. In addition to presiding when Speaker Philip Gunn is absent, Snowden chairs the Management Committee, which oversees all business, personnel and financial operations of the House.
Sen. Michael Watson takes newspaper to task for coverage of Common Core
State Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula and policy chairman for the new Senate Conservative Coalition, has written a letter to the editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, criticizing he newspaper's coverage of the new Common Core educational standards. Watson was concerned about the coverage of the Mississippi Department of Education's public meeting on Common Core in Oxford on Tuesday.
South Mississippi's Palazzo hears residents' concerns about jobs, sequester
U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-4, said he has been "staying within my wheelhouse" talking about issues both important to his constituents and in his areas of expertise as he talks to area residents while he's on break from Congress. He said he hasn't had any formal town hall meetings because he had to serve three weeks with the Mississippi National Guard but he has been out and about, meeting the people on the Coast. That includes a meeting with Coast officials and business leaders Wednesday in Gulfport to talk about the National Flood Insurance Program and the Biggert-Waters Act, which will raise rates and eventually end subsidies to those who own property in flood-prone areas. He co-sponsored a bill to delay those increases for a year, which passed the House earlier this year.
Audit: Jackson State University misclaimed $943K in grants
Jackson State University is working to resolve issues raised by a federal audit that alleges the school mishandled nearly $1 million in grant money. The audit looked at $19.4 million in expenses the school claimed over a six-year period in National Science Foundation funds. Auditors say JSU claimed $943,474.74 in expenditures that it should not have. Loretta Moore, interim vice president for research and federal relations at Jackson State, said the university is working with the NSF to "address all concerns." Among the audit's findings: The university claimed an excess of indirect costs (necessary expenses that do not fit into a direct cost category) of $83,843.90, unallowable equipment and fringe benefit costs of $16,901.29 and $553,316.57 in expenses, including salary and wage reports, that lack documentation or were inadequately documented.
UMC mistakenly sends out private information, GPA records of students
The University of Mississippi Medical Center mistakenly gave out Social Security numbers, grade point averages and other personal information for most of its student body this week, violating state and federal privacy laws. UMC's accounting department on Wednesday attached the private data to a mass email notifying students about changes to the school's health insurance. The attached spreadsheet contained the names, social security numbers, GPAs, race, gender, birthdays, addresses and phone numbers for 2,281 students who are enrolled in health insurance through the university. "We sincerely apologize for this mistake," UMC spokesman Jack Mazurak said.
UMMC takes over $37M in debt, Grenada Lakes Medical Center
From the outside looking in, it would seem now would not be the best time for the University of Mississippi Medical Center --- state's largest hospital operation -- to be taking on $37.4 million in new debt carried by Grenada Lakes Medical Center. So why is UMMC eager to take over the tens of millions in debt on the books at Grenada Lakes? The potential for new revenues for one and the enhancement Grenada Lakes offers the academic medical center's education efforts for another, said Jack Mazurak, UMMC's assistant communications director. But at the forefront, he said, is the need to fulfill the medical center's public health mission.
Improving health care in state is goal of new UMMC school of medicine chair
The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson announced Aug. 6 that Dr. William C. Little, a nationally recognized cardiologist and researcher, would be replacing Dr. Shirley Schlessinger as chair of the university's School of Medicine. Little earned his B.A. in physics at Oberlin College in Ohio, and his M.D. from Ohio State University College of Medicine. He completed his residency at the University of Virginia Hospital as well as a cardiology fellowship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Little has held faculty positions at UAB, the University of Texas Health Science Center and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He recently spoke with the Mississippi Business Journal about his new job via email.
Delta State creates enrollment and retention plan
Delta State University has put a three-year plan in place to boost enrollment. The goals of the university are to increase engagement between recruiters and the Delta State campus, community and extended family, implement and maximize functionality of a recruitment system, increase awareness of Delta State University, and improve relationships with students, parents and counselors. Christopher Gaines, director of recruiting at Delta State University, said the management office of enrollment is energized and excited about the university's new leadership. The university recently hired five new recruiters to hit the road next week, visiting schools, and covering the entire state.
Alcorn State to celebrate Vicksburg expansion today
Alcorn State University officials will host a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. today to celebrate the opening of the school's Vicksburg expansion location, which includes four classrooms, a technology center and administrative offices. Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II said the Vicksburg expansion is part of the university's plan to continue providing education opportunities for those who can't travel to the main campus at Lorman.
Mississippi colleges eye impact of proposed changes on financial aid, student debt
Leaders at Mississippi's colleges and universities are reviewing suggested changes to how schools do business, including financial aid, as the state that ranked 29th in terms of average student loan debt stands to lose or win depending on how the rules are adopted and applied. Mississippi students already are dealing with recent changes to federal student aid, but what could happen to future freshmen remains to be seen, at least until Congress takes up President Barack Obama's suggestions. Alcorn State University felt the pinch when the requirements for federal assistance, such as Pell Grants and federal PLUS loans, were altered last year, said President Christopher Brown.
LSU chief says Obama higher ed plan could help Louisiana
President Barack Obama's plan to create a new ranking system that would measure colleges and universities on value, and then reward higher ranked institutions with a larger share of federal money, could be a boon to a state like Louisiana where tuition rates are among some of the lowest in the nation. LSU's new leader, F. King Alexander, said he was especially optimistic about what Obama's plan would mean for the university. "We need to make schools demonstrate their value," Alexander said. If we do that, "LSU is going to come out on top. We're well below the average on student indebtedness, we're well below the average on tuition and student loan default."
Public Colleges Endorse Obama Plans on Affordability and Accountability
Public and state higher-education leaders gave their tentative approval to much of President Obama's proposals on Thursday to make colleges more accountable and affordable. After all, many of the ideas he presented are already being pursued at the state level. The president's proposals "seem to fit with what we're doing," said John G. Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. The impact on states and systems of any performance-based federal programs would depend heavily on the measures that the federal government chooses, Mr. Morgan said. State disinvestment in higher education has been the primary reason for increasing tuition in recent years, said Daniel J. Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
President Obama seeks to shame colleges for rising tuition costs
President Obama unveiled a new plan Thursday designed to shame colleges and universities over rapidly escalating tuition costs, warning the nation is facing "a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt." At a series of events across New York state, the president touted his order to the Department of Education to create a new ranking system that grades universities on their value to students, providing applicants with a clearer idea of which schools give students the best bang for their buck. Republicans on Thursday dismissed the president's address, with Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski blasting the president for "giving another speech with no record to show for it."
Faculty advocates react to Obama's plan for higher ed
Faculty members overwhelmingly supported President Obama in his candidacies. To many, his academic background and intellectual bent were welcome relief after his predecessor. Obama -- a former law professor at the University of Chicago -- was one of them. But in reacting to Obama's higher education policy speech at the State University of New York at Buffalo Thursday, in which the president proposed a ratings system for institutions to be tied to federal aid, faculty members expressed disappointment. While emphasizing that access to college is a good thing, they said, the speech failed to address deeper problems facing higher education -- such as lack of funding, skyrocketing tuition and the increasing employment of adjunct faculty -- and was too enthusiastic about massive open online courses (MOOCs), whose pedagogical effectiveness remains largely untested. Many faculty advocates said they weren't surprised, however.
How President Obama could 'shake up' higher ed himself
The Education Department doesn't need Congress to enact some big chunks of the sweeping new higher education agenda President Barack Obama proposed Thursday. Even before Obama finished laying out his plan, college leaders and congressional Republicans said they were skeptical about his proposal to base federal grants and loans on college "value." He outlined the plan in two speeches in Buffalo, N.Y., and Syracuse, N.Y., during the first stops of a two-day bus tour in New York and Pennsylvania. But Obama pointed out that he, too, was skeptical of colleges' and Congress's capacity for reform. "Some of these reforms will require action from Congress, which is always difficult," he told high school students in Syracuse on Thursday night. "Some of these changes, though, I can make on my own."
President Obama lauds Tennessee's college funding rules
President Barack Obama's call on Thursday for states to follow Tennessee's lead and award greater funding to colleges that show results with students pushed the state's evolving education policies into the national spotlight once again. Obama urged other states to follow Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio in offering more funds to colleges that do a better job of preparing students for graduation and a job. Tennessee is in the third year of linking funds for public colleges to student outcomes -- including progress toward graduation and actual graduation rates -- instead of how many people fill the seats. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said his system has made "steady strides in many of the areas" outlined by Obama because of the 2010 funding act.
U. of Florida's Machen: Higher education is under attack
Higher education is under attack, University of Florida President Bernie Machen told faculty in his State of the University address Thursday, and it's up to administrators and faculty to fight back by meeting those challenges head on. "College is a refuge from hasty judgment," Machen said, quoting the poet Robert Frost, who used to winter in Gainesville and hold poetry readings on campus. "Yet this particular fall, we all understand the refuge of higher education is vulnerable to judgments, both hasty and harsh." Machen returned several times to the theme of using the strengths of its past as a land grant university to invent its future and attain its goal of becoming a Top 10 university nationally --- whether it's developing an online degree program, competing for dwindling research grants and recruiting new faculty, or creating a common curriculum for UF students.
Ex-U. of Tennessee director claims intimidation, pressure
The former student judicial affairs director at the University of Tennessee has accused officials there of ruining her career and creating "a professional nightmare" when she was accused of having inappropriate relationships with student-athletes. Jenny Wright, who left the university amid the scandal in May, said she faced criticism, harassment, intimidation, and "even threats directed toward me regarding judicial decisions involving student-athletes." Wright posted the statement, her first public comment since the allegations came to light, this week on a website.
'Prize Ride' offered today to U. of Tennessee bus riders
Riders on the University of Tennessee's bus system, named the T, may find themselves sitting beside Chancellor Jimmy Cheek this morning. Cheek is kicking off the T's "Prize Ride," from 8:50 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. -- or until prizes run out. The ride, taking place on the Hill and Neyland Express routes, was organized to generate more interest in the new bus system. Contestants will answer UT trivia questions for prizes that include T-shirts and dining gift certificates. The T underwent a change in June, when the contract with Knoxville Area Transit ran out. After a bidding process, First Transit was selected as the new transit system operator.
Texas A&M President Loftin set to walk away with $850K, tenured position at university
Outgoing Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin will walk away from the job with $850,000 in cash and into a tenured teaching and administrative position that will net him more than $300,000 annually, according to his transition agreement obtained by The Eagle on Thursday. The agreement was signed by Loftin and System Chancellor John Sharp on Tuesday. The legal document lays out the compensation Loftin will receive for stepping down as president, effective Jan. 13. The A&M System Board of Regents authorized Sharp to execute the agreement at their last meeting. Board Chairman Phil Adams did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
FAA hampers U. of Missouri J-School drone classes
The University of Missouri's Drone Journalism Program has learned that it takes more than an aircraft, a camera and some open space to experiment with new newsgathering technology. The Federal Aviation Administration sent a letter in July directing the program to stop flying until it obtains a Certificate of Authorization to use drones. A similar letter was sent to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln drone program. "I wouldn't say we are grounded, but I would say we are not flying outdoors," said Scott Pham, director of the MU program. "Indoor flying is still legal, and we will do that for testing."
U. of Missouri's Maneater newspaper reduces to weekly print publication
In an effort to beef up its digital presence, the University of Missouri's independent student newspaper, The Maneater, announced Wednesday that it will reduce its print publication from twice a week to once a week, publishing only on Wednesdays. Editor-in-Chief Ted Noelker said shifting to a weekly print publication will allow the staff to concentrate more on producing immediate content for The Maneater's website while enhancing the quality of the print edition. The Maneater was established in 1955 as a twice-weekly publication. Publications coordinator Becky Diehl said the decision to become a weekly newspaper was not a financial decision. "We've been talking about doing this for a while now," Diehl said.
U. of Missouri Faculty Council addresses communication breakdown in MU museum relocation
At the first meeting of the school year, the University of Missouri Faculty Council discussed its distance from the decision to relocate two university museums. Members of the council commented on their lack of involvement in the administrative decision to move the Museum of Art and Archaeology and the Museum of Anthropology with Michael Sykuta, a representative for the Campus Planning Committee. Sykuta said he believed faculty on CPC did not have enough direct input in the decision to renovate Jesse, Swallow and Pickard Halls. He said the decision to move the museums was not brought up in any meeting he attended, although he said he was not present at every meeting. CPC meets at least three times per year.
Auburn named nation's happiest university
Auburn University is the happiest university in the nation to work for according to a career website. The website states that AU "reigns supreme in providing a happy work environment." Key factors included one's relationship with his or her boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and job control over work performed on a daily basis. A minimum of 10 reviews per university was required.
East Alabama Friends of NRA keynote speaker discusses cyber crimes
The financial impact of cyber crime in America is staggering. Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess, Jr., Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn University and former director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, says cyber crimes such as cyber-based terrorism, espionage, computer intrusions and cyber fraud cost America billions of dollars each year. Burgess was the keynote speaker at this year's East Alabama Friends of NRA banquet. Burgess said the government is placing a greater emphasis on combating cyber crime.
Editorial: DMR needs to recoup those misspent millions
The Sun Herald editorializes: "Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Jamie Miller is asking the state Legislature for hundreds of thousands of additional tax dollars. But until Miller and state Auditor Stacey Pickering recover millions of dollars the DMR has misspent in recent years, the agency should not receive additional taxpayer funding. Although dealing with a leaner budget during the next fiscal year could create a burden for the agency, there must be consequences to the agency's misdeeds. Even as state and federal investigations into the DMR drag on, what prevents Miller and Pickering from trying to immediately recoup tax dollars already identified as having been spent inappropriately?"
JIMMIE GATES: In this era, where AG works from doesn't matter | Jimmie Gates (Opinion)
The Clarion-Ledger's Jimmie Gates writes: "Attorney General Jim Hood is facing a dilemma many of us baby boomers are facing or have had to deal with: caring for our aging parents. Recently, Hood said one of the main reasons he was moving back to Chickasaw County and opening a satellite attorney general's office in Houston is his aging parents. Hood should be applauded for putting family ahead of work. ...We live in an ever-changing technological society. With that modern technology, we no longer have to be in the same room, city, county or state to be in constant contact with others. In Hood's case, it's not like he is closing down the main attorney general's office in Jackson where his staff will continue to operate."

Mississippi State football likely won't play on Thursday in 2014
After being the most consistent participant in the Southeastern Conference's Thursday Night Football telecasts on ESPN, Mississippi State University won't participate in a mid-week affair in 2014. The conference schedule for next season released Wednesday afternoon by the league office all but assured MSU fans that all 13 of the football team's games will be on Saturday. In past years, the ESPN Thursday night games have been announced later in the year and dates have been moved, but MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin confirmed to The Dispatch on Wednesday he doesn't see a mid-week game happening in 2014. "I don't anticipate any of our home games being on Thursday night, and I'm not aware of any conversations that would put a road game on that day, either," Stricklin said in a text message.
Mississippi State receivers step up without Bumphis
Chad Bumphis and Tyler Russell created a connection last year unlike anything the Mississippi State football program has ever seen. Russell's passing yards and touchdown passes sit as the best totals in school history. Half of Russell's touchdowns and 992 of those passing yards went in Bumphis' direction. So, who will step in for Bumphis to deliver an encore?
Event teaches MSU football team about beef, dairy production
Nutrition is an important aspect of building a competitive football team, so the Mississippi Cattlemen's Association is happy to sponsor a steak dinner for the team to learn about protein before it ends up on their plates. The annual Beefing Up the Bulldogs introduces members of the Mississippi State University football team to agriculture with a meal, ag-themed competitions and live farm animals. This year's dinner is the third annual event and something the players look forward to each year. Players dine on steak, milk and ice cream produced on campus before learning about beef and dairy production from industry experts.
U. of South Carolina provost: Thursday-night game doesn't mean 'class dismissed'
If University of South Carolina students and faculty thought classes could be canceled next Thursday before the football season opener against North Carolina, Provost Michael Amiridis wants them to think again. In an email to faculty, Amiridis said that he reminded them of the university's policies associated with the cancellation of classes and that football games aren't a good enough reason. Thursday night games have caused class cancellations at other universities. USC coach Steve Spurrier seemed disappointed students might have to miss the game because of class. His football team does not have to go to class that day. "You're kidding me? I didn't know we had classes on Thursday night," Spurrier said. "I can't argue with the president." USC President Harris Pastides didn't know about Amiridis' email, either, but supports the policy.
Deal for priority access to A&M's Kyle Field in exchange for funding finalized
Top politicians from the Brazos Valley gathered Thursday to celebrate an agreement to use millions of tax dollars from hotel/motel patrons to renovate Texas A&M's Kyle Field into the largest stadium in the state. The signing is the final domino to fall for the deal that will cost at least $36 million of funds in exchange for public access at reduced rates to Texas A&M facilities. The agreement was a critical component of the $450 million stadium renovation. The event was largely celebratory, and the details of the final agreement, obtained by The Eagle, don't differ much from what was previously announced. The gatekeeper for who will use which A&M facility will be the CVB.
A&M System Chancellor Sharp comes to Manziel's aid, criticizing ESPN's coverage
Within 30 minutes of being released Wednesday night, a newsletter in which Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp reiterated his support of Johnny Manziel and criticized an ESPN reporter's coverage of the star quarterback had gone viral online. The online newsletter -- which was emailed at 8 p.m. Wednesday to members of the Chancellor's Century Council -- was quickly picked up and shared by major news outlets throughout the state and country, as well as sports bloggers, in Aggie forums and by social media users. "Darren Rovell of ESPN, who broke this story, has been duped before. During his report on Johnny Manziel, he cites unnamed sources who refuse to provide an interview or any tangible proof. In fact, his 'named source,' Drew Tieman (initially referred to as the broker), was reportedly booked twice for possession of marijuana and placed on four years probation. He has taken down his Facebook page, changed his telephone number and is refusing attempts to be interviewed by the NCAA. It is surprising that the nation's largest sports channel would support publication with this lack of corroboration," Sharp stated in the letter.
U. of Kentucky bans backpacks, large bags from Commonwealth Stadium
University of Kentucky football fans will face new limits this season on what they're allowed to bring into Commonwealth Stadium, the school announced Thursday. UK's news release said the changes are in response to recent national events and industry trends regarding security at large assembly events. Fans will be allowed to bring in one small bag, no larger than 13.5 inches by 10 inches by 7 inches. The bag must fit within sizing bins at all entrance gates of the stadium. UK officials are encouraging fans to arrive early and bring as few items as possible into the stadium.
Les Miles endorses use of hyperbaric oxygen treatment
"The more oxygen you put into your system for a variety of things the better it is," LSU head football coach Les Miles said recently. His personal revelation led Miles to start peppering LSU's medical staff with questions about the potential of oxygen treatment for injuries. Eventually, it led Miles to the discovery that a pair of doctors in New Orleans, Paul Harch and Keith Van Meter, were at the forefront of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Harch is the director of the LSU School of Medicine's Woundcare and Hyperbaric Medicine department. Van Meter is the school's chief of Emergency Medicine. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the use of 100 percent oxygen at prescribed pressure and for prescribed durations to help treat a variety of injuries and ailments.

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