Friday, January 3, 2020   
Mississippi State University Hosting State of Black Men Symposium
Mississippi State University's Men of Excellence student organization will present its annual State of Black Men Symposium, a student-driven effort to discuss relevant issues from the perspective of male minority students, on Tuesday, Feb. 18. The Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, which is named for Richard E. Holmes, the first African American alumnus at MSU, sponsors the symposium. All workshops during the event will take place in the Colvard Student Union and will be free and open to the public.
Ohio's Ulysses S. Grant finally getting his due from history
It's taken awhile -- nearly a century and a half -- but Ulysses S. Grant's reputation is on the rise. The quiet tanner's son from southwestern Ohio had been rated by most historians as a poor-to-middling president who ran a corrupt administration from 1869 to 1877. But Grant has been reconsidered by historians in recent years, rising 11 spots -- to No. 22 -- in the C-SPAN historians poll between 2000 and 2017. Major, sympathetic biographies of Grant have been published by H.W. Brands, Ron Chernow and Ronald C. White since 2012. In 2017, a new Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library opened on the campus of Mississippi State University -- in the heart of the former Confederacy that Grant helped to defeat as a general and worked to reconstruct as a president.
Flood risks continue on Friday as storms drench area
Oktibbeha County and the city of Starkville could both be in for more rain today as flash flooding risks continue due to a rain-heavy system moving over the region and much of the state. While no major flooding had been reported by press time on Thursday, the risk was expected to continue going into today, with heavy rain anticipated before 10 a.m. As the heavy rain came down and thunderstorms moved over the Golden Triangle, a flash flood warning was issued for Oktibbeha County and the city of Starkville that was allowed to expire at 9 p.m. last night. Following the continuous rainfall seen on Thursday, Oktibbeha County EMA Director Kristen Campanella said locals could see some flooding especially in low lying areas if rain continues today. "You do not have to be in a flood zone to have issues with flooding," she said. "These conditions could cause grounds to be soggy that could bring down trees on lines causing outages."
Mississippi sees record-breaking tornado activity in 2019
Mississippi set a new state record last year in tornado activity. In 2019, 114 tornadoes occurred in Mississippi, surpassing the previous record of 109 set in 2008. "This just happened to be a record year," said Heather Stanley with the National Weather Service in Jackson. "We found a lot of smaller tornadoes as well, it's just a matter of it being an active year." With climate averages, some years see less activity and some see more, according to Stanley. "That's just how the weather works," she said. In East Mississippi, Clarke County saw four tornadoes – two EF1s, an EF2 and an EF3. One tornado, an EF1, was confirmed in Newton County. Kemper County saw two tornadoes, an EF2 and an EF0. No tornadoes were reported in Lauderdale County, but Neshoba County saw 10 -- two EF0s and eight EF1s. There were no EF5s, and the increased number for Neshoba may just be arbitrary, Stanley said.
New owners consider major renovations to Leigh Mall
The new owners of Leigh Mall say they hope to have a plan in a place for the property by late February -- a plan which may include major upgrades and renovations. Hull Property Group, a retail firm based out of Augusta, Georgia, purchased the mall for $3.5 million in an online auction in October, and since then it has been conducting analyses for the property, owner James Hull said. While initial plans included demolishing much of the mall -- a possibility that has not been totally ruled out -- the group is now leaning toward some sort of renovation. "We're now concluding that if the economics can be made to work, the community can be better served by keeping the property as an operating mall," Hull said. LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said he met with Hull PG's leadership team just before the auction and the LINK is planning to work with them going forward. Members of LINK's leadership are planning on touring some of the Hull PG's other malls out of state to get an idea of what the company has done before and what could be done with Leigh Mall.
Golding Barge Line upping its Vicksburg stakes by $20M
Sustained growth in moving both raw crude oil and refined petroleum along America's inland waterways has led Vicksburg's Golding Barge Line to invest $20 million in new boats, barges and vessel hands. The investment is expected to gain Golding Barge Line 25 workers. Some will work from Golding Barge's Vicksburg headquarters but the bulk of new hires will be deckhands and other crew on vessels plying waterways from Panama City, Fla., and Brownsville, Texas, to Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and elsewhere, the company says. Golding Barge has been adding to its specialized cargo business at about 10 percent yearly the last several years, said Austin Golding, president of the family business. "This will be all new business," Golding said of the additional freight capacity the $20 million will bring.
US manufacturing activity falls to lowest level in decade
U.S. manufacturing activity fell to the lowest level in more than a decade, as the sector was hurt by weakening demand and last year's global economic slowdown. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Friday that its manufacturing index dropped to 47.2 in December, from 48.1 in November. Last month's level was the lowest since June 2009, when the U.S. economy was at the tail end of the Great Recession. Any reading below 50 signals contraction -- and the index has been below that crucial level since August. The new orders, production and employment components of the index were all negative. But other components of the index -- such as a jump in prices -- suggest that the setback for manufacturing has bottomed out, said Tim Fiore, chair of ISM's manufacturing business survey committee.
MDA director Glenn McCullough Jr. to return to private sector
After nearly four years on the job, Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr. will step down effective Jan. 30 and return to the private sector. During his tenure at MDA, Mississippi experienced record private capital investment, a record number of Mississippians working with higher incomes and record growth in global export trade. Notable projects include Continental Tire, Relativity Space and two Amazon fulfillment centers. Mississippi also won two silver shovels from Area Development Magazine and, for the first time ever, two gold shovels under Gov. Bryant's and Director McCullough's leadership. McCullough was the first Northeast Mississippian to serve in the role as executive director of MDA.
Mississippi Development Authority leader Glenn McCullough Jr. to resign later this month
Glenn McCullough Jr., the leader of the Mississippi Development Authority, will step down at the end of the month as a new administration takes over, the agency announced Thursday. "I appreciate Gov. Phil Bryant allowing me to serve in this position and look forward to assisting with the transition of a new director," said McCullough, 65, a former mayor of Tupelo, Tennessee Valley Authority board member and congressional candidate who was appointed in 2015 by Gov. Phil Bryant. Gov.-Elect Tate Reeves begins his term Jan. 14 and will pick the next leader of the state's economic development agency. McCullough said he would return to the private sector, where he would continue to work on Mississippi economic development issues.
Analysis: 6 women have held statewide office in Mississippi
Republican Lynn Fitch will be sworn in as Mississippi's new attorney general Thursday, becoming the first woman in that job. Fitch is one of only six women ever elected to statewide office in Mississippi. Two of them -- Nellah Massey Bailey and Julia Henrich Kendrick -- are often overlooked. Bailey was elected three times as state tax collector, in 1947, 1951 and 1955. She was the widow of Mississippi Gov. Thomas L. Bailey, who served less than three years before he died of a stroke in late 1946. In 1963, Kendrick was elected statewide as clerk of the Mississippi Supreme Court. She served four terms, retiring when her successor took office in January 1980. The first woman to win a statewide office established in the constitution was Evelyn Gandy. The only other woman to serve as Mississippi lieutenant governor was Amy Tuck, who won as a Democrat in 1999, became a Republican in 2002 and won her second term in 2003. She recently retired as a vice president of Mississippi State University.
Statewide Gas Taxes a Bridge Too Far for Lt. Gov.-elect Hosemann
Lt. Gov.-elect Delbert Hosemann will not consider raising gas taxes statewide in 2020, he told the press on Dec. 17. But he is opening the door for county supervisors to pass their own local tax raises. The Mississippi Department of Transportation told lawmakers in 2017 that it requires $400 million more annually than it presently receives to properly maintain the state's road network. As it stands, 6% of the state's roads and 9.4% of its bridges are in poor and structurally deficient condition, respectively. Some of that funding is on the way, Hosemann says. Even sunny estimations of the new funds on the way to Mississippi's infrastructure needs do not match MDOT's projections for a fully functional state transportation network. To that end, Hosemann is willing to let county supervisors raise gas taxes to pay for local repairs, with the caveat that such measures need clearly defined sunset clauses. The solution falls short for outgoing Rep. Greg Snowden, R-Meridian. "I'm a little bit skeptical, for just this reason. People used to cross the state line just to buy a lottery ticket."
Local lawmakers focus on community colleges
Three Brookhaven lawmakers plan to throw more attention -- and money -- to community colleges statewide in an effort to refocus funding of workforce development programs. Rep. Becky Currie, Rep. Vince Mangold and Sen. Sally Doty, all Republican incumbents who will be sworn into office next week, plan to focus on education, employment, Medicaid and roads and bridges in 2020, but all agree it's time community colleges receive their due. "We spend a lot of money on workforce, but it's in so many different places, that we don't know what we're getting for our money," said Currie, who represents District 92, which includes Copiah, Lawrence and Lincoln counties. "We want the biggest bang for the buck so we want to make sure that that money, and a good deal of it, will go to our community colleges where our workforce is coming from. They've been left out."
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. lays out legislative priorities with state lawmakers
Mayor George Flaggs Jr. Thursday took his proposal for a public referendum for a 1 percent sales tax on retail goods for capital improvement projects to members of the county's legislative delegation. The sales tax was one of four items the mayor discussed with State Reps. Oscar Denton and Kevin Ford and State Sen. Briggs Hopson. He also discussed possible special local bills for dealing with vacant commercial buildings, electric scooters and a bill that would allow the city to sign a long-term lease for space at the Mississippi Center for Technology and Innovation planned for the old Mississippi Hardware building. The project is designed to provide space for high tech businesses working with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center. The city has committed $300,000 toward the project, which has also received state funding.
Robert Foster looks forward from politics
As of the coming start of the Mississippi Legislative session next week, Robert Foster (R-Hernando) will no longer be a state representative. Instead, Foster is moving back into his role of owner/operator of the popular Cedar Hill Farm agri-tourist attraction. Foster served one term in the state legislature but in 2019 chose not to seek re-election. Foster opted instead to make a run for governor, which pitted him against former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller and the eventual winner, Gov.-elect Tate Reeves. Foster reflected on his time in politics, both as a legislator and as a candidate for governor, during a recent luncheon meeting of Republicans at the Hernando Golf and Racquet Club. "I'm going to miss the process and really miss the people that I became so close with from all over the state in Jackson," Foster said about his four years in Jackson and his failed campaign for governor. Republican Jerry Darnell is the new House member from the district after an 85-15 percent victory in the November general election over Democrat Matt Williams.
NFIB introduces Dawn Starns as state director for Mississippi
NFIB, the nation's leading small business advocacy organization, introduced Dawn Starns as its state director for Mississippi. She will replace Ron Aldridge, who is leaving after 25 years with the organization. Starns has served as NFIB's state director of Louisiana since 2014 and will divide her time between Baton Rouge and Jackson. She earned her bachelor's degree in political science from Louisiana State University. Starns said, "Ron is a good friend, and I appreciate his counsel on the issues that matter to job creators here in Mississippi such as workforce training, local-option gasoline tax increases and regulatory reform. I'm looking forward to seeing where we can move the needle for small business."
Gordon Fellows appointed Mississippi Bankers Association President and CEO
Gordon Fellows has been appointed by the Mississippi Bankers Association Board of Directors to become the president and CEO of the MBA January 1, 2020. Fellows has been with the MBA since 2012, most recently serving as the Senior Vice President of Government Relations. Since 2012, Fellows has lead association lobbying efforts with elected and appointed state and federal officials, developed strategy to achieve legislative priorities for the MBA and its membership, and developed relationships with bankers and industry leaders across the state and country. Additionally, Fellows has had a number of other non-legislative responsibilities including the development of the MBA's strategic plan. In his new role as President and CEO, Fellows will lead the day-to-day efforts of the MBA in supporting the banking industry of Mississippi, helping prepare bankers for the ever-changing industry landscape, and ensuring that the MBA provides excellent member value.
Parchman riot: Fifth inmate killed in Mississippi prisons amid violence, lockdown
A fifth inmate in less than a week has been killed at a state penitentiary in Mississippi. The inmate was killed early Friday morning at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton reported. Another inmate was stabbed and taken to a Memphis hospital for treatment. Burton identified the victim as 36-year-old Dennoris Howell, who was serving a 17-year sentence for manslaughter out of Marshall County. The injured inmate was not identified. The death comes a day after two other inmates were killed --- one at Parchman, who has not been identified pending notification of family, and 26-year-old Gregory Emary at Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility in Houston. Another two inmates were killed and others injured this week. Walter Gates, 25, was killed Tuesday during a riot at Parchman and 40-year-old inmate Terrandance Dobbins was killed during a fight Sunday at South Mississippi Correctional Institution in Leakesville. "The situation is still volatile," Burton said.
Parchman disturbance draws heavy emergency response, report of one death as state officials remain silent
Several local and state police agencies and medical responders were dispatched to the Mississippi State Penitentiary on Thursday as violent incidents have continued in prisons across the state. The Mississippi Highway Patrol and sheriff's offices in Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Bolivar and Washington counties sent more than 100 officers to the prison on Thursday after a violent incident broke out Thursday morning in Units 29 and 30. The information gleaned about the violent outbreak comes from local law enforcement dispatched to the scene. State officials from the Mississippi Department of Corrections sidestepped questions on Thursday about the violence, while others did not respond to requests for comment. Thursday's violence at Parchman is the latest in a string of deadly incidents in state prisons this week.
President Trump says Qassem Soleimani 'got caught' plotting to kill Americans
President Donald Trump on Friday cheered the killing of Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces, asserting that the top Iranian military commander "got caught" amid plans to perpetrate further violence and was "hated and feared" by citizens of his own nation. The president's message came hours after the Pentagon confirmed in a statement Thursday evening that Trump had directed the strike that resulted in Soleimani's death. The Defense Department described the attack as a "defensive action" that was "aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans" by the leader of Iran's elite Quds force. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the hosts of "Fox & Friends" that while Trump does not "seek war" with Iran, the administration will "respond appropriately" if Tehran does not move to de-escalate tensions with the United States. Although officials in Tehran have vowed revenge against the U.S. for Soleimani's death, Pompeo said Friday that he hopes Iran's "decision will be to deescalate" rather than pursue a course of retaliation.
Mississippi officials respond to Iranian air strike that kills top general
The U.S. Department of Defense confirmed the death of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force after an air strike authorized by President Donald Trump on Thursday. This action follows a recent siege of Baghdad's U.S. Embassy by supporters of an Iranian-backed militia. Iran has vowed a "crushing" response. Mississippi's Congressional delegation is weighing in on the strike as tensions escalate in the Middle East.
With A Month To Go Before Iowa And New Hampshire, Anything Can Happen
Democrats all want one thing: to beat Donald Trump. The problem is, they can't agree on who's best to do that. With a month to go until the Iowa caucuses, there's a clear top-tier of four candidates: former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Ind. And they are all appealing to different portions of the party base. Biden has the support of older voters and African Americans; Sanders leads with progressives and young voters; and Warren appeals to highly educated whites and progressives, but she's competing with Buttigieg for college-educated whites and with Sanders for progressives. What's more, the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, in December, found some three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters say they could change their minds in who they support, which has made for a volatile race in the key early states. So what's the state of play a month out?
How Mike Pence's Office Meddled in Foreign Aid to Reroute Money to Favored Christian Groups
Last November, a top Trump appointee at the U.S. Agency for International Development wrote a candid email to colleagues about pressure from the White House to reroute Middle East aid to religious minorities, particularly Christian groups. "Sometimes this decision will be made for us by the White House (see... Iraq! And, increasingly, Syria)," said Hallam Ferguson, a senior official in USAID's Middle East bureau, in an email seen by ProPublica. "We need to stay ahead of this curve everywhere lest our interventions be dictated to us." The email underscored what had become a stark reality under the Trump White House. Decisions about U.S. aid are often no longer being governed by career professionals applying a rigorous review of applicants and their capabilities. The Trump administration's efforts to influence USAID funding sparked concern from career officials, who worried the agency risked violating constitutional prohibitions on favoring one religion over another. They also were concerned that being perceived as favoring Christians could worsen Iraq's sectarian divides.
Delta State University professor explains impeachment
President Donald Trump is only the third president in all of U.S. history to be impeached. Trump has been charged by the House of Representatives with abuse of power, accusing him of soliciting interference from the government of Ukraine in the 2020 presidential election, and obstruction of Congress, accusing Trump of ordering executive agencies to not cooperate with subpoenas. Dr. Andrew Wegmann, assistant professor of history and director of The Madison Center at Delta State University, said when he was younger during the Clinton impeachment, he too had a mistaken belief of impeachment. "I was one of the many, many people who thought that impeachment was removal from office," said Wegmann. "One of the things I've explained to my students and on Twitter, a lot of historians have done almost a public service announcement, that impeachment is not removal from office."
U. of Alabama sculpture professor influences future generations
The ceramics foundry on the University of Alabama campus is the hottest place to be most days as UA faculty and students use fire to sculpt and cast various works of art. For Craig Wedderspoon, professor of sculpture at UA, the foundry is a second home where he not only molds countless masterpieces, but influences future generations of artists by helping them hone their craft. Wedderspoon started his career as a glass and crystal carver in 1985 in Miami. Three years later, he became vice president of Architectural Art Glass Inc. and worked extensively throughout the United States and Caribbean Islands specializing in large scale design, construction and installation of carved glass systems. In 1990, Wedderspoon ventured out on his own and created Cwozmar Creative Glass Design. He served as the company's owner and president until disaster struck south Florida in August 1992 when Hurricane Andrew destroyed a large portion of the region, including Cwozmar Creative Glass Design. "After Hurricane Andrew, I decided to return to school to study sculpture," Wedderspoon said. "I felt like it was a great opportunity to not only learn more about the art, but also work on my skills."
'Going in the right direction': Donde Plowman reflects on first semester as UT-Knoxville chancellor
In her first semester as chancellor of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Donde Plowman has seen highs and lows. From the Vol T-shirt designed by a young fan that raised nearly $1 million for charity, to addressing anti-Semitic messaging painted on campus, there was no easing into the job. Despite that, Plowman said she was blown away by the welcome she received. "I knew there was Southern hospitality, but it was really amazing," Plowman said. Plowman held open office hours this semester, where people could drop in at any time to talk about any topic. That helped her learn "things it normally would have taken me two years to learn." "Now, the work begins, is how I kind of see it," Plowman said. Vol fans were able to buy alcohol at Neyland Stadium for the first time this year. This was Plowman's first major decision as chancellor, and she said it was one she didn't make lightly. "We put together a task force to look at what are the best practices around the country in places where they do this," Plowman said. "We learned from that, got some statistics. I didn't want to rush that."
UGA researchers find brain circuit linked to food impulsivity
To follow through on your weight loss resolution you go on a diet, but the aroma of popcorn in a movie theater lobby triggers a seemingly irresistible craving. Within seconds, you've ordered a tub of the stuff and have eaten several handfuls. Impulsivity, or responding without thinking about the consequences of an action, has been linked to excessive food intake, binge eating, weight gain and obesity, along with several psychiatric disorders including drug addiction and excessive gambling. A team of researchers that includes a faculty member at the University of Georgia has now identified a specific circuit in the brain that alters food impulsivity, creating the possibility scientists can someday develop therapeutics to address overeating. "There's underlying physiology in your brain that is regulating your capacity to say no to (impulsive eating)," said Emily Noble, an assistant professor in the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
New U. of Missouri engineering grant hopes to boost retention, graduation rate
The Civil and Environmental Engineering program at the University of Missouri has received almost $1 million in funding to help boost retention and graduation rates of low-income and underrepresented students in the department. The National Science Foundation's grant was awarded in December to Vellore Gopalaratnam, a professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. It aims to increase the number of high-achieving, low-income students in the program and study how to better support their academic success. The funding, totaling $959,547, will provide two-year scholarships to 24 undergraduate and eight graduate students over the span of five years. The project will also create internship opportunities and research positions. "The recruitment effort will emphasize first-time-college students, underrepresented minorities, females, and transfer students," the grant reads.
From service to science: NIH shifts focus of mentoring network aimed at boosting grantee diversity
As co-director of graduate affairs at the University of Chicago, Nancy Schwartz spent the past 4 years helping faculty members at 15 major research universities become better mentors. The project was supported by the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN), a $23 million effort that the National Institutes of Health launched after discovering an embarrassing racial gap in who gets NIH grants. Begun in 2014, NRMN was designed to scale up successful mentoring practices in the biomedical sciences. NIH officials hoped its efforts would boost the fortunes of minority applicants. But last summer, when NIH renewed the network for another 5 years, officials decided to spend most of the money on the science of mentoring, that is, testing different approaches to mentoring with a small, carefully chosen population. Barely 10% of NIH's $50 million investment in phase two of NRMN is going to the type of services, including an online portal that provides one-stop shopping for a cornucopia of mentoring activities, that characterized first phase.
Turning away talent: Foreign students who want to work in U.S. must navigate complex visa system
The pressure to find a job was high for Amrit Jalan. For 10 months, the University of Texas at Dallas student spent mornings and nights sending out resumes on Indeed. It was just like brushing his teeth, he said. And his ability to stay in the U.S. depended on it. Jalan, from India, is one of hundreds of thousands of student visa holders who want to work in the U.S. after graduation. But in addition to the challenge of finding a job, foreign-born graduates must navigate a very narrow path to staying in the U.S. permanently. Most arrive on an F-1 visa, more commonly known as a student visa. As they earn their degrees, they often work with an Optional Practical Training employment authorization. But to stay and work in the U.S. on a more permanent basis, they need another kind of visa, usually an H-1B visa for workers with needed talents. There's intense competition for those visas. The complex system for getting work visas in the U.S. doesn't just complicate the lives of talented students. Experts say it is depriving the U.S. of that talent just when unemployment is at its lowest in years.
Low ACT scores and high graduation rates
The Greenwood Commonwealth editorializes: Falling ACT scores for Mississippi high schoolers further illustrate that the increase in graduation rates, so touted by education officials and politicians, is an illusion created by decreased standards rather than an actual improvement in what students are learning. The average ACT score for Mississippi juniors dropped from 17.8 in 2018 to 17.6 in 2019, according to numbers released this month by the Mississippi Department of Education. The scores for graduates fell from 18.3 to 18.1. That's the opposite of what graduation rates have done. They increased from 83% in 2018 to 84% in 2019, part of a steady rise that dates back to when the state's graduation rate was 74.5% in 2014. ... if this state's high school students were really achieving more in the classroom, then it would be reflected on the ACT, which is the national standard used by most colleges when admitting students. The fact that the ACT performance is actually worse shows that more students may be graduating but they're less prepared for the real world, whether it be work or higher education.
A critical moment for Mississippi's economy
State Auditor Shad White writes: Today, maybe more than any time in our recent history, Mississippi faces fundamental questions about where our economy is headed. How we answer those questions is going to determine whether we succeed, like some of our surrounding states, or whether we become a rural Detroit. ... Former AOL CEO Steve Case has written extensively about how Middle America can succeed in innovation industries if we use what we already know. For example, think of the new supercomputer just commissioned at Mississippi State. Imagine a team uses that computing power to create an artificial intelligence that improves livestock management. Imagine they create a business and then license that software around the world. All the capital and jobs from the business stay here. Or even if we don't see tech startups begin here, we could see innovation companies moving here.

Joe Moorhead Relieved of Duties as Head Football Coach
Mississippi State Director of Athletics John Cohen announced Friday that Joe Moorhead has been relieved of his duties as head football coach. "In consultation with President Mark Keenum and after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of our football program, I have decided that a change in leadership is in the best interest of our team and university," Cohen said. "I want to thank Coach Moorhead for the hard work he has done with our football program. I wish Joe and his family success in the future." "It is clear the time has come to change the leadership of our football program," Keenum said. "Coach Moorhead is a good man, and I have nothing but respect for him. I sincerely wish the very best for him and his wonderful family." Cohen will hold a noon CT press conference Friday. It will broadcast live on SEC Network and streamed live on SEC Network+ via the ESPN app, on @HailState Twitter and on MSU Athletics' official Facebook page.
Mississippi State fires Joe Moorhead after 2 seasons
The Mississippi State Bulldogs fired coach Joe Moorhead on Friday, ending his two-year tenure at the school. "In consultation with President Mark Keenum and after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of our football program, I have decided that a change in leadership is in the best interest of our team and university," athletic director John Cohen said in a statement. "I want to thank Coach Moorhead for the hard work he has done with our football program. I wish Joe and his family success in the future." Sources told ESPN that university officials were concerned about the culture and discipline in the program under Moorhead, who had a 14-12 record with the Bulldogs that culminated with a 38-28 loss to Louisville in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Monday.
Bulldogs begin SEC play with blowout win
No. 15 Mississippi State wasted little time making a statement in SEC play. The back-to-back defending league champions quickly dispatched Florida 93-47 in the conference opener on Thursday night thanks to a 28-1 first half run. It was the Bulldogs' seventh-straight victory over the Gators. "I did not see this coming," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "But wow, we were really good tonight." MSU (13-2) closed the opening quarter on an 11-1 run in the final 1:31 and began the second with a 17-0 start and took a 55-24 lead into the locker room for halftime. The Bulldogs made 16 of its first 21 shots and finished the game shooting 57.8 percent. Jordan Danberry led the way with 21 points on 10 of 11 shooting along with eight assists and four steals. State is back in action on Sunday as its travels to Georgia for a 3 p.m. tip on SEC Network.
Mississippi State women throttle Florida in SEC opener
Seconds after rattling home a 3-pointer from the right baseline, Rickea Jackson flicked her right pointer finger toward the court. Count it. Just three of her 16 first half points, it was Jackson and senior guard Jordan Danberry's combined 86.3 percent shooting performances that helped MSU to a 93-47 SEC-opening throttling of Florida Thursday night. "I'm giddy about my kids tonight," Schaefer said through a laugh. "I am beside myself about these young ladies and how they played." Racing to a rout, MSU continued its offensive onslaught into the second quarter as junior forward Yemiyah Morris turned in one of her most productive game of the year -- notching six of her eight points in the frame as the Bulldogs outscored the Gators 28-12 in the game's second 10 minutes. With the win, MSU has now broken the 80-point mark in all but four of its 15 games this season and have eclipsed 90 points for the fifth time this year.
Bulldogs Run Past Florida, 93-47
Led by a pair of 20-point scorers and Chloe Bibby's first career double-double, No. 15 Mississippi State cruised to a 93-47 victory over Florida in its Southeastern Conference opener on Thursday (Jan. 2) evening inside Humphrey Coliseum. Mississippi State (13-2, 1-0 SEC) used a 28-1 scoring run that spanned nearly 6:30 of game action between the first and second quarters to open up a double-digit lead before closing out the 46-point win. "I've been really throwing a lot at them just to make sure that they're ready," head coach Vic Schafer said. "We've had a couple of long days. You know, we're not in school, so just trying to make sure they are prepared. But man, wow. They were really good tonight." Next on the docket for State is a trip to Athens, Georgia, to take on the University of Georgia on Sunday, January 5 at 3 p.m. on the SEC Network.
3 takeaways from Mississippi State women's basketball win over Florida
The Bulldogs got 2020 started with a blowout. It's a new year, but it was an old result for Mississippi State. The No. 14 Bulldogs (13-2) won their SEC opener for the sixth-straight season in a 93-47 rout of Florida (9-6). Here are three takeaways from Thursday's win: Rickea Jackson stays hot. Jordan Danberry stays hot, too. Defense, offense works hand in hand. Just about everywhere a game is won or lost, Mississippi State was the better team. That was reflected on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs' next chance to notch a conference victory comes Sunday at Georgia at 3 p.m.
Yemiyah Morris turns in solid performance against Florida, bolsters Bulldogs' frontcourt depth
Yemiyah Morris waited patiently. The Mississippi State junior center shuffled slowly through the paint toward the basket she defended, tracking Florida guard Kiara Smith's progress toward the rim. As Smith went up for a right-handed layup, Morris swung her long right arm over Smith's head, swatting the shot out of bounds and igniting Humphrey Coliseum in the process. "Her blocks are vicious," coach Vic Schaefer said. "They're really aggressive blocks. Not only does it make the person who gets it blocked think twice, but the other four teammates that are sitting there watching that, they're probably thinking the same thing: 'I might not want to go in there again.'" Morris played just 8 minutes, 41 seconds in Thursday night's Southeastern Conference opener against Florida, but the limited time she spent on the court was consequential. She made three of her four field goal attempts, hit both of her free throws and added another block to go with her titanic rejection.
Mississippi State routs Florida in SEC opener
Florida guard Lavender Briggs had the look. She crossed over to her left hand towards the baseline and pulled up for a mid-range two. It was a chance to cut into a steep 27-12 deficit for the Gators. Air ball. Mississippi State collected the rebound and booked it up the court as it did a lot of the night. MSU guard Xaria Wiggins caught an aerial pass around the rim and put it up with her right hand. Count it. It made it 29-12 in favor of the Bulldogs. And that sequence epitomized a rough night for Florida women's basketball (9-5, 0-1 SEC) game against No. 15-ranked Mississippi State (13-2, 1-0 SEC) in Starkville, Mississippi, on Thursday night. When the final buzzer mercifully sounded, UF had lost to MSU by a score of 93-47. Mississippi State guard Jordan Danberry and forward Rickea Jackson had 41 points combined, almost out-scoring Florida by themselves.
MBK: It's a Family Thing
Mississippi State has three starters in Tyson Carter, Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II whose fathers also donned the Maroon and White. The Bulldogs are joined by North Carolina and Auburn as the only schools with multiple players playing at their father's alma mater in the country this season. Al Perry dished out 510 career assists which ranks No. 3 on MSU's all-time list, Greg Carter piled up 1,123 career points which ranks No. 31 on MSU's scoring list and Robert Woodard Sr. was the first player to sign with the Bulldogs under NCAA Final Four head coach Richard Williams. Mississippi State begins its 18-game SEC slate at home against undefeated and No. 8 Auburn on Saturday. Tip time is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. CT from Humphrey Coliseum. The game will be televised by SEC Network and carried online courtesy of the WatchESPN platform.
Two Diamond Dogs named to SEC All-Decade Team
Mississippi State greats Jake Mangum and Brent Rooker were named to's All-Decade team on Thursday. Mangum (2016-19) made the team as an outfielder while Rooker (2015-17) was selected as a designated hitter. Mangum led the league in hitting with a .408 batting average as a freshman and later became the SEC's all-time hits leader with 383. Rooker is only the second triple crown winner in conference history. The slugger batted .387 with 23 home runs and 82 RBIs as a junior in 2017.
2019 Armed Forces Bowl: USM, Tulane renew longtime rivalry
It has been more than a month since Southern Miss played a football game, losing 34-17 to Florida Atlantic. Despite a two-game losing streak, the Golden Eagles have a chance to end the 2019 campaign on a positive note. Southern Miss (7-5, 5-3) will renew the old Battle for the Bell rivalry against Tulane (6-6, 3-5) in the 2019 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. The two teams -- separated by roughly 110 miles -- meet for the first time in a bowl game and for the first time in a game played away from Hattiesburg or New Orleans. For Southern Miss, a win versus Tulane would give the Golden Eagles their seventh-straight win versus the Green Wave and an eight-win season for the first time since 2017 and second time under Hopson. Southern Miss leads Tulane 23-7 in the all-time series that dates to 1979 when the two teams began playing each other. The Golden Eagles have won the last six meetings and nine of the last 10 between the two schools.
Ole Miss hires former Maryland coach D.J. Durkin as assistant
Former Maryland head coach D.J. Durkin, who was fired in 2018 following two separate investigations into the death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair from heatstroke, has joined the coaching staff at Ole Miss to work as an assistant under Lane Kiffin, it was announced Thursday. This will be Durkin's first college coaching job since Oct. 31, 2018, when Maryland president Wallace D. Loh fired him one day after the University System of Maryland Board of Regents had decided to reinstate Durkin against the president's objections. McNair died on June 13, 2018 from heatstroke suffered during a May 29 workout. Durkin was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11, 2018, while Maryland conducted investigations into both the workout that led to McNair's hospitalization and into the culture of Durkin's program after allegations of abuse, humiliation and troubling tactics had surfaced in an ESPN report.
'Hardcore, robotic, super intense': DJ Durkin hire comes on heels of 'toxic' Maryland fallout
It's been 14 months since DJ Durkin last held a full-time college football coaching position. Ole Miss announced Thursday morning the hiring of Durkin as an assistant coach under new head coach Lane Kiffin, presumably a hire for the defensive side of the football. However, there's quite the backstory as to why it's been so long since Durkin has held a full-time football job. Durkin was fired from his head coaching position at the University of Maryland in October 2018 after being placed on administrative leave that August in the wake of an external investigation that found the culture at Maryland to be "toxic." The investigation stemmed largely from the practice-related death of former player Jordan McNair. "Most of it was based on the actions of his strength and conditioning coach, Rick Court," said Jeff Ermann, who covers Maryland for 247Sports. "There was a lot of talk after (McNair's death) about how the training staff had become more 'in-your-face' and demanding after Durkin was hired, trying to live up to his reputation. He's definitely one of those hardcore, robotic, super intense football coaches."
It's 'a very big deal': Alcohol sales debut at first South Carolina athletics event
An hour and 20 minutes before the fourth-ranked South Carolina women's basketball team tipped off with No. 13 Kentucky on Thursday, a woman in a garnet hoodie shouted to a group of Colonial Life Arena staffers outside Section 111, "Big night, huh?" The trio of female staffers, spread under a sign that read "Local Craft Beer," shot back with grins and nods. What they were offering -- from Bud Light to Woodbridge Pinot Grigio -- was new at a USC athletic event. South Carolina had officially arrived to the alcohol scene. Drinks were finally poured at a game, not a concert. The stage was Dawn Staley's, not Darius Rucker's. "This has been a long time waiting, man," said Moses Hugee, a women's season ticket holder who grabbed a Bud Light outside Section 111. "Everybody does it already." USC is the ninth SEC school to allow alcohol sales to the general public. USC Athletics Director Ray Tanner said last month that he hoped the new policy would generate seven figures of revenue annually, but wasn't certain as weather, start times and in-game results can impact the bottom line.
Two women sue U. of Missouri over Title IX investigation of former basketball player
Two women, in a new federal lawsuit, have accused the University of Missouri of ignoring complaints of sexual assault against former basketball player Terrence Phillips, who was dismissed from the team in February 2018. The lawsuit, filed with U.S. District Court on Monday, the women sued the UM Board of Curators, claiming that Missouri didn't follow its Title IX rules in the investigation of Phillips. "The University first ignored, and then later mishandled the investigation," the lawsuit by the women, identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, states. "Its failures resulted in Phillips being found to have no responsibility for most of his egregious conduct." The Jane Doe 2 defendant accuses Philips of raping her on Dec. 5, 2017, videotaping it and sending messages to friends while it was taking place. The plaintiffs are seeking damages and demanding the university change its Title IX policies. University of Missouri spokesperson Christian Basi said the university is reviewing the lawsuit. Phillips is not an active student with the school and was last enrolled in the Fall 2018 semester, Basi said.

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: January 3, 2020Facebook Twitter