Friday, January 31, 2020   
MSU Legal Issues Conference
Mississippi State University will host its ninth annual Legal Issues Conference in Starkville from April 22 to 24. The conference is open to all levels of university practitioners. Topics at the 2020 event will include behavioral intervention and threat assessment, employment law, free speech on campus, disability accommodation, National Collegiate Athletic Association compliance and more. Keynote speakers will include Will Creeley, senior vice president of legal and public advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, W. Scott Lewis, a partner at legal and consulting firm NCHERM Group, and Marisa R. Randazzo, CEO and founder of SIGMA Threat Management Associates. To register, visit For a full event schedule, visit For more information, call 662-325-3611.
Oby's restaurant under new ownership
Don O'Bannon, better known as Oby, sat down in the restaurant he started 43 years ago laughing and sharing stories with the new Oby's owner on Tuesday. Set for retirement, O'Bannon reminisced about traveling the coast of Mississippi and the New Orleans area while he searched for the best recipes to bring to Starkville: famous Cajun poboys, muffulettas, philly cheese steaks and more. As of Monday morning, O'Bannon has officially "passed the poboy" into the hands of his former employee Ayers Spencer and Spencer's business partner David Calhoun. Before becoming Oby's owner, Spencer was a Mississippi State student who simply loved going to eat with his friends. "Oby's was the treat," he said. "When we would go out to eat, Oby's was No. 1 on the list -- as long as the check cleared." O'Bannon said it's the crowds of Mississippi State fans piling in on game day and the faithful, everyday customers that made Oby's a staple in Starkville.
New southwest Starkville electric substation will be complete by fall
Construction of a new and improved electric substation planned for the past eight years in southwest Starkville is "well underway" and will be completed in September or October, Starkville Utilities general manager Terry Kemp said. The existing substation is on Industrial Park Road and the oldest one in the city. The new one will be about 500 yards to the east, at the end of Azalea Lane and near the water tower behind the Starkville Sportsplex. It will come with a new delivery point from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Meanwhile, 4-County Electric Power Association has been expanding its capacity in Starkville over the past few years, said Jon Turner, head of 4-County marketing and public relations. The 4-County substation on Bluefield Road in the same part of the city provides for the area's residential growth, he said. The company has also built a substation in Oktoc that covers the southern part of Oktibbeha County and is building another on Blackjack Road thanks to the growth of apartment complexes near Mississippi State University, he said.
Ditto, Hall, & Weeks retire from MDAH Board, Anderson elected Board President
pence Flatgard of Ridgeland, Edmond Hughes of Ocean Springs, and Helen Moss Smith of Natchez were elected to the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Their nominations will be submitted to the Mississippi State Senate for confirmation. Kane Ditto, Valencia Hall, and Roland Weeks have retired from the board of trustees. Reuben Anderson of Jackson was elected president of the board, and Hilda Cope Povall of Cleveland was re-elected vice president. Nancy Carpenter of Columbus was elected to a third term on the board. Board nominees must be confirmed by the state senate. Members serve six-year terms. The other members of the board are Betsey Hamilton, New Albany; Web Heidelberg, Hattiesburg; and Mark Keenum, Starkville.
Steve McLaurin elected Mississippi Poultry Association chair for 2020
Steve McLaurin has been elected Chairman of the Mississippi Poultry Association Board of Directors for 2020. Poultry is Mississippi's largest agricultural industry, paying almost $3 billion to growers and generating an $18 billion economic impact. MPA, founded in 1937, represents 1,000 members including poultry companies, growers and allied industries. McLaurin, of Forest, is live operations manager for Peco Foods in Sebastopol. He has 40 years experience in the industry. Peco Foods employs 3,300 in Mississippi. McLaurin previously served as chairman of the Board for MPA in 2009 and 2015. A graduate of Mississippi State University with a poultry science degree, he is also on the MSU Department of Poultry Science Advisory Committee.
Mississippi Economic Council tour comes to Meridian Feb. 6
The Mississippi Economic Council's 18-city MEC Tour Building a Better, Brighter Mississippi will make a stop in Meridian next week. The MEC Tour will focus on strengthening Mississippi through talent retention and attraction, enhancing Mississippi's image, economic development and growth, healthy workforce and more. The Meridian stop is set for 8 -9:30 a.m. on Feb. 6 at the MSU Riley Center.
Nissan Canton plant workers among those to be offered severance packages
Workers at the Nissan plant in Canton will be among those offered voluntary separation packages as the slumping Nissan Motor Co. is trying to resize itself to match lower sales. The Japanese automaker wouldn't say how many employees it is targeting to leave, how much money it expects to save, or give details of the severance offers. The offers are being made to factory and white-collar workers over the age of 52. Lloryn Love-Carter, manager of corporate communications, said the Canton plant currently has more than 5,000 employees. The company would not provide numbers of direct Nissan employees versus contractors, Love-Carter said. Last March, the plant had approximately 6,000 employees, after it cut almost 400 contractors. The company had projected as many 700 layoffs but some workers quit on their own and others took buyouts.
Mississippi hospitals and health officials prep for coronavirus
There have been no cases of the coronavirus in Mississippi, but state health officials are still worried. "It's something we're really concerned about," said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state health officer with the Mississippi Department of Health. "It's the rapid emergence of a new virus that is spreading from person to person." On Thursday, health officials reported the first U.S. case of person-to-person spread of coronavirus -- the sixth confirmed case in the nation. There are no cases under investigation in Mississippi. Mississippi officials, however, are still taking actions to combat the virus. MDH and Mississippi hospitals are on alert. At the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Bhagyashri Navalkele, medical director of infection protection, said patients who come into the emergency room exhibiting symptoms will be given a routine travel screening. "We will ask them, 'Have you traveled outside the United States? Where did you go?'" she said. "'What symptoms are you having?'"
Mississippi Lottery welcomes Powerball and Mega Millions games
Business was brisk Wednesday at the Blue Sky store where a Lee County woman won $100,000 in a scratch-off game recently. About half a dozen customers were buying lottery tickets. "I'm just hoping to hit the big one," said one customer who declined to be identified. "If she can win big, I can win big." Mississippians will get their chance to hit it really big starting today, when sales of the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions games go on sale at authorized retailers. Before Wednesday night's Powerball drawing, the jackpot was just under $400 million. Mega Millions has a drawing Friday night, and the jackpot as of Wednesday afternoon was $155 million. "What would I do with that kind of money?" said Pamela Goins. "What wouldn't I do? Give some away, spend some and save some. After I passed out." And if someone does hit a jackpot, prepare to pay. According to the Mississippi Lottery Corp., prize winnings above $600 are subject to the state tax of 3%. For all prizes of $5,000 or more, federal taxes of 24% are withheld automatically.
South Delta's 2019 backwater flood: What if it happens again this year?
An already swollen Mississippi River and more heavy rainfall have flooded an estimated 370,000 acres in the South Delta. Although the Mississippi River has begun to fall and the Steele Bayou Control Structure is expected to open soon, people in the South Delta still vividly remember last year's historic flood and the potential of it happening again this year concerns them. "I want it to quit raining," said Victoria Darden of Rolling Fork. "That's my first thought." Darden farms 1,100 acres with her father. Their typical crop is soybeans or corn, but last year the two didn't put a single seed in the ground. Floodwater covered their farm most of the year and the only access to their homes was by boat, exposing them to heat, cold and rain. Darden said even though the control structure is expected to open soon and allow the backwater to drain into the falling Mississippi River, she's not convinced this year will be different from 2019.
'It's a first step': $1,000 teacher pay raise moves forward in Senate
Senate leaders committed to a $1,000 pay raise for teachers Thursday, telling reporters it's just the first step in this new legislative term. The Senate education committee passed a bill that would give an $1,110 raise to teachers in their first three years of teaching, and $1,000 for teachers across the board thereafter. The bill needs to pass out of the appropriations committee before it goes to the Senate floor for a full vote. For assistant teachers, their salaries would increase to $15,000. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, Education Committee chair Sen. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville, and vice-chair Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, spoke to reporters after the Senate adjourned for the day. They were flanked by educators and the leaders of teacher advocacy groups, and said this $1,000 raise is just a start.
Teacher pay raise bill passes Senate, now in hands of Appropriations Committee
New teachers with a bachelor's degree and other qualifications would start at $37,000 a year under legislation passed unanimously out of the Senate Education Committee Thursday. Senate Bill 2001 would raise the minimum statutory salaries for all teachers by $1,000 a year, except for teachers with a single "A" license, who would receive $1,110. The legislation now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration. Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, who is on the Education Committee, supports the raise. "I just voted for a $1,000 across-the-board teacher and teacher assistant pay raise, with a commitment from the chair that this summer, work will be done on a more comprehensive and structured plan," she said Thursday. The bill will be sent to the Appropriations Committee for consideration. Doty said Legislators are dependent on tax revenue. "We hope the economy will keep chugging along," she said.
'Now's our time to move:' Coast now has power in Jackson with BP millions on the way
Something's happening in Jackson that's new for South Mississippi -- the Coast has people in high places in state government. For years, Coast residents have griped that senators and representatives from Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties weren't elected to top jobs in the state or appointed chairmen of the most important committees. That changed when Michael Watson was elected as Secretary of State, the first Coast representative in a top office in decades. Then Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn announced their selections for leadership of the money and other important Legislative committees. Several members of the Coast delegation now sit in those top roles in Jackson. Along with these top jobs, South Mississippi has a huge infusion of cash coming, as the state receives $750 million over then next 15 years.
New state rep from Laurel resigns, saying she had to choose service or pension
A new Mississippi lawmaker is resigning because she says Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn is blocking her and other retired public employees from collecting state government pensions while serving in the House. Republican Rep. Ramona Blackledge of Laurel said Gunn's interpretation of a state law creates an unfair financial burden. Her resignation takes effect Friday, less than a month after she and all other lawmakers were inaugurated for a four-year term. "I worked for over 40 years in county government and earned my retirement," Blackledge wrote in a letter to Gunn and other officials. Blackledge is a retired Jones County tax assessor and collector. "Now I am being forced to either relinquish my right to my retirement income, or give up my right to continue legislative service because one man has the power and influence to prevent the will and vote of my district to prevail," she added. "It's not Philip Gunn enforcing anything or making them do anything," Gunn said. "I'm simply following the law. The law has been in place since 1952."
DeSoto County Democrat should keep District 40 seat, special House committee recommends
A special House Election Committee voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend to the full House to seat Hester Jackson-McCray as the representative for District 40 in DeSoto County. Jackson-McCray, a Democrat, was certified as the winner of the Nov. 5 election by 14 votes, but Republican incumbent Ashley Henley challenged the election outcome, asking the House to overturn the results and hold a new election or declare her the winner. The special committee, appointed by Speaker Philip Gunn, heard more than two hours of arguments from the two parties Wednesday night before making the recommendation that Jackson-McCray be seated. The committee only makes a recommendation. It will be up to the full House to make the final decision in the coming days. But Rep. Rob Roberson, R-Starkville, the chair of the committee, said "more than likely our recommendation will be taken."
Former Gov. Phil Bryant quickly finds a niche in the private sector
Former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has found a place in the private sector that has a familiar ring to it. He is a founding partner in Bryant Songy Snell Global Partners and will focus on economic development in the Southeast and international trade markets. Bryant completed his second four-year term as governor on Jan. 14, when former Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was sworn in as his successor. He joins Joey Songy, who continues to focus on economic development and strategic planning partners, and new partner Katie Bryant Snell, Bryant's daughter, who will provide strategic advice and counsel on development opportunities to a variety of industry clients and advocates for policy initiatives on behalf of public and private entities. Bryant said in an interview that he would function as a "senior adviser" for the firm, and while he will have an office with the firm, which is seeking new quarters in the metro Jackson area, he will commute from rural Copiah County, where he and his wife, Deborah, have purchased a house.
Brad Chism, Sam Hall headline Bloomberg for President Mississippi team
Democratic Presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg has announced his Mississippi staff. Among those are a few names Mississippi political observers will recognize. Brad Chism of Chism Strategies will serve as the campaign's senior strategist. Chism is best known for this work in providing polling for Democratic candidates and causes, most recently partnering with Millsaps College for periodic polling. The team recently looked at the 2020 Senate matchup between U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy and rated where citizens stood on issues such as health care, infrastructure, and changing the state constitutional provision on the election of the Governor. Also of note is Sam Hall, the former Executive Editor of the Clarion Ledger. He will serve as the Communications Director for the Bloomberg campaign in Mississippi. Hall is a former Executive Director of the Mississippi Democratic Party.
Local scholars: Gender studies relevant in Mississippi
Bridget Smith Pieschel heard a certain message in one of Gov. Tate Reeves' comments during his State of the State address on Monday: "We can let the east coast have their ivory towers. We can let the west coast have a generation of gender studies majors. We will take more jobs and higher pay." Pieschel is an English professor and the founder and director of the Center for Women's Research and Public Policy at the Mississippi University for Women. The women's studies program at MUW has received more and more applicants over time, she said. At Mississippi State University, gender studies "examines the construction of gender in a variety of cultures and in different historical epochs" and how the social and cultural construction of gender shapes people's lives, careers, institutions and policies. "Approaches from these angles may examine the gender pay gap, sexual violence, gaps in athletic or education opportunity, or why so few women enter STEM fields," Mississippi State University Director of Gender Studies Kimberly Kelly said.
Top UM fundraisers, including current athletics director, support Confederate statue relocation
The University of Mississippi's top fundraisers, including the current athletics director, back the university's proposal to move its Confederate monument. Keith Carter, who formerly headed the athletics foundation before taking over as athletics director, joined the heads of the alumni association and university foundation in signing an April 8, 2019, memo supporting the university's plan to move the monument from a prominent place on campus to an on-campus Confederate cemetery. "We are in full support of the University's decision to seek a more suitable location for the Confederate Monument," the memo reads in part. The memo, which Mississippi Today obtained this week, was attached to former interim Chancellor Larry Sparks' recommendation to move the monument and distributed to board members of the three entities represented.
Ole Miss restricts travel to China after coronavirus outbreak
The University of Mississippi is restricting university-related travel to China as a result of the recent outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province. Provost Noel Wilkin sent out a university-wide email on Jan. 29, announcing that academic programs have been suspended or canceled by university partners in China. "Students may not proceed with UM-related travel to China and should check in with the UM coordinators of their program," Wilkin wrote. Yesterday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health emergency. According to the WHO, over 8,200 people across 18 countries have been infected with the virus. International student Van Wang, a junior accounting major from Beijing, said he is not too worried about the virus because his hometown is far enough away from the outbreak. Still, Wang's parents asked him to buy sanitary masks and mail them home just to be safe. However, he came up empty handed.
Oxford University Transit making changes to Ole Miss routes
Those who rely on the Oxford University Transit system to get to and from the University of Mississippi will begin to see changes this semester. Buses have begun to implement technology improvements and routes will begin to be consolidated, the University announced on Tuesday. Students who take the Green Line and Old Taylor Road Express are using new buses, and four additional buses will be rolled out in February, which will replace some of the older and less reliable buses OUT is currently using. The new buses will have a low floor and two doors to help make boarding easier and faster. New buses will also mean less unscheduled maintenance and shutting down routes for periods of time. Another addition is the ability to use the public transit tab on Google Maps to navigate OUT routes, beginning in February.
'The Hate U Give' author Angie Thomas to speak at USM
Jackson native Angie Thomas, who has penned two bestselling novels, will share her thoughts on "The Hate U Give: Finding Your Activism" at the next University of Southern Mississippi University Forum. A former teen rapper, Thomas places authenticity, visibility and the politics of finding one's voice at the center of her work. Thomas, who wrote "The Hate U Give" and "On the Come Up," is the recipient of the 2018 William C. Morris Award and 2018 Waterstones Children's Book Prize. Her debut novel has spent more than two years on the New York Times young adult bestseller list. In 2018, a film adaption of "The Hate U Give," starring Amandla Stenberg, was a blockbuster success. "Through her amazing works of fiction, she has helped hundreds of thousands of young readers to find their voices and challenge injustice," said Andrew Haley, director of University Forum and an associate professor of history at Southern Miss.
New look Auburn University plates now on sale
There's a new design for Auburn University license plates now available through local tag offices for cars and motorcycles. The new design features the interlocking AU logo, orange and blue stripes across the bottom with "Auburn" in orange and "Alabama" at the top. The tag features six characters and personalization is free. Proceeds go to the Auburn University License to Learn Scholarship Endowment Fund, a statewide program for freshman scholarships. Approximately $1.8 million in scholarships was awarded in 2018-19. "The Auburn University 'License to Learn' program was initiated in 1988, and since then more than $35 million has been raised to support students through academic scholarships," said Gretchen VanValkenburg, vice president for alumni affairs.
LSU Lakes in desperate need of care; University, BRAF to begin dredging by January 2021
The six lakes surrounding campus have been a staple at the University since 1938. Students and local residents often run, bike or walk their dogs around the perimeters. Children growing up in the city share fond memories of feeding the ducks on the University's beaches. The LSU rowing team practices almost every single morning in that water; sorority members brag to the rest of campus for getting to live on its coasts. "When you talk to the [former] president of LSU, F. King Alexander, he says it's the number one tool he has for recruiting people," Baton Rouge Area Foundation Executive Vice President John Spain said in 2018. Alexander once said that if the Baton Rouge lakes are not dredged and cleaned, the idyllic bodies of water could morph into a murky swamp. Alexander made that statement five years ago to student media, and little progress has been made toward cleaning the lakes since, leaving the lakes' condition to worsen. However, plans are underway to begin a $20 million project to clean and revitalize the lakes, with hopes that construction can start by January 2021.
President Jere Morehead: UGA sees 'big, big gains in productivity'
University of Georgia students will get more mental health services, UGA President Jere Morehead announced Wednesday. The university will also grow its graduate student enrollment with a new aid program for Ph.D. students, funded with $500,000 in donated funds, Morehead said in the annual "State of the University" address in the UGA Chapel. The university will also step up its public service through partnerships with communities not just in Georgia but across the world, and step up efforts to bring in more students from under-represented groups such as minorities and first-generation students, Morehead said. "We must deepen our commitment to access," he said. Morehead also announced steps to provide more professional development opportunities for UGA workers, including an online education component.
U. of Tennessee cancels study-abroad trips to China over coronavirus concerns
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville is suspending all study-abroad programs in China this semester because of the threat of coronavirus, the university told Knox News. UT has received no reports of coronavirus infection from people associated with the university, but it is cancelling the trips "as a precaution," UT-Knoxville spokesman Owen Driskill said. There were 21 students planning to study in China this semester, and one student was already in China. That student was not near Wuhan, where the outbreak of coronavirus originated, but will return to the United States, Driskill said. "The UT Center for Global Engagement is in contact with all affected students and will work with them to make other arrangements to complete their academic work," Driskill said. There are currently no UT faculty or staff members in China. No decision has been made on whether students planning to travel to China on a mini-term in May or during the summer semester will still be able to go, Driskill said.
Texas A&M AgriLife's distracted driving simulators get an upgrade
A virtual reality simulator used by Texas A&M AgriLife to help improve people's driving habits has been updated to make the experience even more real. "Obviously, it's a little bit different than real driving, but you definitely feel like ... you're driving because all around you, you can see everything," Texas A&M freshman Claire Crow said. "It looks like a real car; you can hear the car in your ears, but then also when you're picking up the phone, it vibrates in your hands." The new version of the simulation was unveiled Wednesday morning at the AgriLife Center, along with a $35,000 grant check from State Farm to upgrade all of the Passenger Safety Project's simulators to the latest version. The Passenger Safety Project is funded through the Texas Department of Transportation and covers the entire state operating under the umbrella of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Kellner said.
U of Missouri bans trips to China during outbreak
Concerns about the spreading outbreak of a deadly new virus on Thursday resulted in a ban on University of Missouri-sponsored travel to China. MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and Provost Latha Ramchand issued the travel ban in a campus-wide email. "Due to global concerns about the new coronavirus, the University of Missouri is prohibiting all university-sponsored travel to China, including trips that faculty and staff make with and without students," the message reads in part. "No new university-sponsored travel for faculty or staff will be approved to China until further notice," the message continued. "Any already approved faculty or staff trips will be evaluated on case-by-case basis." MU spokesman Christian Basi said no one from the university -- including faculty, staff or students -- are now in China. The only university-sponsored visit to China this semester, a visit to Shanghai as part of the Semester at Sea program, was canceled, he said. The group will instead extend the time it spends in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
Missouri's engineering and HES deans to step down in July
Two prominent MU deans -- Sanford "Sandy" Rikoon and Elizabeth Loboa -- will depart the university in July. Rikoon, who has served as dean of the College of Human Environmental Sciences since August 2015, is departing for a new part-time position in North Carolina, according to a Thursday news release from provost Latha Ramchand. Loboa, who has been the dean of the College of Engineering since October 2015 and a vice chancellor since 2018, announced her departure in December 2019. Rikoon accepted a position as the international director of a new doctoral program in North Carolina on sustainable development in the Czech Republic, working with researchers from both Duke University and the University of North Carolina in the Research Triangle. Loboa will step down as dean July 6 and join Southern Methodist University as its provost and vice president for academic affairs.
Harvard Arrest Ups the U.S. Ante on China as Security Threat
A Harvard University chemist, an ex-Coca-Cola Co. scientist and a University of Kansas researcher. All three have been swept up in a U.S. crackdown on intellectual property theft sponsored by China and linked to the Thousand Talents Plan, a Chinese government program to recruit overseas researchers. The charges unveiled Tuesday against Harvard's Charles Lieber -- that he lied to U.S. investigators about his role in recruiting people to pass along scientific research to the Chinese government -- mark a high-profile escalation of the Trump administration's effort to root out economic espionage in academic institutions. While the Justice Department's "China Initiative" has focused on bringing garden-variety cases against engineers and executives accused of stealing technology from American companies for Chinese corporations and startups alike, U.S. officials also have cast greater suspicion on scholars with ties to Beijing-controlled research institutions.
Education Department Unveils Fix For Troubled Student Loan Forgiveness Program
Public servants with student loans were furious, and the U.S. Department of Education heard them. The department revealed Thursday that it will simplify the process for borrowers to apply for an expansion of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. The move comes after a damning Government Accountability Office review, first reported by NPR. In that 2019 review, the federal watchdog found that during the expansion program's first year, the department turned away 99% of applicants. The change -- which the department posted to the Federal Register without a news release or other public announcement --- will address one of the most alarming revelations in the GAO's review: 71% of denials were essentially due to a paperwork technicality.
Endowment returns' 10-year average rises, but leaders see clouds on the horizon
College and university endowment returns averaged 5.3 percent, net of fees, in the 2019 fiscal year, according to an annual study released today by the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The 2019 average return dipped from an average 8.2 percent return in 2018 and 12.2 percent in 2017, reflecting generally lower equity market returns. But it was still enough to push the 10-year average return to 8.4 percent. That's because 2009, when endowment returns cratered amid the financial crisis, dropped out of the 10-year average. An increase in the 10-year average is important to colleges and universities because institutions generally use returns over the previous decade to gauge whether their endowment spending levels are appropriate. A total of 774 U.S. colleges, universities and related foundations took part in the NACUBO study. Their endowment assets totaled $630 billion as of June 30, 2019. The median endowment size came in at $144.4 million.
Educating Students in Poverty
Angela Farmer, an assistant clinical professor in Mississippi State University's Shackouls Honors College, writes: One size fits all is a familiar moniker for some clothing lines, ear phones, headsets, jewelry and the like. However, rarely is it an applicable title for educating students, particularly students in poverty. In a pivotal article by Sarah McKibben in "Push, Don't Pity, Students in Poverty," the author details the career of a pioneer educator who led "one of the most dangerous high schools in America." The article, published in January of 2018 by shares the journey of Linda Cliatt-Wayman, who reframed the educational approach and focus for an inner-city high school in Philadelphia which had been on the "persistently dangerous" list for five, consecutive years. She highlights how she was amazed at the disparate climate and culture of the school she was challenged to lead and repair. When she sat down with students in a round table discussion to better understand not only what was happening, but why it was happening, the students shared raw and detailed feedback.

No. 9 State slips past Auburn in second half
Auburn's full-court press remained a mystery to No. 9 Mississippi State for most of Thursday night. After falling behind by nine, the Bulldogs finally started to crack the code during the second half. MSU managed to rally back for a 78-73 victory, their seventh-straight over the Tigers. "All I can say about our group is that we continue to be a work in progress," said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. The Bulldogs committed 18 turnovers on the night but shot 55.2 percent from the floor. Rickea Jackson paced State with 22 points in 31 minutes off the bench while Jessika Carter and Jordan Danberry added 13 points apiece. MSU continues its homestand on Monday against Georgia at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network. State won the first meeting 73-66 in Athens on Jan. 5.
How Rickea Jackson saved the day for Mississippi State women's basketball
The whole building needed halftime. For the Mississippi State fans sitting inside Humphrey Coliseum to the Bulldogs playing on the court in front of them, the break between halves came at just the right time. Auburn, the second to last team in the SEC standings, held a seven-point edge over Mississippi State, the second from the top. Dumbfounded, the fans sent the Bulldogs to the locker room with a perplexed mix of lackluster applause and dull cheering. They got much louder when a State student sank a half-court shot on his first try to win $5,000 courtesy of Cannon Motors. It was the shot to the system State supporters desperately needed. MSU head coach Vic Schaefer, meanwhile, was busy giving his team a metaphorical one too. The Bulldogs stormed out in the second half on a 9-2 run to tie the game. They eventually took their own seven-point lead into the third quarter of what ultimately became a 78-73 victory.
'Every night isn't going to be peaches and cream': Mississippi State women survive scare against Auburn
As the chorus of "Let's go Dawgs!" chants enveloped Humphrey Coliseum, it was freshman guard Rickea Jackson notching 10 of her game-high 22 points to close the third quarter as Mississippi State (19-3, 7-1 SEC) labored to a 78-73 win over Auburn (7-12, 1-7 SEC) on Thursday. "I just thought we played uninspired tonight, and I think it's kind of been that way since the South Carolina game," Schaefer said. Battling through a first half in which perhaps the only positive was a student hitting a half-court shot for $5,000 from Cannon Motors, the Bulldogs struggled to deal with a persistent Tiger full-court press -- notching 11 of their 18 turnovers in the game's opening 20 minutes.
Devin Butts follows father's basketball lineage
Much has been made the past two years about Tyson Carter, Reggie Perry and Robert Woodard II all being legacy players for Mississippi State. This year, however, the members of that trio are not the only second-generation players on the Bulldogs' roster. Devin Butts' dad, Derex, played at Texas Tech from 1989-91 and now the younger Butts is following in his footsteps at the Division I level. "It's really good because he tells me all the things that he went through," Devin Butts said. "He gives me a lot of motivation. He's taught me everything that he knows. Everything that he did, he sprung it on me." His father was not only a role model growing up, he was also Devin Butts' AAU coach on the Georgia Magic. It was that pedigree that helped attract MSU coach Ben Howland to Butts as a three-star recruit out of Stratford Academy in Macon, Georgia.
Bulldogs bank on Luke Hancock behind the plate
Luke Hancock reached the apex of college baseball as a freshman last year when Mississippi State appeared in the College World Series. For Hancock, a Houston native, it was a dream come true. "I grew up wanting to play in Omaha and had watched it on TV ever since I was a little kid," Hancock said. "Being out there as a player for Mississippi State meant the world to me and my family." Hancock played in 26 games last spring and drew a dozen starts, but only four of those starts came at catcher. The Bulldogs are banking on the sophomore taking huge strides this season as their everyday backstop behind the plate. "I'm excited about Luke," said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. "He's caught JT (Ginn) since he was about 14, so they've been together a long time. Luke is a pretty steady personality back there." Hancock, along with freshmen Logan Tanner and Austin Kelly, will try to fill the void left by workhorse catcher Dustin Skelton last season.
Mississippi State softball notebook: Star power of Mia Davidson, Fa Leilua highlights Samantha Ricketts' first year
There are a lot of softballs piling up on Highway 182 these days. At least, that's what it looks like to Mississippi State softball coach Samantha Ricketts when she watches her star duo, junior catcher Mia Davidson and senior utility player Fa Leilua, take their swings. "Mia and Fa are special, and especially having two of them, it's really fun to watch," Ricketts said Thursday during the team's preseason media availability. "It's impressive even when you see it every day. You just kind of stop and go, 'Wow. That was insane. They hit that onto the highway.'" It's nothing new for Davidson and Leilua, who combined to hit 48 home runs, leading all Southeastern Conference duos last year. Fully aware of their leadership role in presiding over the Bulldogs this season, they've embraced it.
Mississippi hunter's first buck is a rare piebald
He's 8 years old and it's the only buck the Brookhaven boy has ever harvested, but it's one with a rare genetic abnormality that produced one of the most unusual deer you'll ever see. "We had pictures of it last year but hadn't seen him," said Nick Adams, Max's father. "I've been hunting 35 years and I've never seen anything like it." The buck was mostly white with small brown spots with some brown on his legs and head. It's a condition known as piebald. Some reports estimate that less than 2% of deer express the recessive trait. Steve Demarais of the Mississippi State University Deer Ecology and Management Lab believes the percentage is lower. "Maybe one in a couple of thousand have it," Demarais said. "It's difficult to come up with that figure because it's not like piebald or not piebald." Demarais explained there are different degrees of piebaldism. Some are mild cases and only have small areas of white fur where it would not normally be. Those are more common. Max's buck is a more extreme case and more rare.
SEC distributes $44.6 million to each school for 2018-19 fiscal year
The SEC on Thursday announced its revenue distribution for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ended on Aug. 31. The conference's payout includes a total of $624.2 million generated by the league, plus $26.8 million for bowl game travel and expenses. That accounts for a total of $44.6 million distributed to each of the 14 member schools. "The revenue distributed through the Southeastern Conference enables our 14 member universities to provide unparalleled support to their student-athletes through superior instruction, training, equipment, academic counseling, medical care, mental health and wellness support and life-skills development," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. "It is this sustained conference-wide commitment to the student-athlete experience that makes this conference sound and its impact so meaningful."
No. 1 South Carolina throttles Ole Miss in record-setting defensive performance
Before No. 1 South Carolina women's basketball visited Ole Miss on Thursday, Dawn Staley didn't try to deny it -- her Gamecocks were simply superior to the Rebels, the SEC's worst team. "Obviously I think we're the better team that's gonna take the floor, but you have to play it like you're the better team," Staley said. "They're gonna get up for us, it's on the road, so we don't want to leave anything to chance." USC certainly didn't, completely shutting out Ole Miss in the first quarter and never looking back in a 87-32 romp. The Rebels didn't score at all until there was less than a minute left in the first half --- their two first-half points tied an NCAA record for fewest ever. It was also the first time South Carolina has ever held an opponent scoreless in a quarter since the NCAA moved to a four-quarter system in 2015-16. Ole Miss missed its first 18 shots and finished the first half shooting 1-for-20.
Auburn student senate passes resolution supporting sale of alcohol in Jordan-Hare
The SEC announced last year that it was lifting its ban on the sale of alcohol in football stadiums, allowing universities to decide independently if they want to sell alcohol in their stadiums. Following this announcement, many SEC universities immediately decided to sell alcohol in their stadiums, including LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas. However, Auburn decided not to do so immediately, instead waiting to make a decision after a thoughtful process involving the input of shareholders and fans, a University spokesperson previously told The Plainsman. After a lengthy process of polling constituents and researching the results of other SEC schools who have implemented the sale of alcohol in their stadiums, senators passed a resolution recommending the sale of alcohol in Jordan-Hare, including in the student section. Headed by James Sadie, Harbert College of Business senator, and Hays Kassen, at-large senator, this resolution aims to enhance the student gameday experience, as well as bring in large amounts of money to the University.
ESPN's 'College GameDay' bus rolls into Auburn for Kentucky game Saturday
ESPN's "College GameDay" bus pulled into downtown Auburn on Thursday, part of the buildup to the Tigers' home against the University of Kentucky on Saturday. Students and city residents alike had the opportunity to climb aboard and tour the bus used by commentators Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg and LaPhonso Ellis as they plan, prep and spectate numerous games. "I'm sure the students are like the rest of us Auburn fans, and we are just thrilled with not only being a football school, but proudly being a basketball school along with so many other sports," said Kathy Powell, the State Farm insurance agent who hosted the event. Powell said she was glad that they were able to get the bus to Auburn ahead of the game so that students and residents could check it out for themselves.

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