Tuesday, February 11, 2020   
MSU College of Forest Resources marks Arbor Day
Forestry students at Mississippi State University acknowledged Arbor Day by planting trees along Hail State Boulevard on the MSU campus Friday. The celebration brought together several faculty and students from forestry and other MSU programs to plant trees on campus. Mississippi's Arbor Day is the second Friday in February based on the best time to plant trees in the region. This year, the college celebrated it a week in advance due to scheduling conflicts. Participants planted several pine and oak trees on both sides of Hail State Boulevard just north of the H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center, also known as South Farm.
MSU-Meridian scholarships awarded through Scotts' planned gift
Eight Mississippi State University-Meridian students are 2019-20 scholarship recipients through the Jerry and Ruth Scott Foundation. Established by the Scotts in 2016 and managed by Citizens National Bank's Wealth Management Division in Meridian, the foundation is designed to benefit working adult students completing their degrees at MSU-Meridian who have maintained high academic achievement. Over $70,000 in scholarship assistance has been awarded since its inception. Benefactors Jerry and Ruth Scott made their home in Meridian for more than 30 years and were active community members. Jerry Scott served as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist with Anderson Regional Health System. Ruth Scott, a native of Hinesville, Georgia, attended MSU-Meridian from 1989-1993. In addition to the late couple's appreciation for education, they also shared a passion for art, music and travel. "I am so grateful to be a recipient of the Jerry and Ruth Scott Scholarship," said Alyssa Wilkinson, a business administration major from Philadelphia.
Mississippi weather: Heavy rain, flash flooding, storms
More severe weather is expected to continue across much of Mississippi from Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning and a flood warning remains in effect for several counties already saturated from last week's storms. Mississippi Emergency Management officials said there is a possibility of more tornadoes. Periodic showers are expected to continue into Thursday as well. As of 2 a.m., the National Weather Service in Jackson reported up to 7 inches of rain in the past 24 hours in central Mississippi, with additional rainfall continuing into the early morning hours. Such rainfall amounts are washing out and closing roads, flooding property in flood-prone and low-lying areas and bringing moderate river flooding. Flash flooding was evident Monday in Yazoo City as well as Hattiesburg and several other communities around the state, closing roads, submerging vehicles and forcing some evacuations. In eastern Mississippi, officials in Starkville said the water at Oktibbeha County Lake had once again reached a critical level just weeks after heavy rains caused a mudslide that put the earthen dam in danger of failing.
Downpours cause flooding across Deep South
Storms stretching across the Deep South dumped heavy rains on Mississippi and Alabama on Monday, causing flash floods that covered roads and forced some schools to close. Dozens of roads were under water in low-lying areas across the Tennessee Valley after a hours of rain, and cars crept along flooded streets in downtown Birmingham. Video showed vehicles leaving wakes behind them on flooded roads, with waves slapping the side of a building in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Several school systems sent students home early as forecasters warned more downpours were on the way. Flash flood watches and warnings stretched from eastern Texas into the western Carolinas. The Tennessee Valley Authority said some of its rivers and lakes had received as much as 400% of their normal rainfall for this time of year.
In her 'hardest, saddest, loneliest year,' the wife of an Aurora warehouse shooting victim is rebuilding life with her children in Mississippi
Terra Pinkard tries not to think about the looming anniversary. Soon, it will be one year since she got the text from her husband, Josh Pinkard: "I love you, I've been shot at work." It will be one year since she learned he died when a gunman opened fire at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, killing five employees, wounding another employee and injuring five Aurora police officers. In that year, Terra Pinkard has begun rebuilding a life for herself and her three children, ages 11, 8 and 4. The process has been marked with grief, difficult choices and, to her surprise, fear. She once had a partner and they had a plan, but now there is uncertainty and difficult choices. Josh Pinkard, 37, loved God, his family and Mississippi State sports, a relative previously told The Beacon-News. He and Terra moved to the Aurora area in spring 2018 when Josh became the plant manager at Henry Pratt. Pinkard didn't know how to take the first step after her husband's death, she told the Beacon-News. She decided on her hometown, Laurel, in southeast Mississippi.
Backbone of world's most powerful rocket set to test on Coast in 2020
As NASA eyes missions to Mars and the moon in the near future, the nation will be watching the Mississippi Coast when engines on the backbone of the world's most powerful rocket fire later this year. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke to politicians from Louisiana and Mississippi, NASA employees, media and others at the Stennis Space Center on Monday about the agency's plans and 2021 budget numbers. Much of NASA's future plans rely on upcoming rocket testing at Stennis. "It'll be the most powerful test that's been done since the Saturn rockets of Apollo," Bridenstine said. "There's a lot of effort here on the Gulf Coast that goes into NASA and America's rocket program." Bridenstine also said Monday that President Donald Trump's proposed 2021 budget would put more than $25 billion into NASA's coffers -- a 12% increase. Nearly half is dedicated to the moon and Mars efforts.
After MDOT audit comes back clean, leaders renew push for more infrastructure funding
After an audit of the Mississippi Department of Transportation showed few budget management issues, elected and transportation industry officials are renewing calls for more money to manage the state's highway system. While the findings of the audit called for MDOT to better manage its vehicle fleet and its schedule of projects, the report also found that the transportation department meets or exceeds industry standards in most regards. The state auditor oversaw the audit, which lawmakers mandated through legislation in 2018 and a national firm conducted. "Are we ever going to have the vision to embark as something politically terrifying as planning for the future?" former Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall said on Monday. Hall, speaking Monday at a press corps luncheon hosted by the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State University, made the case for an increase in the state's fuel tax, which has not increased since 1987, making Mississippi one of just two states that hasn't raised the tax since then.
State Sen. Angela Turner-Ford introduces bill to restore voting rights to certain felons
State Sen. Angela Turner-Ford, who represents parts of Clay, Lowndes, Noxubee and Oktibbeha counties, authored the bill. Designated Senate Bill 2170, or the Restore the Right to Vote Act, Turner-Ford said the bill was an effort to codify the existing process where convicted felons can ask their local representative or senator to introduce a bill that would grant them the right to vote again. The governor can also restore suffrage to individuals through executive action. Turner-Ford said the principle problem with that process was that people were confused about it and did not approach elected officials to ask for their suffrage back.
Department of Public Safety Requests Hefty Budget Increase
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety is authorized to have 650 troopers according to Pat Cronin with the agency's Administrative Operations. At a Senate Appropriation Committee budget hearing he said they have 508 troopers with 130 eligible to retire. They're asking for a $55 million budget increase. Cronin says they need funding for more trooper schools. He adds violent inmate uprisings like the recent ones at Parchman Penitentiary require they provide assistance. Senator Briggs Hopson of Vicksburg chairs the Appropriations Committee. "A lot of people with a lot of requests. I think there are probably over $1 billion dollars worth of additional requests on top of the funds that were allocated and appropriated last year," said Hopson. Hopson says it's too soon to prioritize the requests. Last year the agency received $102 million.
Legislature poised to revisit Jim Crow-era electoral provisions in state Constitution
In just about every year since the Mississippi House voted in 2000 to make Democrat Ronnie Musgrove governor, there has been legislation filed to remove the constitutional provision giving the 122 representatives the task of selecting statewide officeholders under certain conditions. This year legislation may finally pass to remove the provisions included in Mississippi's 1890s Constitution to ensure African Americans, then a majority in the state, were not elected to statewide office by giving the House a role in the electoral process. Both presiding officers, new Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn, have indicated they support the issue being at least considered this session. "Yes, I think we are going to look at it this session," said Gunn recently. Hosemann said, "Our Elections Committee is looking at this. We had a private meeting with the judge about this. I think it will come up for consideration this year." The judge -- U.S. Judge Daniel Jordan of the Southern District of Mississippi -- based on his public comments, might be giving Gunn and Hosemann incentives to repeal the provisions.
Auditor identifies Gov. Bryant as whistleblower in DHS investigation
New information has come to light in the ongoing investigation into what State Auditor Shad White has called the "largest public embezzlement case in Mississippi history." Last week, former Department of Human Services Executive Director John Davis and five others were arrested following an 8-month long investigation that revealed that Davis and his co-conspirators allegedly obtained millions in public funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program administered by DHS, and used a variety of business entities and schemes to defraud the taxpayers. The investigation began following a tip from a previously unknown whistleblower, who has now been identified as former Governor Phil Bryant. "We would not have found out about this without somebody coming forward to the Auditor's office and letting us know, and that person, in this case, was Governor Phil Bryant," White explained during an appearance on the Gallo Show on SuperTalk Mississippi Monday morning.
DHS Embezzlement Case: State Auditor goes to FBI and makes legislative request
State Auditor Shad White met with FBI agents Monday and shared what his office has found on the DHS embezzlement scheme. The other next step falls in the hands of lawmakers and a request from the auditor to require a full forensic audit of DHS. "There shouldn't be push back on it and if there is push back on it then that is a problem," said Rep. Christopher Bell-D. "We need to be transparent in what we're doing." White says his office can't do an audit that size any time soon and still handle their normal duties. So, he's requesting that it be done by a private CPA firm. That's something that both Republicans and Democrats agree would be money well spent. Sen. Brice Wiggins says he's seen the result of requiring more accountability, introducing legislation after issues with Department of Marine Resources broke in his district in the past. "In that, we required them to do an audit every year at their own expense," described Wiggins. "And since that time, they have reported the findings. It's all been good and it's been a good check on the taxpayer funds."
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warns Congress that $1 trillion budget deficits unsustainable
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell told Congress Tuesday that now would be a good time to reduce the federal budget deficit, which is expected to top $1 trillion this year."Putting the federal budget on a sustainable path when the economy is strong would help ensure that policymakers have the space to use fiscal policy to assist in stabilizing the economy during a downturn," Powell said in testimony to the House Committee on Financial Services. The Fed chair's warning comes as the U.S. federal debt has grown by about $3 trillion since President Trump took office, and the president's latest budget proposal submitted this week would add another $5 trillion to the debt over the coming decade. "A more sustainable federal budget could also support the economy's growth over the long term," said Powell.
Trump budget would boost career education spending but cut funds for college aid, research programs
President Trump on Monday called for a $5.6 billion, or 7.8 percent, cut in Department of Education funding and reductions for most core funders of academic research, but also proposed a nearly $900 million increase in career and technical education funding. The Trump administration, in budget documents, touted increases in some types of federally funded research, including an additional $830 million, or 70 percent, in National Science Foundation funding for artificial intelligence-related grants and interdisciplinary research institutes. But associations representing public and private research universities and medical colleges criticized proposed cuts in other research areas. "The administration's Fiscal Year 2021 budget request falls far short of the investment needed to secure the U.S.'s position as the world's preeminent economic power," Association of Public and Land-grant Universities president Peter McPherson said in a statement. "At a time when our global competitors are doubling down in investments in education and research, we can't afford to fall behind," he said.
Trump budget cuts funding for health, science, environment agencies
President Trump once again is asking Congress to make major cuts to the budgets of science and health agencies while favoring research deemed essential to national security. The 2021 budget request delivered Monday to Congress includes a nearly 10 percent cut to Health and Human Services and a 26 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump budgets have repeatedly targeted agencies and programs that deal with science, health and the environment, but if tradition holds, the requested cuts have little chance of winning approval from the House of Representatives, which has the power of the purse and a Democratic majority. Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said research and development "are at the absolute forefront" of Trump's agenda. But the 2021 Trump budget received a cool reception from nonprofit organizations that advocate for research.
Trump's 2021 budget drowns science agencies in red ink, again
It's another sea of red ink for federal research funding programs in President Donald Trump's latest budget proposal. The 2021 budget request to Congress released today calls for deep, often double-digit cuts to R&D spending at major science agencies. At the same time, the president wants to put more money into a handful of areas -- notably artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science (QIS) -- to create the new technology needed for what the budget request calls "industries of the future." There are a few budgetary bright spots. One is USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the source of most of the department's competitive grants to academic research, which would grow by 11%, or $95 million, to $968 million. Within that institute, its competitive grants program -- now at $425 million -- would have $100 million earmarked for AI and machine learning. Likewise, the president is asking NSF to fit large increases for AI and QIS into its shrunken research account. In recent years, lawmakers have largely rejected the Trump administration's proposed cuts
Trump Proposes a Cut in Research Spending, but a Boost for AI
President Trump Monday proposed cutting federal research spending---except in key areas including artificial intelligence and quantum technologies. Trump's budget for the fiscal year beginning October 1 proposes spending $142.2 billion in research and development, 9 percent less than in the current year. The White House says its proposal is 6 percent more than it requested last year. The budget request is something of a gambler's approach to funding American innovation, betting big in select areas. "I find it disappointing and concerning that funding for basic research is down," says Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a policy think tank in Washington, DC. "We just don't know where the next breakthroughs will come from." The budget goes all-in on AI and quantum, proposing to double funding across the departments including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, Darpa, and the DoD's Joint AI Center.
In agricultural giant Brazil, a new and growing hazard: The illegal trade in pesticides
Waldir Brasil could see that the truck driver was terrified. His hands were shaking. His knee was jiggling. Whatever the driver had in the back of his trailer, the highway cop concluded, it wasn't legal. Along one of Latin America's most lucrative smuggling routes, where Brazil and Paraguay share an expansive and virtually unpatrolled border, Brasil had seen every illegal good imaginable. But now, another illicit product -- one that, until recently, he couldn't have imagined -- was increasingly appearing. He lifted the tarp covering the truck's cargo. "Pesticides," he said that day last October. Hidden beneath a few sacks of grain were 12,000 pounds of the pesticide emamectin benzoate. With a street value of more than $2 million, the illegal pesticides, produced in China and then smuggled across the Paraguay border, were twice as powerful as what's allowed in Brazil. Over the past two decades, the trafficking of a product as seemingly banal as pesticides has quietly grown into one of the world's most lucrative and least understood criminal enterprises.
Jackson State University leader resigns after bust in prostitution sting
The president of Jackson State University resigned Monday after he was arrested in a prostitution sting in central Mississippi. William Bynum Jr., 57, was among 17 people arrested during the weekend in the Jackson suburb of Clinton, according to Clinton Police Chief Ford Hayman. A news release from the Mississippi university system on Monday said Bynum submitted his resignation, and it took effect immediately. Within hours, the governing board for Mississippi's eight public universities met and named another Jackson State administrator, Thomas Hudson, as interim president. Hudson has been special assistant to the president and chief diversity officer. Bynum had been president of Jackson State since 2017 after serving four years as president of Mississippi Valley State University. Among the other people arrested was Shonda McCarthy, director of the Jackson State University art galleries.
Interim JSU president named after William Bynum Jr. arrest, resignation
The state College Board named Thomas Hudson as acting president of Jackson State University on Monday. The appointment came just hours after news that former JSU president, William Bynum Jr., had been arrested in a prostitution sting. Hudson has been with the university since 2012, and has been serving as special assistant to the president and chief diversity officer of JSU. He was responsible for implementing the university's diversity plan and increasing enrollment of underrepresented student groups, according to his bio. He was also the university's equal employment opportunity officer and Title IX coordinator. Prior to Jackson State, Hudson oversaw the Hudson Law Firm in Jackson and served as an equal employment officer for the Department of Homeland Security. Hudson received his bachelor's degree in political science from JSU and his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.
Aubie awarded his own exhibit in Auburn's student center
Aubie the Tiger, an Auburn institution, now has a place of honor with an exhibit in the Auburn University Student Center. Every Auburn fan's favorite mascot began as a cartoon character and evolved to a spot on Auburn programs. He finally took the form of a physical mascot in 1979 with the help of James Lloyd, Auburn spirit director for the Student Government Association. The new exhibit dedicated to the cheerful and spirited tiger opened Feb. 1 with Jeff and his wife, Linda Stone, in attendance. "Hopefully people will enjoy knowing the history of Aubie," Jeff said. "He's been around over 40 years now and he's, like anything, has gone through a nice evolution and has grown and has touched a lot of people." Bobby Woodard, senior vice president for student affairs, said that Aubie is more than just a mascot. "Aubie is in the fabric of Auburn University and as I said a few minutes ago, Aubie is not a mascot, Aubie is part of the student experience," Woodard said. "It's the spirit."
UF/IFAS ranked the No. 1 public institution for agricultural sciences, according to Niche.com
Students and faculty working for the improvement of Florida's agriculture, sustainability and quality of life have achieved top positions in Niche's 2020 Best Colleges for Agricultural Sciences in America. UF is the best public university for agricultural sciences in America, according to Niche. The university is ranked No. 2 overall, behind Cornell University, in a list of over 100 public and private agricultural science colleges. Nicholas Comanici, director of brand marketing for the website, says Niche's college rankings are based on rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education as well as millions of reviews from current students and alumni. Charlotte Emerson, director of student development and recruitment with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said the vision for UF/IFAS is to be the premier public college of agriculture and related science.
New Campus Sexual Misconduct Rules Will Tackle Dating Violence
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's pending rules on sexual misconduct at the nation's schools and colleges will include provisions to shore up protections for victims of stalking and dating violence, a response to lethal attacks that have underscored the weakness of current policies. The rules will for the first time cement domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as forms of gender discrimination that schools must address under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in education programs that receive government funding. In the past, the Education Department has issued guidance on how schools should handle sexual misconduct on campus and interpreted Title IX to require universities to combat sexual assault in particular. The department's new rules would go further, adding definitions for domestic violence, dating violence and stalking as misconduct that universities must tackle or risk federal investigations and a loss of funding.
Filmmaker files free speech lawsuit against Georgia Southern University
A documentary filmmaker filed a lawsuit Monday against Georgia Southern University after she refused to sign a pledge before a speaking engagement at the school that she and her supporters say violate her free speech rights. Abby Martin said she was asked to sign paperwork agreeing not to support a boycott of Israel before making a speech at the university, which was scheduled for Feb. 28. The state of Georgia passed a law that took effect in 2016 prohibiting contracts exceeding $1,000 with any companies or individuals that engage in a boycott of Israel. Martin said she was supposed to be paid $1,000. Martin said she was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the 2020 International Critical Media Literacy Conference at the university's Savannah campus. She said she was asked to sign the pledge last September as part of her compensation agreement. The conference was cancelled that month, a university spokeswoman said. Martin has been criticized for past work, including a prior stint at the RT network, which was funded, according to news accounts, by the Russian government.

Gameday: Five Things to Know About Mississippi State-Ole Miss
Mississippi State renews its rivalry with Ole Miss as the two programs match up for the first of two meetings over a 26-day span on Tuesday at the Pavilion at Ole Miss. Mississippi State snapped a seven-game skid in Oxford with an 81-75 comeback triumph last season. Quindarry Weatherspoon dialed up 27 points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Reggie Perry notched 21 points and 11 rebounds highlighted by the go-ahead trey with 3:32 remaining. The Bulldogs are looking for back-to-back wins in Oxford for the first time since the 2009-10 and 2010-11 season. Mississippi State continues its stretch of eight of 12 games on the road since Jan. 25 when the Bulldogs travel to Arkansas on Saturday. Tip time is slated for 12 p.m. CT from Bud Walton Arena. The game is televised by SEC Network and carried online courtesy of the Watch ESPN platform.
Bulldogs preparing for Breein Tyree, rivalry contest with Ole Miss
It's incredibly unlikely that Tuesday's men's basketball matchup between Mississippi State and Ole Miss will be the chaos-inducing, drama-filled spectacle its Egg Bowl counterpart was in November. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs (15-8, 6-4 SEC) are feeling the pressure that comes with the rivalry as they prepare for the first of two matchups with the Rebels (12-11, 3-7) this season, starting at 6 p.m. at the Pavilion in Oxford. "I think you feel it more in basketball," MSU coach Ben Howland said Monday. "It's just more enclosed and there's way more intensity in a closed building when everyone's right on top of you. I think it's great in football, no question, but in terms of the intimacy of basketball, there's nothing like it. That's why it's the fastest growing sport in the world. There's no question in whatever we play them in, in any sport, there's competition to be the best. So there's no question we feel (the pressure) very strongly."
Coach Chris Lemonis talks Mississippi State baseball at Rotary
Monday may not have been a good day for baseball. However, it was a good day to talk baseball. That's what Mississippi State head baseball coach Chris Lemonis did at the Starkville Rotary Club's weekly meeting at the Starkville Country Club. As the rain fell outside, Lemonis gave the Rotarians an update on the state of the baseball team. The Bulldogs are scheduled to open the season at home Friday against Wright State. Lemonis spent some time reflecting on last year's run by MSU to the College World Series, then he also gave a run down on this year's team. He admitted up front that it's going to be difficult for the Bulldogs to top what they did last season, especially down the stretch. "For me, (the first year) was unbelievable," Lemonis told the Rotarians. "There were so many things happening last year. We get to open up that brand new stadium. It was a fun team to coach. I'm so glad I got to coach Jake Mangum."
Mississippi State pitching preview
Mississippi State has enough offensive firepower returning to conceivably make another run to the College World Series this season. However, the Diamond Dogs have plenty of questions surrounding their pitching staff that must be answered before making reservations in Omaha for the third straight year. MSU has 21 pitchers on its roster for 2020 but 14 of them are new to the program. The Bulldogs will also have to replace two-thirds of their weekend rotation as well as find a new closer and setup men. "We have a chance to have a dynamic pitching staff, but a couple of them haven't done it yet,' said MSU coach Chris Lemonis. "That's the piece we have to find out about." First round pick Ethan Small and Peyton Plumlee both went pro last season from the starting rotation as did closer Cole Gordon and relievers Keegan James, Jared Liebelt, Colby White and Trysten Barlow.
Mississippi State baseball: 'Dynamic pitching staff' is a possibility
Like last year, Mississippi State baseball coach Chris Lemonis knows who he is starting on the mound on Friday nights. That's the easy part. Ethan Small was his ace a season ago. JT Ginn is the guy now. "We feel like we can go Friday night with anyone in the country with JT," Lemonis said. Also like last year, Lemonis has hopes for who will round out the rest of the weekend rotation, but it is not set in stone. Beyond Ginn, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Year, there will be some trial and error. Redshirt freshman Christian MacLeod is slated as the Saturday starter while sophomore Eric Cerantola has aspirations of being the man on Sundays. That gives Lemonis a righty-lefty-righty rotation, with each pitcher bringing a different set of skills. That's how it will ideally shape up, anyway. "We have a chance to have a dynamic pitching staff, but a couple of them haven't done it yet," Lemonis said. "That's the piece we have to find out about."
The W's planned baseball stadium could 'change the game' -- but it's still a ways away
Mississippi University for Women Athletic Director Jason Trufant knows fit is paramount when adding a new sports facility to an established campus. Trufant knows he's found the right fit for the new baseball stadium MUW is planning. Once completed, "Owls Park" will nest between Pohl Gymnasium and the university's Garrett Tennis Courts, which were renovated this summer. On The W's cramped grounds, the $5 million stadium will be a "permanent fixture" to the south side of the campus. But while Trufant and the Owls have the fit down, they're still waiting on the funding. The athletic director said last March in an article from the MUW Spectator that he expected to begin progress on phase one of the three-phase project 10 to 12 months later. Monday, though, Trufant admitted that the school is an estimated 18 to 24 months away from completing phase one, the largest of the three, which will comprise the field, bullpens, dugouts and lights.
Millsaps College has new head football coach
Millsaps College has hired Isaac Carter as its new head football coach. Carter comes to Millsaps from Mt. San Antonio College, a community college in Walnut, CA, where he has worked as defensive coordinator and professor of kinesiology since May 2017. Carter replaces former head coach Aaron Pelch, who in January 2020 was named as athletic director for Millsaps. Carter has extensive experience as a defensive coach, with stints at Colorado School of Mines, Whittier College, Las Vegas Locomotives (UFL), Colorado College, Princeton University, and New Mexico Highlands University. "We are very excited about hiring Isaac Carter as our new head football coach at Millsaps and welcoming his family to Jackson," Pelch said. "Isaac has a passion for working with student-athletes and mentoring their growth in a holistic way that matches the mission of Millsaps College."
South Carolina breaks UConn hex, seals status as nation's No. 1 team
They've been waiting a long time for this here. It was the last "big" thing the South Carolina women's basketball program had yet to do. One final hurdle in coach Dawn Staley's 12-season rise to national prominence. And before a passionately loud full house on Monday, the No. 1-ranked Gamecocks did it. Actually, they didn't just beat UConn for the first time, they dominated the Huskies 70-52, to the great delight of 18,000 fans at Colonial Life Arena. "I'm happy for them -- they cheered loud, they were proud, they've wanted this for us in the same breath that we wanted it for us," Staley said. "We felt that in a genuine way." UConn coach Geno Auriemma got a bit testy Monday when asked about having fallen to the top three teams in this week's AP Top 25 rankings, all by double digits. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks further cemented their hold on a No. 1 seed that would have them in the Greenville Regional, just over an hour's drive from their campus. The SEC tournament will be there, too, meaning the Gamecocks could advance to the Final Four without leaving the state of South Carolina; the Final Four is in New Orleans.
Tommy Tuberville stumps in Tuscaloosa for Senate run
An Auburn man came to Tuscaloosa seeking political supporters and friendly faces. On Monday, at City Cafe in downtown Northport, he found both. Tommy Tuberville, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate who coached Auburn University's football team from 1999 to 2008, said it's his collegiate affiliation has seldom come up during his 11 months on the campaign trail. And, when it does, Tuberville has a simple message. "As I tell them, this is not a game. This is about the future of our country and our kids and grandkids," Tuberville said. "I'm not going to get all the Alabama vote and I'm not going to get all the Auburn vote, but I've just been very encouraged by people wherever I've been." Tuberville, 65, is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. During a one-on-one interview with The Tuscaloosa News, Tuberville's main focus was on supporting President Donald J. Trump and reforming the federal education system.
Georgia seeks to avoid excise tax on highest-paid coaches
Georgia is taking steps that would allow it to attempt to avoid having to pay an excise tax aimed at the highest paid college coaches, a move that could save its athletics program around $2 million a year. The excise tax is part of the changes to federal legislation enacted into law in December 2017. It subjects certain tax-exempt organizations to a 21% tax on compensation above $1 million -- including bonuses -- that goes to any of their five highest-paid employees in a year. Because the University of Georgia Athletic Association is set up as a 501(c)(3) organization, it would ordinarily be subject to the tax. But after consultation with university counsel, the association has not made any such payments, deputy athletic director for finance Stephanie Ransom said Monday. As part of its upcoming federal tax return, the UGAA will contend that football coach Kirby Smart and men's basketball coach Tom Crean are "common law" employees of the University of Georgia and not employed by the Athletic Association itself, according to Kathy Pitts, of UGA tax preparer Ernst & Young. The university itself does not have recognition from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization. Instead, it operates as a part of the State of Georgia. So, it is not subject to the tax as the law is written.
NCAA, allies spend nearly $1M on Capitol Hill
As Congress considers whether to allow college athletes to receive endorsement money, the NCAA and its allies spent nearly $1 million last year lobbying lawmakers to shape any reforms to the organization's liking. The NCAA last fall said it would allow athletes to "benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness" and is crafting rules to put in place for its 1,100 member schools in coming months. But the organization has turned to Congress to step in as more and more states follow the lead of California, where a law set to take effect in 2023 clears the way for athletes to earn endorsement money. Organizations representing athletes have no paid lobbyists, leading to concern among some reform advocates that the deep-pocketed NCAA is shaping the debate. The NCAA's pressure campaign comes as the Senate prepares for a committee hearing Tuesday on player compensation. Rep. Mark Walker, a North Carolina Republican who introduced a bill last spring that would guarantee players the right to earn money from their name, image and likeness, told The Associated Press "there's no question" the NCAA's lobbying has been effective.

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