Thursday, February 13, 2020   
Mississippi State partners with community colleges for new technical degree program
Sixteen students enrolled in Mississippi State University's Bachelor of Applied Science program this semester, even though MSU had barely promoted the brand-new degree track that launched in fall 2019. That's because someone with an associate's degree in applied science does not have to repeat any credit hours in order to receive a bachelor's in the first-of-its-kind program, said Terry Dale Cruse, associate vice president and head of MSU's Meridian campus. "There were conversations we've had before where a student would come in with a certain amount of technical credits and really wanted to earn a bachelor's, but when they saw they were going to have to repeat some of those hours, the student would decide they didn't have the time or the resources to do that," Cruse said. "This is a real game-changer (for them)." East Mississippi Community College became the fifth institution on Wednesday to establish this partnership. EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks and MSU President Mark E. Keenum signed a memorandum of understanding at the Communiversity on EMCC's Mayhew campus.
Mississippi State, EMCC sign memorandum for bachelor of applied science
Students enrolled in technical degree programs at East Mississippi Community College now have a more direct path to a bachelor's degree with the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Mississippi State University. EMCC President Scott Alsobrooks and MSU President Mark Keenum signed the MOU at EMCC's Communiversity Wednesday morning. It is the latest in several MOUs with community colleges to allow technical credits to transfer into the university's bachelor of applied science degree. The program is administrated through MSU's Meridian campus. However, students can also take courses toward the bachelor of applied science at the MSU main campus in Starkville or online. "This option is really great for education, because it hadn't existed until now," Alsobrooks said. "I want to applaud our partners at my alma mater Mississippi State University for creating this option for our students."
Mississippi State, EMCC sign MOU that will allow career technical students to transfer credits
Mississippi State University and East Mississippi Community College have signed a memorandum of understanding that will benefit students enrolled in technical education programs. MSU launched its new Bachelor of Applied Science program in August. As of Wednesday, EMCC is the latest school to be accepted into their new program. MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum said this will open the door for many working Mississippians with a degree who want to further their education. "We want to give as many opportunities for an individual to continue their education." We're seeing today in many jobs, we're requiring more education beyond high school. Many require at least an associate degree. But we're seeing more jobs -- jobs in the future, they're going to require more and more education."
Mississippi State, EMCC link Bachelor of Applied Science degree program
Mississippi State University and East Mississippi Community College signed a memorandum of understanding Wednesday at EMCC's Communiversity to formalize a partnership that will benefit students enrolled in technical education programs. The agreement outlines a pathway for EMCC students to complete MSU's new Bachelor of Applied Science program, leveraging the strengths of both institutions to provide more opportunities in technical education and meet current and future workforce demands. "We need more two-year and four-year graduates to move Mississippi forward," MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. "By working together, I believe we'll be able to better assist our fellow Mississippians in gaining the education they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. We are committed to helping all of our BAS students excel, succeed, and earn a bachelor's degree --- building on the excellent foundation they have been given at EMCC."
Lowndes solar project to begin production in 2022
The Tennessee Valley Authority has awarded a contract with a Florida-based renewable energy company to build a 200 megawatt solar facility in west Lowndes County. Johan Vanhee, chief commercial and procurement officer for Origis Energy, met with landowners of the proposed site Wednesday at the Golden Triangle Regional Airport to confirm the agreement. Construction on the project is tentatively set to begin the second half of 2021. Under the terms of its contract with TVA, Origis will begin providing energy to TVA in October of 2022. During his announcement, Vanhee praised the eight land owners, who together own approximately 4,000 acres where the project will be built, located just west of the Infinity Megasite. LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said the next step locally will be executing a 10-year fee-in-lieu agreement between Lowndes County and Origis. Although not affiliated with the Infinity Megasite, the solar facility will enhance the appeal of the site to prospective tenants, Higgins said. "These types of power investments aren't just good for the tax base, they're good opportunities for future recruitment," Higgins said. "Not only does the Golden Triangle offer TVA's reliable, redundant power, we also offer new-to-the-world generation through renewable developments like this one."
After positive review from audit, MDOT commissioner tries to secure new funds
After receiving a largely positive review of its operations, a commissioner at the Mississippi Department of Transportation is attempting to secure new funding resources for the cash-strapped agency. State Auditor Shad White's office supervised a performance audit of MDOT, which was carried out by an outside firm. The report found that MDOT could take steps to cut costs in some areas, but ultimately concluded that the state agency was meeting several industry practice standards. "My hope is that the new MDOT leadership will be able to use this report to make MDOT as efficient as it can be for the taxpayers," White said in a press release. "The quality of our roads and bridges is important to Mississippi families, so we need to maximize the impact of every dollar we spend." John Caldwell, the northern district transportation commissioner, is one of two new transportation commissioners sworn into office last month. He told the Daily Journal on Wednesday he was pleased to see the positive indicators in the audit report and it was good to receive feedback from someone outside his own agency.
Speaker Philip Gunn to kill DMV reorganization plan pushed by secretary of state
Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, quickly signaled his intentions to kill a plan that would move oversight of the state's problem-riddled driver's license bureaus from the Department of Public Safety to the Secretary of State's office. The plan, unveiled this week by newly-elected Secretary of State Michael Watson, was announced Tuesday at an 11 a.m. press conference that about one dozen House Republicans attended. By 5 p.m., the Republican speaker's staff told Mississippi Today that the proposal does not have Gunn's support. "While the Speaker is committed to seeing improvements at the state's drivers license bureaus, he does not support moving oversight of the services to the Secretary of State's office," said Emily Simmons, Gunn's spokeswoman. "He believes the services can be best improved within the Department of Public Safety, with the ultimate goal being to make the process as efficient as possible for Mississippians."
Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus announces 2020 agenda
The Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus highlighted key issues that affect the African-American community, Wednesday at the Capitol Building. Chairwoman and Senator Angela Turner-Ford led the press conference. A main topic of concern was health care expansion along with addressing the state's infant mortality rate. "Black women in Mississippi are three times more likely to die from complications related to child birth. This is a travesty. And we want to do something about it," said Tuner-Ford. Under-funded public schools are also part of the agenda. Turner-Ford said education in predominantly black areas like Jackson should not suffer quality due to lack of funding or teacher shortages. "One way this could be addressed is to implement programs that allow for loan forgiveness for those teachers that decide they want to go and serve in under performing or economically depressed areas," she said.
MDHS discusses largest embezzlement scheme in state history, upcoming policy changes
It was one week ago that the news broke of what's been called the largest public embezzlement case in state history. As a reminder, the scheme includes more than $4.15 million dollars in embezzled government money. DHS went on camera with WLBT to answer questions about what happened and what they've changed to prevent the problem from happening again. Uncovering the scheme goes back further than you may realize. Executive Director John Davis was two-and-half-years into his time as head of the agency when they decided to add an Office of Inspector General within DHS. "There really hadn't been the internal auditing capability, the program integrity ability before that we had at that point that was created," explained DHS Chief Communications Officer Danny Blanton. And they did start an internal audit at the beginning of 2019. When it comes to finding the misspending detailed in the indictments, this was the atmosphere at the agency at the time. "People may have identified or suspected that something was amiss but, because of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation, they were afraid to say anything for fear of losing their jobs," noted Blanton.
Nancy New stepping away from private schools amid Mississippi welfare embezzlement scandal
The founder of a chain of private schools in Mississippi is stepping away from the business after her indictment in the largest alleged embezzlement scheme on state records, according to the company. Nancy New was one of six people accused last week of stealing at least $4.15 million in Mississippi welfare money from a nonprofit she founded. New also founded New Learning Resources, a private company that operates several private schools across the state. The company announced Wednesday that New was stepping down and an interim director would be announced shortly. The schools operated by New Learning Resources include New Summit School in Jackson, North New Summit School in Greenwood, Oxford University Academy in Oxford, South New Summit School in Hattiesburg, Spectrum Academy in Jackson, and an online school called the New Learning Resources Online.
Reeves, in his final days as lieutenant governor, backdated letter to put ally on state education board
In one of his last official acts as lieutenant governor, now-Gov. Tate Reeves announced he was appointing former state Sen. Nancy Collins of Tupelo to a coveted seat on the Mississippi State Board of Education. Mississippi Today obtained a letter Reeves sent to Collins informing her of the appointment dated July 1, 2019. But Collins said she did not know of the appointment until about the time Reeves announced it publicly on Jan. 3, 2020. The discrepancy around when the appointment was made raises the question of whether Reeves, whom pro-public education groups opposed during the heated 2019 gubernatorial campaign, delayed announcing the controversial appointment for political reasons. "The letter was backdated to the time that the vacancy occurred and transmitted after the election," said Reeves' spokesperson, Renae Eze. "We announced the appointment after the campaign so the people of Mississippi could trust that it was made in good faith." The appointment sets up a potentially dramatic vote for state senators who sit on the Senate Education Committee, whose members will vote on whether to confirm Reeves' nomination.
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith announces $7.5M in additional funding for backwater pumps
An additional $7.5 million has reportedly been allocated to address future flooding issues in the Yazoo Backwater Area. The additional funding was announced Monday by U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and is part of a total of $46.5 million in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 27 projects in Mississippi. Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds the Army Corps, said the additional FY2020 funding will support flood control structures, six wastewater projects in Clinton, Gautier, Oxford, Sardis, and Jackson and DeSoto counties, and harbor dredging in Gulfport and Pascagoula. "Congress gives the Army Corps the discretion to allocate funding to projects that are underfunded but would have a near-term positive impact on public health and safety. This is the case for the projects in Mississippi getting additional funding," Hyde-Smith said in a press release announcing the funds. "I am particularly pleased the Army Corps is dedicating funding to the Yazoo Backwater Area, which signals it understands the critical situation in the South Delta."
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg opens Oxford campaign office
Many candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination will not spend much time, if any, in Mississippi ahead of the March primary. Michael Bloomberg has chosen a different strategy. The former New York City mayor has chosen to plant his flag firmly in what is strongly considered a flyover state to most national Democratic candidates with the opening of a campaign office in Mississippi. "Mike's been clear he wants to run a different kind of campaign, so he's investing heavily in states all across the country. Not just Mississippi," Sam Hall told the EAGLE. "He's not running a traditional campaign. He's running where the voters are. It's not just a token campaign of 'Let's put a few organizers in the state or lets put one or two in the state to go around and talk.' It is a full fledged, well-funded, professional campaign." Hall is serving as communications manager for Bloomberg's Mississippi campaign.
East Mississippi Community College holds Black History Celebration
Students from East Mississippi Community College's Golden Triangle campus and the Golden Triangle Early College High School joined together on Tuesday morning to celebrate the contributions of African-Americans throughout the years. The college held its annual Black History Month Celebration, featuring Okolona Municipal Court Judge Sumeka C. Thomas as guest speaker. Thomas graduated from the University of Mississippi in history, before earning a law degree from the University of Mississippi Law School. She also serves as a judge on the Chickasaw County Youth Court. In her speech, she focused on the importance of perseverance. She discussed several famous and lesser-known African-Americans in history, before saying that perseverance was what linked them.
William Carey's provost Scott Hummel moving on to new job as a university president
Scott Hummel, William Carey University provost and executive vice president, has taken a job as president of Tusculum University in Greeneville, Tennessee. "This is an opportunity to lead a Christian university," Hummel told the Hattiesburg American. "I feel like I have learned much from Dr. (Tommy) King (Carey president), and my experiences here at Carey during my 12 years here." Tusculum University's Board of Trustees unanimously selected Hummel for his total of 30 years in the education profession and his demonstrated record of fundraising and enrollment growth success, the Kingston Times News in Kingsport, Tennessee, reported. Hummel will take over as Tusculum president Feb. 17. Hummel said he was proud of the work he had done at Carey, including helping to lead the response to the Jan. 21, 2017 tornado, which destroyed nearly every building at the university.
Who are the top 5 donors to the U. of Alabama?
The University of Alabama continues to grow, as does its financial needs. Last fall, more than 38,000 students were enrolled at the Capstone, the third consecutive year the number has reached that plateau. And as the school has grown, so have the contributions made by donors -- some well-known, some not-as-well. The last few years have seen some of the largest gifts in the school's history, as well as a very public tug-of-war over a large financial gift. Here's a look at the top five donors in the history of the university: 5. Mike and Kathy Mouron, $10.2 million; 4. Anonymous, $12.6 million; 3. Hugh F. Culverhouse, Sr., $16.2 million; 2. Marillyn and James Hewson, $20.5 million; and 1. C.T. and Kelley Fitzpatrick, $24 million. Missing from the list is Hugh Culverhouse Jr., a Florida attorney and son of the NFL owner who was at one time the largest donor in the school's history. Culverhouse donated $26.5 million to The University of Alabama Law School in Sept. 2018. However, last June, the UA Board of Trustees voted to return $21.5 million to Culverhouse and take his name off the School of Law.
Dillard's chief sets $10 million U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville gift
A $10 million gift will support the soon-to-be-named William Dillard Department of Accounting at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, the university announced Wednesday. Dillard, a 1935 UA accounting graduate, founded the department-store chain that has its corporate headquarters in Little Rock. The pending name change comes after his son, William T. Dillard II, has given approximately $6.5 million already in support of UA's accounting department and pledged another $3.5 million, UA spokesman David Speer said. Chancellor Joe Steinmetz, in a statement, called the store founder "an inspiration" for his business leadership and accomplishments, and said that "the naming of this department in his honor ensures his legacy will continue to inspire our students and serve our campus for years to come." Before the naming decision is final, the University of Arkansas board of trustees must approve the change.
University consolidation bill advances in Florida House
The Florida House advanced a bill Wednesday that would shrink Florida's university system from 12 to 10 schools by revoking the independent status of New College of Florida in Sarasota and Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland. In pushing to make New College part of Florida State University and Florida Polytechnic part of the University of Florida, state Rep. Randy Fine pointed to the high cost of producing degrees at the two smallest schools in Florida's university system. Not including tuition paid by students, Fine said that each degree costs $197,681 in state taxpayer money at New College and $180,958 at Florida Polytechnic University. That compares with an average cost per degree across all 12 schools in Florida's university system of $28,208 in taxpayer money, Fine said. The legislation has received a torrent of criticism, though, with lawmakers on the committee saying they received large numbers of phone calls and emails voicing opposition to the bill.
Texas A&M sees record for spring enrollment
Texas A&M University has 64,961 students enrolled for the spring 2020 semester -- a record for spring enrollment, according to Texas A&M Today. At the flagship campus in College Station, 59,837 students are enrolled for the spring semester, which is also a record. The enrollment totals include students at the main campus in College Station, the branch campuses in Galveston and Doha, Qatar, the Health Science Center and other sites throughout the state. Notable figures in the data released Wednesday include a 6% rise in students of Asian descent compared to last year -- up to 5,269 students from the spring 2019 total of 4,973. There are 2,149 black students currently enrolled at A&M, a 2.3% drop compared to last year's 2,200. They comprise 3.3% of the student population. Last fall, Texas A&M posted a record enrollment of 69,465 students, making it the largest university by student population in Texas and among the national leaders.
Higher education lobbying has declined, but will that change?
A decade ago, Bucknell University was among 700 other higher education institutions and groups that spent about $100 million to hire lobbyists in Washington -- many of them hitting up members of Congress for earmarks to pay for things like a new campus lab or building. But in the years since 2011, when federal lawmakers stopped handing out earmarks to their favorite projects, much has changed in how higher education lobbies. Many smaller and midsize institutions, like Bucknell, have decided to not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on D.C. lobbyists if they can no longer get a line inserted in the budget for new equipment or a building. The number of higher education institutions and groups hiring lobbyists to influence Congress has dropped by about a fourth between 2010 and 2019, from 683 to 396, according to an Inside Higher Ed analysis of federal lobbying disclosure data. The drop in congressional lobbying by higher education reflects an overall drop in spending on educational lobbying, including K-12.
Longer coronavirus crisis persists, bigger the likely impact on Chinese student enrollments
The biggest story in international education over the last decade was, in a word, China. As the number of students from China studying in the U.S. grew rapidly, fueled by a big increase in tuition-paying undergraduates, colleges and universities grew reliant on them to balance their budgets. And as Chinese universities grew in stature, American colleges created innumerable partnerships with their Chinese counterparts in research and other areas. Now the global public health crisis precipitated by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, COVID-19, in China -- and the imposition of travel restrictions barring entry to the U.S. of most foreign nationals who have traveled to China within the last 14 days -- threatens student flows and other forms of collaboration. More than 1,100 people have died from the virus, which was first identified in December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the center of the outbreak.
Harvard, Yale Targets Of Education Department Probe Into Foreign Donations
The U.S. Department of Education says it is opening an investigation of Yale and Harvard universities for failing to disclose hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts and contracts from foreign donors. The two Ivy League schools have been singled out in a federal crackdown on institutions of higher learning for allegedly not reporting foreign donations of more than $250,000, as required by law under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act. The Department of Education said Yale failed to disclosed a total of $375 million in foreign money and that it was concerned that Harvard may not have fully complied with reporting requirements. "This is about transparency," Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in the statement. "If colleges and universities are accepting foreign money and gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know how much and from whom." Last year, the department also sent letters to Georgetown University, Texas A&M University, Cornell University, Rutgers University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland.
Darryll Pines, a veteran engineering dean, to become next U-Md. president
The veteran engineering dean of the University of Maryland has been chosen to become the next president of the state's flagship public university in College Park, leaders of the state university system announced Wednesday. Darryll J. Pines, who has led the Clark School of Engineering at College Park since January 2009, will succeed retiring U-Md. President Wallace D. Loh, the state system's Board of Regents said in a statement. Pines is expected to take office July 1. In choosing Pines, 55, the regents are elevating an insider at the helm of one of the university's most prominent academic operations. Every year, federal data shows, U-Md. awards more than 1,100 bachelor's degrees in engineering and hundreds more master's and doctoral degrees in that field. Pines, a professor of aerospace engineering, has been on the College Park faculty since 1995 and has held the position of engineering dean for Loh's entire tenure. He took a leave of absence from College Park from 2003 to 2006 to work as a program manager for tactical technology and defense sciences at the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
UNC's Silent Sam Settlement Sparked a Backlash. Now a Judge Has Overturned the Deal.
A state judge on Wednesday threw out a controversial settlement in which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill would have given the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and paid the group $2.5 million for the monument's upkeep. The original Silent Sam deal -- between the University of North Carolina system, its Board of Governors, and the Sons of Confederate Veterans, announced in November -- sparked protests at Chapel Hill, especially after the publication of documents suggesting that the board didn't have to offer the statue to the Confederate group on such generous terms. In addition, legal scholars argued that the group never had standing to sue for possession of Silent Sam in the first place. Before the Board of Governors decided to hand Silent Sam to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, students and faculty members had lobbied and protested for the statue's removal from the campus, arguing that it created a racially hostile environment.
Some colleges atoning for slavery by offering their own reparations
The University of Virginia's 2018 report on the institution's ownership and treatment of enslaved people centuries ago tells the tale of a 10-year-old black girl who was savagely beaten unconscious in 1856 by Noble Noland, a student who deemed her reply to his questions too insolent. The attack's prominence in the report is part of an ongoing effort to account for -- and atone for -- the ways the university encouraged, enabled and profited from slavery. In recent years, Virginia, Harvard and other schools have acknowledged how they used the labor of enslaved blacks, accepted thousands in contributions from plantation owners and upheld the racist systems that falsely validated the mythology of white supremacy and black inferiority. As schools acknowledge their past role in slavery, they also wrestle with the question of reparations.
History jobs report indicates that the market may be stabilizing
The number of advertised full-time faculty jobs in history declined slightly last year, after increasing slightly the year before. Yet the relative stability in job numbers in 2018-19 signals that the history job market is normalizing after years of steep declines prior to 2017-18. At the same time, fewer Ph.D.s in history are being awarded. The new data appeared in the American Historical Association's annual jobs report, released Wednesday. The report is based on jobs posted to the AHA Career Center and the separate H-Net Job Guide. About 25 percent of historians work outside academe, so the report does not reflect the entire jobs outlook, but it is considered representative of overall disciplinary trends. "We may have reached a point of stability in the academic job market," reads the report, written by Dylan Ruediger, an AHA staffer. During the 2018-19 hiring cycle, the AHA Career Center hosted ads for 538 full-time positions, making for a 1.8 percent decline year over year.
If Mississippi is going to deregulate wine sales, let's do it all the way
Alan Lange writes for Y'all Politics: I like wine. A lot. I'm fortunate to really enjoy it in a generally healthy way, which I don't take for granted. But I really like wine. There is a well-moneyed effort percolating in the Mississippi legislature to allow wine sales in grocery stores. Sounds simple enough. But the regulatory underpinnings make this a lot more complicated that meets the eye. ... Mississippi owes it to both the retailers it has licensed and placed heavy restrictions on and the consumers they serve to deregulate wine/liquor sales to mirror that in other states. Consumers should enjoy the ability to access a market (wine and liquor) without regard to what the state allows them to have access to. Wine in grocery stores is something that's a convenience and something that in the end analysis is a good thing. But a sense of fair play says that it's something that at the very least should be phased in so that the current licensed retailers whose stores are often their only source of revenue aren't screwed in the process.

Mississippi State baseball radio broadcaster Jim Ellis honored with Wilbur Snypp Award
Jim Ellis, the play-by-play radio broadcaster for the Mississippi State baseball team, was named the 45th recipient of the Wilbur Snypp Award, given out by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association annually for outstanding contributions to college baseball. The award honors the late Wilbur "Bill" Snypp, the former sports information director for Ohio State and the founder of the NCBWA. Ellis is in his 42nd year as the team's play-by-play broadcaster. He's made 10 trips to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series and has been behind the mic for over 2,500 games. Ellis also spent 2011-2017 as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Bulldogs' football and men's basketball programs. He's called 31 of 38 NCAA tournament appearances, five regular-season Southeastern Conference championships and all seven SEC tournament titles for the baseball program.
How Mississippi State will replace Jake Mangum, Elijah MacNamee in outfield
Mississippi State fans grew accustomed to the warm greetings they'd get from outfielders Jake Mangum and Elijah MacNamee at Dudy Noble Field. MacNamee was no stranger to the folks grilling up finger foods in their Left Field Lounge rigs. He'd often walk to the fence mid-game to grab a few bites to eat. Mangum usually only drifted that far out to make diving catches. Fans loved those just as much as they loved feeding MacNamee. Whatever they did, they owned the outfield. But they don't own it any longer. Both players have departed to play professional ball. They've left some capable outfielders in their wake. Here's what Mississippi State's outfield will look like during the 2020 season.
Why Mississippi State baseball feels good about catcher Luke Hancock
Chris Lemonis was nervous at this time last year. About his first season as Mississippi State's baseball coach? Sure, those jitters were undeniable. Speaking specifically, though, Lemonis said he was wary about who he had at catcher. Junior Dustin Skelton had 53 career catching starts under his belt entering the 2019 season, but he was only a career .226 hitter. He also had 10 errors to his name. Skelton was still Lemonis' best backstop option, so he rode with him. After 63 games and 59 starts, Skelton turned in one of the better seasons a Mississippi State catcher has ever had. He hit .314 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs. He was the hitter in the bottom half of the order Lemonis could consistently rely on. Most importantly, he was just as reliable behind the plate. Skelton only committed two errors in a junior season that afforded him the opportunity to join the Toronto Blue Jays organization as a 36th-round pick. A year later, Lemonis goes into his second season in Starkville with a sophomore catcher who has only started four games at the position: Luke Hancock. And yet, Lemonis said he feels pretty good about it.
Mississippi State baseball position preview: Infield
While the 2020 Mississippi State baseball team boasts ample question marks heading into Friday's season opener against Wright State, few arise in the Bulldog infield. Fresh off a run to Omaha, Nebraska, and a second straight trip to the College World Series, MSU returns arguably the nation's most prolific middle infield between junior shortstop Jordan Westburg and junior second baseman Justin Foscue. Despite totaling 12 errors at shortstop following a transition from third base, Westburg settled into his spot in the middle of the infield -- finishing with just four errors over the final 38 games of the 2019 season. Foscue took a similar liking to his slot at second base, as he recorded just six errors over MSU's final 40 games of the year. Beyond the defense, Westburg and Foscue figure to comprise the middle of MSU's batting order.
Mississippi State baseball season opener against Wright State moved up due to weather
The 2020 season opener for the Mississippi State baseball team set for Friday against Wright State at Dudy Noble Field in Starkville was moved up to 1 p.m. from 4 p.m. Friday, the school announced Wednesday. Cold temperatures in the forecast for Friday evening forced the Bulldogs' hand. Start times for the rest of the series are unchanged. Mississippi State will play Wright State at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday at Dudy Noble.
Mississippi State softball pours it on to run-rule Alabama State in home opener
The Mississippi State softball team needed a wake-up call. The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead in Wednesday's home opener against Alabama State at Nusz Park in Starkville, leading 2-0 at the end of two innings. But in the third, the Hornets woke up. Kindall DeRamus brought home a run with a single up the middle, and Alexis Sydnor lashed a double off the left-field wall. Just like that, the game was evened at 2-2. Mississippi State coach Samantha Ricketts knew the Bulldogs couldn't afford to stay tied for long. "We know for our expectations if we want to be an elite team that we're gonna need to answer back in a big way, especially when a team ties it up on us," Ricketts said. On Wednesday, at least, the Bulldogs passed that test. In the bottom of the inning, freshman shortstop Madisyn Kennedy broke the tie with a three-run home run off the netting protecting the scoreboard in left field. Mississippi State (5-0) turned on the jets from there, scoring five more runs in the inning and adding six more in the fourth to speed away to a five-inning 16-2 win over Alabama State (2-4).
'Feed the Post' sums up Mississippi State forward's year
Quinten Post usually stands out in a crowd and the 7-foot freshman forward holds the distinction of being the tallest player on Mississippi State's roster. Post, however, is still getting used to the extra attention that comes along with being so tall. At 15, The Netherlands native was a slightly above average height of 6-foot-1 but sprouted six inches before his 17th birthday and five more now that he is 19. "People come up to me all the time and ask how tall I am and if I play basketball way more than they did at home," Post said. With Post growing nearly a foot taller in his late teens, his role on the basketball court has changed drastically. But he also has a well-rounded game that professional scouts love because of the skills he learned in his early years of playing. "Since I hit my growth spurt so late I was super skinny and couldn't play inside," Post said. "I'd usually play the three and maybe the four a little bit. I can shoot and dribble because that's how I played when I was younger."
SEC baseball 2020 preview: What teams will contend for the conference title?
College baseball season has arrived. Before the games start Friday night, we broke down the Southeastern Conference divisions into contenders, dark horses and teams that may not contended until next season. SEC WEST CONTENDERS Mississippi State (52-15, 20-10) Mississippi State must replace its Friday night starter and the all-time SEC hits leader, but this group has more than enough talent to compete for a third-straight trip to Omaha. DARK HORSES Ole Miss (41-27, 16-14) Though Ole Miss signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country, it lost seven key players from its NCAA Super Regional squad. This young team may need a season.
Auburn announces sale of alcohol to public at Plainsman Park
Wednesday morning, Auburn Athletics announced changes to the fan experience at Plainsman Park for home baseball games. The Plainsman Patio returns on the first-base side, the Tiger Terrace will now provide alcohol and Auburn baseball announced a partnership with Tailgate Guys for the 2020 season. The Tiger Terrace, located down the left-field line, will open alcohol sales to the public for the 2020 season. The area will be open to all fans with a ticket for the game. Beer and wine will be sold in the Tiger Terrace but fans will not be permitted to leave the area with their alcohol. No food or beverage not purchase in area will be allowed in, either. Seating in The Tiger Terrace is limited with picnic tables and high tops, so Auburn encourages fans to bring their own chairs for the terrace. Alcohol sales will conclude at the top of the seventh inning during each game. Previously, alcohol was available in Plainsman Park only to premium ticket holders.
Want to have a beer watching Tennessee baseball at Lindsey Nelson Stadium? Now you can
Tennessee baseball fans now can enjoy a crisp adult beverage at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. UT announced Wednesday it will sell beer at home baseball games this season, following the move it made at football, soccer, volleyball and basketball events this year. Seven home football games netted nearly $1.5 million in revenue, which UT split evenly with Aramark, its concessions provider. Vols baseball fans can purchase a maximum of two beers per transaction, and each drink must be poured into a clear cup upon purchase. Fans cannot leave the stadium with alcohol, and all fans will be required to produce a valid photo ID each time. Beer will be sold along the first-base line in the plaza and in the members-only MVP room area. Tennessee also will sell beer during SEC games along the third-base line, where food trucks will be located. Tennessee opens its season Friday against Western Illinois.
New UF baseball stadium takes shape, football training facility on deck
Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan has always been one of those stay-in-the-moment coaches whose focus is on today, the next practice or game, and nothing beyond. But he's made an exception to that personal unwritten rule over the past 12 months. He's been taking peeks into the future, and doing it just about every weekday, usually more than once a day. That's OK, though. It's perfectly fine. It's certainly understandable and acceptable. He's been keeping a close eye on his new baby, his rapidly growing baby -- the new baseball stadium, Florida Ballpark, under construction on the southwest edge of campus next to the lacrosse stadium and complex. "I drive by every morning and every night," O'Sullivan said. "It's kind of a baseball superstition. I have to drive by it every morning and night regardless of the traffic. It's coming along, it looks really nice. I just went by the other day and they've got the brackets in for the seats, and they'll start putting in the seats now and I think the grass goes down next month. So, it'll be done here before we know it." Where just a year ago stood an open, grassy field with some scattered scrub brush and trees, a shiny new stadium is rising.
Missouri baseball strives for success despite sanctions
Last Memorial Day, all Missouri baseball could do was watch the NCAA selection show on ESPNU, as it barely missed making the tournament field. The Tigers were one of the "First Four Out" as the NCAA picked its final 64 squads vying for a national championship. After MU swept a home series against South Carolina in late April, those around the program thought hosting a regional was still on the table. But when Missouri lost six of its last seven games of the year, the offseason came earlier than expected. Fast forward six months, as the Tigers were on Thanksgiving break, the NCAA upheld all previously announced sanctions taken against the university due to past academic fraud. Those penalties included a one-year postseason ban, meaning Missouri already knows its season finale is May 16 against Texas A&M at Taylor Stadium. "When the news first came down, all the guys were very distraught," Missouri fourth-year head coach Steve Bieser said of the postseason ban. The football and softball teams also received one-year postseason bans as part of the academic fraud case.
Another extension for AD Greg McGarity 'in his court,' UGA president says
Greg McGarity's current Georgia contract runs out in four and a half months but the SEC's second longest tenured athletic director didn't get another one-year extension Wednesday at the Athletic Association's winter board of directors meeting. It was at the same meeting a year ago that the now 65-year old McGarity's deal was extended and president Jere Morehead said he could remain in the position longer. Morehead left that option Wednesday fully up to McGarity when asked after the meeting held at the Georgia Center if the ball was in his AD's court on another extension. "It's always in his court," Morehead said. "I have great confidence in Greg." McGarity, who is paid $700,000 annually, is completing his 10th year as athletic director. He's the 14th longest tenured AD nationally, but two of those ahead of him on that list -- UCLA's Dan Guerrero and Indiana's Fred Glass have announced plans to retire after this school year.
Paul Finebaum exploring options, including sitcom, as ESPN contract nears end, per report
Paul Finebaum has transitioned from newspaper reporter and columnist to radio talk show host to college football analyst over the years. Could the Mouth of the South's next move be sitcom star? The SEC Network analyst, who's three-year contract with ESPN ends in the summer of 2021, has had representatives reach out to other networks about potential opportunities, according to a report in the Sports Business Daily. Among the ideas being discussed with all four major networks, per the report, is a pitch to gauge interest in a sitcom about Finebaum, 64, and his call-in show. There was no mention as to whether Finebaum would star in the sitcom. reached out to Finebaum on Wednesday morning, but he was traveling and unavailable for comment. In addition, the Sports Business Daily reports Finebaum has been approached about creating a website and podcasting network, similar to The Ringer.
Trump to court 'God-fearing, country-loving Americans' at Daytona 500
President Donald Trump has his next MAGA-friendly sporting event lined up -- the Daytona 500. The president on Sunday is expected to attend the annual NASCAR race, one of the most famous on the auto racing circuit. From being booed at the World Series to cheered at the college football championship game, Trump has spent the last few months popping up at various sporting events around the country -- to mixed reactions. But Sunday's event promises to be a favorable landscape for a president who is trying to court voters in an election year through such appearances. Trump, who plans to spend this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in south Florida, will fly to the season-opening NASCAR race on his way back to Washington, according to two people familiar with the situation, including a Capitol Hill Republican aide. Three other Republican presidents attended the Daytona 500: Ronald Reagan in 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1992 and George W. Bush in 2004. Recent Democratic presidents have not attended the race.

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