Tuesday, March 10, 2020   
Officials expect low turnout in Lowndes, higher in Oktibbeha
Low or pretty good? While voters continue to go to the poll today to cast ballots in the Democratic and Republican primaries, the expected turnout varies. Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Teresa Barksdale, noting limited contested races in the Republican primary, doesn't expect big numbers of voters. There figures to be more drama in Oktibbeha County, which skews more Democratic than its neighbor to the east. Oktibbeha County Deputy Circuit Clerk Sheryl Elmore expects a better turnout. "I think turnout will be pretty good," Elmore said. "We had 513 absentee votes, which is about 200 more than four years ago. I know we were slammed with absentee voters Thursday and Friday. So I do expect the turnout to be good." Some voters in Oktibbeha County will cast ballots for 3rd District House of Representatives. On the Republican side, incumbent Michael Guest faces James Tulp. In the Democratic primary, the 3rd District race pits Dot Benfield against Katelyn Lee. Polls remain open until 7 p.m.
Mississippi primary 2020: Where to vote, sample ballots, turnout
Mississippians head to the polls Tuesday to choose party nominees for president and Congress. The polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and any voter in line at 7 p.m. is entitled to cast a ballot. To find out where your polling place is located, visit sos.ms.gov/pollingplace. Sample ballots for statewide and legislative candidates are at sos.ms.gov/elections-voting, or visit your county's election site. Voters must present a form of government photo identification at their polling place, such as a driver's license, passport, or military photo ID. If you do not have photo ID with you, you can still cast an affidavit ballot, but you must present photo ID at the local circuit or municipal clerk's office within five working days to have your vote counted. Meanwhile, three of Mississippi's four U.S. House districts will see competitive primary races, and Democrats will get to choose their nominee to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in November's general election.
Mississippi among 6 states with presidential primary Tuesday
Voters in Mississippi's Democratic presidential primary Tuesday were choosing between two leading candidates and a third whose delegate count lagged far behind. Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in the state Sunday, working to shore up support among African Americans, who make up 38% of Mississippi's population and an even larger share of the Democratic electorate. He spoke to a predominantly black congregation during a worship service at New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, then ate lunch at a soul food restaurant before speaking to a racially diverse crowd at historically black Tougaloo College. Six states were holding primaries Tuesday. From highest to lowest in numbers of delegates awarded, they were Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota. Mississippi will award 36 Democratic delegates.
Mississippi absentee voting strong compared to past presidential primaries
Democratic absentee ballots for Tuesday's party primaries are far outpacing those requested during the last two contested presidential primaries in the state, according to information from the Mississippi Secretary of State's office. Democratic absentee ballots requested before lunch Monday, which is election eve, totaled 14,107 and 11,458 had been returned. In 2008, 5,195 people voted absentee in the Democratic primary while 6,921 did in 2016. Often times, election watchers view the number of people voting absentee as an indicator of overall turnout. But that was not the case in 2008 when absentee voting was low but the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama set a record that still stands as the largest turnout in the state's history for a presidential primary of either party. Just more than 434,000 people voted in the 2008 Clinton-Obama primary. In 2016, about 416,000 voted in the Republican primary when Donald Trump was on the ballot.
Coronavirus testing continues in Mississippi, Louisiana reports case
Even as regional neighbors including Tennessee and Louisiana reported cases of the new coronavirus on Monday, Mississippi has no confirmed cases yet, with 14 individuals testing negative in the state so far. The Mississippi Department of Health released updated testing numbers on Monday, indicating that its report of 14 individuals screened so far were accurate numbers as of Friday. A spokesperson for the Health Department told the Daily Journal these testing numbers will be updated weekly. According to that spokesperson, Liz Sharlot, testing for COVID-19 is being conducted using the latest criteria from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The Health Department, however, would not release on Monday the number of testing kits currently on hand in Mississippi. Also on Monday, the state Health Department advised that longterm care facilities, like nursing homes, in the northern Mississippi counties DeSoto, Marshall, Tate and Tunica take additional precautions.
COVID-19 not yet impacting visitation and conventions on Coast and Jackson
The situation with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S. is rapidly changing. An example is the number of states with confirmed cases went from 19 on March 6 to 20 on March 9. There is great concern about nose dives in the U.S. stock markets, and how fears of the virus could stop people from traveling -- particularly on airplanes. But two of the largest tourism destinations in the state are reporting no impact yet on conventions. Visit Jackson is working in concert with other leaders in the tourism industry, sharing our resources to collectively keep our offices, visitors and, convention attendees safe, said Kim Lewis, communications and destination development manager. Visit Jackson. Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi, said team members and their partner agencies are closely monitoring the potential impacts the coronavirus may have on traveler intentions to their destination. "After conducting outreach to many of our industry partners, we are not seeing any negative changes to booking patterns or cancellations directly related to possible threats of coronavirus at this time," Segarra said.
Tupelo lawmaker files bill changing requirements for liquor stores to host 'sampling events'
A local lawmaker has filed a bill in the Mississippi Legislature that would revise the regulations currently in place for a "tasting" or "sampling event" hosted by a liquor store. State Rep. Shane Aguirre, a Republican from Tupelo, filed House Bill 1427, which would allow package liquor stores to serve no more than eight ounces of wine to one person and no more than four ounces of distilled spirits to one person at a sampling event. Aguirre said the current version of the legislation likely won't be the final version of the bill and there's some discussion among other lawmakers to amend the proposed law to reduce the amount of liquor served at the sampling event. "A tasting or sampling event shall be conducted completely within an area that is cordoned off by barriers clearly separating the event from the point of sale of any alcoholic beverage and may last not longer than four hours," the bill reads. Lawmakers have until Thursday to pass general bills that have been introduced from its own legislative chamber.
Baker Donelson adds Parker Wiseman to disaster recovery and government services team
Baker Donelson recently announced that Parker Y. Wiseman has joined the Disaster Recovery and Government Services Team in the Firm's Jackson office. Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Wiseman served in the Mississippi Attorney General's office as the Special Assistant Attorney General where he pursued Medicaid fraud and vulnerable person abuses for prosecution or settlement. Wiseman served two terms as mayor of Starkville. A graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, Wiseman received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from Mississippi State University and his Masters of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
President Trump's life during coronavirus: Same routine, more Purell
Before President Donald Trump took photos with about 100 VIP donors at his south Florida Mar-a-Lago resort Sunday afternoon, staffers gave them a squirt of hand sanitizer and a form to list recent international travel. That was the exception. As the coronavirus quickly spreads across the U.S., schools are closing, employees are working remotely and major conferences are being canceled. But for the White House and Trump, changes have been limited -- and inconsistent. Visitors to the White House have had to start disclosing which countries they've traveled to in the past 30 days. Employees have been receiving emails about washing their hands. And the building itself is being cleaned more often. But Trump, an admitted germaphobe who regularly uses Purell, has continued shaking hands. He's posed for photos with -- and sometimes touching -- others. And he's kept headlining massive events, including his Make America Great Again rallies, and has vowed that those will continue. Trump wants to send a message of calm as the U.S. stock markets plunge over fears that the coronavirus will hamper global supply chains.
Unsettling day provides little coronavirus guidance for Congress
On Monday, as Congress returned to the Capitol with a rapidly growing roster of members exposed to the new coronavirus, leaders and high-ranking officials could not agree on who has the ultimate authority to change security and health protocols on the Hill, where thousands of lawmakers, staffers and visitors interact every day. At the end of a remarkably unsettling day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that despite several lawmakers being under self-quarantine after coming in contact with people infected with the coronavirus, there will not be changes to the House schedule and legislative work will continue as planned -- at least for now. "At the present time, there is no reason for us not to continue with our vital legislative work in the Capitol," Pelosi wrote in a Monday evening "Dear Colleague" letter. The House Democratic Caucus will hear from the chamber's sergeant-at-arms, attending physician and the chief administrative officer Tuesday morning for an update on protocols to continue operation of the Capitol and to prepare offices for new developments or further spread of the coronavirus.
Coronavirus threatens to pose an unprecedented challenge to the 2020 elections
When asked what kept him up at night, Ben Wikler, who is responsible for delivering a must-win state in November as chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, used to answer, "unknown unknowns." He no longer has to wonder what such a risk might look like. Presidential campaigns, parties and state election officials are scrambling to heed health warnings while safeguarding the democratic process against a growing coronavirus epidemic whose scope is difficult to predict. Their planning has included advising voters not to lick their mail-in ballots, relocating polling places away from senior living communities, and weighing whether to move forward with plans to bring tens of thousands of visitors from around the world to Milwaukee and Charlotte for the planned Democratic and Republican summer conventions, respectively. None of the presidential campaigns has made significant changes, even as all emphasize they will follow the recommendations of health experts. Still, the virus, which caused stocks to nose-dive on Monday, suddenly brought every assumption about the unfolding of the 2020 race into question. It also intensified fears about election interference and disinformation, after social media became host to false claims about last-minute voting changes on Super Tuesday.
President Trump plans payroll tax relief in response to coronavirus
President Donald Trump says his administration will ask Congress to pass payroll tax relief and other quick measures as a public health and economic maelstrom brought on by the coronavirus drew closer to him personally. Intending to calm the fears of financial markets over the impact of the epidemic, Trump told reporters Monday he is seeking "very substantial relief" to the payroll tax. Trump also said he was seeking help for hourly-wage workers to ensure they're "not going to miss a paycheck" and "don't get penalized for something that's not their fault." He stepped forward with the contours of an initiative after markets dropped sharply and as the outbreak spread. Several Trump confidants in Congress disclosed they were isolating themselves after potential exposure to the virus; one traveled with the president from Florida on Air Force One on Monday; another was his just-tapped new chief of staff.
Coronavirus task force member shares how Auburn is preparing
At its most recent meeting, the University's coronavirus task force discussed how to best prepare if or when Alabama and Auburn see its first cases of COVID-19. Joanna Sztuba-Solinska, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and an expert in virology, is a member of the task force and told The Plainsman that the group is meeting once a week, coordinating plans and procedures. Around 30 people attend the more than two-hour-long task force meetings held in the public safety building, she said. Some initiatives that have been agreed upon by the task force include putting more hand sanitizing stations around campus and distributing "care packages" to students that will include hand sanitizer and tissue, Sztuba-Solinska said. She said University officials told task force members that they had 1,000 of these care packages, but they plan to make another 5,000. The University is also planning to distribute more crews to clean bathrooms and classrooms more often and more quickly, Sztuba-Solinska said.
Vanderbilt University cancels classes amid coronavirus concerns
Vanderbilt University announced Monday it is canceling classes for the rest of the week amid concerns about the coronavirus. It is also canceling all in-person classes starting March 16 through at least March 30. The university will adopt distance learning and other options during that time. A news release from interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente said the decision came after the school learned several students returned to campus who have since reported being exposed to an individual who tested positive Monday for the coronavirus, or COVID-19. "The individual who tested positive is being treated at home and did not return to campus," Wente said. Wente said the move is based on a "desire to protect the health and safety of our community from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19)." Last week, Vanderbilt University confirmed a student who was traveling internationally for a study abroad program had contracted coronavirus. The student didn't return to Nashville and is currently undergoing treatment in their hometown outside of Tennessee. The student hasn't been publicly identified.
UF to profs: Move classes online, as soon as possible
The University of Florida's top academic administrator announced late Monday afternoon that faculty should move their in-person classes online as soon as possible. While it's not yet a requirement, "there is a strong probability that it will become a requirement before the end of the spring semester," so instructors are encouraged to make the move now, the memo read. The move is a response to the coronavirus outbreak. Two people in Florida have died from the illness. At least one person in Alachua County is being monitored for COVID-19, with test results pending, according to Paul Myers, the county's director for the state health department. Myers said no presumptive positive test results have been received. He declined to say how many people are being monitored or where they are staying, at a hospital or at home. Other coronavirus tests in Alachua County have been negative, Myers said, but he declined to say how many people have been tested. UF spokesman Steve Orlando said officials are monitoring the spread of coronavirus closely and circumstances are fluid.
U. of Florida journalism dean Diane McFarlin to retire
Diane McFarlin, dean of the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications, will retire at the end of the year. The former reporter, editor and publisher made the announcement Monday that she will step down after eight years as dean. "The decision has not been easy, but after much soul-searching, I believe the time is right for me and the College," she wrote in an email that went to college alumni. She praised the college's accomplishments during her time as its leader, noting that the school's enrollment is up 14%, the research and professional faculty have grown and the school's endowment has grown by 25% to $70 million. Provost Joe Glover will convene a search committee soon for her replacement in hopes that finalists will be named early September. "I have loved every role that I have played in my 44-year career," she wrote. "Each job has seemed better than the last, and that has certainly been true as dean of my alma mater."
Virus worries hit U. of Arkansas, Fayetteville events
A University of Arkansas, Fayetteville conference on blockchain technology has been postponed because of public health concerns related to the covid-19 illness. The 2020 Blockchain for Business conference set for Friday will instead take place possibly this fall, UA spokesman David Speer said. "Due to public health concerns, we concluded that the most responsible form of action we can take is delaying the conference" until a later date, Kathryn Carlisle, senior managing director for the UA Blockchain Center for Excellence, said in a statement to attendees. UA released her statement to the Democrat-Gazette. Two job fairs for students scheduled for today and Wednesday at Bud Walton Arena have not been canceled, though a few companies are no longer planning to attend. Angela Williams, executive director for the UA Career Development Center, said in an email Monday that three companies "listed company restrictions on traveling due to the coronavirus outbreak as their reason for the cancellation" of their participation at a Wednesday event for science, technology, engineering and mathematics students.
Coronavirus could close college campuses, including UGA
Georgia colleges and universities are preparing for the possibility of eliminating in-person classes on account of the unfolding COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. "If social distancing becomes necessary, it is possible we would need to close the university for a period of time. To ensure that instruction continues, all faculty must be prepared to teach courses remotely from home. We know that some of you have never taught online and will find this daunting. We are committed to providing the support you need to be successful," according to a post by Georgia State University Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Wendy Hensel. Other universities, including the University of Georgia, are also planning for the possibility. UGA is largely empty this week as students take their annual spring break. The University System of Georgia has also produced an online training course called "Rapid Guide to Teaching Online." The University System covers the state's public colleges and universities, including UGA.
Coronavirus sparks emergency planning in Baton Rouge, from the homeless to college students
Officials at Baton Rouge's largest homeless facility are preparing for a potential outbreak of the new coronavirus, amid worries the population it serves might be among those who suffer the most if they contract this ailment. Those preparations are the latest taken by local agencies -- including colleges and schools -- to prepare for, and prevent, the spread of the virus. On Monday, state health officials announced the first presumptive Louisiana case of coronavirus, in a patient from Jefferson Parish. That person was being treated at a hospital in New Orleans. In recent days, both LSU and Baton Rouge Community College have informed faculty that they are considering suspending face-to-face classes at some point depending on the spread of COVID-19. BRCC sent out its email to faculty on Friday while LSU sent its faculty email Saturday. Gov. John Bel Edwards on Monday exhorted people to remain vigilant in helping curb the illness' spread, pointing to steps like hand washing, cough covering and staying home when sick.
Oak Ridge scientists enlist supercomputer in search for existing drug to stop COVID-19
Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists have focused the power of the world's fastest supercomputer to search for an existing drug that can prevent the new coronavirus from penetrating human cells. Scientists hope to discover a known drug to stop COVID-19, the serious respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, because drugs already in production would require less safety testing before use on patients, said Jeremy Smith, director of the joint University of Tennessee/Oak Ridge National Laboratory Center for Molecular Biophysics. "What we are trying to find is a drug that would stop the coronavirus from doing its business," Smith said. "Anything like that would be incredibly useful for the coronavirus." The scientists announced last week they had screened 8,000 known drug compounds in their search. Local TV outlets across the country have incorrectly reported the scientists, identified in most reports as University of Tennessee scientists, had "possibly cured" the coronavirus, but it is not true at all.
Texas A&M University cancels international travel through May 1
Texas A&M University has canceled university-sponsored travel outside the United States between March 16 and May 1 as officials try to curtail coronavirus risks on the campus. Exceptions to the travel ban must be approved by senior administrators, according to a statement posted on the university's website Monday. Students, faculty and staff currently outside the country may continue to follow precautions released by the university last week, officials said in the statement. Those requirements include self-isolation off-campus for 14 days upon returning from countries ranked as level 2 or level 3 risks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been no cases of coronavirus reported at the campus, officials said, and no students are presenting symptoms, officials said in the statement posted Monday. Classes at Texas A&M are expected to resume March 16 following spring break.
Rock 'n' roll music exhibits open at George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Two new exhibits related to the history of rock 'n' roll music are on display at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. Both exhibits -- a series of iconic Rolling Stone magazine covers and a larger collection related to the music genre's influence on politics -- opened last week and will be on display until Jan. 3. "Backstage Pass: Baron Wolman and the Early Years of Rolling Stone" consists of a series of archival photos taken by Wolman, Rolling Stone's chief photographer during the 1960s and '70s. The photos, which are on loan from the Mid-American Arts Alliance in Missouri, depict internationally revered musicians such as Janis Joplin, George Harrison and Frank Zappa. The larger of the two exhibits, located in the museum's Ansary Gallery of American History, is "Louder Than Words: Rock, Power and Politics."
Rethink spring break travel, U. of Missouri advises Monday
In an email sent Monday, University of Missouri Chancellor Alexander Cartwright advised students to think carefully before traveling over spring break. The email comes after Missouri's first "presumptive positive" COVID-19 case was announced Saturday. The email stressed the case has no connection to MU, but the university is still treating the matter with "the utmost seriousness." Columbia has no known cases of the coronavirus. MU's spring break runs from the end of the day March 21 to 8 a.m. March 30, when classes resume. The email suggests students not travel over break or that they rework their itineraries. "We are certainly encouraging people to review their travel plans very carefully, to think about not going on their trips, especially if they're headed to an area that has reported any type of coronavirus activity," MU spokesperson Christian Basi said. Additionally, the email asked students to plan for how they are going to return from their travel destinations.
VA cracks down on Temple, Phoenix and three others for misleading prospective students
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it would soon stop approving the enrollment of new students receiving GI Bill benefits at the University of Phoenix, Temple University and three other institutions based on information from the Federal Trade Commission or state attorneys general that these institutions misled students about the value of getting a degree from these universities. The move, hailed as long overdue by veterans' groups, will not immediately affect current students. But in a press release, the VA said it will stop approving new GI Bill enrollments at the universities in 60 days unless the institutions, including the Career Education Corporation's Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University, and Bellevue University, take corrective action. However, the agency held out the possibility of stronger action if problems aren't fixed by then, saying the matter will be referred to a VA committee on educational allowances.
Soon, an Ad Campaign Will Highlight Alternatives to a Bachelor's Degree
The private, non-profit Ad Council will soon launch a national campaign that will tout alternatives to a traditional bachelor's degree. The Ad Council declined to give details on the upcoming campaign or provide images, but stated in an email that the campaign "will shine a light on how young and working adults can develop the skills in demand for today's job market." The council's promotions will reflect the work of the American Workforce Policy Board, which was established to examine multiple career pathways other than four-year degrees. On July 19, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order establishing the President's National Council for the American Worker. Its aim is to develop a national strategy for America's students and workers to access education and job training that will address the country's "skills crisis" and equip them for the global economy. Task force member Dr. Sheree Utash, president of Wichita Area Technical College, a two-year technical school, and vice president of workforce development for Wichita State University, said the promotion of alternative pathways does not negate the value of four-year degrees. Rather, it informs future students that there are multiple pathways to careers.
As coronavirus spreads, Memphis colleges update plans for online learning and travel
On Monday, the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center announced both were suspending all university-affiliated international travel due to the coronavirus, COVID-19. For the University of Memphis, the discontinuation was announced through the end of the semester. The university had already ended student travel to countries designated level 3 by the CDC. People already overseas will be self-quarantined before returning to campus if necessary, the email said. University President M. David Rudd made the announcement in an email to faculty, staff and students. "Any summer travel restrictions will be evaluated in the coming months in accordance with available state and federal guidance," Rudd wrote. Last week, the university said it has "extensive resources" to move its classes to an online format if necessary. Rhodes College's senior leadership team also met Monday to discuss ongoing plans for dealing with coronavirus. The incident team has been meeting for weeks, a spokesperson for the university said, and has a contingency plan for remote learning.
More Than 40 Colleges Cancel In-Person Classes In Response To Coronavirus
More than 40 U.S. colleges have canceled in-person classes because of the coronavirus as of Tuesday morning. The colleges enroll a total of more than 600,000 students and include Columbia University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, Hofstra University and the University of Southern California, plus the University of Washington and a clutch of community colleges in Washington state. Education technology specialist Bryan Alexander of Georgetown University has been leading an effort to track coronavirus-related higher education closures. He expects to see many more in the coming days and weeks. "Higher education has a very strong herd mentality," he says, "so I think once University of [Washington] made a shift to teaching online, I think that really got everyone excited." Many of the colleges announced that they were pausing in-person classes after students or staff members tested positive for the virus. Others, such as Midland University in Nebraska, announced only that they were canceling "out of an abundance of caution." Events for prospective students, such as Stanford's Admit Weekend, have also been canceled. But many campuses are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are staying open when possible to offer housing and meals to students.
Harvard cancels in-person classes for the rest of the semester
Starting March 23, Harvard will not have in-person classes for the remainder of the spring semester amid fears of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus, the university announced Tuesday. "The decision to move to virtual instruction was not made lightly," University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in a statement. "The goal of these changes is to minimize the need to gather in large groups and spend prolonged time in close proximity with each other in spaces such as classrooms, dining halls, and residential buildings." Students at Harvard release for spring break this Saturday and will begin remote classes. They are asked not to return to campus and the university is also discouraging "non-essential" gatherings of more than 25 people. "Our actions are consistent with the recommendations of leading health officials on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and are also consistent with similar decisions made by a number of our peer institutions," Bacow added. Harvard's decision comes a day after its neighbor, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also canceled large in-person classes.
Coronavirus caused American Council on Education to cancel annual meeting. Are other higher ed conferences next?
The American Council on Education announced Monday that it has canceled its annual meeting, citing the "ongoing and growing threat posed by the novel coronavirus." The meeting had been scheduled to take place this weekend in San Diego. ACE's decision could sway others to cancel their upcoming events, too. Other associations often look to ACE for guidance. They informally watch what the association does, and ACE's president coordinates the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, a forum of 65 association chief executives who develop responses to important issues and challenges facing higher education. The Secretariat's meeting last week was "all COVID-19, all the time," said Ted Mitchell, ACE president, in a telephone interview. It was "more important for presidents to be on their own campuses helping those communities deal with an outbreak" than to hold the meeting, Mitchell said. More than 1,500 college leaders had registered to attend. ACE is in the process of issuing refunds for all registrants.
7 science-based strategies to cope with coronavirus anxiety
As the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues its global spread and the number of diagnosed COVID-19 cases continues to increase, anxiety related to the outbreak is on the rise too. As a psychologist, I am seeing this in my practice already. Although feeling anxiety in response to a threat is a normal human reaction, sustained high anxiety can undermine constructive responses to the crisis. People who already suffer from anxiety and related disorders are especially likely to have a hard time during the coronavirus crisis. The following suggestions, based on psychological science, can help you deal with coronavirus anxiety.

Mississippi State men's tennis coach Matt Roberts talks recruiting, new indoor facility at Starkville Rotary Club
Things weren't promising when Matt Roberts became the head coach of the Mississippi State men's tennis team in the summer of 2014. Roberts had been an assistant coach under Per Nilsson for the prior two seasons, but when Nilsson left to take over the women's program at Pepperdine and Roberts took over, the Bulldogs' players were wary. "It was tough going from an assistant to a head, because in their eyes I was still an assistant," Roberts said at Monday's meeting of the Starkville Rotary Club. Now in his sixth year as Mississippi State's head coach, Roberts told a packed house at the Starkville Country Club that his guiding philosophy hasn't changed. He said his program seeks to shape its players into better young men rather than simply better tennis players. The Bulldogs' new indoor tennis facility is another point in Roberts' favor when he's on the recruiting trail. Set to open in May, the $8 million Mississippi State Tennis Pavilion will be adjacent to the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre, the team's current outdoor facility.
Mississippi State sweeps Gillom, Howell trophies for third straight season
For the third year in a row, the best men's and women's basketball players in the Magnolia State are Mississippi State Bulldogs. Rickea Jackson won the 2020 Gillom Trophy and Reggie Perry took home the Howell Trophy. Each piece of hardware is awarded annually to the best women's and men's basketball players in the state of Mississippi during a presentation at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson. Last year, Teaira McCowan claimed the Gillom Trophy while Quinndary Weatherspoon snagged the Howell Trophy. Weatherspoon also won the Howell in 2018 while MSU's Victoria Vivians won the Gillom four times from 2015-18. Jackson and Perry have continued Mississippi State's reign on the honors. The Gillom Trophy has gone to a Bulldog nine of the 13 years it has been awarded while an MSU player had won the Howell Trophy eight times.
Mississippi State sweeps Howell, Gillom honors again
For the third year in a row, Mississippi State athletes swept the Howell and Gillom trophies given the to the top men's and women's college basketball players in the state. In ceremonies Monday at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, sophomore forward Reggie Perry won the Howell Trophy while freshman forward Rickea Jackson took home the Gillom Trophy from the women's side. It marks the fifth time an MSU men's and women's player won the awards in the same year. Perry picked up the honor after former Bulldog Quinndary Weatherspoon had won it the previous two years. The 6-foot-10, 250-pounder from Thomasville, Georgia, leads the Southeastern Conference with 17 double-doubles, including 13 over his last 20 games. Perry also tops the SEC in rebounding at 10.1 per game and ranks sixth in scoring at 17.4 points. He is one of only six Power 5 players averaging a double-double. Perry is the eighth MSU player to win the Howell Trophy, which ties the Bulldogs with as many winners as the rest of the schools in the state combined: Ole Miss (5), Southern Miss (1), Jackson State (1) and Delta State (1).
Mississippi State's Rickea Jackson, Reggie Perry take home Gillom and Howell Trophies
The best men's and women's basketball players in Mississippi reside in Starkville for the third consecutive year. MSU women's guard Rickea Jackson was awarded the 2020 Gillom Trophy, while men's forward Reggie Perry earned the 2020 Howell Trophy in Jackson Monday afternoon. Both trophies honor the best collegiate basketball players in the state of Mississippi. With MSU's clean sweep, it marks the third-straight season two Bulldogs have hoisted the respective men's and women's awards after Quinndary Weatherspoon and Teaira McCowan did so in 2019, and Victoria Vivians and Weatherspoon coupled for a pair of MSU wins in 2018. Jackson earned the award over teammate Jessika Carter and Delta State standout Quantesha Patterson. Perry's victory came at the expense of Ole Miss' Breein Tyree and Tougaloo College's Ledarious Woods. Winners were chosen by a collection of Mississippi media members.
Mississippi State's Tyson Carter named SEC Sixth-Man of The Year; Reggie Perry first team All-SEC
Mississippi State's Reggie Perry dominated the Southeastern Conference for most of the 2019-2020 season, and the sophomore forward was rewarded for it Tuesday by the league office. Perry was selected to the All-SEC first team by SEC coaches after averaging 17.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. His 17 double-doubles led the SEC. Meanwhile, senior guard Tyson Carter also took home hardware, being named the SEC Sixth-Man of The Year. Carter, who played in 31 games and started 16 of them, averaged 13.9 points per game and shot 40 percent from the field. It is the first time in program history a player has been named Sixth-Man of The Year.
Analysis: Mississippi State women grew up in Greenville, now March Madness is their next test
With tears percolating in her eyes, a somber Aliyah Matharu took the stage in the underbelly of Bon Secours Wellness Arena Sunday. As the victorious cheers from the South Carolina faithful crept into the press conference room beneath the stadium, Matharu voiced her displeasure with MSU's 76-62 loss to the No. 1 ranked Gamecocks in the Southeastern Conference Tournament Finals. "Tonight was just another obstacle for us," she said. "We didn't do our best. I know going forward in practice, we're going to get better from this. We're going to use this as fuel. We got to prepare and get ready for the tournament." As Matharu left the podium and coach Vic Schaefer began to field questions, the anguish of defeat left the 59-year old coach's face. Rather, there was a quiet pride in his freshman guard. "I think you see Aliyah, she's crying," Schaefer said. "She's upset. (It) bothers her. I love it." For Schaefer, moments such as this have transpired in waves this season.
Mississippi State meets Texas Tech in a top 20 battle in Biloxi
Mississippi State and Texas Tech have both been part of the College World Series field for the past two seasons. The Bulldogs and Red Raiders did not meet in Omaha either time but will play a highly anticipated two-game midweek series at MGM Park in Biloxi beginning tonight at 6. They will also meet again Wednesday at 5 p.m. No. 17 MSU (10-4) is coming off a three-game sweep of Quinnipiac while fourth-ranked Texas Tech (16-1) posted a 5-0 showing last week, including three wins over Rice. Junior left-hander Houston Harding (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will start for the Diamond Dogs today while the Red Raiders counter with sophomore southpaw Mason Montgomery (3-0, 1.93). State is 2-3 all-time against Texas Tech, including a 4-2 victory last season as part of the Frisco Classic.
MSU's Brad Cumbest still plays football and baseball, but he'll likely pick one sport
When the Mississippi State baseball team arrives in Biloxi Tuesday for a two-game series with Texas Tech, the Bulldogs will bring with them three young players who hail from the Coast. Sophomore outfielder/designated hitter Brad Cumbest played his high school ball at East Central and another sophomore, infielder Landon Jordan, had a stellar career at Hancock. Freshman catcher/right-handed pitcher Logan Tanner, a former George County standout, is the youngest of the group. The Red Raiders and Bulldogs play at 6 p.m. Tuesday at MGM Park with Game 2 set for 5 p.m. Wednesday. For $13 and up, tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com and at the Biloxi Shuckers' ticket office. Texas Tech, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation, rolls in with a record of 16-1 after sweeping Rice this past weekend. The Red Raiders have established themselves as one of the nation's top programs after reaching the College World Series in each of the last two seasons.
Mississippi State enters big week with ranked matchups against Texas Tech, Arkansas
That's more like it. Coming off a week in which they lost three of five games, the Mississippi State Bulldogs secured a series sweep of Quinnipiac heading into the biggest week of the season to date. Mississippi State (10-4), ranked No. 17 in D1Baseball's latest poll, plays No. 4 Texas Tech (16-1) in a two-game set at MGM Park in Biloxi and No. 14 Arkansas (9-5) in a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field starting Friday. MSU head coach Chris Lemonis said the bus ride to Biloxi, where the first game against Texas Tech will start at 6 p.m. CT, will feel a lot better with his team having won all three games against Quinnipiac. "The old saying is it's a lot better to win than lose, right?" Lemonis said. "It sounds simple, but it just lets you wake up, you're in a good mood, we're getting on a bus, we're traveling, we're going to play a big opponent. I just think it puts a good taste in your mouth."
Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork announces new leadership structure
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork announced a restructure of department leadership Monday, a move aimed at increasing growth and efficiency while enhancing the student-athlete experience. The athletic department will have three deputy athletic directors and five senior associate athletic directors. The deputy ADs are Kristen Brown (student-athlete experience), Justin Moore (administration) and Michael Thompson Jr. (external relations and business development). Jeff Toole and Mike Wright were elevated to senior associate ADs, with Toole the chief financial officer and Wright over communications and community relations. Jonathan Bowling (athletics compliance), Joe Fields (academic services) and Kevin Hurley (facilities and construction) are the other senior associate ADs.
Pace of play affecting golf at collegiate level
Gaby Coello approaches her ball, visualizing where she wants it to land. She has already measured her distance, checked her yardage book and selected her club while her opponent plays. She takes one or two practice swings, then hits her shot. "It usually takes me 15 to 19 seconds to do all of that," says Coello, a senior golfer at the University of Georgia. That falls well within the encouraged 40 seconds between shots granted by the United States Golf Association, the governing body of golf. That encouragement is getting teeth: in 2019, USGA introduced new rules to make golf quicker. The new guidelines specify a limit on the search time for lost balls, encourage playing out of turn if it will speed up the round, and allow golfers to leave the flagstick in while putting. Along with the addition of pitch clocks in baseball and serve clocks in tennis, these new rules are a part of a trend towards speeding up slow sports. Some think golf on the collegiate level, though, might need to be sped up the most.
Due to coronavirus, SEC will use health precautions at men's basketball tourney, gymnastics championship
After three confirmed cases of the new coronavirus turned up in Nashville over the weekend, the Southeastern Conference has announced that the league still expects to play its annual men's basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena from March 11-15. The league said Monday it will take health precautions within the arena, as it did in its women's basketball tournament in Greenville, South Carolina, last week, and that it will "remain alert" to any developments and maintain communication with public health officials. The SEC also said it will take similar preventive measures at the league's gymnastics championship on March 21 in Duluth, Georgia. The LSU athletic department has not yet altered any scheduled plans in any of its sports. "We are closely monitoring the situation in coordination with the university including active participation in campus-wide planning and monitoring," LSU Senior Associate Athletic Director Robert Munson said in a statement.
SEC Tournament 2020 still on, with measures aimed at the coronavirus
This week's SEC men's basketball tournament is still on at Bridgestone Arena -- at least for now. The SEC's "focus and expectation is to play the tournament as scheduled" despite concerns about the coronavirus, the league office said in a statement Monday afternoon detailing preventive measures that will be in place at the arena. "Local authorities have confirmed this approach is consistent with current public health recommendations," the SEC said. "We remain alert to any circumstances that could warrant adjustments for the health and well-being of our student-athletes, fans and other participants." The SEC tournament is scheduled to start Wednesday night and run through Sunday's championship game. Bridgestone Arena will have additional hand sanitizers at arena entrances, throughout the concourse, at the scorer's table and in team locker rooms.
Coronavirus leads MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS to close locker rooms to media
Unwilling to get caught flat-footed by the spread of the coronavirus that has forced other sports to suspend or cancel events, Major League Baseball -- along with the NBA, NHL and MLS -- will close locker rooms and clubhouses to the news media and any non-essential personnel. In addition, the leagues will consider further options to protect themselves from the potential pandemic while preparing for and playing out their respective seasons. The major change in media policy will go into effect on Tuesday, according to a joint statement issued Monday by the four leagues: "After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting," the statement said. For now, neither the NBA nor MLB plan to postpone games nor play them without fans.

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