Monday, May 25, 2020   
History Channel's new series, supported in part by MSU Grant Library personnel, airs Monday
When the credits roll after the Monday [May 25] premiere of the History Channel's "Grant" miniseries, two members of the Mississippi State University Libraries staff will see their names listed with those who made the much-anticipated TV drama possible. Eddie Rangel and Ryan Semmes in MSU's Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library provided support for the three-episode show, which airs at 8 p.m. and is based on the New York Times #1 Non-Fiction Best Seller that depicts the life of the nation's 18th president and Civil War general. Rangel works for the Ulysses S. Grant Association, housed at MSU, as an archival assistant, and Semmes is a coordinator for the university's Congressional and Political Research Center. The series is based on the comprehensive biography "Grant" by best-selling author Ron Chernow, who spent time researching for the book at the Grant Presidential Library. The series continues on May 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. on the History Channel, featuring dramatic scenes, expert commentary and archival imagery.
Extension assists in food distribution, education
More than 19% of Mississippians were food insecure before COVID-19 prevention measures shut down much of the state's commerce. Now, layoffs and missing paychecks make it even more difficult for many to access proper nutrition. This situation is one reason why the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan with 16 Emergency Support Functions, or ESFs. ESF 6 covers mass care, emergency assistance and human services -- including sheltering and feeding disaster survivors. Any of the ESFs can be activated when a state of emergency is declared. The Mississippi State University Extension Service is one of the supporting agencies written into the emergency management plan, and several Extension agents have participated in food drives in the last month to help people in need. Linda Mitchell, regional Extension coordinator with the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, said she was inspired by Extension agents' efforts to assist in food distribution and donations and to provide nutritional information to clients during this time.
The State View: News from MSU
As we launch our 2020 Summer Semester, I want to update everyone in the MSU family on our ongoing planning processes for the 2020 Fall Semester. Since the inception of the COVID-19 global pandemic, our guiding principle has been structuring the difficult yet critical balance between protecting the health and safety of our MSU family while likewise ensuring that we continue to deliver the high quality academic experiences that our students expect and deserve. That principle continues to guide us as we thoughtfully transition to a return to more traditional university operations including guidelines to resume in-person classroom and laboratory instruction for the Fall 2020 Semester. The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning passed a resolution this week stating the board's intention that all public universities make plans to resume traditional operations on their campuses in the Fall 2020 Semester. We are already compliant with that directive and have been serving as key participants in crafting policies to that end.
Survey of historic backwater flood documents individual losses
A sharper focus on the economic impact of the lower Delta backwater flood of 2019 helps predict the implications of continued flooding this year. Mississippi State University Extension Service researchers compiled data on the overlooked costs of the backwater flood that affected the Yazoo Mississippi Delta in 2019. They surveyed residents in the five affected counties in an attempt to quantify losses. "These findings show a terrible costs, which can be repeated each time the area floods," said Nicolas Quintana-Ashwell, an economist at the National Center for Alluvial Aquifer Research and a researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station who is based at the MSU Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville. At its peak in May 2019, the Backwater Flood of 2019 flooded 548,000 acres, damaged hundreds of homes and closed three highways. The affected areas included all or part of Warren, Yazoo, Issaquena, Sharkey and Humphreys counties, and flooding impacted an estimated 20,000 people. The flood measured and quantified in 2019 continues in many places, so its economic impact is still growing.
Multi-agency mobile testing site to set up in Starkville this week
University of Mississippi Medical Center announced over the weekend that its mobile testing initiative will come to Starkville on Thursday at the Oktibbeha County Safe Room on Lynn Lane, near the intersection of Industrial Park Road. It's important to note those who want to be tested must first get an appointment by going through a free screening from a UMMC clinician. This can be done through either the C Spire Health telehealth smartphone app or by phone. Testing hours are noon until 4 p.m., with the free testing conducted for patients on an appointment-only basis.
Gov. Tate Reeves loosens restrictions on amusement parks and outdoor entertainment
Gov. Tate Reeves announced Friday he is extending the state's "Safe-at-Home" order for one week until June 1 while loosening restrictions on some outdoor entertainment businesses. Starting Monday at 8 a.m., amusement parks, rides, water parks, go-cart tracks, mini-golf and outdoor parks can open with certain restrictions, Reeves said. According to his executive order, these facilities must operate at half-capacity or less and there are additional requirements on sanitizing the park and social distancing. "Do we need race tracks and water parks for most people to survive and live quality lives in our state? No, of course not," Reeves said. "But does that small business owner and their employees need them open to survive? Absolutely yes, they do." Reeves said transmission of the disease is less likely outdoors than indoors, so some indoor entertainment businesses, such as movie theaters, remain closed. Overall, Reeves said very few businesses remain closed in Mississippi, and he is working with the Department of Health to develop guidelines that will allow all businesses to reopen possibly by June 1.
Gov. Tate Reeves opens outdoor venues; 4 additional COVID-19 deaths reported in Lauderdale County
Gov. Tate Reeves amended restrictions Friday that will allow outdoor entertainment venues such as race tracks and water parks, to open at no more than 50 percent capacity, starting Monday, May 25. The parks must be deep cleaned before opening, follow social distancing and employees must wear masks. School teams will also be able to open up their athletic training facilities Monday, using the same instructions that allowed gyms to open earlier. The governor also extended executive Stay Safer in Place orders Friday until 8 a.m. Monday, June 1. That includes the order that requires businesses in Lauderdale, Neshoba, Newton and Jasper counties, among other requirements, to screen employees at the start of their shifts, require appropriate protective gear when a distance of 6 feet cannot be kept and provide hand sanitizer.
What coronavirus? Residents, visitors crowd Coast beaches over Memorial Day weekend
The view driving along U.S. 90 last summer looked very different than the beaches and parking bays over Memorial Day weekend. Parking along the beach from downtown Gulfport to the Biloxi Lighthouse was sparse as families, residents and tourists crossed the highway to get to the beach during the new coronavirus pandemic. Beaches were recently reopened by Gov. Tate Reeves as he eased restrictions across the state. New COVID-19 cases on the Mississippi Gulf Coast started to tick back up just before the weekend, with the seven-day average back above 7 for the first time in over a week. Despite COVID-19, however, beaches this year have some of the largest crowds seen in the last decade in South Mississippi. From Bay St. Louis to Biloxi, crowds of people gathered in the sand, almost all without masks or other forms of PPE. Signs were posted along the beach to practice social distancing while enjoying the views and the water. Last year, the opening of Bonnet Carre Spillway along with an algae bloom closed beaches for much of the summer.
Senators to Receive Economic Outlook, Revenue Briefing Upon Reconvening Tuesday
Senators will receive a full briefing on the economic outlook in Mississippi and revenue projections when the 2020 Legislative Session reconvenes next week. State Economist Dr. Darrin Webb and Department of Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson will present to the Appropriations Committee at 10:30 a.m. in Senate Room 216 on Tuesday, May 26. The Senate gavels in at 10 a.m. The economic briefing will be webcast -- link available at -- with the help of Mississippi Public Broadcasting. Citizens are encouraged to watch online rather than attend in-person. "Mississippi's economy severely slowed for two months, with some businesses closing altogether. We need to understand the economic consequences of the shut down and COVID-19 as best we can before crafting a new budget," Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann said. In March, Hosemann, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Senate Appropriations Chairman Briggs Hopson, and House Appropriations Chairman John Read sent a letter to all state agencies, boards, and commissions which receive an appropriation asking them to implement cost-saving measures in anticipation of the economic halt.
Analysis: Mississippi prisons nominee faces Senate scrutiny
The nominee to lead Mississippi's troubled prison system, Burl Cain, spent 21 years as warden of Louisiana's Angola penitentiary, resigning in early 2016 amid ethics questions about how public money was spent during his tenure. Advocates for inmates' rights have also condemned his work. "Burl Cain left a legacy of corruption, cruelty and callous disregard for the human lives in his custody," the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, Alanah Odoms Hebert, said Thursday. She issued the statement a day after Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced he's nominating Cain to become corrections commissioner in this state. Reeves said he has "zero reservations" about Cain's work in Louisiana and that under Cain's guidance, Angola "went from beatings to Bible study." In the next few weeks, Cain will face a confirmation hearing in the state Senate Corrections Committee. Chairman Juan Barnett, a Democrat from Heidelberg, told The Associated Press on Friday that he will review Cain's record and would like to have a private conversation with him in addition to at least one hearing that will be open to the public.
As officials relax safety measures, Mississippi reports highest weekly average for coronavirus cases
As state leaders continue to relax statewide safety measures and businesses reopen, Mississippi reported its highest ever weekly count of COVID-19 cases. The state health department recorded 1,956 new cases this week, the most total cases for a week in Mississippi. Daily new cases have remained steady all week, whereas prior weeks have shown more day-to-day variability in new cases numbers. The past week is the first to have only one day reporting less than 200 cases: Monday's 136 cases. The startling weekly statistics come days after Gov. Tate Reeves announced additional safety restrictions would be relaxed. Reeves has kept a "safer at home" recommendation in place, which suggest that Mississippians stay socially distanced and avoid public places. But his previous orders that closed many businesses across the state have largely been retracted. As of Monday, the only businesses that remain closed because of executive order are indoor entertainment venues such as theaters and museums.
Mississippi Choctaw Indians criminalize coronavirus violations
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has made it a crime to violate quarantine or isolation or knowingly expose someone to the coronavirus. Violators face six months in jail and/or up to a $500.00 fine. The Tribe said in a statement: Communities across the country have been impacted by the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, Tribal leaders of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians joined together to make several changes to the Choctaw Tribal Code (Title III Criminal Offenses) that will enhance the Tribe's ability to protect the public. "The Ordinances passed today are extremely important in updating our Tribal Code which will in turn help keep our tribal communities and surrounding areas safe," said Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben. "I want to thank the Tribal Council for unanimously approving these ordinances. We are in an unprecedented time and I appreciate them working closely with me in continuing to keep our communities as safe as possible. Stay home, stay safe, save lives." Due to the State of Emergency, these laws will go into effect immediately for the protection of the public and the front-line workers.
Mayor Lumumba's New Robocall Pleads with Jacksonians: No Large Cookouts, Block Parties
Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba sent out a robocall to Jackson residents Saturday warning them to be safe through the Memorial Day weekend as so many businesses open up. "COVID-19 is still infecting people in our community here in Jackson, so it is important that you remain vigilant," Lumumba said in the recording. "I ask everyone to resist attending any large gatherings such as cookouts or block parties this holiday weekend. We want you to enjoy yourselves, but we are not out of the woods, yet," the mayor said in the robocall. He then called for residents to remember safety precautions such as hand- and surface-washing, 6-feet social distancing and always wearing a face covering anytime out in public.
USDA, FDA advise businesses in need of protective equipment
The agencies that oversee the U.S. food supply offered advice Friday to food and agriculture businesses in search of cloth face coverings, disinfectants and protective equipment to continue operations and reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks. In a joint announcement, the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration said manufacturers and suppliers should treat orders from the food and agriculture industries as priorities after filling orders from hospitals, retirement homes, long-term care, hospice and other health care-providing establishments, as well as the emergency responder community. The focus on equipment and disinfectants in food-related industries has grown as meat and poultry processing plants closed or slowed production because of COVID-19 outbreaks among workers. Members of Congress and advocates for farmworkers have raised concerns about the availability of face coverings, protective gear and hand-washing stations for laborers who may work closely together, ride crowded transport and live in congested housing.
President Trump threatens to move GOP convention over North Carolina's coronavirus restrictions
President Trump warned Monday that the Republican Party could seek to move its 2020 convention if North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) cannot guarantee that coronavirus restrictions will be lifted, allowing the full use of Charlotte's Spectrum Center this summer. "I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August. Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena," Trump tweeted. "In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space." Trump has encouraged governors for weeks to begin accelerating their plans to reopen their economies and lift social distancing measures, even as some states have seen their numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise.
President Trump ordered states to open churches. Can he do that?
President Donald Trump is making a show of siding with religious groups in their clashes with state and local authorities -- but his own Justice Department's actions are exposing the challenges involved in trying to bring the federal government's power to bear on the issue. The president's sweeping pronouncement Friday that states must treat all churches and other houses of worship as essential under coronavirus lockdown orders "right now" was met with a now familiar chorus of reaction from critics and legal commentators that he has no authority to issue such a directive. Despite the lack of detail, the president's blunt rhetoric put a new spotlight on the federal government's most prominent effort to try to police state and local stay-at-home orders: a drive announced last month by Attorney General William Barr to pursue those regulations for potential violations of religious liberty, as well as other infringements on the rights of Americans. So far, Trump's promise to come to the rescue of beleaguered congregations has translated into only modest action.
Does Anthony Fauci Think Colleges Should Reopen? We Asked Him.
In the past week, universities have begun releasing yet more details about how they plan to bring students, staff, and faculty members back to campus in the coming weeks and months. College presidents have started to roll out the outlines of those plans, with many insisting that their final decisions will be guided by science and advice from public-health professionals. On Friday The Chronicle spoke to one of America's top public-health officials, Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about some of the strategies universities have said they'll employ. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Mississippi universities told to prep for in-person classes
A governing board is asking leaders of Mississippi's eight public universities to prepare for at least some classes on campus during the fall semester, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. The state College Board has adopted a resolution that directs the universities to offer as many in-person classes as possible. It says they should follow health guidelines from federal and state officials. "While this is a fluid situation and there are many unknowns at this point, our goal is to provide the best academic experience in the safest manner possible," Commissioner of Higher Education Alfred Rankins Jr. said in a news release after trustees adopted the resolution Thursday.
Mississippi poet is awarded Guggenheim fellowship
A University of Mississippi professor who has published four collections of poetry has been named a Guggenheim Fellow. Aimee Nezhukumatathil said in a university news release that she will use the fellowship to focus on "a new collection of poems inspired by natural history and folklore and navigating what it means to help raise a half-Asian American family in the American South." Nezhukumatathi was the University of Mississippi's John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence during the 2016-17 academic year. Since 2018, she has taught courses in literature and creative writing. Nezhukumatathil has published four collections of poetry: "Oceanic" in 2018, "Lucky Fish" in 2011, "At the Drive-in Volcano" in 2007 and "Miracle Fruit" in 2003. Her first nonfiction book is set for publication in August. "World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments," is a collection of nature essays.
Northwest Mississippi Community College announces plans for fall classes
Plans are underway for a full slate of classes in all educational programs for the Fall 2020 semester at Northwest Mississippi Community College, Northwest President Dr. Michael Heindl has announced. In a recent survey distributed to Northwest students to measure the effectiveness of the college's COVID-19 response, survey responses made it clear that most students prefer a face-to-face classroom experience coupled with full on-campus experiences and services. Heindl emphasized that the college would continue its strong focus on fostering a safe and clean environment for the return of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus within the confines of federal and state government guidance and the leadership of public health agencies. "We are working hard to be able to welcome students back to campus this fall, and college officials are drafting detailed operating guidelines for fall now," Heindl said.
WCU College of Osteopathic Medicine ranks 3rd nationwide
William Carey University's College of Osteopathic Medicine celebrated its commencement and high ranking among medical schools nationwide Saturday. "We were notified by U.S. News and World Report that we are actually top three in the nation among all medical schools for graduating students into primary care," says Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Italo Subbarao. Dr. Subbarao explains how the Coronavirus has prepared this graduating class for the road ahead. "The Coronavirus has been a challenge, but it's fascinating. This particular class of students we have that are graduating is a class that actually went through the tornado, the EF-4 tornado that took down this campus, so they have had many challenges, they've now recently had COVID-19. So I don't think there is any medical students in the country that are more prepared and more resilient and ready to go into practice than this class of students," said Subbarao.
Plans for U. of Florida still up in air
An Instagram video showing at least 100 students congregating last week in a Midtown parking lot drew a mixed bag of reactions, but it also may foreshadow what's to come in a matter of months. "Petition to normalize drinking in the mid parking lot," the post read. The video scanned the lot on University Avenue to show students huddled around foldable tables with a Bud Light ice bucket or two on top. While some who commented seemed happy at what appears to be a small return to normal college student life, others retorted the scene was selfish. "Petition to normalize social distancing so that more people don't get sick and die and we can all go back to school in the fall," one person replied. But the post could be a crystal ball vision into this fall, as University of Florida officials say they are increasingly confident students will return to Gainesville after two months of remote learning, shooed away from campus by COVID-19. UF President Kent Fuchs offered the first sign of students' return last week during a telephone town hall with Gainesville leaders. Through enough testing and screening provided through UF Health doctors, he said he's optimistic students and employees can come back in August.
Louisiana universities still housing 2,000 foreign students on campus who can't go home
School officials say there are 1,825 students still living on campus in Louisiana's largest universities and colleges. Populations range from as many as 310 students at Louisiana Tech to as few as the four students living at Northwestern State. Some institutions, like Southern University's Baton Rouge campus and Loyola University in New Orleans, have none at all. These students are out-of-staters who hail from hotspot regions, officials say. They are the children and grandchildren of immunocompromised relatives. They are international students who are either locked in the U.S. or locked out of their home countries due to the spread of COVID-19. They are escapees from domestic violence, familial drug use, household hostility due to their sexual orientation. "Sometimes people have nowhere else to go," said Catherine David, LSU Residential Life's associate director of communications and development.
With few students, UGArden tries to keep things growing
In the age of COVID-19, here's what it takes to plant and harvest vegetables and fruits at UGArden that feed about 60 food-insecure families in Athens. JoHannah Biang and her crew of about six volunteers arrive at the 10-acre farm south of downtown around 7:30 a.m., about an hour earlier than they would have before nearly the entire world went on lockdown. They put on masks and start sanitizing the moment they get out of their cars. "Everybody takes their temperature before they come to work," said Biang. "Everything each of us does affects the other. We're self-reporting to ourselves to keep each other safe." This is the farm's 10th year. It's something of a campus community garden where students are taught how to garden organically and sustainably. Typically, four full-time workers and a combination of about a dozen volunteer and paid student workers and up to 100 volunteers from the Athens area work there each week. By season, they plant kale, squash, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, blueberries, figs, a trove of herbs and other produce.
$5 million donation to bring changes to Texas A&M's Veteran Resource and Support Center
Renovations, expanded veteran programs and an endowment for maintenance are a few changes coming to Texas A&M University's Veteran Resource and Support Center, all thanks to a $5 million donation from Ellie and Don Knauss. The gift also prompted the facility to be renamed the Don and Ellie Knauss Veteran Resource and Support Center. The VRSC is part of the Division of Student Affairs. Retired Marine Col. Jerry Smith, director of the VRSC, said he and one other person started the center in 2012, and through a "fairly slow and methodical" process they built it up to the 33-employee institution it is today. The center started by helping the campus' 600 veterans. Today, VRSC serves 1,300 people through more than 20 programs that guide students to a field of study and helps them transition to student life. The center also opens doors to financial and academic assistance, along with networking opportunities.
U. of Missouri lays off 17, furloughs 154 as campus slowly reopens this week
The University of Missouri laid off 17 employees and furloughed 154 more this past week, according to a Friday update of an MU website that tracks budgetary actions. The number of layoffs includes some of the 29 people whose positions were eliminated last Friday across MU Health Care's hospitals and clinics. However, only those layoffs that have been entered into the Human Resources computer system make up the website total of 66 layoffs. The total number of layoffs at MU, planned or already in the system, stands at 78. MU has furloughed 1,043 employees. Furloughs affect staff members and vary in length. Meanwhile, about 1,000 MU employees were expected to return to campus by Friday as part of the "Show Me Renewal Plan" to reopen this summer, according to the update. This makes up less than 10% of the MU workforce. MU is working to fill a $17 million budget gap for fiscal 2020, which ends June 30.
More help needed to keep nursing home residents safe
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: Mississippians trust the care of precious loved ones to many wonderful nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. But, the COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns. While 13% of the state's virus cases occurred in long-term care facilities, they had 50% of deaths (the national average is about 33%). More specifically, through May 21 there had been 1,627 cases reported at long-term care facilities with 300 deaths, a mortality rate of 18.4%. Excluding those, state cases totaled 10,997 with 296 deaths, a mortality rate of 2.7%. So, many are asking if their loved ones are safe in these facilities. No clear answer has been provided by the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH).
November election could put two black justices on the Supreme Court for first time in Mississippi history
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: African Americans make up 38 percent of the state's population, but only 11 percent of the membership of the Mississippi Supreme Court. This November's election could change that. Latrice Westbrooks of Lexington, one of two African Americans on the 10-member Court of Appeals, is challenging long-time Mississippi jurist Kenny Griffis in the November general election for a spot on the Supreme Court representing the Central District of Mississippi. While Griffis has more judicial experience, Westbrooks is a formidable candidate -- an experienced attorney who has won a district-wide race for the state's second highest court. In short, both candidates can tout qualifications. But what makes this race unique is that it provides the best opportunity in the state's history for there to be two black justices on the Supreme Court at the same time.
Sometimes in college you have to get creative
Mississippi restaurateur, chef and author Robert St. John writes: My son and daughter just finished a semester of college at home, sitting in our pool house. They had it easy. Once the pandemic hit and all classes were switched to online computer classes, life got much simpler for them. Both finished with good grades and a suntan. It's been a treat having them both at home again. We have cooked together, played games together, and sat together on our front porch in the late afternoons until dusk. I never thought the four of us would ever have this much time together, again. The kids have eaten well during this at-home semester. The menu has been much different than that provided by the meal ticket to their school cafeterias. I think back to my years in college and the poor dietary choices I made. I survived mostly on fast food, but back then I was young and foolish and had a 32-inch waist. There was one particular semester where I was forced to get creative with meals.

SEC takes first step for athletes to return
SEC athletes can soon get back to work on campus. University presidents voted on Friday that "voluntary in-person athletics activities" may resume on Southeastern Conference campuses, where permitted, beginning on Monday, June 8. Those activities will be "under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution," the SEC said in a statement early Friday afternoon. On ESPN, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said the timeline for athletes and staff to return "may vary from campus to campus." The June 8 date begins "a transition period" that will allow athletes to "gradually adapt to full training and sports activity after the recent period of inactivity," the statement said. It's expected that only a limited number of athletes will be able to quickly make a return to campus. LSU and Florida both said they plan a "phased return" of players, a policy other schools are likely to follow.
Coaches say college baseball into July would save money
A group of Power 5 coaches led by Michigan's Erik Bakich is proposing a later start to the college baseball season to trim expenses in the post-coronavirus era, make the game more fan friendly and reduce injury risk to players. Under the 35-page proposal titled "New Baseball Model," there would be nine weeks of preseason practice instead of five, the regular season would run from the third week of March to the third week of June and the College World Series would wrap up the last week of July. The regular season currently begins the third week of February and the CWS runs into the last week of June. Past efforts to push back the season were rooted in cold-weather schools' concerns about competitive equity because they had to travel to warmer climates in the South or West to play games the first month of the season. The impetus this time is budget management.
As coronavirus takes toll on college baseball, LSU's Paul Mainieri worries about the future
It is not a good sign of the current state of things when LSU coach Paul Mainieri opens up our conversation by saying, "I really hope I'm wrong, but ..." These weekly conversations have mostly been unguided since we started having them a few weeks ago. I'll dial Mainieri's number, ask what's on his mind, and typically he takes it from there. But this week there was some unfortunate news on the college baseball front. Two universities, Furman and Bowling Green, announced they were discontinuing their college baseball programs. A third, Chicago State, was on the brink of doing the same before tabling the measure for a later vote. I figured Mainieri would have an opinion on this. College baseball is certainly not the only sport that is feeling the ill effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic crunch. But baseball, and specifically college baseball, has been a central aspect of Mainieri's life the past 38 years. This hurts; this potentially will keep hurting in worse ways. He saw it coming, and he anticipates the worst is yet to come.
Tom Brady disses Smokey, Tennessee football during The Match II against Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods
Tom Brady threatened Smokey on national television Sunday. As The Match II golf charity event pitting Brady and Phil Mickelson versus Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning teed off on the 7th hole of Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, Brady grabbed Manning's Smokey driver cover. "This isn't on your driver, is it?" Brady asked Manning on the TNT broadcast. "Let me step on that real quick." Brady spared Smokey, but not without some Tennessee football trash talk. "They haven't been good since you left. Can you help them recruit some quarterbacks or something?" Brady quipped as Manning's drive went left of the fairway. Earlier, Manning told the TNT broadcast that Woods asked the Tennessee alum to wear the famous red and black Sunday wardrobe. Manning declined. "I'm not wearing black and red, that's Georgia Bulldog colors. I just can't do that, Manning said. "You want me to get sick on the first hole, I'll do it. I'm not going to let Kirby Smart get a picture of me in black and red for their social media."
U. of Michigan president: No sports in fall without students
Dr. Mark Schlissel's thoughts on the possibility of a college football season have not changed. If there are no students on campus this fall, Michigan's president does not think there will be college football. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Schlissel -- an immunologist by training -- touched upon the potential return of athletics and the potential difficulties ahead. "If there is no on-campus instruction then there won't be intercollegiate athletics, at least for Michigan," Schlissel told the Wall Street Journal. He also expressed "some degree of doubt as to whether there will be college athletics (anywhere), at least in the fall." Schlissel's comments echoed his comments during an interview on CNBC in early May. He also says a decision on whether students will return this fall could be made "in the coming weeks." While other universities have declared there will be college football and teams are on the verge of bringing their athletes back to campus (Ohio State's football team will reportedly return to Columbus on June 8, while Illinois football and basketball will return between June 3-8), U-M is taking a more patient approach -- which is also necessitated given the state's current stay-at-home order has been extended through June 12. The Wolverines will not return to campus and voluntary workouts before then.
Why the Sports Comeback Has Begun
One positive test of one athlete in one league was all it took for American sports to stop. On the night of March 11, which turned out to be the inadvertent tipping point in the nation's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert testing positive immediately triggered the suspension of the NBA season. Soon the NCAA tournament was canceled, the Major League Baseball season was postponed and an extended sports drought was underway. It might be over soon. More than two months into the shutdown, the biggest, richest, most popular American sports leagues have decided their games must go on. While they are proceeding with caution, there has been more progress in the last 10 days than in the previous 10 weeks. There is now real momentum behind the comeback of American sports. The glimmers of hope from sports officials are reflections of broader changes across the U.S. as states reopen, cases decline, testing increases and scientists learn more about this microscopic pathogen that turned the world upside down.

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