Monday, June 1, 2020   
MSU's Small Town Center offers COVID-19 resources for communities
A Mississippi State University research center is reaching out and providing resources to help small towns respond to the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center is announcing its new website with a special COVID-19 resource page specifically to help small communities. These webpages are found at and "Rural communities are often the most vulnerable to challenges," said Fred Carl Jr. Small Town Center Director Leah Kemp. "Often, what works in a large-scale city is not applicable to a smaller community. Yet, small towns have the advantage of being more nimble and responsive to crisis due to less regulation and more opportunity to creatively problem solve." Kemp said the center has put together several resources to help small towns adapt and plan for new and constantly changing realities to keep their economies alive. These resources include toolkits for business owners to safely welcome customers while promoting brand identity, find simple ways for restaurants to adapt, offer options for helping aging and youth populations, and create family-friendly activities that can positively impact their communities.
MSU Extension Service assists in food distribution and education
More than 19 percent 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 scenario is one reason why the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) with 16 Emergency Support Functions (ESF). ESF 6 covers Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, and Human Services. This includes 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 drive events in the last month to help those in need.
Two from Mississippi State selected for UMMC-GTEC scholars program
A doctoral student and a recent graduate of Mississippi State University are selections for the Robert Smith, M.D. Graduate Scholars Program, part of the Jackson Heart Study Graduate Training and Education Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. Nicole K. Reeder, a food science, nutrition and health promotion doctoral student from Columbus, and Torrye R. Evans II, a spring 2020 magna cum laude biological sciences/pre-medicine graduate from Jackson, are joining the UMMC-GTEC program's second cohort. Reeder holds an MSU master's in food science, nutrition and health promotion, and Evans is entering medical school at UMMC this fall. In addition to MSU and UMMC, the cohort includes students from the universities of Mississippi and Southern Mississippi. Included in the National Institutes of Health-funded Jackson Heart Study, the country's largest community-based study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in African Americans, UMMC-GTEC is an intense, two-year research training and mentoring program.
MSU Ph. D student researches COVID-19 awareness during severe weather
Craig Ceecee is working on his doctoral degree in Meteorology at Mississippi State University, and for his dissertation, he wants to look at both COVID-19 preparedness and severe weather preparedness. Ceecee is researching to see how people have responded to tornado warnings and if they responded differently during the pandemic this year, as suppose in other years. "We don't really have a precedence for anything like that. Are they going to have tornado shelters more readily or less readily, or is there social distancing in the shelters because that's a strong CDC recommendation," says Craig. Ceecee says recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control were different during the tornado outbreak compared to now. "Back in April, there wasn't a strong recommendation for masks as there are now from the CDC," said Ceecee. "The shelter I was in here in Starkville, they were handing out masks, and most of everybody was wearing them, and we were trying to social distance. I don't know if it was enough." Ceecee explains how a pandemic like this is new to all of us, and we have to adjust to the pandemic and severe weather now.
Area Chambers, MSAs bolster online resources to help small businesses through pandemic
Greater Starkville Development Partnership Executive Director Mike Tagert said the organization is providing similar resources for federal stimulus aid, including worksheets for business owners to calculate the amount of money they could be eligible to receive. The organization also alerted members to the new Back to Business Mississippi Grant Program, which will begin this week and offers up to $25,000 in grants through the Mississippi Development Authority and a $2,000 direct payment as part of an assistance program. Tagert said he wants the Partnership to be a place business owners can go whenever they need help, have questions or need clarification. "We immediately realized we needed to be a source of information for our small businesses," he said. He said the Partnership is an advocate for physical, "brick-and-mortar" businesses, but he knows that first and foremost during the pandemic is survival in whatever form is possible. If businesses can survive while operating primarily online, "that just makes their business all the more healthy and able to adapt," he said.
Street improvement plan in Starkville set for third year, $1 million
Aldermen will approve changes to Starkville's bond-funded Street Improvement Program at Tuesday's meeting after City Engineer Edward Kemp presented them to the board at Friday's work session. The $7.5 million capital improvement project is in its third of four years, with almost $1 million set aside for the next year. The Engineering and Streets department plans to patch and overlay just more than five miles of roads citywide. The city will advertise for construction bids after Tuesday's vote on the year's worth of projects, and Kemp said some roads had been added or removed from the year's list due to other projects being planned in the same neighborhoods or some roads needing more repairs than others. "With any plan that you build several years out, there are a lot of things that come up," Kemp said. "It's very hard to predict how a road will perform, and for the most part we got very close to right, but some streets deteriorate more quickly than others, and there are things that occur such as the utility improvement (project) at Green Oaks, something that was not even considered three or four years ago."
Rep. Cheikh Taylor (D-Starkville), local activists plan racial justice march for Saturday
State Rep. Cheikh Taylor (D-Starkville) does not want the city he represents to end up on CNN this weekend. Taylor emphasized the importance of peaceful demonstration to a crowd of about 100 people at Second Baptist Church on Sunday evening, the first of two presentations for local activists to be prepared for a protest, scheduled for Saturday, against systemic racism and the deaths of African Americans at the hands of police nationwide. "Most of the people who are out there marching and protesting have a purpose, and we have to define that purpose today," Taylor said. "But the looting, the fires and all those things -- we want to make sure that Starkville is better than that. We want to make sure Starkville is not our next Ferguson (Missouri), not our next Minnesota." Several elected officials -- District Attorney Scott Colom, Mayor Lynn Spruill, and Aldermen Sandra Sistrunk of Ward 2, Jason Walker of Ward 4 and Hamp Beatty of Ward 5 -- sat in the front row for Taylor's presentation. Starkville Police Chief Mark Ballard sat near them and, upon request, addressed the audience and said he has made it clear to his officers that what happened to George Floyd will not be tolerated.
Here's what Coast residents need to know about hurricane plans during the pandemic
Seated to the right of Gov. Tate Reeves during his daily press conferences, more often than not, is Greg Michel, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. He usually talks about the status of the state's supply of PPE -- personal protection equipment. Or how the state is responding to more than one disaster at once -- severe weather, tornadoes, the coronavirus pandemic. But lately, he and Reeves are emphatic about preparations for hurricane season. "Why are we talking so much about hurricane preparedness now?" he asked rhetorically on Thursday. Because there have already been two named storms and the season doesn't start until Monday, June 1. And this weekend, a tropical depression formed off the coast of Guatemala. State officials also are talking about preparedness because preventing the spread of COVID-19 requires social distancing, which may be impossible if people need to stay in storm shelters. "I cannot emphasize enough that sheltering operations continues to be the biggest challenge, and the biggest point of concern, point of contention, for the emergency management directors in the lower coastal counties," Michel said Thursday.
Governor unveils website to be used to deploy small business assistance grants
Gov. Tate Reeves on Friday unveiled a newly launched website that small business owners will eventually be able to use to apply for grant assistance money to help with the economic downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first-term Republican governor said at a press conference that his office has been coordinating with the Mississippi Development Authority, the state's economic development agency, to develop the website and the process for administering the program. Around $240 million are available to small businesses. The Mississippi Legislature on May 15 set aside the money, which originally stemmed from federal coronavirus relief funds appropriated by Congress. Of the total funds, $40 million will go toward minority-owned or disadvantaged businesses. "The team at MDA is reviewing the competitive bids to administer these funds – those were due today -- and should have all the details out by the evening," Reeves said. "Then, they can put out the application as soon as next week if all goes according to plans."
Analysis: Budget writing complicated by pandemic revenue dip
Mississippi tax collections were robust for the first several months of the budget year that started last July 1. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck, businesses were hobbled by government shutdown orders and the economy started to sputter. On the status of state tax collections, Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn recently told The Associated Press: "We clearly got hammered in April and are still waiting to see about May." Legislators face deep uncertainty as they approach two budget-writing tasks. They must plug holes in the current year's budget, deciding how to fill requests from a few agencies. And they must write a new spending plan to operate state government during the year that begins this July 1. House and Senate leaders say they will wait until at least June 10 to do most of the detailed work on the upcoming budget. That’s when they expect to receive a monthly report from analysts at the Legislative Budget Office, the full-time professionals who crunch numbers for the elected lawmakers.
Black voters are the overwhelming majority of Mississippi Democratic Party's base. Why is party leadership white?
At least 70 percent of Democratic voters in Mississippi are black, but the top leader of the Mississippi Democratic Party is white. As white elected officials and voters have ditched the Democratic Party in droves in recent years, white Democrats have maintained their control of the state party. Before Bobby Moak was chairman, it was Rickey Cole, a white man. Before Cole, it was Jamie Franks, a white man. Before Franks, it was Wayne Dowdy, a white man. Before Dowdy, it was Cole, a white man. Before Cole, it was Jon Levingston, a white man. Beginning the evening following the 2019 general election in which the Democratic Party suffered a historic loss, Mississippi Today interviewed more than six dozen prominent Democrats about the past, present and future of the party. In those interviews, a single theme was discussed more than any other: racial tension within the party that has gone ignored by party leadership. "There's more racism in this Democratic Party than I've seen in the Republican Party," said Felix Gines, an unsuccessful 2019 legislative candidate who served as chairman of the Harrison County Democratic Party. "I wish I was wrong about that."
Q&A: Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Moak discusses concerns raised about political strategy and race
Mississippi Today rolled out a three-part series on the Mississippi Democratic Party this week based on months of reporting. Following the historic 2019 loss for Mississippi Democrats, we interviewed more than six dozen prominent Democrats about the past, present and future of the state party. Part one illustrates how dysfunction and disorganization within the Mississippi Democratic Party led to the historic 2019 loss. Part two illustrates how a political identity crisis within the party is harming candidates up and down ticket. Part three illustrates how the party's leadership has failed to support and devote resources to black Mississippians, who make up at least 70 percent of the party's voting base. On Monday, Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Bobby Moak talked with Mississippi Today about several concerns raised in those articles. The following transcript is taken from the conversation with Moak. It has been edited for clarity and length.
DA: Public should know why AG dropped manslaughter charge in Canyon Boykin case
District Attorney Scott Colom criticized the timing and method of Attorney General Lynn Fitch's decision to dismiss charges against a former Columbus police officer who fatally shot an African American man during a traffic stop in 2015 and said he plans to ask her office to release the evidence they have in the case so the public can see for themselves that justice had been served. Fitch's office released a brief statement Thursday announcing it had dismissed the manslaughter charge against Canyon Boykin, 30, in the Oct. 16, 2015, death of 26-year-old Ricky Ball in North Columbus. Colom said he first learned of the dismissal from "local activists" and then received confirmation from an AG's Office spokesperson the same day the statement was released. Boykin, who is white, has claimed Ball pointed a weapon at him and that he shot in self-defense. However, neither Boykin nor the other two officers who initiated the traffic stop turned on their body cameras. Investigators later found a weapon at the scene that had been reported stolen from another police officer who responded to the scene after the shooting. He emphasized he is not critical of Fitch's decision to dismiss the case and that evidence may show prosecutors at the AG's Office had an ethical reason for doing so. However, since the case never went before a jury and since it was not dismissed in a public hearing, the public does not know that for sure.
Petal Mayor Hal Marx talks George Floyd comments, protests, resigning
Petal Mayor Hal Marx said he apologizes that comments he made have caused so much pain to the city he leads and its people, but he denies his comments were racist, and says he won't resign. "I admit that my comments on the recent tragic death of George Floyd in Minnesota were made in haste and not well-thought out or expressed," he said. "Because of this, my words were taken out of the context in which they were meant. For that, I apologize. "I apologize to those who found them to be insensitive, and I apologize to the people of our city." The mayor affirmed he would continue in office in an exclusive interview with the Hattiesburg American on Saturday at his home. "I will not resign," he said. "The people elected me to serve until July 1, 2021. I cannot resign over something which I did not do. I did not make racist comments and I have not mistreated anyone." He said he was dismayed and surprised by the city aldermen's lack of support for him, since some of them share his views.
Jackson protest: 'We are tired of black lives being taken by police officers'
Protesters gathered in downtown Jackson Sunday in a peaceful demonstration against police brutality following the recent death of George Floyd who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The protest started at the Governor's Mansion and ended at the Jackson Police Department. "We are tired of black lives being taken by police officers and we are just tired of racism, period," protest organizer Bria Williams said. "We want to know how Mississippi leaders feel about what is going on in America with race." Protests have been taking place in cities across America after the video of Floyd in handcuffs and police officer Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck went viral. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. People from various racial backgrounds and ages took part in Sunday's protest in Jackson.
Protesters in some cities target Confederate monuments
Protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck, targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities. As tense protests swelled across the country Saturday into Sunday morning, monuments in Virginia, the Carolinas and Mississippi were defaced. The presence of Confederate monuments across the South -- and elsewhere in the United States -- has been challenged for years, and some of the monuments targeted were already under consideration for removal. The words "spiritual genocide," along with red handprints, were painted on the sides of a Confederate monument on the University of Mississippi campus Saturday, The Oxford Eagle reported. One person was arrested at the scene. In Charleston, South Carolina, protesters defaced a Confederate statue near The Battery, a historic area on the coastal city's southern tip. In North Carolina, the base of a Confederate monument at the State Capitol was marked with a black X and a shorthand for a phrase expressing contempt for police, according to a photo posted by a News & Observer journalist to social media.
Trauma and gaffes crash Joe Biden's VP selection process
Joe Biden's choice of a running mate is getting more treacherous with each news cycle. Real-life events -- from the outcry over the killing of black men in Minnesota and Georgia, to a mundane request for boating privileges in Michigan -- are crashing into his already fraught decision over his No. 2. Multiple VP contenders with backgrounds in law enforcement are being examined in a new light amid the explosive protests after the death of George Floyd, the African-American man who was pinned under an officer's knee in Minnesota. That incident came after the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery by a white father and son in Georgia, and a bigoted call to police by a white woman while Christian Cooper tried to spot birds in a New York City park. Other contenders have been forced to fend off embarrassing stories that could stall their chances. All of the incidents come as the coronavirus had thrust racial and economic disparities to the forefront as Biden weighs his choices --- and the ways they might help him address inequality.
Old law could leave 2020 presidential race in stalemate
The nation's 133-year-old law for picking a president has a provision that has never been needed to settle a disputed election, since it deals with a situation that would only happen after a cascade of seemingly improbable events. Then again, this is 2020, a year that feels cursed with historic worsts. And election law experts warn that Congress would be wise to clarify the provision before the country potentially faces this worst-case scenario: A full-fledged constitutional crisis if there is no clear Electoral College winner on Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. "If you're asking the question what should Congress do to prepare for November, that would be on the top of the list," said Edward Foley, a constitutional law professor and director of Ohio State University's election law program, who has written on the provision and hosted a recent online expert roundtable discussion on it. The situation calls more for a dose of procedural preparation than panic. The odds of that worst-case scenario seem incredibly low. Yet this year already has seen the third presidential impeachment trial in United States history, the worst pandemic in more than a century, and deep partisan divisions about the country's future. President Donald Trump has more than foreshadowed possible disputes to the legitimacy of November election results because of a heavy shift to mail-in ballots during the health crisis.
Elon Musk's SpaceX Capsule Links Up With Space Station
Elon Musk's SpaceX on Sunday successfully docked a company-owned capsule carrying a pair of NASA astronauts with the International Space Station, capping a weekend of notable accomplishments that opened a new chapter in commercial space endeavors. Nineteen hours after a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Saturday from Florida on a historic voyage featuring the first-ever private spacecraft to attain orbit with people on board, astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken made more history. They monitored the stately, automated rendezvous of their Crew Dragon capsule with the orbiting international laboratory 250 miles above earth, linking up at 10:16 a.m. ET to mark a new industry-government partnership aimed at revitalizing U.S. space ambitions. NASA envisions a surge in companies hunting for business opportunities beyond the atmosphere. Such projects still face significant funding and technical challenges, starting with uncertainties about prospects for future corporate profits. According to many experts inside and outside NASA, the agency's current plans for swiftly getting back to the lunar surface at this point are significantly underfunded.
Board of Regents honors outgoing Sul Ross President Bill Kibler
he Texas State University System Board of Regents honored outgoing Sul Ross President Bill Kibler as President Emeritus during a resolution reading at the regents spring meeting in Austin on May 21. Kibler will retire in June after six years as SRSU President. The resolution is entitled TSUS/SRSU: Resolution Honoring William L. "Bill" Kibler, President of the Sul Ross State University and Order Conferring of President Emeritus Status. Kibler was confirmed as the 12th President of Sul Ross State University by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System on July 9, 2014. Kibler came to Sul Ross from Mississippi State University, where he served 10 years as vice president for student affairs, overseeing the university's enrollment, admissions, financial aid, housing and other student-centered programs. Previously, he spent four years at the University of Florida as assistant to the Dean of Students and later as Assistant Dean. He moved to Texas A&M University in 1980 where he spent 24 years in ascending Student Affairs positions, the last year as vice president.
W's Campus Renewal Task Force completes initial planning
Mississippi University for Women's Campus Renewal Task Force has completed its initial planning to allow the campus community to transition to a more traditional state of operations over the coming weeks. The Summer Campus Renewal Plan is designed with the goal of ensuring the safety of the campus community while continuing to fulfill the institution's mission to the best of our ability. The plan is available at Subject to whatever federal, state or local regulations may be in place at the time, The W will begin to move to the next phase of its state of operations June 8. This plan is intended to guide the institution as it strives to return to a state closer to its normal operations July 6, 2020. Scott Tollison, provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Carla Lowery, chief information officer, co-chair the Campus Renewal Task Force. Tollison said, "Since being convened last month, the Campus Renewal Task Force has been working on plans for both summer and fall. With the release of a plan to guide our summer, the effort being put into planning for the fall continues. Protocols and practices are being examined, classrooms are being measured and calendars are being reviewed -- all of which with the goal of safely achieving high-quality learning outcomes."
The W ranked a most affordable college for business
The College of Business and Professional Studies at Mississippi University for Women has been ranked number 23 by in the 2020 Most Affordable Online Colleges for Business Degrees ranking. "The W's Department of Business and Professional Studies offers high quality programs in several concentration areas and we are thrilled that both our quality and affordability continue to be recognized. Our department's faculty are all seasoned online instructors who are able to tailor the personalized educational experience that The W is known for into the online environment." said Marty Brock, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies. The College of Business and Professional Studies offers a personalized and professional opportunity for students to pursue degrees in accounting, business administration, culinary arts, legal studies and professional studies. OnlineU highlighted The W's 98 percent acceptance rate, accreditation and annual tuition.
Confederate monument at Ole Miss vandalized; 1 arrested
A Confederate monument on the campus of the University of Mississippi was vandalized Saturday. The words "spiritual genocide" were painted on each side of the monument, along with red handprints, The Oxford Eagle reported. University police officers arrested one unidentified person at the scene Saturday evening, according to the newspaper. The vandalism occurred as demonstrators across the country protested the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck. The state College Board has delayed acting on a recommendation by university administrators, student leaders and faculty leaders to move the statue from a central spot on campus to a Civil War cemetery that is still on campus but in a secluded location.
Chancellor commits to Confederate statue relocation
Chancellor Glenn Boyce said he was committed to seeing that the Confederate monument that sits on campus is removed from the Circle, according to an email sent to the university community. "This is a time for change. For me, that means moving the monument away from the center of our campus," he said. "That monument has divided this campus, and the process of its removal from the Circle is one I am committed to seeing through to completion. There is more to do, but this needs to happen." On Saturday, the Confederate monument was vandalized, with black spraypaint covering all four sides saying "spiritual genocide." University police arrested Zach Borenstein in connection with the incident, and members of the community have begun raising money for his bail. Boyce condemned the racism and cycle of African American deaths at the hands of police officers, saying that he felt "profound sadness" for the people of color in the university community who feel frustrated by the lack of change and for the "towns and cities across America that are experiencing violence and chaos."
Mississippi teacher accused of vandalizing Ole Miss statue amid George Floyd protests
An outspoken Mississippi public school teacher was arrested Saturday for allegedly vandalizing a Confederate statue on campus at the University of Mississippi amid protests in Oxford over George Floyd's death in police custody. University police at Ole Miss arrested Zachary Borenstein around 4:45 p.m. Saturday. The vandalized statue had the words "spiritual genocide" in black spray paint, along with red handprints, along the side of the statue in the Lyceum-Circle Historic District. Rod Guajardo, University of Mississippi spokesman, said in a statement Sunday that Borenstein was arrested and charged with "injuring, destroying or defacing certain cemetery property, public buildings, schools, churches or property thereof," a felony. "Borenstein will be arraigned on Monday by a Lafayette County justice judge where bond will be set," Guajardo said. Borenstein, a New York native, is a former student at the University of Mississippi who recently graduated with a master's degree. Previously, he went to George Washington University and participated in the Mississippi Teacher Corps, which provides incentives for graduates to work in educationally underserved areas in Mississippi. He is listed as working as a teacher in the Hollandale School District.
UMMC's mobile COVID-19 testing site moves to new location in Jackson
The mobile COVID-19 testing site previously held daily at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds will move to a new location on Monday. The testing site will now be located at the West Street Farmers Market at the corner of Woodrow Wilson Avenue in Jackson. Appointment-only testing at the Fairgrounds has been offered since March 24 by the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi State Department of Health. Testing hours at the West Street Farmers Market are 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday, June 1. Beginning Tuesday, June 2, hours are 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily except Sunday. Also, residents of DeSoto County and surrounding communities can be tested for COVID-19 next week as UMMC and MSDH continue efforts to stem virus transmission by setting up one-day, drive-through collection sites. Those who want to be tested must first get an appointment by going through a free screening from a UMMC clinician, either through the C Spire Health telehealth smartphone app or by phone. The fastest and easiest way to get screened and tested is with the C Spire Health app.
USM President Rodney Bennett responds to former student using racial slur in video
University of Southern Mississippi President Rodney Bennett has issued a statement after a former student posted a video using a racial slur. "I am especially saddened whenever members of the USM community do not treat others with respect and dignity. Last night, the University became aware of a video in which a former student used a racial slur, and individuals currently affiliated with USM did not appear to enact the values that we profess and expect from our community. This is not acceptable and will not be tolerated at USM." In the video posted to social media, the former student can be heard using the "N-word" toward a black woman while two current students can be seen laughing. President Bennett said the type of behavior presented in the video is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. The Vice President for Student Affair has since been charged with completing a thorough investigation of the video to determine what actions will be taken.
Meridian Community College grad dreams of developing video games
As he is playing video games like "Apex Legends" or "Rainbow Six Siege," Meridian Community College sophomore David Zheng desires to become a video game developer. "My dream job is to be a video game designer in the entertainment industry," said Zheng, a computer science major and MCC graduate. "I have always enjoyed playing video games, and I have some ideas for games that I think kids would like." Zheng received his associate of arts degree during MCC's spring virtual commencement ceremony. A University Transfer Program student, he plans to enroll in Mississippi State University in the fall to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science and a minor in art and mathematics. Eventually, he wants to pursue a master's degree in computer science. One of four children, Zheng, and his siblings, are first-generation college students. His parents immigrated to the United States from China.
MSMS seniors adapt, excel in spite of pandemic
On the day Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science senior Linda Arnoldus had hoped to walk across the stage in Mississippi University for Women's Whitfield Hall to receive her diploma, the 17-year-old instead sat on a sofa with family members at her home in Starkville to watch a streamed virtual graduation. Many schools had to create similar ceremonies this month because COVID-19 suspended the final semester for the Class of 2020 everywhere. But unlike other schools, MSMS is Mississippi's only public, residential high school for the state's most academically gifted and talented students. Its seniors hail from 35 different counties. They won't be likely to bump into each other at a local fast food place or downtown boutique over the summer. These seniors didn't just attend MSMS; they lived together there. Their daily lives were entwined, morning, noon and night. When the global pandemic abruptly closed campus during spring break, most never got to say final goodbyes. "MSMS is just like a huge family. Everybody knows everybody, and leaving and not coming back was like leaving your family members and not being able to visit them. It was really heartbreaking," said Arnoldus, who will attend Mississippi State University this fall to study aerospace engineering.
'Follow your North Star': Protestors and administrators send messages of anger and hope Sunday
Groups of people packed into downtown Auburn Sunday afternoon to protest following the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black male, by a Minneapolis police officer. Protestors at Toomer's Corner on Sunday held signs with slogans such as "Black Lives Matter," "Fight White Supremacy" and "White Silence is Violence." During and immediately following the protest at Toomer's Corner, two of Auburn's most prominent administrators released statements affirming the University's commitment to "work toward change and healing." On Twitter, Allen Greene, Auburn's athletic director, released a video in which he shared how he and his family were attempting to have an impact on the world around them. "The only thing I can think of is follow your North Star," Greene said. "For us in our athletics department, our North Star and our guiding light remains to be to educate, develop, support our student athletes at every opportunity." Soon after Greene's message on Twitter, the University's president, Jay Gogue, sent a letter to the Auburn community.
War Eagle Travelers sends 'Auburn people' around the world
Val Box was making big decisions in her life and consulting with advisors to plan for her future. Her advisors asked her what were her plans for her personal life, outside of work? Box wondered what she was passionate about and what she wanted to do. That was when she made the decision that she would begin traveling, to learn more about herself and the world around her. Box was going to travel with her family, but not her immediate family -- her Auburn Family, with the War Eagle Travelers. Box took her first trip with the War Eagle Travelers to New Zealand and Australia. Over the years, Box has ridden camels in Egypt, visited with penguins in Antarctica, ridden in a boat to the Iguazu Falls in Argentina and made friends with the giant turtles on Galapagos Island. "War Eagle Travelers is a domestic as well as international travel program that we offer through the [alumni] association and it is open to any and every Auburn alumni, fan, friend, supporter, people who just love to be around other Auburn people," said Danielle Fields, director of alumni engagement with the Auburn Alumni Center.
Alabama college enrollment will be impacted by coronavirus, official says
Colleges are facing many challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alabama Commission on Higher Education Executive Director Jim Purcell told And how a college makes it through the pandemic will depend on where it was before the pandemic started. "If (the college) had some underlying financial conditions or recent shortage in enrollment," he said, "those are the ones that are going to have some difficulties coming out and being able to offer the same types of offerings they have here." Colleges are still working on individual campus plans for reopening, Purcell said and his agency is helping with those plans. Enrollment in four-year colleges and universities could see as much as a 10% decline, Purcell said, while community colleges will likely gain enrollment. "A lot of students will be wanting to stay closer to home," he said. Four-year colleges tend to rely more on out-of-state enrollment, making them more likely to feel the impact of that shift in location. While he doesn't expect any of Alabama's colleges to close as has happened in other parts of the country, there have been financial impacts to campuses across the state.
UF President Kent Fuchs condemns killing of George Floyd
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs spoke out against the killing of George Floyd in a video released on Twitter Friday evening. In the video, Fuchs condemned the act of violence against Floyd and said there has never been a more urgent need to come together against racism and hate and in support of justice. "The killing in Minneapolis brings to the fore the racism and justice and violence that so often are directed at and experienced by African Americans," Fuchs said in the video. "Always, and particularly now as we live with COVID-19, we each need to be seen for our full humanity, to be welcomed and to know that we are valued." Fuchs asked UF students and faculty to consider how they can effect positive change and to listen to those affected by racism and violence. He encouraged viewers to reflect on their biases and to learn about racial injustice. "By joining together, we can and must work each day to ensure that every human being is nurtured, cherished and respected," he said in the video.
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young outlines plans for fall semester
Texas A&M University System regents voted Friday to reopen its 11 campuses this fall, and Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young outlined plans for the semester in a message to faculty, staff and students. "You can get a degree online," A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said in a statement. "But it's very hard to be an Aggie online." Fall classes at Texas A&M's flagship campus will begin Aug. 19 -- earlier than originally scheduled -- and will end before Thanksgiving. Students will not be required to return to campus after classes are dismissed for the holiday. Campus services will remain open through and after Thanksgiving break, and a reading day, online final exams and fall commencement will be held after Thanksgiving. According to Young's message, A&M will hold as many in-person classes as possible but also will provide remote options for every course. The university also will have hybrid classes, featuring students meeting in person while others attend classes remotely. Course schedules are being redesigned to have classes Mondays through Saturdays to further social distancing practices.
U. of Missouri Extension employees take pay cuts, furloughs as budget struggles persist
University of Missouri Extension's salaried employees will take a three-month, 10% pay cut, and its hourly employees will take a one-week furlough, according to a Friday update of an MU website that tracks budgetary actions. MU laid off 17 employees and furloughed 640 more this week, according to the website. Only those layoffs that have been registered by MU's human resources system are accounted for in the website total, and it is possible that additional layoffs have been made but not yet registered in the system. The website indicates that in total, 83 MU employees have been laid off and 1,683 furloughed. Furloughs affect staff members and vary in length. MU has made 1,572 total voluntary and mandatory salary cuts, according to the website. The new cuts and furloughs to MU Extension will depend on an employee's status as either salaried ("exempt") or paid hourly ("non-exempt"). The 376 salaried employees will take the 10% pay cut from August to October, while the 259 employees paid hourly will take one-week furloughs.
Higher Ed Groups Ask Congress for Billions
Eighty-four higher education organizations signed and sent a letter Friday to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reiterating a request for an additional $46.6 billion for institutions and their students to help recover from the coronavirus pandemic. A first letter, signed by 40 organizations, that detailed the request was sent April 9. Institutions were given roughly $14 billion from Congress by the CARES Act, passed in March, with roughly $6 billion required to be given directly to students in need. "Recent surveys conducted by several higher education associations indicate that the $46.6 billion estimate is far lower than the actual impact will be," this week's letter said. "For example, in one such survey three-quarters of institutions reported total current-year revenue losses of up to 20 percent, while a smaller percentage, roughly 5 percent, reported even higher losses." Authors of the letter reiterated their belief that direct distribution to institutions would be most effective.
As George Floyd Protests Rock Cities, Students and Presidents Condemn Systemic Racism
The nationwide anguish over the death of George Floyd -- who was shown on video last week struggling to breathe as a Minneapolis police officer pinned his neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes -- rocked American cities over the weekend. Amid peaceful protests, sometimes violent responses by the police, and some looting, higher-education leaders sought to assure their communities that they, too, were bearing witness to the historic events. At the University of Mississippi, someone spraypainted the words "Spiritual Genocide" on a Confederate monument on Saturday. The chancellor, Glenn Boyce, responded by saying he supported the relocation of the monument, a process that was already underway. Nationwide, college presidents acknowledged the immense outrage over the killing of Floyd, as well as the disproportionate toll of the novel coronavirus on communities of color. Other leaders emphasized the role of colleges in combating bigotry.
Why so few students transfer from community colleges to four-year universities
Students are often advised to start college at a public community college as a way to save thousands of dollars on a bachelor's degree. According to the most recent federal data in 2017-18, the average tuition and fees at a community college was $3,200, which compares favorably with $9,000 at a public four-year school. When they first arrive, about 80 percent of community college students say they want to earn a bachelor's degree. But the path to the B.A. is fraught. Only 13 percent of the students who start at a community college manage to get a bachelor's degree six years later, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. One part of the problem is that only 30 percent of community college students succeed in transferring to a four-year institution. Researchers in California are trying to get a better handle on this particular clog in the college pipeline. Despite their best intentions, many of California's two million community college students aren't able to take or pass enough courses to make headway. Roughly 900,000 fell into this category between 2010 and 2015. But a surprising number of California's community college students -- about 300,000 during this 2010-15 time period -- had met the requirements for transfer or were just a course away from doing so and still didn't end up transferring.
Colleges counter looming enrollment declines with tuition bargains
The pandemic has caused many students to hit pause on their education while colleges work to determine whether they can reopen for in-person instruction this fall. Uncertain enrollments and potentially high summer melt have driven colleges to announce a variety of tuition discounts and scholarship programs to entice prospective students and to keep those already enrolled. Whether the programs will pay off is still to be determined. he University of Nebraska system debuted its Nebraska Promise program in April. It had been in the works for a while, said President Ted Carter, but the timing of the announcement was driven by the pandemic. The program offers to waive tuition and fees for resident Nebraska students who are Pell Grant eligible or whose families make less than $60,000 a year -- equating to about 1,000 additional students, Carter said. Students are responsible for room and board fees. Delaying the program was "something we could not afford to do," Carter said. The system will also implement a two-year tuition freeze.
Why the Fall Will Be a Liability Minefield
With students, faculty, and staff returning to many campuses, this fall will be a Covid-19 liability minefield even under the best of circumstances. Look what colleges are up against. Start with the mind-boggling public-health logistics of educational and residential life, and possibly of some athletics and other extracurriculars. Add the ebb and flow of off-campus students, visitors, and dining and retail personnel. Bring into the decision-making and approval loops administrators, the faculty, trustees, and layers of unions. Pressure-cook your plans in a matter of months with incomplete and evolving public-health recommendations. Then get the word out effectively before everyone arrives on campus. College leaders may think they can eliminate liability with the stroke of a pen: Just have people sign waivers. That's a seductive fantasy. No waiver can resolve all those headaches, according to a dozen lawyers who work with colleges. For starters, waivers wouldn't protect universities from claims by faculty and staff, said Hope Sarah Goldstein, a partner with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
Respect and common sense needed, not spit and aggression
Syndicated columnist Bill Crawford of Meridian writes: As the COVID-19 virus and behavior restrictions linger, frustrations grow, spawning irresponsible reactions by some. An angry man spewed a glob of spit onto the mask of a Presbyterian minister out shopping in Jackson. In Michigan a man wiped his nose and mouth on a store clerk's shirt when he was told to wear a mask. Also in Michigan a security guard was killed after telling a woman to leave a store because she was not wearing a mask. In Washington a customer and employee had an altercation when the customer insisted, "I'm not doing it because I woke up in a free country." Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, Ronald Reagan speechwriter, and weekly columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan has called for better behavior. "A mask isn't a sign of submission as some idiots claim," she wrote. "It's a sign of respect, responsibility and economic encouragement. It says, 'I'll do my small part.'" Gov. Tate Reeves has called on Mississippians to wear face masks in public. "Use common sense," he said. "Let's do the little things for the next few days and weeks and it will go a long ways to help ourselves and our fellow Mississippians."
Gov. Tate Reeves concedes he should have worn mask during Senate visit, but he wasn't only one maskless
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann recently warned members of the Mississippi Senate to wear their masks or risk being photographed or videotaped by media outlets without one. Whether a politician eschewing the wearing of a mask would be harmful to a Mississippi politician is debatable. But a day before Hosemann warned members of the possibility of being photographed without a mask, Gov. Tate Reeves went maskless while visiting the Senate chamber -- his old stomping grounds -- where he presided for eight years as lieutenant governor. Not only was Reeves not wearing a mask, but he also appeared at times to be challenging social distancing guidelines as he carried on conversations with members in the ornate Senate chamber. And yes, there was a photograph of the event taken by Associated Press photojournalist Rogelio Solis of Hosemann, sporting a mask, and Reeves, sans a mask, in deep conversation. The scene was a bit surprising since the Republican Reeves often has gone out of his way to agree with state Health Officer Thomas Dobbs about the importance of wearing masks in their near daily news conferences conducted to provide updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Breaking down the budget: How Mississippi State's athletic department is preparing financially for an uncertain year in college football
With the COVID-19 crisis ongoing, Mississippi State athletic department officials are preparing for the upcoming school year and its athletic endeavors with a semblance of caution given uncertain circumstances the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it. "There are so many factors involved with putting together a budget," MSU Athletic Director John Cohen told The Dispatch this week. "And, again, it's not perfect, but what we've been able to do over the last several years is we have been able to put resources away at the end of the year for situations like what we're dealing with right now." Following the standard process it does each spring, each of Mississippi State's 14 sports -- the minimum allowed to be an NCAA Division I member -- submits a proposed figure and breakdown for what they will need funding-wise. Once that number is passed to university Chief Financial Officer Eric George, among others, it's factored into the larger overall athletic budget relative to what the school made in revenue the year before. George -- who joined the MSU athletic department in April after nearly five years at Clemson -- noted that previous budgeting models have been turned upside down as exact plans for the college football season remain cloudy, though the school is not anticipating it will have to dip into reserve funds or have to cut or furlough any athletic department employees at this time.
Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen issues statement on country's unrest
Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen issued the following statement on Saturday night following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and widespread protests and riots around the country since Floyd's death: "As I continue trying to process the events that have occurred in our country and the senseless loss of lives, racial violence and social injustice, it has been difficult to put emotions into words. I cannot presume to know the pain that the African-American community is feeling, but I know it's real. Everyone deserves to be treated equally and feel safe. We must find a way to bring people together through thoughtful, meaningful and positive change. We must do our part to ensure voices are heard and support is provided. Together we can make a difference. Together we can be a part of a solution. Together we are stronger."
How Ole Miss athletics, city of Oxford have responded to George Floyd's death, nationwide protests
The city of Oxford and the Ole Miss sports family are beginning to speak out about the protests, riots and national response to the death of George Floyd. Floyd died recently after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while he was on the ground. That event has led to a national outcry, including protests, marches and riots across the country. The protests have even reached Oxford, where about 300 people gathered at The Square on Saturday evening to march and support the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the Ole Miss sports family have made their opinions on the protests known. Athletic director Keith Carter released a statement Sunday morning saying that all people must "work together to be a part of the solution that gives equality and justice to everyone." With select student-athletes returning to campus on June 8, Carter said he wants those athletes to know Ole Miss is paying attention to the state of the nation and will "lead with love and compassion."
U. of Alabama leadership addresses racial crisis
University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban and Director of Athletics Greg Byrne both released statements on Sunday, after days of protests against police brutality on people of color around the nation. "I am shocked and angered by the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahamud Arbery," Saban's statement said. "We're at an important moment for our country, and now is the time for us to choose kindness, tolerance, understanding, empathy, and most's time to love each other. Every life is precious, and we must understand we have so many more things that unite us than divide us." Byrne's statement said UA athletics has taken the previous several days to, "engage, listen and be present with our student-athletes, coaches and staff." "Our commitment to our student-athletes, our staff and our community goes far beyond competition," Byrne's statement said. "We are here to celebrate victories, but we are also here to support and extend a helping hand through life's challenges. It is important that we not only speak of the awareness but also engage with conversation and action. We all have the ability to show love, grace, compassion, kindness, support and understanding for the people in our lives. It could be one person that you impact or it could be thousands. It does not matter the number. What matters is that we make a commitment to these actions."
UGA coaches, players speak out amid George Floyd protests
The video from Minneapolis of a police officer keeping his knee on the neck of George Floyd was seen the world over on TV and smartphones. The death of the unarmed black man sparked outrage and calls for justice. Protests that have filled the streets of the nation ensued including Sunday in Athens where a curfew was issued running from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday because of the threat of violence. Georgia coaches -- including Kirby Smart, Tom Crean and Joni Taylor -- along with numerous Bulldog players took to social media to express their feelings during a weekend in which looting and violent confrontations with police in cities around the country created even more tension. Smart, the Bulldogs football coach, wrote in notes format in a Twitter post that he "cannot imagine the agony, grief and fear that our black communities feel today and every day." Taylor, the UGA women's basketball coach, wrote: "As a black woman with a husband, father and brother who are black, I have an obligation to speak my truth and tell you that I live in fear knowing they are not immune to what is happening."
U. of Florida leadership addresses racial crisis
University of Florida head and assistant coaches from various sports teams have taken to social media with statements after days of protests against police brutality on people of color around the nation. UF president Kent Fuchs issued a statement on Twitter on Friday, men's basketball coach Mike White followed with one Saturday. Gators football coach Dan Mullen joined the national commentary Sunday night. "I stand in unison with President Fuchs, my current and former players, coaches, and all others that have used their voice to condemn racism and oppression," Mullen wrote on his Twitter account. "During these difficult times, we need unity, compassion and a love for each other more than ever. As we slowly return to the freedoms in our daily lives from this global pandemic, my hope is that we can work together towards a society with freedom, opportunity and social justice for ALL."
Tennessee athletics urges support for black athletes after George Floyd death
Members of the University of Tennessee's athletics department and coaches have issued statements urging people to support the school's black student-athletes. On May 25, a video of George Floyd's death at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis sparked national outrage and protests, some turning violent, in multiple cities around the United States. Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville all have seen mass gatherings that resulted in the destruction of property. On Sunday, a unified statement from Tennessee athletics leadership, centered on director of athletics Phillip Fulmer, was released and urged support for athletes who are hurting during this time. "Vol Nation, let's rise to the challenge to meet a new standard," the statements reads. "If you're going to support our black student-athletes when they compete, please have the courage to support them and their families in their daily pursuit of peace, happiness and equity." Fulmer and all 15 coaches at Tennessee signed off on the statement.
U. of Missouri coaches address killing of George Floyd and nationwide protests
University of Missouri athletics coaches in recent days spoke out about the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the subsequent protests around the country. The national movement comes almost five years after a series of racist events, student protests and resignations by campus leadership put MU in the national spotlight. MU head basketball coach Cuonzo Martin released a statement on Twitter on Sunday condemning the killing of Floyd and other black individuals by police. "We shouldn't have to live in fear - enough is enough," Martin said. "While I'm on this earth, my voice won't be silent until the injustice stops." Martin also encouraged action, listening and respect in an effort to "do better." "It goes beyond a post on social media. It's time to join together in our pain, to mourn, to stand united against oppression and ACT to create change. We must live and lead with compassion for one another."
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason: 'We all must stand together peacefully' after death of George Floyd
The Southeastern Conference's lone black football coach is calling for unity and empathy as the country grapples with tensions following the killing of another unarmed black man by police. Derek Mason voiced his pain and frustration Saturday morning over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the resulting outrage that has swept the country in the last week. "The video footage we continue to see is hard to turn off in your mind and has left me both angry and alarmed by what has become an all to familiar issue in our country," he said in a series of tweets. A bystander's video circulated of a white Minneapolis police officer holding his knee to the 46-year-old black man's neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd died pleading "I can't breathe." "When tragedies such as this occur, people are quick to take a side, but in reality there is truly only one truth here -- a gentleman lost his life and that loss could have been prevented," he said.
College Football Hall of Fame vandalized, looted in Atlanta riots
The $68.5 million College Football Hall of Fame was one of many buildings in Atlanta vandalized and looted during Friday night riots across the country. The Atlanta riots were part of violent demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, who died while he was in police custody in Minneapolis earlier in the week. Protesters smashed the windows at the Hall of Fame and looted its gift shop. The riots continued through the night despite a news conference by Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms condemning the violence. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp deployed the national guard after declaring a state of emergency. "We are heartbroken to see the damage to our city and the Hall of Fame," College Football Hall of Fame CEO Kimberly Beaudin said in a statement. Beaudin said the Hall of Fame would work to rebuild in the coming days. She later said none of the artifacts in the Hall of Fame had been damaged.
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn: Roster is in need of relief
The NCAA was universally lauded for allowing seniors in spring sports such as baseball, softball, golf, tennis and track and field to get that year back in the 2020-21 academic year because of the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the other shoe is dropping. The NCAA caps "counters" in baseball at 27, meaning the 11.7 scholarships allowed for Division I baseball programs can be spread among that number of players. It also caps roster sizes at 35. The double whammy of seniors being allowed back and the Major League Baseball Draft being shortened to five rounds will mean more would-be drafted juniors will remain in school for the upcoming season. That's going to create a glut of players on college rosters, which should heighten the skill level in college baseball but also create difficult number crunching for coaching staffs. "We need relief, and we should know here shortly," Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said of possible tweaks to NCAA rules for this year. "To only have 27 counters ... we're asking if they could raise that to around 32 for one year. So at least we could, kids that maybe we thought were going to sign, at least we could give them something. They might not be on as much [aid] as they were."
Ex-U. of Kentucky cheer coach says he disagrees with dismissal in first public statement since firing
The former head University of Kentucky cheerleading coach said that he doesn't agree with the way he was let go from the university, in a statement posted to his Facebook page on Friday. The university announced the firing of head coach Jomo Thompson along with three other assistant coaches and the retirement of a long-time adviser to the team earlier this month after an internal, three-month university investigation concluded that some cheerleaders took part in hazing activities, alcohol use and public nudity. The coaches "knew or reasonably should have known" about the team's conduct and did not properly address it, the investigation found. In the statement, Thompson thanked the coaches and alumni who backed him after the firing while also taking issue with his dismissal and the way the university went about the investigation. After the firing of Thompson and the assistant coaches Ben Head, Spencer Clan and Kelsey LaCroix was made public, several cheerleading alumni defended Thompson's character and questioned the investigation's findings. An online petition demanding the reinstatement of the coaches has received over 17,000 signatures.
NCAA offers plan to bring athletes back to campus
The NCAA released a long and detailed plan Friday to help schools bring athletes back to campus during a pandemic. The Resocialization of Collegiate Sports: Action Plan Considerations was announced as schools across the country prepare for the return of football players as early as June 8. The NCAA's Division I Council voted last week to lift a moratorium on athletic activities starting Monday. That cleared the way for voluntary workouts and training to begin at team facilities. Schools have already started putting plans in place to test athletes, coaches and staff for the coronavirus and implement social distancing. The NCAA says its plan is offered as guidance, consistent with federal and local public health guidelines.
USM football to begin voluntary workouts Monday
University of Southern Mississippi football players are expected to begin voluntary workouts Monday. USM athletic director Jeremy McClain said Friday that the first on-campus workouts since the bloom of the coronavirus pandemic reached Hattiesburg in March were about to get underway. "The NCAA obviously gave us the green light, so we're going to begin," McClain said during a telephone interview Friday afternoon. "It's not all our student-athletes. We're focused on football right now, go get them back and working at our facility. Part of it was getting the green light from the NCAA, but you've also got gyms opening up across the state and across the region, and we just feel like it's better for them (student-athletes) to be here at our own facility as opposed to their old high school or a gym in their community." McClain said the workouts initially would be limited to weightlifting and conditioning. McClain said his department is planning for a full-schedule football season, though contingency plans have been drawn depending on the public health concerns in three months' time.
LSU football players can finally begin summer workouts. Here's the plan to keep coronavirus away
The moment sports shut down across the country more than two months ago, Shelly Mullenix began preparing for the day student-athletes returned to LSU. Mullenix, director of wellness and a senior associate athletic director, understood the school needed to craft protocols to keep people healthy. For months, Mullenix studied the coronavirus, consulted local guidelines and coordinated with a group of LSU employees, which included senior associate athletic director of facility management Dan Gaston, director of strength and conditioning Tommy Moffitt, school athletic trainers and the NCAA compliance officer. They spoke often over Zoom calls. Information changed daily. Mullenix worked constantly, often alone in an empty athletic building. She created new policies, ordered disinfectants, scheduled cleaning around future workouts and structured the flow of traffic in the football operations building. She said it felt like working in emergency medicine. LSU will soon begin its plan. Football players can return to campus the first day of June, and they begin voluntary workouts June 8, allowing them to exercise with strength and conditioning coaches. After months of waiting amid the coronavirus pandemic, LSU can resume training for football season.
Iowa and Iowa State preparing for fans to attend football games
The 2020 football season is 100 days away for both Iowa and Iowa State, and both athletic directors are confident there will be a season. However, there are still many questions, including how many fans will be allowed at the stadiums? "With all that uncertainty, I'm still, and my staff, are still planning for several different scenarios," said Iowa athletic director Gary Barta in a Zoom press conference with the media on Thursday. "As of today, we are still planning to open Kinnick up and have as many fans join us as want to join us." On Tuesday, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard wrote a letter to Cyclone fans saying that with the current restrictions, Jack Trice Stadium will only be at 50-percent capacity, or 30,000 fans. But that can all change. "Obviously at this point there are certain things you do know," Pollard said. "Things can change between now and September. And so, we made the decision to communicate that based on what we currently know, that we would be seen as whether it's a restaurant, a mall, an outdoor activity where they're looking at 50-percent capacity."
If health officials approve, Oklahoma State's attendance plan involves 'a full stadium'
On the lengthy list of the unprecedented and the unknown in the 2020 sports world, there is the complex matter of college football attendance. There are strong indications that Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will start the season on time, with the Cowboys scheduled to host Oregon State on Sept. 3 and OU hosting Missouri State on Sept. 5. Among so many unanswered questions, though, is this giant of a topic: How many people will be allowed to attend those games? During a Saturday phone interview with the Tulsa World, OSU deputy athletic director Chad Weiberg indicated that his university is planning to enter the season with no limitations on attendance. If there is approval from local and state health experts, Weiberg stressed, each of Boone Pickens Stadium's 55,509 seats will be available for home games. "If the health officials and (government and university) officials allow us to, we will play in front of a full stadium," Weiberg reported. "Right now, that is the only scenario that we are planning for. We're not spending time right now -- a lot of time -- on other scenarios. If we get to the point where we need to do that, we will. But right now, we're optimistic (with) the scenario we're planning for."
US Open plan in works, including group flights, COVID tests
Charter flights to ferry U.S. Open tennis players and limited entourages from Europe, South America and the Middle East to New York. Negative COVID-19 tests before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature checks. No spectators. Fewer on-court officials. No locker-room access on practice days. All are among the scenarios being considered for the 2020 U.S. Open -- if it is held at all amid the coronavirus pandemic -- and described to The Associated Press by a high-ranking official at the Grand Slam tournament. "All of this is still fluid," Stacey Allaster, the U.S. Tennis Association's chief executive for professional tennis, said in a telephone interview Saturday. "We have made no decisions at all." With that caveat, Allaster added that if the USTA board does decide to go forward with the Open, she expects it to be held at its usual site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

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