Wednesday, June 3, 2020   
Drier weather helps growers catch up on planting
Row crop growers in Mississippi used a relatively dry May to make up for planting time lost earlier in the spring due to wet weather and soggy fields. As of May 24, planting progress for the state's four major row crops was slightly behind their five-year averages but ahead of where it was at that time in 2019. Trent Irby, soybean specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said warmer and drier conditions in May prompted some growers to plant soybeans in fields originally intended for corn. MSU Extension rice specialist Bobby Golden said the dry May allowed rice growers to catch up "tremendously." Mississippi's corn acreage may be reduced as much as 50 percent because many growers had already abandoned corn planting intentions by late April, said Extension corn specialist Erick Larson. The change in weather allowed many cotton growers to plant during the optimal May 1-10 window. Extension cotton specialist Brian Pieralisi said soil was actually too dry for some growers in south Mississippi to plant until May 20.
How to talk to kids about race, privilege amid George Floyd protests
As protests and riots continue across the country in the wake of George Floyd's death, parents across the country are figuring out how to talk to their children about the protests and about fighting racism. The most important thing for parents to do is to have honest conversations with their children and to be there to answer their questions, experts say. For white parents who may not feel confident speaking with their children about race, or who may not feel as if they have all the answers, that can be an opportunity to learn with your children, according to Margaret Hagerman, a sociologist and the author of "White Kids: Growing Up With Privilege in a Racially Divided America." "In order to understand the present, we have to understand the past, and it might mean that you don't know all the answers and you don't feel confident even talking about this with your children. But that means that you could do some work to learn the answers to these questions," she said. "You can take the time to read up on this and this could be something even that you do with your children."
Meet The Woman Mitigating Risk In NASA Historic Launch
When we think about space, the first thing that comes to mind is excitement. It is exhilarating to watch the rocket take off and launch at an incredible speed, reaching about 17,000 miles/hour to get to what is known as "orbital velocity" or the speed needed for the rocket to orbit around the Earth. Although this is indeed very exciting it does come with its own risks as there are two human beings traveling at incredible and incomprehensible speeds. Thus, safety is of paramount concern for the success of the mission. Carol Scott, along with her team, is responsible for mitigating risk and ensuring safety of this NASA mission, leading the process of up to four hours before launch. She serves as the deputy for the Launch Vehicle System Office within the Commercial Crew program, and she leads a team responsible for certifying that commercial partner vehicles, such as rockets from SpaceX, are ready to take astronauts into space. Carol has worked in NASA since 1987 right after graduating college. She got the job through a friend who offered to set up her with an interview. She also says she surprised her parents stating she would work for NASA, although she was a third generation engineering graduate at Mississippi State University.
No action taken on request for peaceful demonstration
A group wanting to hold a peaceful demonstration on Saturday saw no action taken on its request during Tuesday's Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting, although city officials will continue to work with the group. Following several citizens speaking on the issue during the meeting and several board members saying they would be willing to expedite the process, the board took no action, citing the group not having a route plan or insurance information to present. However, Second Baptist Church Pastor Joseph Stone, who is helping to facilitate the event, will meet with city officials today to discuss some of the finer points. The permit approval may be revisited in a special called meeting later this week. The item was also not on the official agenda for Tuesday night.
Peco Foods could have 500 jobs by 2022
The Peco Foods chicken processing plant in West Point will add more than 200 jobs to its existing 44 when the addition of a par-fry facility is complete. Par-frying (short for partial frying) is the first step in the frying process and the food is frozen, packaged and distributed afterward. The plant is still new to the Golden Triangle; construction began in 2018 and full operations started in June 2019. The $40 million investment included $3 million in state funding. Golden Triangle LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said in 2018 that the plant will have a total of 300 jobs by the time it has been open for three years. The 185,000 square-foot facility is located on 37 acres of land at the former Americold freezer facility on West Church Hill Road. The par-fry expansion began in late 2019 and will add about 130,000 square feet. Construction on the par-fry expansion has continued during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, plant manager Jordan Townsend said. "Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, (and) we look forward to finishing up construction and beginning our hiring process later this year," he said.
Food wholesaler's expansion to create 79 jobs in DeSoto County
The expansion of the nation's largest cooperative food wholesaler will bring new jobs to DeSoto County. Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc. will create 79 new jobs with the construction of a new facility in Hernando. The expansion project represents a corporate investment of $300 million. Governor Tate Reeves applauded the move, stating that the company's announcement comes at an opportune time. "When Mississippi businesses, such as Associated Wholesale Grocers, grow and provide even more jobs in our communities, it serves as a strong testament to our state's skilled workforce and strong, supportive business environment," Governor Reeves said. "AWG's expansion in DeSoto County and the creation of 79 new jobs come at a time when Mississippians are eager to return to work and get back on their feet. I know the company's employees will work hard to continue AWG's legacy of success in Northwest Mississippi." The Mississippi Development Authority is providing assistance for site preparation, construction, and public infrastructure needs. Entergy Mississippi is assisting with the project as well.
Farm boxes, new patrons: Flora finds ways to flourish amid pandemic
When faced with the closures of restaurants that buy much of their produce, two growers in Flora changed their way of doing business. After COVID-19 began making the news in Mississippi, Salad Days Produce and Two Dog Farms shifted their sales to focus on providing consumers a safe, easy way to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and other necessities. They enlisted restaurants and growers in Flora and beyond to provide options such as sourdough bread and beef to provide consumers one-stop shopping. Leigh Bailey, who with her husband, Jamie Redmond, owns Salad Days Produce that usually supplies lettuce grown hydroponically to restaurant and markets, came up with a plan by brainstorming with others. "We were 90% restaurant sales," she said. "Two Dog Farms was heavy on the restaurant side. We were forced to figure out something. Our lettuce was going full tilt." Farm boxes proved to be the answer. Salad Days and Two Dog Farms began offering prepacked boxes of vegetables that consumers order and pay for online and pick up at low contact, drive-thru locations on specified days and times.
Bond bill would provide $190 million for projects for state agencies, universities and community colleges
The Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bond bill Monday that has $86 million in funding for capital projects at state universities, $79 million in funding for capital projects involving state agencies and $25 million for projects at the state's community colleges. House Bill 1730, sponsored by state Rep. Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, would provide $44.5 million for the Department of Public Safety to build and furnish a new headquarters building in Rankin County, a new highway patrol substation in Starkville and a new Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Academy facility in Pearl. These three new buildings would replace aging infrastructure. The bill passed the House by an overwhelming 113-5 margin but has a reverse repealer on it. This legislative tactic prevents a bill from going to the governor's desk for signing into law and forces both chambers to perform more work on the bill. More projects will likely be added to it as in past sessions.
Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus makes promise to end police violence
Chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus, Mississippi Senator Angela Turner-Ford, released a statement that the caucus stands in solidarity against the senseless killing of George Floyd and others like him. "The attitudes and laws that allow law enforcement officers to kill and brutalize unarmed black men and women without consequence must be addressed," Senator Turner-Ford wrote. In the statement, she addresses State Attorney General Lynn Fitch's decision to dismiss the manslaughter charge against former Columbus Police Officer Canyon Boykin just days after George Floyd's death. She promises that the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus will continue to push for legislation that protects its constituents. "Policies and procedures addressing body-worn cameras, standardized treatment of law enforcement-related deaths and other issues that will restore confidence in the criminal justice system have been and will continue to be matters of importance to the Caucus. Real-life examples have proven more oversight is needed in these areas of the law."
Mississippi to name nursing homes with COVID-19 outbreaks
The Mississippi State Department of Health said Tuesday that it will start releasing the names of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities where people have tested positive for the new coronavirus. The action comes only after a newspaper sued the department. A Hinds County chancery court judge ruled May 26 that the department must respond to a public records request from the Pine Belt News and its parent company, Hattiesburg Publishing Inc. Other news organizations also sought the information from the department. The judge said in her ruling last week that the Mississippi department must either release the information sought in the public records request or cite a specific exemption in the state Public Records Act that would allow the information to be withheld. After the judge's ruling, the attorney general's office recommended that the Health Department begin releasing the names of the facilities with COVID-19 cases. The department said it will start posting the information on its website Wednesday.
One-on-one with MDOC Commissioner Burl Cain
The commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Burl Cain, worked in Louisiana for four decades. He came out of retirement to lead MDOC. Cain said he didn't come to the state for money, but to help restore order and help inmates through a religious program. "It's about correcting deviate behavior. That's what corrections is. It is not lock and feed, torture and torment. It's changing people and less victims of violent crimes," explained Cain. Four years after he retired as warden of Louisiana's Angola Prison, Cain is bringing his strategy to Mississippi's prisons. He calls it "Moral Rehabilitation." "We're not going to have the gang problem after a period of time. We're going to have all that gone and worked out. We have some plans for that. Some are going to rebel and resist change." Cain said he knows about the violent history of prisons in Mississippi, especially Parchman. He said Angola was the same way at first. "Angola was wild and wooly, it was about every night someone was getting stabbed. A lock in the sock was a favorite weapon," stated Cain. He chose to fight the violence with faith.
Bill Aims to Stop Theft of U.S. University Research by China, Others
New legislation aims to stop China and others from stealing U.S. taxpayer-funded research at universities by enhancing the authority of federal agencies to monitor and punish the schools and scientists. The bill, which Sens. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Tom Carper (D., Del.) plan to introduce Wednesday, follows renewed alarms from the White House and U.S. agencies over Beijing's alleged attempts to tap U.S. universities to boost China's military and technological competitiveness. The legislation doesn't cite any foreign government by name, using instead the term "malign state actors." The measure addresses findings by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which the senators lead, that Beijing uses recruitment programs with generous funding to lure scientists and their knowledge to China and that U.S. universities have systematically failed to report foreign gifts as required by law. Some U.S. university leaders have said the Trump administration's concerns are hyperbolic and discriminatory and that there should be no restrictions on unclassified research. It would update the U.S. criminal code to make it illegal to submit a federal grant application that fails to disclose an applicant's receipt of foreign money, according to a draft reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Steve King goes down, and other top takeaways from Tuesday's primaries
Iowa Republicans drove Steve King out of office on a primary day marked by civil unrest. King's defeat was the top headline in Tuesday's primaries. The nine-term congressman with a history of racist and anti-immigrant remarks was ousted after the GOP establishment offered his opponent both material and symbolic assistance. In other races, Democrats' top recruit for the Iowa Senate race advanced through the primary to set up a competitive general election that could determine control of the chamber. And Valerie Plame, the CIA agent who was outed during the Bush administration, failed to parlay her 2000s-era celebrity and profile into a New Mexico congressional seat. House Republicans are on track to nominate five women in House battlegrounds in Tuesday's primaries, an encouraging sign for a caucus that is growing increasingly male and white. Meanwhile, the widespread protests over police brutality and the continued coronavirus pandemic changed the way people voted -- and offered a hint of what could go wrong in November.
'How do we end systemic racism?': George W. Bush says George Floyd's death reveals America's 'tragic failures'
Former President George W. Bush called Tuesday for peace and empathy following the "brutal suffocation" of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in police custody last week, and declared it was "time for America to examine our tragic failures." In a rare public statement, Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were "anguished" by Floyd's death and "disturbed by the injustice and fear that suffocate our country." Bush said they had "resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen." "It remains a shocking failure that many African-Americans, especially young African-American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country," Bush said. The 43rd president said it was a "strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future." But he warned "lasting justice will only come by peaceful means." Bush said Floyd's death follows a "long series of similar tragedies" and "raises a long overdue question: How do we end systemic racism in our society?"
Conspiracy theories run rampant online amid George Floyd protests
Misinformation about the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests is spreading rapidly online, adding to the chaos as nationwide demonstrations enter their second week. The conspiracy theories range from claims that Floyd's arrest was staged to others saying he is still alive, despite video evidence that the 46-year-old unarmed black man died in police custody after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for about eight minutes. Twitter has been fertile ground for many of the unfounded claims. A search for the phrase "George Floyd is not dead" brings up dozens of results on the platform. But much of the misinformation has focused on the subsequent protests and who is organizing them. "Whenever there is confusion or something people don't know, there is an opportunity for misinformation to come in," said Diara Townes, an investigative researcher at First Draft, an organization dedicated to fighting online misinformation. "A lack of reliable information creates a vacuum for bad actors to exploit with mis- and disinformation."
CIA veterans who monitored crackdowns abroad see troubling parallels in Trump's handling of protests
The scenes have been disturbingly familiar to CIA analysts accustomed to monitoring scenes of societal unraveling abroad -- the massing of protesters, the ensuing crackdowns and the awkwardly staged displays of strength by a leader determined to project authority. In interviews and posts on social media in recent days, current and former U.S. intelligence officials have expressed dismay at the similarity between events at home and the signs of decline or democratic regression they were trained to detect in other nations. "I've seen this kind of violence," said Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst responsible for tracking developments in China and Southeast Asia. "This is what autocrats do. This is what happens in countries before a collapse. It really does unnerve me." Helt, now a professor at King University in Tennessee, said the images of unrest in U.S. cities, combined with President Trump's incendiary statements, echo clashes she covered over a dozen years at the CIA tracking developments in China, Malaysia and elsewhere. Other former CIA and national security officials rendered similarly troubled verdicts.
Republican Party eyes Nashville for upcoming convention, will tour the city, Gov. Bill Lee says
The Republican Party is eyeing Nashville as a possible location to host this summer's Republican National Convention and will tour the city on Thursday, Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday. The governor's announcement came hours before President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday evening that North Carolina would no longer be hosting the RNC. "Nashville is the best place in America to have a convention," Lee said, adding that his office has "just begun those conversations" with the RNC. Lee said hosting the convention in Tennessee would help Nashville and the state's economy rebound from the coronavirus pandemic. "We certainly would be interested in welcoming that to our city," Lee said to reporters at Arnold's Country Kitchen, a Nashville restaurant where he was announcing new economic relief payments to small businesses. "It would be a great opportunity for us to build upon the economic recovery that's already occurring."
Army labs say 'some form' of COVID-19 vaccine will be ready this year, but not for all
Army labs conducting research on the coronavirus are confident that "some form" of a vaccine will be identified by the end of this year, but cautioned that large-scale access to it will take time and that much remains unknown about COVID-19. The Army scientists are working on a vaccine candidate that is separate from four major private-sector efforts that are currently in human trials and are the focus of Operation Warp Speed, an all-of-government push for the discovery and development of a coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year. But while the government's goal is to achieve a vaccine "in some scale" by the end of 2020, ramping up public access will almost certainly extend into 2021, one Army scientist said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. Of the four private firms also working on vaccines -- Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Sanofi -- the scientists said it is likely Moderna's version will become the first to be tested in a large-scale Phase III clinical trial. But the Army labs are also thinking beyond this year's outbreak and looking for a vaccine that might take on future coronavirus variants.
Jackson State University ranks in the top 10 among 50 HBCUs
Jackson State University is a top ten HBCU, according to a recent report by The site describes itself as an essential tool for students in search of a college or university that best fits a variety of needs, i.e., support and inclusion, inspirational and challenging academic environment, or networking opportunities. Of the 50 HBCUs listed, JSU is firmly cemented in the No. 7 spot. With regard to methodology, College Consensus pools data from a variety of college ranking sites, including U.S. News & World Report, WalletHub and the Wall Street Journal, among others. The results are combined with the "most reputable student reviews" from sites such as Niche, My Plan and Unigo. College Consensus then creates a publisher rating and a student review rating. The combination of the two ratings creates a "comprehensive meta-ranking."
'PRCC does not tolerate racism': Instructor resigns after George Floyd protest comments
A band director at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville is no longer employed there following an uproar over comments he posted on social media suggesting violence against protesters, according to media reports. PRCC released a Tuesday statement from its president, Adam Breerwood, that condemned comments made by Reuben McDowell, assistant band director. McDowell resigned from his post, PRCC has confirmed. "I am saddened today," Breerwood said in his statement. "I am distraught and disappointed. I have received hundreds of messages regarding recent comments that were made by a PRCC instructor who is no longer employed at the college. These comments do not reflect the values of this institution. PRCC does not tolerate the promotion of violence, hate or racism." Screenshots of McDowell's comments circulated on Facebook, showing his reaction to a Fox News story about businesses burning in San Diego during Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd. One post by McDowell said, "Start shootin a few and the rest will scatter," according to WLOX-TV.
Less than a quarter of Mississippi high schools will host traditional graduation ceremonies
COVID-19 closed schools across Mississippi and the nation, and left districts scrambling to figure out how to plan one of the most memorable events for high school seniors: graduation. Mississippi Today reached out to all of the 233 public high schools in the state to ask what their graduation ceremony plans are. Respondents' plans, if they have any, fall into one of three categories. Traditional ceremonies will have graduates walk the stage to receive their diploma while following social distancing measures. Virtual-only ceremonies can only be viewed via live stream or by video. In-person, non-traditional ceremonies are an abbreviated version of a graduation ceremony including, but not limited to: drive-thrus, parades, and movie drive-up graduations. Additionally, some districts will hold multiple types of ceremonies at later dates.
U. of Alabama to fund six coronavirus projects
The University of Alabama plans to fund six projects designed to deepen understanding of the coronavirus pandemic. "It is essential as the flagship university in the state that UA contributes to improving the lives of Alabamians in the face of this pandemic and future pandemics," said Russell J. Mumper, vice president for research and economic development. "All of our institutes are coming together in recognition that the nature of the problem and its solutions require an inherently interdisciplinary approach." Support for the projects comes from the Alabama Transportation Institute, Alabama Water Institute, Alabama Life Research Institute and the UA Cyber Initiative.
Chancellor: 'We've really never had a challenge like this,' but U. of Tennessee will meet it
As universities prepare to reopen, there is no question that classes, dorms and schedules will not be the same. But University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Donde Plowman says the campus community is ready to work together this fall. "We've really never had a challenge like this in higher education that I can think of that required all of us to share in this problem and in its solution," Plowman said. "We're going to be relying on students to buy into the culture of taking care of each other," she later said. "Until this virus subsides or until we have a vaccine or until we know more, something different than we know now, we will go by the guidelines." Preparing to return to campus during a pandemic will require everyone to commit to the changes the university makes, she told Knox News. Some aspects of campus life will look vastly different. Among the key changes will be how classes are held, how students are living on campus and the option for employees to continue working from home.
Texas A&M postpones August in-person graduation
Texas A&M announced Friday morning it has postponed its in-person commencements this August and will hold virtual celebrations and conferral of degrees instead. In a statement, A&M President Michael K. Young said Gov. Greg Abbott still has restrictions in place for large group gatherings, and although those restrictions may be lifted by August, it would be challenging to properly implement social distancing inside indoor facilities, including Reed Arena. Young added holding outdoor commencements would be challenging due to the August heat. "We will postpone in-person commencement ceremonies," Young said in a statement posted on the university's website. "We will mark this momentous milestone for our students and their families in August through virtual graduation celebrations as we did in May, to include the official virtual conferral of degrees. More information is forthcoming."
Colleges weigh how to confront COVID-19 as they plan to reopen
Across the country, colleges and universities are determining how to safely reopen their campuses for in-person classes and determining how campus life will need to change to protect people from the virus that causes COVID-19. The issue is one of numerous societal challenges that a wide range of officials have to confront in individual decisions that could each impact public health while the world waits for vaccines or treatments. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a Thursday hearing to discuss how colleges are preparing to reopen and use diagnostic and serological tests on campus. The presidents of Purdue University, Brown University and Lane College will testify, along with Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association. While some institutions are considering screening people as they return to campus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and groups such as the American College Health Association have not recommended that they do so, said Craig Roberts, an epidemiologist serving on the ACHA COVID-19 task force.
Questions remain over whether colleges should be protected from coronavirus lawsuits
Two weeks ago, Senator Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, said he spoke to about 90 college and university presidents in his state about reopening campuses this fall. All of them asked if Congress would protect their institutions from coronavirus-related lawsuits if they'd taken reasonable precautions but a student got sick anyway, he said. Alexander, the influential chairman of the Senate education committee and himself the former president of the University of Tennessee, told reporters it was important to protect colleges from being sued if they acted responsibly. "Schools and businesses will be less likely to reopen if they think they'll be sued if someone gets sick," he said in a call with reporters, "particularly if they follow reasonable practices and still get sued." As Inside Higher Ed first reported, colleges and universities have been telling Congress, and Vice President Mike Pence in a meeting two weeks ago, that those who act irresponsibly should still face the threat of lawsuits. But those who take reasonable precautions shouldn't have to worry about getting sued, many in the industry have said. But even those backing the idea acknowledge it raises a difficult question when schools, businesses and society are still struggling with how to contain the pandemic. What determines if a college is acting reasonably?
Lawyers explain the many legal issues colleges could face whether they reopen or not
Whether institutions can be held liable for students, faculty and staff members contracting COVID-19 on campus is top of mind for leaders mulling reopening plans, but that's not the only legal pitfall they have to worry about. Lawyers in higher education say an abundance of legal issues await them come September. In the final months of the spring semester, lawsuits cropped up in response to room and board reimbursements, or lack thereof, and online AP testing complications. Colleges have for weeks lobbied Congress for liability protection should students or employees get sick. Every institution wants to make health and safety a priority, said Jim Keller, a litigation lawyer who co-chairs Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr's higher education and K-12 practice in Philadelphia. State and national guidelines on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 do not always align, making it difficult to determine best practices for reopening. Additionally, there are questions regarding how much power colleges will have to mandate testing, temperature checks, mask wearing, social distancing and other precautions, Keller said. "If an institution says that people have to wear masks or other PPE on campus, and discipline them for not doing it, is there a legal risk? Are they going to sue us? Is there some kind of constitutional claim there?" he asked.
CUPA-HR Publishes Survey on Higher Ed Staffing Levels
The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources​, CUPA-HR, published its seventh survey of staffing levels in higher ed last month. More than 200,000 staff are counted in the survey, which includes salary and demographic data from 861 institutions during the 2019-20 academic year. The report covers office workers, maintenance staff and technical staff, in addition to other positions. As higher education institutions respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and budget cuts, many may have to reduce their workforce. The authors of the survey said they will be closely tracking these changes and urged higher education leaders to keep "diversity, equity and inclusion efforts front of mind" as they make staffing decisions. "Recent and historical data show that recessions hit women and people of color the hardest, both in terms of the fact that they are first to lose their jobs as well as the length of the recession's impact," said the report's authors. "As this report shows, women and minorities are better represented in higher ed non-exempt staff positions than they are in professional and administrative positions. Higher ed leaders will undoubtedly want to keep this in mind as they make workforce decisions that will impact the face of all higher education."
Remembering one of Mississippi's finest school integration heroes: Lee J. McKinney
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: The struggle for peaceful school integration in Mississippi just over a half-century ago was a time that called for the emergence of quiet heroes – men and women of courage and good will from both the black and white races. Lee J. McKinney, 82, who died May 12 at Anderson Regional Medical Center in Meridian following a long illness, was one of those necessary heroes. McKinney grew up in Monroe County and was a graduate of West Amory High School, a school which had its roots in earlier iterations as "Amory Colored Public School" and "Monroe County Training School." After completing high school, McKinney would graduate from Rust College, the historically black private liberal arts college in Holly Springs. McKinney also served his country honorably overseas in the U.S. Army for four years in the 124TH Armored Ordnance Battalion. Mr. McKinney was soft-spoken, polite, and always well-dressed. Despite his quiet nature, he had the look of a middleweight boxer who was ready to go a few rounds merely by removing his sport coat. But as one of the key administrators at Neshoba Central High School during the tense 1969-70 school year, he was remembered not for his physical strength but for his moral courage.

Mississippi State's Christian MacLeod Named Co-National Freshman of the Year
A pair of Mississippi State baseball freshmen were honored by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Tuesday (June 2) as the publication released its Freshman All-America team. Left-handed pitcher Christian MacLeod was tabbed Co-National Freshman Player of the Year, while right-handed pitcher Will Bednar was named to the Freshman All-America squad. Just the third Diamond Dawg in program history to earn a national freshman of the year honor, MacLeod joins Rafael Palmeiro (1983; Baseball America) and teammate JT Ginn (2019; Collegiate Baseball & Perfect Game) in the State record books. It is also the first time in program history that Mississippi State has earned national "of the year" awards in consecutive seasons, with Ginn and Ethan Small (National Pitcher of the Year) each garnering national awards in 2019. The Diamond Dawgs wrapped up the shortened 2020 season on a five game winning streak to post a 12-4 overall record, including a sweep of No. 2 Texas Tech in the final two games of the campaign.
In state athletic programs participate in Black Out Tuesday
Tuesday you may have seen a lot of black squares on your social media timelines. That's because of Black Out Tuesday. Many athletic programs and schools posted an all black photo with the social media hash tag #BlackOutTuesday. This is a call to action to support the black community. Protests and unrest has been going on all over the country as a result of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and so many other African Americans. Most of the in-state schools, athletic programs and the conference they playing posted their all black photos in a show of solidarity. MSU, Ole Miss, USM, Mississippi College, Jackson State were just a few to participate. Even the College Football Hall Fame posted on Black Out Tuesday. If you remember their gift shop was damaged and looted during the unrest in Atlanta over the weekend but they still participated.
How US Open, Ryder Cup might affect Sanderson Farms Championship
Life feels as normal as possible for Steve Jent. The executive director for the Sanderson Farms Championship has been busy with his usual spring duties in preparation for his annual fall PGA TOUR event. Securing sponsorship and hospitality sales, signing up tournament volunteers for their responsibilities, getting the pro-am field set up. Jent hasn't missed a beat amid the coronavirus pandemic. Jent doesn't know how hot it will be in Mississippi come early fall, and he doesn't know what the climate of the coronavirus situation will be then either. But he does know he'll have plenty of examples to learn from before TOUR professionals will tee it up at the Country Club of Jackson less than four months from now. The TOUR resumes its season June 11 at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. It's one of four events scheduled to be played without fans. By the time the Sanderson Farms Championship arrives, spectators are expected to be present in large numbers. As for the field, it could be impacted by the TOUR's schedule changes. The U.S. Open, normally played during Father's Day weekend in June, was rescheduled to be played Sept. 17-20. The Ryder Cup will be played the following week. The Sanderson Farms Championship comes right after that.
JSU plans to reopen athletic facilities in July
A plan is in place for sports to return to Jackson State this summer. With the campus partially reopened, JSU opened up on its ticket offices on Friday morning for season ticket orders for the 2020 football season. But for that season to take place in August, the players will need to be allowed back on the practices fields. Athletic Director Ashley Robinson has a date marked down for that. "We're planning to open up our facilities on July 6th," Robinson told WLBT as he was greeting JSU fans in line for season tickets. "Opening things up for our student-athletes to come in and workout, but also for our student-athletes to come in and do rehab." Among the facilities that will reopen are the Thomas Athletic Assembly Center, the weight room and the sports medicine facility.
NCAA president Mark Emmert credited with $2.7 million in total pay for 2018 calendar year
NCAA president Mark Emmert was credited with just over $2.7 million in total compensation during the 2018 calendar year, according to the association's new federal tax return. The amount includes a little more than $2.3 million in base salary, which represents a $200,000 increase over the base amount reported for him for the 2017 calendar year. Emmert and members of the association's senior management team are taking 20% pay cuts and the association's vice presidents are taking 10% pay cuts due to financial pressure the NCAA is facing from the coronavirus pandemic, according to a memo sent to the membership in late March. Emmert's overall compensation for 2018 dropped from the amount reported for him for 2017, which was nearly $3.9 million and included a deferred payment of just over $1.4 million. The association reported $410,000 in outside lobbying expenses, an amount that is in addition to the costs of the NCAA's government relations offices and staff in Washington. That makes this the fourth time in five years that the NCAA has spent at least $400,000 on outside lobbyists.
To Test or Not Test: The Question That Could Determine the College Football Season
On March 22, about a week after the coronavirus slowed the sports world to a crawl, a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean reported its first case of infection. Two weeks later, 150 sailors on the USS Teddy Roosevelt tested positive for the disease and one of those, a hospitalized chief petty officer, died from it. By early May, six weeks after the initial positive test, more than 1,150 sailors -- roughly one-quarter of the Roosevelt's crew -- were infected with coronavirus in one of the largest close-quarter spreads in the global outbreak: an epidemic within a pandemic. In an unsettling twist, many of those who tested positive experienced no symptoms. They represent what medical experts believe to be the most deadly weapon of the coronavirus: asymptomatic spread. As athletes return to training across the country, some doctors fear that college campuses exhibit similar qualities as the USS Roosevelt: young, seemingly healthy people gathered in close proximity for physical and social interaction -- a recipe for a rapid spread of an invisible disease. The asymptomatic individual represents the most significant hurdle in a return to college sports, potentially derailing weeks of forward progress toward an on-time kickoff to the 2020 college football season. But to combat the virus's ultimate weapon, there is a solution: testing.
AD Greg Byrne: Alabama prepping for workouts
University of Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said Tuesday that UA will be involved in the process of testing and administering physical exams to football student-athletes on Wednesday in preparation for next week's return of voluntary workouts. "We are looking forward to starting the process of welcoming our teams back to campus," Byrne said on Tuesday. "Since we have over 600 student-athletes, it's going to be a phased approach. Voluntary workouts, which start with football, will begin June 8." The June 8 date for the resumption of workouts was established by the Southeastern Conference last week. "Student-athletes will be tested before they're able to enter the facilities, and once results are back, they'll undergo physicals," Byrne said, describing this week's protocol. "Our sports medicine staff, including our athletic trainers and doctors, as well as our facilities' staff, has done an outstanding job preparing for a safe return." Alabama's 2020 football season remains tentatively set to begin against the University of Southern California on Sept. 5 in Dallas. It is uncertain if there will be fans in attendance although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that he anticipated such a possibility.
Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga tests positive for COVID-19 after attending protest
Oklahoma State linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga said Tuesday night on Twitter that he had tested positive for COVID-19. "After attending a protest in Tulsa and being well protective of myself, I have tested positive for COVID-19," he wrote. "Please, if you are going to protest, take care of yourself and stay safe." Several Oklahoma State players returned to campus beginning Monday and were issued COVID-19 tests upon entry into the football facility. For medical privacy reasons, OSU officials would not confirm Tuesday night if Ogbongbemiga was among those in the first phase of players to report to campus. OSU developed a task force to oversee athletes returning to campus, and the guidelines passed down from the task force include how to address an athlete with a positive test result.
Doctors: Uncertain hazards at Arkansas games
A trio of Little Rock-based pulmonologists who have been working on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic have mixed feelings about the potential for large gatherings at football games this fall and whether or not they would personally attend games. "Full capacity I would worry about," Dr. Clifton Johnson of Pulmonary Associates said. "I think we'll have to figure it out as sports start and how people do. I certainly worry about people packed in the stands yelling and screaming, even with the masks on, because the problem is always can you ensure 100% compliance. And you can't. That's the problem." Dr. Jason Holder -- who also is a pulmonologist who specializes in lung conditions and diseases of the chest, as well as a critical care physician -- said he envisions the fall playing out in one of two scenarios. "Let's just assume that we do have classes and we're going to think about having football games," Holder said. "I think what you might see -- particularly earlier on in the season, when we hope that the prevalence of the coronavirus is low -- that we might actually be able to have games with fans present in the stadium.
Gamecocks' basketball coach Frank Martin shares experience with coronavirus
Frank Martin says it all the time. Tell him he has to fight a grizzly bear standing behind a door, he'll roll up his sleeves, set his jaw and open the door. Tell him he has to open the door to face an unknown, and he won't nearly be so cavalier. "Negative-negative, that's awesome, but this is brand-new," South Carolina's basketball coach said. "Does anyone know what happens six months after you test positive? Does anyone know if there's a secondary effect that's going to kick in? Those concerns are still there for me." Martin revealed Tuesday that he tested positive for coronavirus on May 8, and while follow-up tests for the 54-year-old coach and his family have all been clear, the experience shook him. He wasn't hospitalized and he has no idea how he contracted it, but the concerns persist over an opponent he never saw coming. "My spirits are back up. God helped me and guided me and kept my family negative," he said.
LSU's Ed Orgeron makes first comment in wake of George Floyd's death: 'Players are hurting'
LSU football coach Ed Orgeron said Tuesday he has spoken to his players and former players about their feelings in the wake of the George Floyd death that has sparked large-scale civil rights protests. "My players and former players are hurting, and they let me know they're hurting," Orgeron said Tuesday in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "When they're hurting, it hurts me. I love all my players like they were my own. I know some are hurting right now, and I totally support them. I will not tolerate racism, and they know it." The winner of numerous national coach of the year awards after leading LSU to last season's CFP national championship, Orgeron has occupied a large platform during the coronavirus pandemic. He has spoken at Gov. John Bel Edwards' news conferences, done public service announcements, shown up on electronic billboards urging people to stay home during the lockdown and given interviews with national news outlets.
'We will not be silent': Kirby Smart among UGA figures in video message to athletes
An unshaven Kirby Smart went beyond his Twitter post last weekend that came in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed. The Georgia football coach joined other Bulldog coaches, athletic director Greg McGarity and deputy athletic director Darrice Griffin in a video message sent Saturday to roughly 550 school athletes. "We will not be silent and we are committed to healing together," Smart said. "For you, we remain committed to creating an environment where everyone feels valued, seen and heard." With students still not returning to voluntary activities on campus until Monday when the football players are the first to begin, McGarity said communicating by video was more personal than an email or text messages. "We just wanted to make the point to our student-athletes of our plans and our feelings and thoughts and looking forward to having dialogue," McGarity said. "And that we support them and we want to listen. Just to make sure they know that we're committed to fighting against discrimination wherever and however it exists."
Legendary Tennessee football player, coach Johnny Majors dies
Johnny Majors, a legendary coach for the Tennessee football team and member of the College Football Hall of Fame, has died. He was 85. Jackie Sherrill, a longtime friend of Majors' who worked on staff with him at Pittsburgh, confirmed the news with Majors' family. In 16 seasons as Tennessee's coach from 1977-92, Majors compiled a 116-62-8 record. He began his playing career with the Vols in 1953, joining the team as a single-wing tailback. He was named the SEC Player of the Year in 1955 and 1956. In 1977, he returned to Knoxville as Tennessee's head coach. Over a 15-year career, he led the Vols to three SEC championships (1985, 1989, 1990). He also won the Sugar Bowl in 1986 and 1991. Majors and UT parted ways in 1992, when he returned to Pittsburgh for three years. After retiring from coaching in 1996, he served as the assistant athletic director and chancellor at Pittsburgh until 2007.
ESPN to broadcast Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational's Thursday games
College baseball's return to the field in Bryan will get its shot in the national spotlight. Thursday's Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational double-header will be broadcast on ESPN2, with games moved to 6 and 9 p.m. at Travis Field. The final two days of the showcase, consisting of players from over 70 college baseball programs, can be streamed on The pay-per-view subscription is now $39.95. Five percent of each subscription will be donated to No Kid Hungry. The invitational is headlined locally by Texas Tech and Bryan Rudder pitcher Hunter Dobbins and Incarnate Word outfielder Sean Arnold, also a Rudder all-state honoree. Former College Station pitchers MacGregor Hines, Reece Easterling, Travis Hester and Austin Teel also feature on the roster. Texas A&M transfer Aaron Walters, now with Angelo State, also will participate. ​

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