Thursday, July 9, 2020   
International students in jeopardy if universities decide to go online-only
In a news release Monday, the U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency stated that international students "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States." Mississippi State University has plans to open its campus up to in-person classes on August 17th. The university will operate under a new hybrid model -- offering some classes on campus, and some online. "We want to make sure our international students stay, and that we're doing everything we can do as a university to make them feel comfortable, safe, secure in their status here at Mississippi State University in Starkville," said Dr. Julie Jordan. She said right now, international students attending MSU should be able to remain in the U.S. Dr. Jordan said MSU is working to communicate with the students and faculty regarding the matter, and she offered this direct message to those affected. "We will give answers, and we want you to be on this campus, and we want you to feel safe and secure, and we want to do everything possible to make that happen," stated Jordan.
Head Start in Harrison County trying to fill positions for fall
Jobs for qualified applicants are available now in Harrison County with the Mississippi State University Extension Service Early Head Start program. With locations in Gulfport, Biloxi and D'Iberville, the Head Start program needs preschool teachers, assistant teachers, bus drivers, custodians, family advocates, a health assistant and more. The pandemic has forced many parents out of work, but many are now trying to find jobs. Head Start is gearing up to be ready to receive their children and help to ease the transition to school for families with young children. Louise Davis, Extension professor in the MSU School of Human Sciences, said the Head Start program leverages community partnerships and research-based methods to serve children at their youngest and most vulnerable stage in life. "Our goal is to create a seamless chain of service for children so they can easily transition from early care and education settings to kindergarten," Davis said. "We believe that high-quality early childhood experiences and strong relationships between families and communities are essential in laying a foundation for school success."
Starkville's New Mask Ordinance: Day One Reactions
Wednesday marked day one of Starkville's new mask ordinance that requires people to wear masks inside businesses and city-owned buildings. Businesses in Starkville are again required to have everyone who enters wear one, this following the Board of Aldermen's vote yesterday to mandate that masks be worn inside businesses and city-owned buildings. One Starkville resident said he thinks the ordinance will help to fight the spread of the coronavirus. "From what I understand, wearing masks keep us safer, and keeps the spread of COVID down," said Starkville resident Zac Ashmore. Ashmore said he feels the ordinance is necessary. "The libertarian side of me says don't tell me what to do, but, but the good citizen side of me says this is the right thing to do," Ashmore said. He added he has confidence in Starkville's governing bodies, including Starkville mayor Lynn Spruill. "I have confidence that she's going to do what she feels is the right thing to do."
Growing number of cities in Mississippi calling for face mask crackdown
Cities across Mississippi are requiring the use of face masks, or face coverings, in public as coronavirus cases continue to uptick. In the absence of a statewide mandate to stiffen regulations, several cities in recent days have made their own decisions to encourage the use of face masks by making them mandatory. Some other cities are now considering similar measures, while others -- such as Hattiesburg -- are extending existing orders that make facial coverings a requirement in city businesses. While some of the orders are similar to requirements already in place by Gov. Tate Reeves, city leaders are putting additional public spotlight on the safety measures and in some cases promising enforcement. The cities of Starkville and Columbus also approved orders Tuesday night. Face masks or coverings are now required in businesses in the two cities and wherever social distancing is impossible. Supervisors in Oktibbeha County, home to Mississippi State University, have already put in place a county-wide mandate, as many students return from out of town.
Gov. Tate Reeves: County-specific orders 'imminent' as COVID-19 cases rise
Tuesday, the state's top health officials explained that stress on Mississippi's healthcare system has led to a restriction on certain elective procedures in several counties. On Wednesday, Governor Tate Reeves announced that forthcoming executive orders will be put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 as cases in Mississippi rise. During Wednesday's press briefing, the governor stated that "county-specific" orders are likely imminent. He indicated that these orders will include additional social distancing measures and possible mask mandates. Several large cities, including the capital city, have implemented mask mandates at the local level. The 2020-21 school year is about a month away, and while he acknowledged that it may look a bit different, the governor issued a confident response when asked about his commitment to ensuring schools open this fall. "I am 100% committed to schools reopening in a safe and responsible way," he said. Individual school districts will ultimately decide if they will return to a traditional schedule or operate completely online or with a hybrid schedule.
Reeves '100% committed' to reopening Mississippi schools
Gov. Tate Reeves said he is 100% committed to reopening Mississippi schools. He said education leaders are looking at all options to keep students safe. "It may not look exactly like it looked a year ago, but I'm 100% committed to making that a reality," Reeves said. The governor said the vast majority of the state's school districts have plans in place to reopen. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said from his perspective, academics is a priority and students need to return to school. "As far as non-academic stuff, I think we have to take a hard look at the risks," Dobbs said. Some sports may see restrictions, especially for crowds in stadiums, Dobbs said. He said he likes the idea of delaying school sporting events until the spring.
COVID-19: Gov. Tate Reeves says more restrictions are coming, possibly a mask mandate
After weeks of loosening restrictions on residents and business, Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday he is preparing new executive orders that will enforce social distancing -- and possibly include a mask mandate. Reeves warned that Mississippi's health care system will be overwhelmed if the state does not change its trajectory on coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. "We have seen day after day of very high numbers," Reeves said at a press conference. "The fact is that the crunch on our hospital system is not a hypothetical. It is not in the future." The orders could target specific communities or go into effect state-wide, Reeves said, and could also include new guidelines for hospitals on elective procedures and reserving beds for coronavirus patients. "Those orders will be finalized in the near future," Reeves said, but did not give a specific date.
COVID hits more legislators amid rapid spread in Mississippi
At least 26 legislators and 10 others who work at Mississippi's Capitol have tested positive for the coronavirus, a public health official said Wednesday, as the governor implored residents to take precautions amid a rapid rise in confirmed cases statewide. The 174-member Legislature ended its annual session July 1, and many people in the Capitol did not wear masks or maintain distance between themselves and others during the last few weeks. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and House Speaker Philip Gunn are among those who publicly acknowledge testing positive for COVID-19. They are now quarantined at home.
Outbreak at Mississippi Capitol: Number of infected lawmakers grows to 26
Gov. Tate Reeves is warning the public to get tested for coronavirus if they have been in contact with a state lawmaker. The number of coronavirus cases linked to an outbreak at the Capitol has grown to 36, which includes 26 legislators, according to the state's top health official. Many politicians flouted recommendations to wear a mask inside the Capitol in recent weeks. Now, about one in six of Mississippi state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said the Mississippi Department of Health is monitoring the situation and that about 290 people were tested at the Capitol this week. The leaders of both chambers -- Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann -- have tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, the Enterprise Journal reported that Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, had tested positive for coronavirus. Mims chairs the House Public Health Committee.
Governor may veto $2.2 billion education budget bill over potential teacher pay cuts
Gov. Tate Reeves in a press conference Wednesday said it was "very likely" he would veto the budget bill for the Mississippi Department of Education, a state agency that oversees almost 900 public schools and more than 465,000 students. If he does -- the deadline to sign it is midnight Wednesday -- the Legislature will be dealing with the veto in the midst of chaos caused by the fact that both presiding officers, Speaker Philip Gunn in the House and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann in the Senate, have tested positive for COVID-19. State Health Officer Thomas Dobbs said Wednesday 36 cases of coronavirus came from an outbreak at the Capitol, and 26 of those were lawmakers. Under the rules suspension in place it is likely that legislators could come back to address any veto without having to be called into special session by the governor. But Reeves surmised that because of the coronavirus outbreak in the Capitol, "It would be at least 14 days from today before the Legislature could meet remotely safe ... and that's only remotely."
At least 4 Mississippi counties to move Confederate statues
At least four Mississippi counties have decided recently to move Confederate monuments away from courthouses as widespread protests over racial injustice are renewing debate over symbols that many consider divisive. "I don't want to pass this problem to the next generations," Bolivar County supervisor James McBride told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Also Monday, Lowndes County supervisors voted unanimously to move a Confederate soldier statue from the courthouse in Columbus to a city-owned cemetery where Confederate and Union troops are buried. Supervisors in Washington and Leflore counties voted last month to move Confederate statues, with sites to be determined. A Mississippi law enacted in 2004 says no war monument may be "relocated, removed, disturbed, altered, renamed or rededicated." But the law also says: "The governing body may move the memorial to a more suitable location if it is determined that the location is more appropriate to displaying the monument."
Campaign Urges NASA to Rename the John C. Stennis Space Center
For 32 years, a NASA rocket testing center in southern Mississippi has carried the name of John C. Stennis, a former United States senator who was a champion of racial segregation for most of his time in Congress. Now, as the nation navigates a moment of reckoning over statues and other symbols of its racist past, William Pomerantz, vice president of special projects at Virgin Orbit, is leading an effort to strip the Democratic senator's name from the John C. Stennis Space Center near Mississippi's Gulf Coast. Mr. Stennis, who died in 1995 at 93, represented Mississippi in the Senate from 1947 to 1989. His New York Times obituary described him as "the last of the Senate's Southern barons" and said he was for a time the most influential voice in Congress on military affairs. Over the years, his opposition to civil rights softened somewhat. In 1982, he voted to extend the Voting Rights Act, telling The Times that he "didn't want to go back to all the days of misunderstanding." One of Mr. Stennis's grandchildren, John Syme, said he also opposed the call to rename the space center. He said his grandfather's vote to extend the Voting Rights Act and his support of Mike Espy's successful 1986 campaign to become Mississippi's first Black representative in Congress since Reconstruction were signs that his stance on segregation had changed.
Tupelo mayor offers congressional testimony on pandemic response
In testimony before a congressional committee on Wednesday, Mayor Jason Shelton said direct federal relief to local governments is necessary or economic upheavals linked to the novel coronavirus pandemic could hamper fundamental public services. A second-term Democratic mayor, Shelton stressed to federal lawmakers that towns, cities and counties play a pivotal role to the ongoing economic and social life of the country. "The nuts and bolts of American society happens in our small cities and counties all across the country," Shelton said. Good roads, safe neighborhoods and basic utilities like water and power all depend on the efforts of local governments, and those governments are facing revenue shortfalls that imperil their ability to fully function, according to Shelton. The U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee remotely convened Wednesday to examine how state and local governments have responded to the diverse challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shelton was among four witnesses invited to offer testimony and answer questions from the full committee, which is chaired by Mississippi's 2nd Congressional District Rep. Bennie Thompson.
Supreme Court rulings keep Trump's financial records private for now
The Supreme Court issued a mixed verdict Thursday on demands for President Donald Trump's financial records that will keep his tax returns, banking and other documents out of the public eye for the time being. By 7-2 votes, the justices upheld the Manhattan district attorney's demand for Trump's tax returns, but kept a hold on Trump's financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year. But Trump, who has strenuously sought to keep his financial records private, didn't immediately regard the outcome as a victory. The justices rejected arguments by Trump's lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the records. The tax returns are being sought as part of a grand-jury investigation. Trump's two high court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the majority in both cases along with Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal justices. Roberts wrote both opinions.
'People can't ignore it anymore': Across the country, minorities hit hardest by pandemic
The story of Covid's trajectory isn't blue to red. It's Black and brown. As the virus has shifted from coastal big cities to conservative states, political pundits and analysts have declared that "Trump country" is under siege. But the politicization of the pandemic hides an enduring reality: It's Black, Latino and Native American populations that are bearing the brunt of the disease. "Despite the shift to red states, it's clear that the disproportionate impact is taking place in communities of color," said Greg Millett, an epidemiologist and director of public policy at amFar, an AIDS research group that is monitoring the pandemic's impact on minorities. "The one constant for this whole COVID-19 crisis is that communities of color remain at highest risk." In Alabama, which hit record hospitalization rates recently, Black people are 27 percent of the population -- and nearly 45 percent of coronavirus deaths. "The health disparities here in Alabama with regard to health care access was already a significant problem, and Covid-19 just made it worse," said Dr. Ricardo Franco, a professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "Basically, if you're Black in Alabama, you're almost twice as likely of dying of Covid-19 than if you're white."
Ole Miss international students plan fall semester amid deportation threat
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, announced this week that international students "may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States" during the fall 2020 semester. Schools and universities across the country are in the process of figuring out how to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, including the University of Mississippi, which is home to more than 800 international students. "As the University continues to implement its Campus Ready plan, we are consistently reviewing and modifying parameters and protocols as needed based on public health recommendations and other developments," Rod Guajardo, the Associate Director of Strategic Communications, said. "The information shared by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement yesterday is a new development, and the University's Office of Global Engagement is actively reviewing to determine the best path forward for our university and for our international students and programs."
Former JSU president found guilty in prostitution sting
A Mississippi judge has found Jackson State University's former president guilty of misdemeanor charges related to a prostitution sting. Municipal Judge Steve Boone of Clinton found William Bynum Jr. guilty Wednesday of procuring the services of a prostitute, false statement of identity and possession of marijuana, The Clarion Ledger reported. Boone ordered Bynum, 57, to pay a $200 fine for the prostitution charge, and fines of $350 each for the other charges. He also was given a six-month suspended sentence on the prostitution and marijuana charges, city spokesman Mark Jones said.
Dr. Brent Gregory becomes new East Central Community College president
East Central Community College has a new president. Dr. Brent Gregory started his new job as the leader of his alma mater, replacing Dr. Billy Stewart who retired effective June 30. Dr. Gregory, a native of Nanih Waiya, considers ECCC home. He attended East Central as a student. He met his wife, the former Christi Lee of Philadelphia and a 1995 ECCC graduate, at ECCC. He began his career in college administration at East Central. He left in 2010 to hold administrative positions at Mississippi Delta and Southwest community colleges. And when the ECCC president's position came open, he knew it was time to come home. The college board of trustees selected Dr. Gregory earlier this year following a nationwide search. "This has been my goal," Dr. Gregory said. "I started my career here on July 1, 2000. And 20 years later, this all came full circle."
Auburn University releases reopening plan for fall
Auburn University has released their complete plan for students, faculty and staff who will be back on campus this fall. The plan, which is called "A Healthier U," includes apps for students to self-report their symptoms, mask guidelines for University buildings, changes in instruction methods and many other modifications. "The 2020-2021 academic year will be unlike any other in Auburn University's history," the plan states. "Students and faculty are expected to take responsibility for their health and safety as well as the health and safety of those around them as they engage in academic instruction." The first major changes listed on the page are the modifications to the fall schedule. In short, on-campus classes will end before Thanksgiving, with virtual exams being given during the first and second weeks of December. The time lost to this change will be made up, in part, by not having a fall break. All classes will also have a "Syllabus B," which will detail how the course will continue "in case a sudden resurgence of the COVID-19 virus requires the University to return to remote-only instruction."
AU trustees meet Thursday; locals wait to see what happens
Auburn University officials plan to bring students back in the fall; however, classes are set to start next month and Alabama and the rest of the South are in the midst of a coronavirus surge like the one that shut down the campus and scuttled spring sports in March. The university's trustees meet via teleconference Thursday morning, and many people will be listening in hopes of getting a better idea of what this fall will look like on campus and off, and whether or not there will be football and tailgating at Jordan Hare Stadium. It is Auburn University's students, staff, faculty and football fans that generate much of the local retail activity and tax revenues that pay for police and other public services. "The merchants are all anxiously awaiting the announcement to come about football season and what it will look like," said Jessica Kohn, who runs the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association. Brian Keeter, the university's director of public affairs, told the Opelika-Auburn News on Tuesday that the school is planning to welcome about 4,900 freshmen and 30,000 students overall.
UF students, professors work to outmaneuver new ICE regulation
To Alejandro Ortiz, the message is clear: he isn't wanted in America. Ortiz, 18, is an incoming freshman from Caracas, Venezuela. Though he'd hoped to attend the university in the Fall, he isn't sure he'll be able to now, even virtually. U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement announced Monday that international students will only be allowed to remain in the United States if they enroll in an in-person class for the Fall -- an option some universities have already ruled out to prevent the spread of COVID-19. "From a human perspective, I think they're cruel measures," Ortiz said. "The message I'm getting from them is that they don't want us there." Members of the UF community have come forward to show their support for international students in the days following the announcement. So much so, that students and a professor have brainstormed ways for them to remain in the U.S. in the Fall, in spite of ICE's new regulations.
Texas A&M making contingencies for international students
Monday guidance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would affect many international students has Texas A&M University leaders working on contingency plans for the fall. When it comes to finding ways to assist students who would be affected by the policy, a Texas A&M official said "it starts with understanding the guidance." "We are also reviewing the schedules of students to see how they can be adjusted to have face-to-face courses where those are available," the official stated, "and evaluating if some courses should be face-to-face. We are developing contingency plans should the circumstances change." The university is the academic home to more than 6,500 international students, the official said. In an email to students, International Student Services at A&M said that the school will work with people so their schedules will have at least one in-person class.
Mun Choi: Future U. of Missouri campus closure won't be knee-jerk reaction
Officials will look at several factors before making a decision to close the University of Missouri campus again, UM System President and interim MU chancellor Mun Choi said Wednesday. Addressing the Regional Economic Development Inc. board of directors, Choi said the university will start the fall semester on Aug. 24, with students returning to campus and classrooms. The university would consider the rate of spread of COVID-19, if the city and county issue a shelter-in-place order, whether hospitals have capacity to treat patients, and if the university can quarantine those who don't require medical treatment, Choi said. "It's not one number we look at," Choi said about closing campus. "We're not going to have a knee-jerk reaction from a case that arises."
As MIT and Harvard Sue, Colleges Scramble to Respond to New Federal Policy on International Students
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the Trump administration to stop a new policy that would block international students from coming to or remaining in the United States if their courses are taught entirely online. The policy -- released with no notice on Monday, the same day Harvard announced it would hold all undergraduate classes online this fall -- was viewed by many in higher education as a backdoor effort by the administration to force colleges to reopen to face-to-face instruction. And it threw colleges and the lives of a million international students into tumult. Even institutions that plan to offer a mix of online and in-person courses are scrambling to ensure that there are enough face-to-face courses for international students to meet the requirements of the new policy. Still, not all colleges viewed the policy as disruptive to their fall plans. Kent Hopkins, vice president for enrollment services at Arizona State University, said Monday's announcement had caused "confusion" among students, but the university remained confident that it could go forward with its plans to offer a mix of remote and in-person instruction.
Harvard and MIT sue to block new rule on international students and online enrollment
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued in federal court Wednesday to try to block a new Trump administration policy that would prohibit international students in the U.S. from enrolling exclusively in online courses, even if the colleges they attend will only offer online courses in the fall due to the continuing public health threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The University of California announced Wednesday that it too would file suit against the federal government "for violating the rights of the University and its students." The lawsuit will seek to bar ICE from enforcing the order that UC President Janet Napolitano called "mean-spirited, arbitrary and damaging to America," the announcement from Napolitano's office said. Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, a group of college presidents focused on immigration policy, said the change appears to have been done in a "punitive fashion."
Purdue president says students will have to 'submit a negative test' before returning to campus
Students who want to return to campus at Purdue University in Indiana this fall will have to be tested for the coronavirus, the school's president, Mitch Daniels, told CNBC on Wednesday. Every student "will have to submit a negative test prior to moving into a residence hall or attending the first class," Daniels said on "Squawk Box." The university will be requiring "every member of the Boilermaker community" to sign the Protect Purdue Pledge, agreeing to assume personal responsibility for monitoring and reporting Covid-19 symptoms and agreeing to "participate in testing and contact tracing to preserve the wellness of the community." Purdue University, whose main campus is located in West Lafayette, will also have strict policies on wearing face masks on campus and taking other steps to reduce the density on campus. Purdue has more than 40,000 students.
North Carolina Protects Colleges From Pandemic-Related Lawsuits
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper recently signed into law a bill that will protect colleges from lawsuits related to campus closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, including a swath of lawsuits demanding tuition reimbursements after colleges shifted to online instruction in the spring. A new Moody's report examines the law and its effect on North Carolina colleges. The report called the law "credit-positive legislation" and discussed the importance of tuition revenue to most colleges' operating budgets. "In fiscal 2019, the median reliance on tuition and auxiliary revenue as a percentage of overall operating revenue was 72.8% for Moody's-rated private universities and 48.2% for public universities," the report states. The University of North Carolina at Asheville, UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, East Carolina University and Duke University have been named in lawsuits and will benefit from the law's protections. The lawsuits against the University of North Carolina system institutions have been dismissed.

Seattle Seahawks LB K.J. Wright: Native Mississippi headed in 'right direction' with changing state flag
Being from Mississippi, the big news was a relief to Seattle Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright. With that flag and its nod to the Confederacy finally being retired, Wright said, his native Mississippi has finally sided with progress. "My first reaction was, 'Finally," Wright said in a video interview with SeattlePI. "'Thank you for realizing what that flag means to Black people, what that flag means to people like myself, what it stood for.' I personally thought everybody understood the context behind it, what the flag represented. It represented hatred, it represented supremacy, it represented pro-slavery. That's how I interpreted it. And it made a lot of people uncomfortable." Wright said he's excited to see what Mississippi's new flag will look like. A fresh flag design will be developed and voted on by state voters later this year. Wright, who was born and raised in Olive Branch, Miss. and starred at Mississippi State University, said it was "extremely uncomfortable" being a Black man in a state that aligned itself with a symbol of the Confederacy, which fought for the continuation of slavery during the Civil War.
Vanderbilt restructures women's tennis staff, names Aleke Tsoubanos head coach
Vanderbilt restructured its women's tennis coaching staff, keeping together the duo that won the 2015 national championship. Aleke Tsoubanos, a former Vanderbilt star who has been an assistant for 13 years, is the new head coach. Geoff Macdonald will remain on staff as an assistant coach after 26 years at the helm. "There is no one more capable or more prepared to lead our women's tennis program than Aleke Tsoubanos," Vanderbilt athletics director Candice Lee said in a news release. "As a student-athlete and coach on West End, Aleke has lifted Vanderbilt to an elite level, and has impacted numerous Commodores whom she has mentored into successful professionals in tennis, business, and in life. We are incredibly thankful for all Geoff has done for the program and university over the past 26 years, and this is another example of his selfless leadership and passion for the program. We are lucky to keep this duo together as Geoff remains a vital member of the program and the university."
Mizzou athletics reports 10 positive COVID-19 tests
Missouri athletics has provided an update on its coronavirus testing among student-athletes, coaches and staff members. On Wednesday afternoon, Mizzou athletics tweeted there have been 10 positive cases of COVID-19 out of 377 tests given since June 8. Of the 10 positive tests, nine are student-athletes, while the lone other case is a staff member, a university official confirmed. The athletic department announced June 25 there were five positive cases (four student-athletes, one staff member) out of 308 tests at that point, meaning over the past two weeks, five additional student-athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus among 69 new tests. No shutdown or change of activities has been announced by Missouri, with voluntary workouts now allowed by all varsity programs.
Ivy League will not play fall sports in 2020
The Ivy League, whose member universities are among the most visible but whose sports programs fill a unique role in college athletics, will postpone all fall sports until 2021 in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The league was the first Division I athletic conference to call off the 2020 football season, while others, prodded by alumni, state politicians and even President Trump, continue to push forward for a September start. An official announcement from the league, whose members include Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania, was published Wednesday evening. Welch Suggs, associate director of the Grady Sports Media Initiative at the University of Georgia, said it's hard to predict what will happen with the virus and where higher education as a whole will stand in August or September. But the decision from the Ivy League is not premature, given that it is based on what the fall semester will look like for all students at its institutions, Suggs said. Any plan for the return of athletics that differs from the average student experience could cross too far into treating athletes as employees of colleges, he said.
U.S. Senator calls on college conferences to follow Ivy League in not having football this fall
In the wake of the Ivy League announcing Wednesday that fall sports will not be held during the upcoming semester because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called on other college sports conferences to do the same. "There's absolutely nothing different between the Ivy League and any division except for the money, to be very blunt," Blumenthal told USA TODAY Sports. "It's about the money. And if the other schools fail to follow the Ivy League's lead, it will be only because of the money. And, in fact, it will be another misguided act in a long litany of putting school profits ahead of the people who play for them." Blumenthal, who attended Harvard as an undergraduate and Yale for law school, frequently has been a critic of the NCAA and various aspects of major-college sports. He and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., recently introduced a bill that would make it illegal for schools to obtain liability waivers from athletes regarding COVID-19. The move was in reaction to a number schools asking players to sign documents that are explicitly, or could be interpreted as, liability waivers before allowing them to join voluntary on-campus workouts.
Stanford eliminates 11 sports
Stanford announced on Wednesday it will discontinue 11 varsity sports at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, including men's and women's fencing, field hockey and men's volleyball. The discontinued programs will be able to complete their 2020-21 seasons "should the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 allow it," per Stanford. Wrestling, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash and synchronized swimming comprise the other eight programs cut by the university. "Providing 36 varsity teams with the level of support that they deserve has become a serious and growing financial challenge," Stanford said in a statement. "We now face the reality that significant change is needed to create fiscal stability for Stanford Athletics, and to provide the support we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel. This is heartbreaking news to share. These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches."
AD Bernard Muir defends cancellations in press conference
In a follow-up press conference to the sudden news that Stanford Athletics planned to cut 11 of its 36 varsity programs, Athletic Director Bernard Muir clarified that the decision was not solely based on COVID-19 concerns. "To blame this all on COVID would be erroneous, and it would not be accurate," he said. "But it certainly helped contribute to the growing deficit moving forward." The athletics department faced a $12 million structural deficit before the pandemic, which caused the deficiency to balloon to $25 million. In the potential and increasingly likely event that football will not be played, Muir said that the deficit would double again to $50 million. Keeping with the university's wishes for the department to be self-sustainable, Muir said the choice had to be made. Muir stressed the desire to maintain the remaining 25 sports at the highest level. In talks with President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Provost Persis Drell -- both of whom co-signed the letter sent out to the community today -- and the Board of Trustees, it was clear to Muir that athletics would be important to this campus moving forward, "making sure that we're fiscally responsible and sustainable."

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