Friday, July 24, 2020   
EMCC, MSU tout use of sports wearable technology to combat COVID-19
Cutting edge technology used by collegiate and professional sports teams to enhance athletes' performance has been adapted for industrial use to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus amongst employees, according to information provided to regional industry leaders during a Zoom virtual conference hosted by Athlete Engineering at Mississippi State University and The Communiversity at East Mississippi Community College. The emerging field of "smart personal protective equipment" is getting a boost from companies that produce sports wearable technology, in which a wide range of wearable clothing and equipment are embedded with sensors that measure athletes' performance in areas such as speed, force, heart rate, gain and fatigue, to name a few. Reuben Burch, associate director of Human Factors & Athlete Engineering at MSU's Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, said some of the sports wearable technology companies he works with also provide services to the NBA and NFL.
Clarkdale students scholarship winners in World Food Prize competition
Several Lauderdale County students competed and won scholarships from a recent virtual institute meeting at Mississippi State University. Four members of the Future Farmers of America Club at Clarkdale High School, Cooper Johnson, Harley Strickland, Jake Jone and Kayla Joiner, were among the winners in the World Food Prize Youth Institute at MSU. Johnson was the overall winner, earning a $500 scholarship and a trip to Iowa for the World Food Prize Summit in October. Strickland and Jones also received scholarships and were named alternates for the summit. Students had to write a research paper on a certain issue, such as poverty, and how FFA will help to solve the problem, Clarkdale FFA teacher Toni Buchanan said. Johnson is the second student in the last year who has won a scholarship and will be going to Iowa, Buchanan said. The Mississippi Youth Institute is hosted by MSU with the support of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Barry L. and Lana B. White, and the Madison Charitable Foundation.
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated Schools mapping transportation plans
To shuffling schedules and re-designing classrooms, local school districts are working on their bus routes to make sure students are safe on the ride to and from school. The Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District is mapping transportation plans and things are looking a little different. Transportation Director Kelvin Gibson says they are going through a checklist before inviting students back on the bus. "We're going to go through all of the COVID-19 recommendations pertaining to cleanliness and disinfection. A normal day for us, which isn't normal anymore, a normal day is going to make sure our buses are already swept clean and disinfected," said Gibson. Gibson says over 20 routes are listed for pickup. He's developing a safe way to get students to their classes. "That will allow me to actually consolidate some routes may be or be creative with the way we transport. Some areas are a high volume of students in apartment complexes and things like that. That challenge can be met by trying to consolidate some of the routes and really have defining numbers of students we'll actually be working with," said Gibson.
Meridian to require masks starting Saturday; Mississippi reports 982 new COVID-19 cases
The Mississippi State Department of Health reported 982 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, for a total of 48,053 and 13 additional deaths, for a total of 1,436 deaths statewide. Lauderdale County added one case, for a total of 1,155 and 83 total deaths. The county had seen double-digit increases in cases on six of the last eight days. A citywide mask order will go into effect in Meridian at noon on Saturday, July 26 until further notice. "Because of our increased numbers, double-digit numbers across the last two weeks, we think that it's necessary for us to move forward," Mayor Percy Bland said in a news conference Wednesday. Under the order, employees and customers must wear masks inside businesses as well as everyone over age 2 in public places, Bland said. Some exceptions include outdoor exercise, pumping gas, driving alone or with passengers of the same household, in cases of greater health or safety risk, while eating or drinking in restaurants or bars or while working in non-public work spaces where six feet of distance can be maintained. As of Thursday, 975 Mississippi residents were hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 infection and eight hospitals had no ICU beds available, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in a news conference.
Dr. Thomas Dobbs: Spread of virus fueled by summer sports, trips to bars
Cases of coronavirus in Mississippi are growing fastest among teenagers and people in their 20s, fueled by outdoor get-togethers and people going to bars or attending summer sporting events, the state's top health official said Thursday. "I am worried about some of the over-exuberance of some of the summer sports stuff," said the state health officer, Dr. Thomas Dobbs. "I think it's a little bit reckless, to be quite honest." Although many young people are asymptomatic, that population has been passing the virus onto parents and grandparents through community transmission, which has contributed to higher numbers of new cases of the virus and hospitalizations, Dobbs said. Gov. Tate Reeves on Thursday said he expects to impose more restrictions on bars and expand his mask mandate by the end of the week because of increasing cases of coronavirus in Mississippi. He has not said anything about placing restrictions on summer sports.
'Crisis Care,' Hard Decisions Looming Due to COVID-19 Surge in Mississippi
A week of uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 has elapsed in Mississippi, with case numbers swelling to unprecedented numbers at the same time that the state's hospital system reports the unbearable stress of earlier infections. Gov. Tate Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs, at their COVID-19 press conference yesterday, painted a dire picture of what medical care may look like if COVID-19 continues to spread at its current rate. The men went above and beyond their typical warnings to stress in excruciating detail what will happen to Mississippi if the unmitigated spread continues. "We're (talking) Army barracks sort of scenarios. We're talking about not being able to get the kind of doctor that you need. We're talking about getting care in a tent, those sorts of things. ... Having to make a decision about who gets a ventilator and who doesn't," Dobbs said. Insufficient beds and equipment are only part of the problem that can arise from an overburdened health-care system. Finding staff to care for patients and operate equipment like ventilators can pose an even bigger hurdle.
Rep. Tom Miles calls for a delayed start of schools in Mississippi: 'It is common sense'
Representative Tom Miles of District 75 is calling for a delayed start of school in Mississippi until after the first of September. In a Facebook post Wednesday, Miles said that he has heard from many teachers and parents and that the fear of sending children back to school too soon "is real." He also said a majority of those teachers and parents agree that the start date of school should be pushed back until after Labor Day. "Many school districts are having conversations about the need to postpone starting school, but are afraid of making the wrong decision one way or the other," he wrote. "When it has been directed that districts can make this decision themselves, it leaves too many unanswered questions on how teachers will get paid or how it will affect their calendars and many other things." He is now requesting the State Board of Education to take up this issue and to "consider the health of our children and teachers and delay the start date until after the first of September." He calls this decision the responsibility of the State Board.
Mississippi Supreme Court orders masks to be worn in state courtrooms
Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike Randolph on Thursday ordered that masks be worn by everyone in all courtrooms in the state to protect against the spread of COVID-19. "Public safety was a concern of the drafters of our Constitution and remains a paramount concern today. As such, the Court continues to balance personal rights with the constitutional obligation to remain open and accessible," the Chief Justice wrote in Emergency Administrative Order 14, issued July 23. The order said, "Courts are unlike businesses, e.g., shops, stores, restaurants, salons, or houses of worship, where one's presence is a personal decision, voluntarily made. The presence of court personnel, including the judge, law clerks, court clerks, law enforcement, bailiffs, court reporters, counsel, parties, witnesses, jurors, and victims, is regularly required, and at times, they are in close proximity to each other. Others are commanded to attend court. While masks may be objectionable or pose a slight inconvenience to some, such inconvenience cannot prevent our courts from remaining open and accessible to all."
State, federal agencies rebuff state lawmaker's viral claim that businesses must accept cash
State Sen. Chad McMahan, a Republican lawmaker from Guntown, earlier this month wrote in a Facebook post that Mississippi businesses were in violation of the law if they would not accept cash from customers as a form of payment. McMahan's post has now been shared over 380,000 times and has drawn over 25,000 comments. However, an independent fact checker has concluded the post is false and federal and state agencies have also rebuffed his statement. The U.S. Department of Treasury seems to contradict McMahan's Facebook post by saying on its website that there is "no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods and/or services." TJ Werre, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Attorney General's Office, told the Daily Journal in a statement that he was aware of "no federal or state law mandating a Mississippi business accept cash." McMahan, a second-term Republican legislator, said he posted the statement on Facebook after several of his constituents contacted him about local businesses that were choosing to either limit cash transactions or not accept cash payments.
Rep. Earle Banks enters contentious race for Democratic Party chair
Longtime state Rep. Earle Banks on Thursday entered a contentious race for the chairmanship of the Mississippi Democratic Party. And on Thursday afternoon, the party canceled a planned Thursday-night teleconference meeting to elect new officers because of Banks and potentially others entering the race for the chairmanship. Banks, who has reportedly been suffering from COVID-19 recently, in a message to committee members assured them, "I am on the mend," and not too sick to run for the office. A 28-year veteran lawmaker who has served as vice chairman, or second in command, of the state Democratic Party since 2016, Banks said: "This is no time to go back to the leadership of the past. It is time for the Mississippi Democratic Party to have proven leadership that has decades of experience in the party." Banks' entrance into the race comes as longtime state Appeals Court Judge Tyree Irving mounts a challenge to oust party Chairman Bobby Moak, who's held the position since 2016.
Gray Tollison adapting to life on the bench
After nearly three decades as an attorney and two dozen seasons as a state legislator, Gray Tollison is ready to move on to his next challenge. On July 15, Gov. Tate Reeves appointed the Oxford native as the Third Circuit Court District Place 1 judge. Less than a week later, the first-time judge was already on the bench. "I started Monday," Tollison said. "I have already taken pleas and signed some orders on criminal matters. I was able to sit down with Judge (Kelly) Luther last week to start going over the docket and where things stand." Tollison passed the bar in April 1991 but he has been around the law much longer. His first "real" job was as a 13-year-old janitor in his father's law firm just a block off the square. During his six terms in the state senate, Tollison worked closely with a lot of people and made many friends, including Reeves. But he insists he had no future political desires when he decided not to run for re-election last fall. "Sen. John Stennis once said being a circuit judge was the best way he had ever served the people," Tollison said. "The ideal judge is honest, trustworthy and accessible to the people. Those are my goals.
Cindy Hyde-Smith talks coronavirus stimulus bill, dismisses concerns about fundraising in Senate race
In Mississippi's competitive U.S. Senate race, Democrat Mike Espy has already assailed Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith over racial issues, fundraising numbers and a lack of voter outreach. Hyde-Smith offered a simple response Thursday: I'm too busy to care. "There's a lot of noise out there," Hyde-Smith said in an interview. "We've got too much at hand to pay attention to the noise. We're negotiating the next coronavirus relief legislation. We're also working on the national defense bill to fund our military. We're confirming conservative judges. We have our plate full right now." It's about 100 days from what many expect to be a competitive and well-funded Nov. 3 rematch between Espy and Hyde-Smith. Hyde-Smith, 61, said she, too, has done some Zoom campaigning and other voter outreach in recent weeks. She said she was disappointed to see the Neshoba County Fair and other classic Mississippi summer political events canceled. But she brushes off any concern about Espy, who she defeated by eight points in a 2018 special election to fill the rest of the late Sen. Thad Cochran's term.
Cook Political Report shifts several Senate races toward Democrats
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, an independent online newsletter, shifted a handful of Senate races on Thursday in favor of Democrats, with the November general election just 103 days away. With the relabeling came a prediction: that Democrats, who control the House, will win back control of the Senate in November. Cook switched GOP Sens. Joni Ernst (Iowa) and David Perdue's (Ga.) matchups against Democratic challengers from "lean Republican" to a "toss-up," while Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) had her race against former astronaut Mark Kelly (D) changed from "toss-up" to "lean Democratic." Additionally, Democratic Sen. Tina Smith (Minn.) had her race changed from "lean Democratic" to "solid Democratic." The race for retiring Sen. Tom Udall's (D-N.M.) seat between Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) and Republican Mark Ronchetti was also shifted from "lean Democratic" to "solid Democratic." For Democrats to regain control of the Senate in November, they need to either win four seats if presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins, or five seats if he loses.
Second Stimulus Payment Could Deliver Cash Even Faster
Congress is poised to approve a second round of stimulus payments for U.S. households, and money could reach many Americans faster this time. The Internal Revenue Service now has procedures, online tools, bank-account information and coordination with other agencies that it didn't have set up in advance when the first round of payments was approved in the spring. Now it is up to Congress to approve the second round of payments, set all the details and send a bill to President Trump for his signature. That still could take weeks, but once that happens, money can start flowing. "Since the IRS has already assembled the data it needs to deliver the first-stimulus payment, they should be able to deliver a second payment fairly quickly and at a lower administrative cost," said Jack Smalligan, a former Office of Management and Budget official.
President Trump cancels Republican national convention, his latest reversal as coronavirus spreads
President Trump on Thursday abruptly canceled the Republican National Convention celebrations scheduled for next month in Jacksonville, Fla., making the latest in a series of head-snapping reversals in the face of a nationwide pandemic that continues to spread out of control. Trump has for months instructed his advisers to find a way to stage a loud, boisterous and packed convention celebration, after North Carolina officials said they could not guarantee such an event in Charlotte. Advisers scoured the country for a new location to host a multi-night televised spectacle, settling on Jacksonville, where the mayor and Florida's governor are Trump's allies. The president's ambition, however, ran headlong into a massive spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, growing local opposition and enormous logistical hurdles. The convention retreat came as polls continue to show public disapproval of Trump's handling of the pandemic, with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden expanding leads in key battleground states and advisers pressing Trump to try to shift gears.
U. of Mississippi preparing for budget cuts due to the impact of COVID-19
The University of Mississippi is preparing for potentially large budget cuts due to the financial effects of COVID-19. On Thursday, Chancellor Glenn Boyce provided an update on the University's budget, stating the school was able to get through the current fiscal year without implementing any budget reductions, but the 2021 fiscal year will not fare as well. "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink almost every aspect of our campus operations, including finances," Boyce's statement read. "The financial impact of the pandemic has already been significant for us as we provided millions in refunds from the spring semester, invested in new ways to deliver courses remotely, incurred added costs to implement new protocols for the Fall 2020 semester and more." Final enrollment figures for the 2020-21 school year will determine the size of the budget cut for FY21, but Boyce announced they are asking Vice Chancellors to prepare plans for a 4.95 percent cut in permanent funds, which are based on expense and revenue predictions. The Vice Chancellors were also warned that the cut could grow to as large as 7.5 percent if enrollment declines again at predicted rates.
USM administrators discuss reopening plan
The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg has been working on a plan to bring students back to campus and welcome freshmen for months amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Mississippi State Department of Health. They also realized that no matter how much physical preparation they make, it won't be successful unless every student is on board. When Southern Miss reopens in August 2020, the university will welcome back more than 14,000 students. That's a lot of people to keep socially distanced, but administrators are confident their planning will pay off. "If we want to get through the semester, these are the things we have to do at Southern Miss," said Dee Dee Anderson, Vice President of Student Affairs at USM. Courses will also be taught using a hybrid model of both in class and online. There will also be total remote learning available. USM faculty have also been told to prepare for anything.
JSU, partners launching program to help commercialize human health-focused ideas from HBCUs
Jackson State University is partnering with the University of Kentucky and national startup accelerator XLerateHealth to launch a program that will help commercialize human health-focused ideas from historically black colleges and universities. The XLerator Network, an NIH-funded accelerator hub that operates in 24 academic institutions across the Southeast, is also supporting the program. JSU is also heading up a "pre-accelerator" program called "Engaging Researchers and Innovators for Commercialization at HBCUs," which is for faculty and student innovators at HBCUs in IDeA-eligible states. The program will help train faculty and students at HBCUs to evaluate the commercial potential of new healthcare innovations and train them to conduct market assessments on those innovations. The initiative will also support intellectual property protections and teach faculty and students about the commercialization process.
Auburn University Medical Clinic extending remote counseling into fall
The Auburn University Medical Clinic has administered counseling sessions for students remotely since the pandemic, a program it says it will continue to offer through the fall 2020 semester. Dr. Dustin Johnson, assistant director of outreach and mental health initiatives for Student Counseling and Psychological Services, said his office has provided telecounseling over the phone and Zoom counseling services since the shift to remote instruction. In addition to the individual counseling services, the University offers workshops, outreach events and discussion groups available for all students seeking mental health assistance. There are many resources available on the SCPS website, including self-directed resources such as workshops for getting motivated and tips for how to deal with stress. "These activities involve connecting people offering coping ideas and helping people find solutions to problems," Johnson said. "They are easy to access, and students do not have to be clients of the center to utilize them."
Organizers urge second polling location on Texas A&M campus
A group of local young adult organizers delivered a presentation Tuesday morning urging the Brazos County Commissioners Court to add another voting location on or adjacent to the Texas A&M University campus with the hope of increasing students' voting options for the Nov. 3 general election and beyond. Texas A&M students Amy Ramos, Raven Atkinson and Frankie Alamos gave the remote presentation on behalf of a number of local groups, including A&M's chapter of Texas Rising, an organization dedicated to increasing civic engagement among people ages 18-29. The speakers cited high voter turnout in the 2018 midterms and long wait times at the Memorial Student Center in the March 3 primary as an indication that young voters in the county and the state are participating in greater numbers. They expressed concern about the potential effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic -- and accompanying distancing measures and health safety procedures -- on wait times.
U. of Missouri faculty question Mun Choi on decisions and dissent
University of Missouri faculty challenged UM System President and Interim MU Chancellor Mun Choi on Thursday on his recent comments and decisions, expressing concerns about a culture of fear and intimidation among university employees. Some members of the MU Faculty Council called for an independent investigation into a recent MU Police encounter with a journalist affiliated with the university. The body did not take formal action on either that matter or the upcoming UM System Board of Curators vote to merge top administrative positions during the council's final monthly meeting of its current executive term. Several faculty, speaking both directly to Choi during the meeting and posting in the meeting's Zoom chat, said they had received personal calls or emails from Choi about issues they disagreed on, sometimes with their supervisors or other administrators copied. "It's hard to not feel intimidated when you receive communication from the president of the university," said teaching professor of political science William Horner.
U. of Missouri will keep union custodians
The University of Missouri won't outsource custodial services for 2020-21, and will keep its 250 union custodians on staff. The decision was announced Thursday in a news release. The university solicited proposals from vendors and that process revealed that annual savings could be as high as $3 million by outsourcing to a proven outside firm, according to the news release. More than a dozen companies submitted proposals for custodial services, landscaping services or both. The decision to not outsource was made in consideration of the long-term service of employees. Officials will explore other options for savings. "The University of Missouri has experienced tremendous budgetary shortfalls in the economic fallout of COVID-19 and we've had to take a hard look at every corner of our finances," Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president and interim MU chancellor, said in the news release. "Our primary goal is to protect the teaching, research and service missions of the university. We look forward to engaging our employees and the LIUNA representatives to find a way to support our custodians."
Student loan repayments emerging as division in coronavirus package debate
A key sticking point emerged between key Democrats and Republicans Thursday over what to do about 43 million Americans who have been excused from making student loan payments during the pandemic, even as Republican senators and the Trump administration continued trying to craft the details of their proposal for the next coronavirus relief package. Democrats in both the House and the Senate, including Senator Patty Murray, slammed a proposal by Lamar Alexander, the Senate's top Republican on education, that would continue to spare only those with no incomes from making payments. Meanwhile, even as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the details of his proposal would not be released until Monday, other divisions with Democrats over issues critical to higher education were emerging. Alexander, in an impromptu press conference, said the White House agreed to include $30 billion for education, a figure Murray, of Washington State, said is not enough.
Research security bill advances in U.S. Senate despite opposition from research groups
A U.S. Senate panel yesterday unanimously endorsed legislation to tighten oversight of federally funded researchers with ties to foreign governments. The move came despite objections from universities whose faculty would come under increased scrutiny if the bill becomes law. The bipartisan support from the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs for the Safeguarding American Innovation Act (S. 3997) reflects an apparent growing consensus that Congress should respond to Chinese-backed research collaborations seen as threatening national security. However, a bevy of higher education organizations are worried that taking such actions would actually undermine innovation by making U.S. institutions less attractive to foreign scholars and increase paperwork requirements without making the country safer. "We appreciate that [co-sponsors] Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE) have changed language in certain sections in response to concerns raised by the higher education community," notes a letter from the presidents of four major groups -- the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the American Council on Education. "But there are additional changes that must be made ... Without such changes, we cannot support the bill."
UC Davis researcher accused of hiding ties to Chinese military is hiding in consulate, U.S. says
A UC Davis cancer researcher, suspected of being a clandestine member of the Chinese military, has taken refuge in the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco, according to U.S. prosecutors. The researcher, Juan Tang, is charged with visa fraud, accused of concealing her membership in China's military and Communist Party in seeking permission to work in a radiation oncology lab at UC Davis. She fled to the consulate after being interviewed by FBI agents in late June, prosecutors said. Tang is "a fugitive from justice currently being harbored at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco," a Justice Department spokeswoman said Thursday. The charges against Tang come as the U.S. government escalates a simmering dispute with Beijing over what it says are attempts by the Chinese government to steal secrets from the United States' eminent research institutions.
Students Are Spreading Covid-19 Off Campus. Here's How Colleges Can Stop It.
In recent weeks, Covid-19 cases have exploded among people in their 20s and 30s. Public-health officials say that's partly because of so-called superspreader events, including gatherings of college students in off-campus houses, fraternities, and bars. Confronted with social-media posts showing crowds of students dancing and drinking together in defiance of local orders, colleges have been forced to zero in on what's happening just outside their borders. But there are limits to what colleges can do. Administrators can, in theory, punish students for hosting large gatherings if such events cross their radar. They can't, however, show up at private fraternity houses and enforce mask-wearing and physical distancing in common areas. Dartmouth College is among the institutions that have threatened serious consequences for students who violate public-health laws. Tulane University's dean of students also took a clear stance on illicit off-campus gatherings this month in an email to the student body. In bold and all-caps, Erica Woodley wrote: "Do not host parties or gatherings with more than 15 people, including the host. If you do, you will face suspension or expulsion from the university."
Some colleges discount tuition prices for an online fall
This spring was characterized by a quick, and sometimes panicked, rush to online learning for most colleges and universities. Though students demanded housing and tuition rebates, only some institutions coughed up the refunds, with relatively few rebating tuition. Now, after April's wave of announcements from college administrations saying fall terms will be in person and on campus, the tide is slowly beginning to reverse. Several prominent traditional institutions, such as Spelman College, the University of Delaware, Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, have announced they will be offering undergraduate instruction primarily online this fall. But this time, many have also announced they will be discounting tuition or slashing fees for those studying at home. A number of institutions have said they will discount tuition by 10 percent for those taking classes online. Georgetown University, Princeton University, Lafayette College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University all coalesced around the 10 percent cut, in some cases reversing planned increases in tuition and additionally slashing student activity fees.
Athletic Seasons Are Canceled. Student Activities Are Virtual. But at Some Colleges, Fees Won't Change.
As more colleges renege on promises of an in-person fall and move to a virtual format, student fees -- charges earmarked for athletics and other extracurricular programming -- are coming under scrutiny. Late last week, students at Towson University circulated a petition calling for it to drop its $499 athletics fee after it suspended fall sports. So far, more than 4,300 people have signed, but the university has declined to refund the charge. "TU remains committed to providing support for all student-athletes, teams, and coaches as part of our charge as a nationally ranked, Division I university," Sean Welsh, interim vice president for marketing and communications, wrote in an email. "As such, athletics fees will remain in place this semester to help honor that commitment." Towson, part of the University System of Maryland, is among a number of colleges maintaining pre-pandemic prices for student activities, even as others reduce or eliminate charges for services they can no longer render. "Fees in general have been a contentious conversation even well before the Covid environment," said Kevin Kruger, president of Naspa, an association of student-affairs administrators.

MSU Switching to Mobile Ticketing for Athletic Events
Mississippi State University Athletics recently announced that it will transition to mobile ticketing for all ticketed athletic events beginning with the 2020 football season. The move will allow for contactless entry into athletic venues and the ability to transfer tickets electronically, a release from MSU says. MSU Athletics will continue to offer print-at-home tickets in addition to mobile tickets. Mobile ticket purchasers will be able to transfer tickets via mobile phone, download and store tickets to an Apple or Android device and transfer tickets to a friend via text using the recipient's cell-phone number. For more information and answers to questions on MSU mobile ticketing, visit, call 662-325-2600 or email
Coast sportsbooks seeing new life with the return of major sports
It's been a slow start for the first pitch of Major League Baseball in 2020, but the return of athletics has local casinos excited. "We've been starving for this to happen," said Rob Portwood, manager of The Book sportsbook. "We've been looking forward to this for a long time, to get sports back for our guests to bet on." The pandemic has caused major changes across the country, gambling establishments included. The guests who visit Portwood and his staff at Harrah's Gulf Coast have had to rely on other sports to put their money on. "We've had soccer, UFC, NASCAR, golf. We've even seen the handle on all those sports grow. People have really been wanting to bet and have something to bet on," Portwood said. There hasn't been a decrease in visitors coming to the resort despite the outbreak. "We haven't seen a decrease in our guest volume on property," said Harrah's Director of Human Resources Brooke Robbins. "In fact, in June, we welcomed 19 charters onto the Gulf Coast." The Beau Rivage also saw some action ahead of New York Yankees playing the Washington Nationals. A $10,000 bet was placed on the Yankees beating the defending champions, which is the type of activity local sportsbooks are preparing for in the near future.
Kentucky faculty group asks for Rupp Arena name change
A faculty group at the University of Kentucky is calling on the school to change the name of Rupp Arena, its home facility for basketball and other sports. In an open letter to school president Eli Capilouto, the faculty of Kentucky's African American and Africana Studies program called for several other changes to support Black students and faculty at the university in the wake of nationwide racial unrest following the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis. The suggestion to change the name of Rupp Arena, named for former Wildcats basketball coach Adolph Rupp, is listed at the end. "The Adolph Rupp name has come to stand for racism and exclusion in UK athletics and alienates Black students, fans, and attendees," the letter states. "The rebuilding of the arena and the convention center offer an opportunity to change the name to a far more inclusive one, such as Wildcat Arena. In addition, the University should survey all campus buildings and remove all names of enslavers, Confederate sympathizers (such as William C.P. Breckinridge), and other white supremacists."
New NCAA scholarship aid rule to benefit all, but private schools like Vanderbilt the most
The best can now only get better in SEC baseball. Vanderbilt, which won the last national championship at the College World Series -- its second in six years -- might be able to add to that more easily because of a new NCAA rule regarding scholarship aid expected to be approved Monday by the NCAA Division I Board of Directors. The NCAA Division I Council of 32 conference representatives and about 18 other various conference and NCAA officials voted in the new rule on July 15. It allows sports with small scholarship limits such as baseball, softball and track to include need- and merit-based scholarship money with its athletic scholarship money without the extra funds counting toward the scholarship total. But many of the 13 public SEC schools do not have the financial aid empire that Vanderbilt has perfected as it is the league's only private school and has long been developing aid strategies for prospective students. Without aid, tuition and fees are more than $70,000 a year at the Nashville campus. That is more than twice the price of each of the other 13 SEC schools for in-state students.
Big 12 presidents could wait two more weeks, maybe longer, before making fall sports decisions
Big 12 presidents are comfortable waiting two more weeks and maybe longer before making any definitive decisions about the upcoming college football season. In a wide-ranging interview with the American-Statesman, Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said league presidents generally want to play a full 12-game season. Still, the league must be "prepared to pivot" should circumstances change surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Schovanec said presidents are ready to let fall practice begin as scheduled on Aug. 7 and could still make a change. All decisions will be made with student safety in mind, Schovanec stressed. Television money is not the driving force here, but Fox and ESPN pay the league based on an inventory of 57 games. A conference-only schedule is just 46. "You can't ignore those facts," Schovanec said. In short, there are no easy choices, according to the vice chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors.

The Office of Public Affairs provides the Daily News Digest as a general information resource for Mississippi State University stakeholders.
Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
Mississippi State University  •  Mississippi State, MS 39762  •  Main Telephone: (662) 325-2323  •   Contact: The Editor  |  The Webmaster  •   Updated: July 24, 2020Facebook Twitter