Tuesday, August 11, 2020   
MSU's Bagley College of Engineering maintains high ranking
Helping advance Mississippi State University's College of Engineering into the 21st century was a priority for James Bagley. An MSU engineering alumnus and chairman and CEO of California-based Lam Research, he wanted the enhanced recognition of a named college and the proper resources to accomplish change. Bagley put his money where his mouth was -- the Vicksburg native gifted his alma mater with an unprecedented $25 million endowment in 2002. Today, MSU's James Worth Bagley College of Engineering is at the forefront of education and research and is one of approximately 40 named engineering colleges in the nation. BCoE offers degree programs in eight different engineering departments and various certificate programs. U.S. News and World Report ranks the college's undergraduate and graduate programs in the Top 100 nationwide. BCoE publications manager Philip Allison said the college currently has plenty of research projects going on simultaneously. "For instance, one of our professors is part of a nationwide research team that got Department of Energy funding to study ways to store solar energy," he said. "We have a variety of automotive-related research projects at the Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems (CAVS). And, there's some very cool research in the field of Athlete Engineering, specifically around the sensors that athletes wear to collect data about their performance. That's just a small sampling."
Mysterious mail seeds are potential invasive species, experts warn
Mysterious seeds are appearing in people's mailboxes. One woman in Saltillo said she got a pack of them at her home address. She's not the only one. It seems like a surprise gift. Mysterious seeds in your mailbox. However, the problem is we don't know what plants they'll grow into. Dr. Bill Burdine of the Mississippi State University Extension Service said the packages started appearing in mailboxes a couple weeks ago. "These packages are being delivered through UPS and FedEx to homes all across the United States." He said right now, the Mississippi Department of Agriculture does not know what all the types of seeds are yet. They are asking people not to plant them or throw them away. Burdine said the seeds could be a plant that could be a harmful invasive species. The seeds may be toxic and could poison the soil and crops. He said these are just a few of the possibilities. He said people should not throw them away because at the landfill, the seeds will almost surely take root and start growing anyway. "Do not do anything with the seeds other than call the Mississippi Department of Agriculture or the local county extension office. Bring those to our office, and we'll have an inspector pick them up."
Robert St. John: Purple Parrot closing won't stop Fondren project
The closing of the Purple Parrot Cafe in Hattiesburg "has absolutely nothing" to do with Robert St. John's plans for the Fondren District in Jackson. Yes, the coronavirus pandemic had something to do with both, St. John said. The 32-year-old Purple Parrot, a fine-dining restaurant that has been awarded a number of Diamond ratings from AAA, held an extended farewell celebration ending Aug. 4 after its closing in March due to the onset of the virus. Owner and chef St. John said the last farewell was more like a wake because of the celebration of many special days – wedding anniversaries, graduations and so on. Next comes a Tex-Mex restaurant in the same space, St. John said in an interview. Next comes a Tex-Mex restaurant in the same space, St. John said in an interview. Coronavirus restrictions squeezed all restaurants, which have thin profit margins, and fine-dining eateries have even narrower margins, St. John. Not so with others, such as Tex-Mex. And not so with Ed's Burger Joint, which will be part of the $13 million project St. John announced in October 2019.
Mississippi flag design process: Elvis has left the building
The new Mississippi state flag will not include beer cans, crawfish, a caramel cake, Elvis or Kermit the Frog. Mississippi recently retired the last state banner with the Confederate battle emblem that's widely condemned as racist. A nine-member commission will recommend a replacement that cannot include the Confederate symbol and must have the phrase, "In God We Trust." The public submitted nearly 3,000 designs, and the commission narrowed that to 147 proposals that were posted Monday to the state Department of Archives and History website. Lost in the first round were designs with food items and celebrities. Many of the remaining designs have magnolias and stars. Some have wavy lines that could represent the waters of the Mississippi River or the Gulf of Mexico. The oddball among the survivors has a giant mosquito surrounded by a circle of stars. On Friday, the nine commissioners will meet and choose the final five. By early September, they will agree on a single design to put on the Nov. 3 statewide ballot.
Coronavirus: New precautions at Mississippi Capitol after lawmakers sickened
Mississippi lawmakers have learned firsthand how scary the coronavirus can be. Forty-nine of them tested positive in recent weeks and four were hospitalized, with three of those placed in intensive care, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said Monday. At the end of June, masks were often scarcely seen in cramped committee rooms and on the House and Senate floors -- even as case counts steadily rose around the state. As legislators became preoccupied with policy issues like changing the state flag, strict safety protocols became increasingly relaxed. No longer. On Monday, as legislators returned to Jackson once again to solve a few budget problems and override a Gov. Tate Reeves veto, there was a drastic shift. Almost everyone wore masks, including inside a small House committee room where few wore them in June. Lawmakers were mostly spread out around the building, instead of sitting close together in their usual seats.
Mississippi school funding feud resolved with veto, new bill
Mississippi legislators returned to the Capitol on Monday and resolved a dispute over education funding for the budget year that began July 1. They also expanded a grant program for businesses that have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, increasing the minimum award from $1,500 to $3,500. House and Senate negotiators discussed a budget for the Department of Marine Resources, but did not reach a resolution by late Monday. Talks were expected to continue Tuesday. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves on July 8 vetoed big parts of the education budget. It was the first time since 2002 for legislators to override a governor's veto. At that time, Democrat Ronnie Musgrove was governor and Democrats still controlled both chambers of the Legislature.
Mississippi lawmakers override Gov. Tate Reeves' education veto, try to fix budget problems
The Mississippi Legislature on Monday took the unusual step of overriding a governor's veto, while also working to solve two glaring budget problems related to a teacher pay program and the Department of Marine Resources. The House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode Gov. Tate Reeves' veto of much of this year's education budget. The maneuver requires at least a two-thirds majority vote, and automatically makes the legislation law. It hasn't occurred since 2002 when Democrat Ronnie Musgrove was governor. Lawmakers returned Monday specifically to deal with the education and Marine Resources issues. They also late Monday passed legislation to offer up more funding to individual small businesses suffering from the pandemic. Only a fraction of the small business funding lawmakers approved earlier in the session has been used.
'Punch in the face, stab in the back': Legislature overrides Gov. Tate Reeves' education veto
The Republican-led Mississippi Legislature on Monday overrode a veto by Republican Gov. Tate Reeves of most of the public education budget -- the first time since 2002 that lawmakers have undone a gubernatorial veto. "It's the law. It's the law. It's the law," House Speaker Philip Gunn said. "We can engage in name calling and in slanderous comments, but the bottom line is what does the law say? We are trying to follow the constitution." Reeves, for his part, chalked it up to politics, claiming some members of the House are "trying to get a pound of flesh from me" for political reasons. The governor declared victory from lawmakers, who approved a teacher bonus plan whose absence had prompted his veto in the first place. "If individual House members want to punch me in the face, or stab me in the back, that's fine as long as teachers get that money," Reeves said. Gunn and House Pro Tem Jason White still have a lawsuit pending over Reeves' partial vetoes of the education budget and of items in a measure spending federal coronavirus relief money for health care providers.
Governor highlights 30% drop in Mississippi's 7-day case average
On Monday, the Mississippi State Department of Health reported 476 new cases of COVID-19, which according to Governor Tate Reeves, exemplifies a positive trend. The governor stated that Mississippi's 7-day rolling average has dropped to 932, around a 30% drop from a July 30th peak of 1,361. He attributed the drop to the willingness of Mississippians to take the proper precautions such as wearing a mask and urged everyone to keep up the good work to ensure the average doesn't move back up. "We can feel confident in our approach, but we must continue our efforts. The masks are working, your increased focus on slowing the spread is working. It gives us hope and it gives us a roadmap. We know that we do not have to shut down our society, we need to continue to keep doing what we've been doing. If we can hit the gas for the next several weeks, we can really drive these numbers down," he said. The statewide mask mandate remains in effect until at least August 17th.
Gov. Tate Reeves urges state to 'push gas pedal even harder' after COVID-19 numbers drop in August
Following a July of soaring COVID-19 cases, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is relieved to see that the numbers are showing gradual improvement in August. Reeves appeared upbeat during a media briefing Monday about the progress Mississippi has made against the coronavirus and credited residents for playing a major role in the decreased numbers. "Your efforts are working," the first-term governor said. "What you are doing back home is making a tremendous difference. Now is the time for us to continue. Now is the time for us to push the gas pedal even harder." "Our hospitalization and ICU numbers have stabilized, but there's still a lot of stress on our healthcare system," said Dr. Thomas Dobbs, the state's top health officer. Overall numbers have dipped slightly, but Dobbs and Reeves encouraged Mississippians not to let up their efforts in helping mitigate the virus. "Our measures are working," Reeves said. "We can't change what we've done in the past. We can change what we do going forward."
Dr. Thomas Dobbs: 22 schools have reported COVID-19 cases, major outbreaks a concern
Mississippi's coronavirus numbers may appear to be leveling off, but the state is still seeing a high rate of cases and fatalities per capita, according to Dr. Thomas Dobbs, state health officer. "Mississippi is kind of a hot spot for coronavirus in the country -- in a country that's highest in the world (for number of coronavirus cases)," he said during a virtual news conference Monday hosted by the Stennis Capitol Press Forum at Mississippi State University. Dobbs said as students return to school, there most likely will be a significant increase in the number of cases of coronavirus. But that is already starting to happen as more districts resume classes. "We know some percentage of kids are going to walk through that door and they already have coronavirus," Dobbs said.
Over 500 people tested for COVID in experimental initative
More than 500 people in one of the poorest counties in Mississippi were tested for the coronavirus by the state Department of Health over the past week as part of a new experimental initiative to slow the spread of the virus by community transmission. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said medical professionals went in with the goal to test every resident in Lexington, the Holmes County seat, where 2,000 people live. By identifying those who are asymptomatic, Dobbs said, officials hoped to limit cases of the virus being passed unknowingly from person to person. "We didn't quite get every resident, but if we got 500, I was going to consider it a success, and we surpassed that," he said Monday.
UMMC's LouAnn Woodward: Delay School Until After Labor Day, ICU at Capacity
Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, spoke to the Jackson Free Press at length on Aug. 7, sharing her concerns for an oncoming wave of hospitalizations and the long-term care requirements of COVID-19 patients. Woodward also addressed the upcoming school year, candidly asserting that a limited delay was not, in her opinion, adequate to prevent the spread of the virus and the sudden quarantine of many Mississippi students.
Can Mississippi afford its match for President Trump's $400-a-week unemployment order?
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday praised President Donald Trump's executive order to continue to supplement unemployment money for those out of work from the pandemic. But Reeves noted Mississippi might not be able to pay its matching share. He said Congress needs to break its stalemate and pass a COVID-19 relief bill that states and taxpayers can afford. In a move that had politicians on both sides of the aisle questioning whether Trump was overstepping his constitutional authority, he announced an order Saturday that would provide unemployed people an additional $400 a week. This comes after the $600 a week Congress approved early in the pandemic expired. But Trump's order would mandate states provide $100 of that $400 a week. Reeves said this would cost Mississippi about $21 million to $23 million a week, roughly doubling what it is paying in state unemployment insurance benefits currently. "We have not made a decision yet if we will participate," said Reeves, who has been in running battles with the state Legislature over his own constitutional authority to spend state money, even during a crisis.
States scramble as low census response rates threaten political power
With just weeks until the Census Bureau faces a critical deadline to finish counting 330 million Americans, cities and states are racing to get through to hard-to-reach communities who risk being left out of the final tally. At stake are billions of dollars through hundreds of federally administered programs -- and political power for the next decade. Some states are so close to the cutoff point at which they would earn or lose a House seat in the apportionment that will come from census figures that just a few thousand missing people could mean a smaller congressional delegation. Demographers and redistricting experts working for both Democratic and Republican groups model population gains based on yearly census data to estimate which states are in line to gain or lose seats every 10 years. Current models suggest Sun Belt states and two fast-growing western states, Montana and Oregon, are in line to add seats, at the expense of Rust Belt states and California and Alabama. But those models assume a perfect count.
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith at center of debate on removing Confederate statues from U.S. Capitol
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, facing a November election challenge from Democrat Mike Espy, could find herself in the middle of a national debate over whether Congress should mandate the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. Last month, the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending measure for the legislative branch that would remove 14 statues of Confederates and others "with unambiguous records of racial intolerance" from the Capitol building. Hyde-Smith is the chairwoman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that considers and passes the spending bills to fund the legislative branch, meaning her subcommittee will have to consider the House measure. "Sen. Hyde-Smith respects the work of her House counterparts, but will continue to work with her Senate colleagues on a Senate legislative branch bill," said Hyde-Smith spokesman Chris Gallegos.
'We Had To Get Out.' Despite The Risks, Business Is Booming At National Parks
Stuck at home for months on end, plans canceled and upside down, the Reyes family felt like so many others during this pandemic-blighted summer: "We were just going crazy," says Ricardo Reyes. "We had to get out." They rented an RV, packed daughter and dog, and drove from North Carolina to a getaway they assumed would be quiet. Three days into a trip at Yellowstone National Park, they could see their need to escape was in no way unique. "I thought it would be kind of dead but it's a lot of people out there," Reyes says, with a nod towards a line of idling vehicles queuing up at the park's north entrance in Gardiner, Mont. "Lot of people." After a slow start to the summer tourism season, visitation is now booming at Yellowstone and many other national parks, as Americans look to escape their coronavirus confines and spend time in the relative safety of the great outdoors. In recent weeks, the number of cars entering Yellowstone has exceeded last year's count for the same period.
USM center hosting online forum with Jerry Mitchell and Dennis Dahmer
A Mississippi journalist renowned internationally for his reporting on racial injustice and the son of a Hattiesburg area Civil Rights Movement leader murdered by the Ku Klux Klan will be the guests for an online forum at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11. The event is hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi Center for the Study of the Gulf South. It is open to the public. Dennis Dahmer, civil rights activist and educator and the son of slain Forrest County NAACP President Vernon Dahmer Sr., and Jerry Mitchell, author of the highly acclaimed memoir "Race Against Time" and founder of the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting, will be the guests for the virtual Q&A session. Dr. Kevin Greene, associate professor of history and director of the USM Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, will serve as interviewer for the session.
UGA posts -- then removes -- COVID-19 sex advice
The University of Georgia was the top school in the nation for sexual health the last time the Trojan condom company released its ratings in 2016. But you won't find guidance about sex and COVID-19 on the UGA University Health Center's sexual health page. A short entry called "COVID-19 Considerations" was on the UHC website a few days ago, along with advice on a number of other sexual health topics such as consent, birth control, sexually transmitted infections and sexual decision making. But after people posted the entry on Facebook and other social media, the university removed the advice. "The information was consistent with language that appears on multiple health and medical sites across the country, including the Mayo Clinic. However, when the information was mocked, ridiculed and criticized on social media, we decided to take it down," explained UGA spokesman Greg Trevor.
Have fun, wear masks and save the climate: Bill Nye's message to UF students
University of Florida students have some big expectations to live up to following Bill Nye's event Monday night. College students will help change the world, he said. Battling climate change, racial inequity and producing new scientific innovations fall on their shoulders. During the hour-long virtual event funded by Accent Speaker's Bureau, a student-run organization funded by UF Student Government, Nye spoke to about 700 attendees on Microsoft Teams about masks, climate change, scientific research and general advice. The event was free to anyone with a valid university email, and Nye will be paid $35,000 in student fees to speak, according to the event contract. Accent announced Aug. 4 that Nye would be speaking at SG's third, and last, virtual event of the Summer. The event started with a 45-minute interview between Nye and Joe Kays, UF Director of Research Communications. Kays asked Nye about COVID-19, race and climate change. After, students asked Nye during a 15-minute Q&A for advice on what to do when they graduate college and how to navigate remote learning. "I am very optimistic about the future," he said. "Because you all are going to be graduated and you're going to change things."
Vanderbilt: Mask mandates go up, then hospitalizations slow down
Tennessee counties that require residents to wear face coverings appear to have significantly slowed hospitalizations over the past month, providing localized evidence that masks inhibit the coronavirus, according to new Vanderbilt research. The analysis, compiled from statewide hospital admissions data, reveals medical facilities where most patients come from counties with mask mandates reported a flattening of new admissions in July despite the virus surging to unseen levels. "Hospitalizations overall are still higher than we would hope, but the 'flattening of the curve' that is needed to maintain new cases and hospitalizations below a point of stressing the health care system is only occurring in those hospitals serving patients primarily from areas with a mask requirement," the Vanderbilt analysis states. This analysis builds upon prior Vanderbilt research showing the coronavirus was gravitating away from major metropolitan areas and into mid-sized cities and rural counties with less hospital capacity and public health resources. Rural counties are also much less likely to enact mask mandates, further stressing their local hospitals. The new Vanderbilt research comes at a time when face masks, widely viewed as one of the best ways to slow the virus, have become politicized in a deeply partisan nation.
Mark McIntosh to retire as economic development chief at U. of Missouri
Mark McIntosh, a long-time administrator and faculty member at the University of Missouri who has headed efforts to market university patents for the past five years, is retiring, President Mun Choi wrote in a message to the Columbia campus. McIntosh in November 2015 was named interim vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and economic development. He was given the job on a permanent basis, with the title changed to vice chancellor for research and economic development and duties as a vice president in that area for the system. Prior to taking the role as vice-chancellor, McIntosh was director of graduate studies and chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine from 2002 to 2017. In the message, Choi wrote that research spending at MU increased $42 million, to $235 million, over five years and 16 startup companies were created with licensed technologies, with $33 million in revenue for the university.
Faculty parents are once again being asked to perform a miracle
Faculty members' anxieties about the coming semester abound. And while they may be able to rely on their institutions for support in matters of teaching, they remain very much on their own in dealing with the personal costs of the pandemic. This fact is particularly searing to professors with young children: six months into the coronavirus's stranglehold on the U.S., babies, toddlers and kids are still out of childcare and school in many places. This means that professors are going to have to pull off the same miracle they did at the end of the spring semester at least one more time: shepherd their students through while simultaneously trying to manage their own children's schooling, meals, moods and more at home. Kiernan Mathews, executive director of the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education at Harvard University, has a term for this crisis: "Babar in the Room." It's a sweet name, recalling Babar the friendly elephant, but it doesn't make the issue any less acute -- least of all for Mathews, who has two children of his own, aged 11 and 14. "My personal solution to this, which I haven't succeeded yet in realizing, is either to find a college student stuck at home who wants to tutor my kids for a few hours a day, or to be offered a job out of the country," Mathews added.
Campus workers sue N.C. university system, cite unsafe conditions due to pandemic
At least 16 workers on campuses in the University of North Carolina school system are suing the schools for working conditions that put them "at an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19." Workers at UNC said that they "should not be required to be exposed to an increased risk of getting sick" due to students' return to campus, said the lawsuit filed Monday by members of the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, UE Local 150 and members of the North Carolina American Association of University Professors. Bringing students back to campus places workers at higher risk of exposure to the virus, and despite masks, social distancing and hand-washing requirements implemented by the school, it is impossible to "control whether thousands of students located within their campus communities comply" with these requirements, said the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed at the Wake County Superior Court. In-person classes began at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and other UNC System schools on Monday.
As fall classes begin at Notre Dame, campus sees first case of COVID-19 and school president apologizes for social distancing error in group photo
Less than a week after the University of Notre Dame opened its dorms, a returning student tested positive for COVID-19 and six close contacts are under quarantine, despite the school's extensive efforts to thwart the virus from reaching campus. Notre Dame shipped thousands of testing kits to students in late July and only allowed those with negative results to come back. The student who fell ill had tested negative before traveling to campus, according to Dr. Mark Fox, deputy health officer for St. Joseph County in Indiana. With in-person classes beginning Monday, the new case represents just one stumbling block in the Catholic university's long road to reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Compared with colleges sticking with online learning this fall, Notre Dame is taking one of the most aggressive approaches in offering face-to-face instruction and moved up its schedule to start earlier this year. How the school performs could serve as a bellwether for other universities.

Mississippi State's Mike Leach 'not a big fan' of Big Ten's reported decision to cancel its season
If Mississippi State coach Mike Leach has his way, the Southeastern Conference will play football this year. As reports surfaced Monday morning that the Big Ten is close to canceling its fall season, Leach told members of the Starkville Rotary Club that he's hopeful the SEC and coaches around the league would be in favor of playing this fall. "Right now college football hasn't quite figured out if they're the dog or the vehicle and whether they're going to stay," he said. "I wish there was more clarity to that. We're all waiting to see, and we're excited about our team, we're excited about this opportunity and hope we get the chance to share it with everybody around the country." Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill also chimed in on impending decisions by college football's power brokers Monday, offering her thoughts on the economic impact a canceled football season would have locally. Spruill told The Dispatch that the city is projecting a loss of between $800,000 and $1.1 million dollars should college sports not occur.
Why Mississippi State coach Mike Leach is 'not a big fan' of canceling college football
Mike Leach wants to play. Speaking to the Starkville Rotary Club on Monday afternoon, the Mississippi State football coach gave his opinion on the Big Ten's looming decision to reportedly cancel the conference's 2020 football season. "I mean, I think I'm probably not supposed to say anything, but I'm not a big fan of it," Leach said. "If we are going to cancel I think we need to make sure the science holds it up, and if you look at the British Premier Soccer League, who's been happily playing all along, I'm not sure that it does." The Premier League halted its season in March and resumed in June. The league successfully finished its season late last month. College football conferences across the country have been trying to find a model that allows them to have similar success amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It hasn't been easy. In some cases, it's been impossible. Many of Leach's players want to play. They've made that known through participation in a social media hashtag movement. Whether they get to or not remains to be seen.
Here are SEC coaches, ADs and administrators who voice support for #WeWantToPlay
The college football world is speaking out, one by one, to voice opinion about whether the season should be played. SEC coaches are no different. On a day that started with a report the Big Ten was planning to cancel the upcoming season, many in the industry took social medial to voice their support for a season. Many SEC coaches, athletic directors and administrators spoke out on social media Monday, standing for the players who want to play. Mississippi State tweeted a powerful video with the hashtag: #WeWantToPlay. Bulldogs athletic director John Cohen re-tweeted the video in full support of his players. "Love the passion, perseverance and resilience shown by all of our student-athletes, especially during these ever-changing circumstances," Cohen said. "We will continue fully supporting our student-athletes, coaches and staff, while keeping their health and safety our highest priority."
Former Mississippi State standouts Mitch Moreland, Brandon Woodruff thriving in truncated MLB season
Former Mississippi State standout Mitch Moreland is delivering for the Boston Red Sox so far in Major League Baseball's truncated season. Through Sunday's games, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound first baseman has been a force offensively for the Red Sox in 2020 in just 10 games, hitting .323 with six home runs, 12 RBI and seven runs scored. Moreland had his best game of the season on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, hitting two home runs that include a two-run walk off shot in the ninth inning. Meanwhile, Milwaukee Brewers ace Brandon Woodruff has continued to assert his dominance on the mound, pitching to a 2.53 ERA in 21.1 innings with 26 strikeouts. Woodruff sits with a 1-1 record this season. New York Yankees reliever Jonathan Holder is having a magnificent start for the Yankees with a pristine earned run average of zero, not allowing a single run in 6.2 innings of work. The former MSU breakout has struck out six batters in 2020. Moving from one reliever to the next, Pittsburgh's Chris Stratton has also limited opponents' bats, delivering a 2.89 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 9.1 innings of work in 2020.
COVID-19 forces golf phenom Cohen Trolio to withdraw from national championship
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Teen-aged golf sensation Cohen Trolio of West Point was supposed to tee off Monday in the U.S. Amateur Golf Championship at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Ore. Instead, Trolio and his father/caddy, renowned golf instructor V.J. Trolio, were making the 2,550-mile, cross-continent trip back to Mississippi in a rental car. Cohen Trolio, who remarkably made the semifinals of the U.S. Amateur last year at age 17, tested positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw from this year's tournament. He got the news on Friday night. On Saturday, he turned 18. Happy Birthday, Cohen. "It's all right," Cohen Trolio said in phone conversation as he and his father were approaching Wichita, roughly two/thirds of the way home. "Nothing the USGA or I could do about it -- just following the rules." ... Cohen Trolio said he feels fine and has shown no symptoms.
College Sports' 24 Hours of Political Football
The day started with a tweet from a star college quarterback featuring the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. It ended with a slick political video from the White House using the same slogan. The teetering college football season had somehow managed to unite the unpaid players with some very improbable allies: top Republicans. The expedient political union between a nascent athlete empowerment movement and a President of the United States who has fiercely criticized protesting football players came as time was running out for conference commissioners to make a final decision on the fate of the fall schedule amid the novel coronavirus. It also came as lawmakers spied an obvious political football in a pastime beloved in electoral battlegrounds across the red South and purple Midwest -- and then decided to run with it. Their rallying cry was simple: The season must go on.
SEC presidents opt to keep monitoring coronavirus, source says, as other leagues cancel football
After a public outcry from influential voices that included high-ranking athletic officials and President Donald Trump, the fate of Southeastern Conference football was pushed back for another date. The league's presidents met Monday evening and decided to continue to monitor the situation surrounding coronavirus, a source told The Advocate. The dominoes seemed aligned for a massive collapse, a series of cancellations among college football's five major conferences because of concerns associated with playing during the national pandemic. The league's 14 athletic directors already were scheduled to meet Monday, but the conference's school presidents called for an impromptu meeting later that afternoon, multiple sources confirmed with The Advocate. The meeting allowed the presidents to potentially vote on canceling the football season if the motion was presented. However, the league made no firm decision. Conference leaders chose to remain patient, and LSU athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement that "the recent flood of reports surrounding college athletics does not alter that approach."
Speculation casts doubt on fall football; Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek says SEC to make own choice
University of Arkansas Athletic Director Hunter Yurachek said the SEC won't blindly follow other Power 5 conferences that might decide not to play football this fall. There have been multiple reports from national media outlets that the Big Ten strongly is considering not playing football this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, and if that turns out to be its decision, the Pac-12 will not play football as well. "We've got a plan, and we want to continue to work that plan, and we're not going to panic because another Power 5 conference may be making a different decision than the Southeastern Conference," Yurachek said Monday on the Paul Finebaum Show on the SEC Network. Yurachek praised the SEC's patient approach, which is led by Commissioner Greg Sankey.
Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman meets with Vols football players, updates season
Donde Plowman plans on Tennessee playing football this season. The Tennessee chancellor met with athletics director Phillip Fulmer, coach Jeremy Pruitt and Vols players on Monday on the team's indoor practice field amid ongoing uncertainty about the prospect of football this fall. "This afternoon, I met with our football team and staff to have an open conversation about playing football this fall," Plowman wrote on Twitter. "At the end of our discussion, I asked if they wanted to play football and the answer was a resounding YES. "This group of student-athletes have worked hard to prepare for the season amidst detailed and strict healthy and safety protocols. I can't wait to see them on the field in Neyland Stadium." Numerous college players, including several at Tennessee, tweeted messages of #WeWantToPlay over the weekend. SEC teams are scheduled to open the season on Sept. 26, and Tennessee is slated to begin preseason practice on Monday, following weeks of summer workouts. The fall semester will begin on Aug. 19.
#WeWantToPlay: Commissioner says SEC is still trying to
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey took his message directly to the public Monday afternoon as the college football world simmered in uncertainty, saying that the league is still trying to play football this fall even as reports surfaced saying the Big Ten Conference is nearing a postponement and that the rest of the Power Five will soon follow suit. Commotion over cancelation has bubbled all the way to the White House, like a fire stoked by college football's top superstar -- Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence -- who late Sunday night used the hashtag #WeWantToPlay to voice concerns not long after the Mid-American Conference became the first Division I FBS conference in college football to postpone sports until the spring. Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has joined the effort using the same hashtag. "Thanks to the support of the ENTIRE Auburn administration, we are safer playing a football season," Nix posted to Twitter on Monday. "We have worked our entire lives to get to where we are now. Don't let it go to waste. We need football."
Mizzou's Eli Drinkwitz: No need to 'deviate' from SEC football plan
Missouri head football coach Eli Drinkwitz said Monday he hasn't seen anything over the past 48 hours that he believes would warrant changing the Southeastern Conference's current plan to play football this fall. In a wide-ranging interview with the Tribune late Monday afternoon, Drinkwitz said his focus remains on the Tigers' season opener, which recently was pushed back to late September due to the coronavirus pandemic. That game -- his first leading Missouri -- is one of 10 contests on the team's SEC-only schedule this year. "Plan your work and work your plan," Drinkwitz said of his approach to the upcoming season. "We have a plan in place. We backed up the season to Sept. 26 to allow the adjustments of what could occur with a spike. Nothing has changed over the course of the last 48 hours that would make us need to deviate, in my opinion, from that plan." Monday marked the 37-year-old Drinkwitz's eight-month anniversary since his formal introduction as Missouri's head football coach Dec. 10.
Trump, coaches, players express support for playing college football season
President Donald Trump on Monday joined a U.S. senator and a number of coaches calling to save the college football season from a pandemic-forced shutdown as supporters pushed the premise that the players are safer because of their sport. The powerful Southeastern Conference made clear it was not ready to shutter its fall season. "Best advice I've received since COVID-19: 'Be patient. Take time when making decisions. This is all new & you'll gain better information each day,'" SEC commissioner Greg Sankey posted on Twitter. "Can we play? I don't know. We haven't stopped trying." Texas A&M linebacker Anthony Hines III was one of several Aggies to tweet support Sunday night for finding a way to play the season safely. "No, we won't sign waivers. But yes, #WeWantToPlay," Hines tweeted. Trump threw his support behind the #WeWantToPlay movement Monday. Sen. Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, picked up on the safer-with-football theme in a letter to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten.
'Disaster': Rep. Anthony Gonzalez says Big Ten would hurt athletes if it doesn't play football this fall
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, the former Ohio State and NFL wide receiver, on Monday poured out an impassioned criticism of the Big Ten Conference's pending decision to not stage football games this fall. Over the course of a 15-minute interview with USA TODAY Sports, Gonzalez, R-Ohio, used the words "enormous mistake," "catastrophic," and "disaster," to describe the pending move, and he said he had made his feelings known "with those who would be making these decisions or have influence over them," although he declined to provide specifics. A first-term member of Congress, Gonzalez has not shied away from his football background or from being prominent on sports-related issues. He has been working toward introducing a bill concerning college athletes' use of their name, image and likeness and he was chosen by President Donald Trump in April to serve on the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. He called the Big Ten's potential decision "an enormous mistake for the kids."

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: August 11, 2020Facebook Twitter