Monday, September 28, 2020   
MSU aims to increase K-12 agricultural literacy with 'Farm to Classroom' initiative
A cross-college collaboration at Mississippi State University aims to foster agricultural literacy in local K-12 classrooms. The "Farm to Classroom" initiative is a professional development program designed to train teachers and student-teachers in the Starkville area to integrate agriculture into their lesson plans. Stephanie Lemley, project co-investigator and associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education in MSU's College of Education, shared why fostering agricultural literacy in rising students is increasingly important. "In Mississippi, nearly 30 percent of the population is employed by agriculture in some way. It is the biggest economic industry in the state, both in terms of employment and from a consumptive standpoint, so it's important that we understand the industry," Lemley said. "The earlier children can begin to learn about where their food and clothing come from, the more likely we are to avoid misconceptions." Carley Morrison, an assistant professor in the School of Human Sciences in MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is spearheading the project.
Designs for fall, ag scholarships and slow cooker meals
Decorating with fall colors, ag scholarships and seasonal slow cooker meals headline Quick Bites programs offered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service in October. The interactive video conferences are provided free to those who sign up to watch at county Extension offices, or via Zoom. These programs inspired by fall foliage, cooler temperatures and a time of holiday connections with family and friends are held from noon-1 p.m. on designed Thursdays each month. In-person attendance capacity at county Extension offices is guided by current COVID-19 health guidelines. Interested individuals need to register for each program and will receive the program link automatically after registering. County Extension offices may sign up via the Zoom registration link if they plan to host a program within their office area according to the current face-to-face numbers and meeting space guidelines. Or, counties may make the registration link available to their clients for the individual client to view the programs from their personal computers. For more information, contact the appropriate county Extension office.
'Legacy' of pine plantations falls short of projections
For the uninitiated, it might be assumed the terms "timber" and "lumber" are interchangeable, different words to describe the same segment of the forestry industry. Folks in the timber business, men like Bobby Watkins of Aberdeen and Dwight Colson of Caledonia, probably wish that were true right now. Russell Adams of Shuqualak, who is on the lumber side of the industry, isn't complaining, though. Timber generally refers to unprocessed wood, most often standing trees, while lumber is usually thought of as wood that has been cut to standard sizes and sold commercially for construction use. Right now, Watkins and Colson are in the middle of clear-cutting their remaining Southern yellow pine, the wood used most often in the construction industry, marking the end of a 30-year investment for both men. Both men expect to make a profit from the trees they planted about 30 years ago, but neither will reap the bonanza current lumber prices might suggest. Lumber prices have soared -- reaching an all-time high of $984.80 per 1,000 board feet on Sept. 14 before falling to $578 as of Friday (still 27 percent higher than five years ago). But timber prices -- what people like Watkins and Colson are paid for their trees -- have remained flat over the past 10 years. On the lumber side, two major factors came into play -- the Great Recession of 2008 and COVID-19. Mark Measells, a senior associate at the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the recession produced something of a Darwin effect on the sawmill industry -- one that would also have negative implications for timber growers.
Blackjack, Poor House roads receive state funding for construction
The long-delayed Blackjack Road repair project will receive its final portion of funding from the state after the Oktibbeha County supervisors unanimously voted to accept $500,000 in general obligation bonds at a special-call meeting Friday. The rebuilding and expanding a portion of Blackjack Road from Bardwell Street west to Stone Boulevard has been in progress for several years, and the supervisors had planned to direct county funds to the project. "We had put up some cash to do that, but now we can take that and reallocate it to do some other projects throughout the county," said District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer, whose district includes part of the Blackjack Road project area. The state Legislature passed a bill in July that included the 2020 Oktibbeha County Road Improvement Fund, setting aside $1 million in bonds for construction on West Poor House Road and $500,000 for Blackjack Road.
Mission Forest Products investing $160 million, adding 130 jobs
Mission Forest Products, a subsidiary of Timberland Investment Resources, is building a sawmill in Corinth that will bring 130 jobs by 2022. The project is a $160 million corporate investment. "Agriculture is Mississippi's top economic driver, and our abundance of forestland -- nearly 20 million acres statewide -- provides tremendous opportunities for economic growth and job creation in this vital sector," Gov. Tate Reeves said of the project. Mission Forest Products will be capable of producing 250 million board feet of lumber annually. The state-of-the-art pine sawmill will be financed through capital provided by investors that TIR represents. "The decision by Timberland Investment Resources to locate a state-of-the-art sawmill in Corinth demonstrates to companies here and around the world that Mississippi has robust natural resources that allow for the growth and long-term success of companies in the agribusiness industry," said MDA Interim Director John Rounsaville. The Mississippi Development Authority is providing $4.1 million in funding through two grant programs or infrastructure improvements, a $3 million loan for public infrastructure improvements and $250K through MS Works Fund for workforce training.
Mississippi Arts Commission names Jackson native as director
The Mississippi Arts Commission has named the head of the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum in Austin, Texas, as its new executive director. Sarah Story is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She will return to her home state to begin work on Nov. 1, the commission's board announced. She succeeds Malcolm White, who is retiring at the end of September. "It is the rich cultural heritage and creative talent of my home state of Mississippi that first inspired my career in the arts," Story said in a statement. "In particular, I'm excited by the opportunity to explore how the arts can further promote and appreciate the state's diversity." Story graduated from the University of Mississippi, where she studied fine arts and painting. She later earned her master's degree in arts administration from the University of New Orleans.
Northeast Mississippi prepares for in-person voting
With less than 40 days until a momentous, nationally charged Election Day, the local county officials largely tasked with tending the nation's balloting infrastructure are preoccupied with questions. Chief among them: How to keep in-person voting safe? In a normal election cycle, more mundane questions might loom. But this election cycle is far from normal. "This is something that's new to all of us," said Carl Patterson, the first district election commissioner for Lee County. This year's ballot will offer Mississippians the chance to make selections for president, congress and a raft of ballot initiatives involving the state's flag and the legal status of medical marijuana. These matters are weighty, and turnout will be high, but options to avoid long Election Day lines will be few. Mississippi lawmakers offered only a small expansion of the state's already limited absentee voting provisions. That means the vast majority of Mississippi voters will vote in-person on Nov. 3. So what will Election Day look like? The Daily Journal and its partner publications interviewed circuit clerks and other election officials in 15 counties in Northeast Mississippi to see what is being done to ensure that a high volume of absentee ballots can be processed and how people will be able to cast their vote safely without compromising federal and state health guidelines.
Inside a race that doesn't allow candidates to discuss party or policy: the Mississippi Supreme Court
One of the choices DeSoto County voters will face on Nov. 3 is for District 3 of the state Supreme Court. Mississippi is one of 14 states that hold nonpartisan judicial elections, which come with a number of unique restrictions for candidates, ranging from lower donation caps to being unable to publicly align with a political party or give any indication on how they would rule on an issue. These rules can make it difficult for voters to differentiate between candidates without pouring over their previous rulings. The DeSoto Times-Tribune sat down with Josiah Coleman and Percy Lynchard to talk about their campaigns and extensive legal backgrounds. After practicing law for 12 years, Justice Josiah D. Coleman became the youngest person elected to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2012. However, his connection to the Supreme Court and state judiciary runs deeper than his time on the bench. Justice Coleman is the second member of his family to serve on the Mississippi Supreme Court. His grandfather, J.P. Coleman, briefly served as a justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court before resigning to accept an appointment as state attorney general. J.P. then served as the 52nd Governor of Mississippi and then later on the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The legal career of Percy L. Lynchard began with an appointment as a municipal judge for the City of Hernando. Evaluating trial evidence and issuing rulings offered a thrill that he never expected. "It was just a whole lot of fun, particularly, for a young attorney who never dreamed that he would ever be in the judicial system," Lynchard said.
Analysis: Lawsuit lingers long after bitter 2014 Senate race
Six years after a contentious U.S. Senate race that divided Mississippi Republicans and more than a year after the death of the incumbent who won, a civil lawsuit connected to the case is still winding through the courts. A federal appeals court ruled last week that a Madison police officer did not violate a man's constitutional rights when she sought search warrants to investigate whether he was part of a conspiracy to photograph the ailing wife of longtime U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran to use in a video criticizing Cochran. The dispute is in a lawsuit filed by the widow and sons of attorney Mark Mayfield of Madison County, whose 2014 death was ruled a suicide. The 2017 lawsuit says Mayfield took his own life under pressure as he was facing a felony charge of conspiracy to exploit a vulnerable adult. The lawsuit claims that several people were part of a network illegally retaliating against Mayfield for his political activity. A federal district judge dismissed some defendants in 2018 and 2019. Mayfield was prominent in the Mississippi tea party movement. During Mississippi's 2014 U.S. Senate race, he supported Chris McDaniel as the state lawmaker ended up losing to Cochran the Republican primary.
Mississippi's Senators welcome nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court
Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Senator Roger Wicker have issued statements following the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to U.S. Supreme Court. Wicker said, "Amy Coney Barrett is an outstanding judge and an even better person. A mother to seven children, she was subjected to unfair attacks on her religious faith and judicial philosophy during her previous confirmation process. Her grace under pressure and long-standing commitment to the rule of law indicate that she has the right temperament to serve on the Supreme Court and go through a highly-charged confirmation process. I commend President Trump on another exceptional pick for the high court, and I hope to meet with Judge Barrett soon." President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett Saturday afternoon. Judge Barrett was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on October 31, 2017. Wicker supported her confirmation, as did all Senate Republicans and three Senate Democrats.
What Trump Pick Amy Coney Barrett Could Mean for Future of the Supreme Court
f confirmed to the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett could culminate a decadeslong quest to ensure a conservative imprint on American law, affecting the role of government, the rights of individuals and the interpretation of such long-debated constitutional terms as equal protection, due process of law and cruel and unusual punishment. Most Supreme Court appointees since 1969 -- 15 of 19 -- were nominated by Republicans, but conservatives have fallen short of fully displacing numerous progressive legal doctrines that took hold in the 1930s and flowered in the 1950s and '60s under Chief Justice Earl Warren. Since that era, liberals have largely maintained a durable minority of four votes, slowing the court's move to the right and sporadically able to secure 5-4 victories when a single conservative's views overlapped their own. The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave conservatives an opportunity to cement their dominance. Judge Barrett, whom President Trump picked to fill the vacancy on Saturday, appears tailor-made for a mission many conservatives hope will redefine constitutional interpretation. A longtime member of the Federalist Society, which has nurtured generations of conservative lawyers for prominent roles in government, academia and the courts, Judge Barrett earned a law degree from Notre Dame and honed her views through clerkships with Judge Laurence Silberman and Justice Antonin Scalia , leading lights of the conservative legal movement. She later joined Notre Dame's law faculty and produced a stream of scholarship that established her as a prominent voice in conservative legal thinking.
A High-Stakes Test for Joe Biden's Love of Senate Tradition
Joseph R. Biden Jr. was trying to demonstrate the lasting power of the federal judiciary. So he did the math. Addressing a Michigan law school audience in April 1991, then-Senator Biden said that if trends in life expectancy held, a justice freshly confirmed around that time would "be making landmark decisions in the year 2020." "I'll be dead and gone, in all probability," Mr. Biden told the crowd. He was half right: Nearly three decades later, the man whom the Senate confirmed that year, Justice Clarence Thomas, is still rendering decisions -- the eldest jurist, if President Trump has his way, of a soon-to-be 6-to-3 conservative majority. But Mr. Biden is indeed alive, left to consider what the court's emerging tilt would mean for the Democratic agenda if he wins the White House -- and for his own attachment to the Capitol's bygone harmony and mores. After a half-century in public life, with a lead role in several indelible confirmation dramas through the years, Mr. Biden could, if elected, be saddled with a Supreme Court primed to counteract his policy aims on health care, abortion and other defining issues. Many Democrats now believe that adding seats to the court is the urgent remedy, an extraordinary step that has not been seriously contemplated since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. They argue that the court's legitimacy has already eroded amid the Republican confirmation maneuvers of the last four years. Yet for Mr. Biden, a proud man of the Senate, such an effort would amount to the sort of norm-razing exercise that might strike him as an escalation too many.
How Amy Coney Barrett's Religious Group Helped Shape a City
In 2002, when Amy Coney Barrett moved to South Bend, Indiana, to begin her academic career, she joined the faculty at the law school where she'd been a student, attended Notre Dame football games and eventually joined a Primal Fitness gym where she's currently known for her fierce pullup workout. She also connected with one other local community: People of Praise, a charismatic Christian group founded here in 1971. Many aspects of her life dovetail with a typical high-achieving resume: the summa cum laude law degree, the steady stream of academic papers, the family's picturesque 3,800-square-foot brick home and the legendary Mardi Gras parties they've hosted over the years, bringing a little flair from her native suburban New Orleans to Indiana. Her spiritual group, however, has drawn more questions. People of Praise is one of a number of groups that rose up in the 1960s and 1970s to offer intense, highly supportive religious communities, in the style of Evangelical churches, within the Catholic tradition. What's difficult to understand outside South Bend, however, is just how deeply integrated this group is into the local community. Though the group has only a few thousand local members, and keeps a low profile as an organization, its influence and footprint in the city are significant. That influence, and its resistance to liberal changes in the wider culture, are likely to arise as issues in her Supreme Court nomination hearings, expected to begin Oct. 12.
Long-Concealed Records Show Trump's Chronic Losses and Years of Tax Avoidance
Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years -- largely because he reported losing much more money than he made. As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million. The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.
Black Americans Buy Guns, Firearms For Protection Amid Fight For Racial Justice
Bruce Tomlin, a 63-year-old truck driver from New Mexico, said he was never really a "gun person." Then he saw a video of three white men following and fatally shooting Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging. "The man is trying to get away and they're just gunning him down in the street like he was a dog," Tomlin said about watching the video of Arbery. "It's made me hypervigilant. It has made me nervous. I'll even admit to being a little bit scared sometimes." So he bought a gun. And he's planning on buying more. "I just feel like in my viewpoint, every Black person in America, especially Black males, needs to have some type of protection with them as often as [they] can, because I think the political climate [is] getting to the point where it's just going to be a lot of violence coming our way," Tomlin said. "I just feel safer now having a gun. And I didn't always feel that way. I've never been the world's biggest fan of guns, but I just don't feel safe without one." In early June, NPR reached out to Black Americans to ask about their personal experiences in this country. Nearly 500 people responded, some of whom described wanting to buy -- or decidedly not wanting to buy -- firearms for self-defense in response to the recent fight for racial justice.
Shepard Smith, Fox News Apostate, Is Starting Over at CNBC
Shepard Smith doesn't have a bad word to say about Fox News. Did the network betray you? "They never interfered with what I was doing." Is it different from when it started? "Well, I think every network has evolved since 1996." Did you leave because you were fed up? "You know, it was time." Mr. Smith, the former Fox News chief news anchor with an easy Mississippi lilt, abruptly left his television home of 23 years last October after clashing with one of the channel's conservative stars and relentless taunts from President Trump, who denounced Mr. Smith for his skeptical coverage. In the end, it was Mr. Smith's decision to step away. Colleagues were stunned, but friends said he had grown disillusioned by the direction of the network -- a frustration compounded when the Fox News prime time host Tucker Carlson mocked him on-air -- and the disconnect between its pro-Trump punditry and the reporting generated by its newsroom. Speaking recently from his Hamptons summer home, Mr. Smith, who returns to television on Wednesday as the host of a nightly newscast on CNBC, declared a renewed focus on "the facts, the truth, the news," adding, "It's a complicated time with so much information and along with it, disinformation, and we just want to just cut through the noise."
Attorney: State Auditor investigation of Ole Miss professor has 'no justification'
The attorney for a University of Mississippi professor who has been accused of violating the state's anti-strike law says his client did nothing and the investigation by the state auditor's office has "no justification." In a news release, Rob McDuff of the Mississippi Center for Justice said the code hasn't been fully cited by State Auditor Shad White. According to the law, a strike is only a work stoppage when "for the purpose of inducing, influencing or coercing a change in the conditions, compensation, rights, privileges or obligations of public employment." "Professor (James) Thomas did not join the #ScholarStrike to change his working conditions or increase his compensation," McDuff said. "Instead, he did it as part of the national effort to highlight and combat racism and injustice. His actions clearly did not violate this law." White said he began looking into the case after seeing Thomas post on Twitter about #ScholarStrike, a two-day nationwide event meant to bring attention to racism and injustice in America. He argued it's his responsibility to "ensure that no public money is illegally spent," including on a Mississippi employee who is not working due to a strike.
U. of Southern Mississippi creates free COVID course
The University of Southern Mississippi is offering a free online course aimed to educate the public about the coronavirus. The six-part, "Understanding the Pandemic: A COVID-19 Public Service Short Course," is an effort of Dr. Douglas Masterson, senior associate provost for institutional effectiveness and a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Southern Mississippi. Masterson said he was inspired to create the course when he realized how much misinformation and misunderstanding there was among the public about the novel coronavirus and pandemics in general. Each module is presented in a video presentation format by a University of Southern Mississippi faculty member whose expertise and academic focus is on the given topic. More than 15 professors and public health professionals contributed to the project. The course takes about three hours to complete. The state health department said Sunday that Mississippi, with a population of about 3 million, has reported nearly 97,000 cases and at least 2,919 deaths from COVID-19 as of Saturday evening.
Co-Lin distances itself from volunteer after remarks about JSU amid Deion Sanders hiring
Copiah-Lincoln Community College is distancing itself from a former board member of its nonprofit foundation after a comment posted in a private Facebook group. According to WLBT, the former board member posted about Jackson State University hiring Deion Sanders as its head football coach, saying that recruits would not come to JSU, in part because the "campus location is a ghetto area." Co-Lin made a public post Friday afternoon on Facebook, identifying the commenter as a former board member of the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Foundation and as a volunteer at the school -- not an employee. "The opinion expressed in a recent social media post by a former (Copiah-Lincoln Community College) Foundation board officer does not reflect the opinions or views of Copiah-Lincoln Community College nor the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Foundation," the post read.
Mississippi community college celebrates ongoing expansion
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is celebrating its expansion. A ribbon cutting and groundbreaking were held earlier this week for two multimillion dollar facilities on the college's campus in Perkinston. The ribbon was cut Wednesday for the new student union and cafeteria. The $8 million student union can welcome up to 400 people in the public dining area and will give students new options each day on campus. But campus leaders plan to use it for a lot more. "We just have not had that space in the past in our dining facility," said MGCCC President Dr. Mary Graham. "So it opens the door, not only to do things in our college community, but to do things for our local community." In addition to the new student union, the campus welcomed a groundbreaking for its new multipurpose arena, WLOX-TV reported. Construction will soon begin on the arena and is slated to be completed in early 2022. MGCCC began building new dorms on the Perkinston campus last year.
Positive COVID-19 test numbers drop again for U. of Alabama
The number of positive COVID-19 tests on the University of Alabama campus dropped for a third straight week when the new numbers were released Friday afternoon. A total of 48 students tested positive on the Tuscaloosa campus, down from 119 last week and 294 a week before that. That pushes the semester total to 2,350 after peaking at 846 on the week of Aug. 28-Sept. 3. The testing data released Friday contains only the raw number of positive tests and lacks the context of how many tests were administered. UAB reported 16 cases this week while UA-Huntsville had 13. The semester total for UAB is 90 to UA-Huntsville's 60. The quarantine/isolation space occupancy rates also fell again to 1.74%. That's nine of the 518 rooms set aside for students who either tested positive or were in close contact with someone who did. At UAB, zero of the 100 rooms are being used while 22 of the 87 (25.9%) at UA-Huntsville are occupied.
UGA: Hybrid format and mask, social distancing rules to continue in spring 2021
University of Georgia administrators are planning for a spring semester with the same social distancing and group gathering limits in effect as this fall. "Classes offered in Spring 2021 will continue to follow in-person instruction with social distancing. Classes will be offered in a mix of in-person, hybrid and online formats," according to an email sent this week to faculty, staff and graduate student employees from UGA Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Jack Hu and Vice President for Instruction Rahul Shrivastav. But the guidance could change, they warned. "Faculty interactions with students are essential in all our instructional formats and should remain a priority. However, the trajectory of the pandemic remains unpredictable, and we must be prepared to adopt a different approach on short notice," wrote the vice presidents. Social distancing rules UGA announced in August will continue, and everyone on campus will still be required to wear a face mask, according to what the vice presidents termed "initial guidance" for the spring semester.
U. of Florida students question virtual fall commencement
Since the University of Florida announced the switch to a virtual commencement this fall, dozens have spoken out on what they say is a discrepancy over what activities are deemed safe to continue on campus. "So you can put 17,000 people in a stadium for a football game but not give your students meaningful recognition for their hard work?" an undergraduate student wrote on Twitter in response to UF's announcement. Citing ongoing health concerns for large gatherings, officials from the state university system that governs Florida's public universities ordered colleges on Wednesday to "find alternate methods and schedules" for fall commencement and any rescheduled spring and summer ceremonies. At the same time, students and alumni pointed out that Gator football is slated to kick off its season in Mississippi this weekend before potentially bringing nearly 18,000 fans to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for each home game. "I just find it silly that the university can fit 17,000 fans plus stadium staff for a game, but can't justify a limited attendance for graduation," said John Coyle, a junior business administration student.
U. of Tennessee lifts some COVID-19 restrictions as active cases drop
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville is lifting some of the COVID-19 restrictions that were put in place two weeks ago, reopening the Tennessee Recreation Center for Students and allowing limited indoor events. UT will reopen some study spaces in dorms that were closed as well. Restrictions on visitors to dorms are still in place, Chancellor Donde Plowman said during her COVID-19 update Friday. These changes will go into effect on Monday. "We want to be able to lift additional restrictions, and we need further information to do so," Plowman said. "So the data from our comprehensive testing efforts in the residence halls and the Greek houses will be critical in informing whether we can lift restrictions going forward." UT has seen a decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases over the last several days, with 119 active cases and 458 people in isolation as of Sept. 24.
Aggie Ring Day still special, even during pandemic
As a photographer, Texas A&M senior Reagan Graves has captured happy moments at several friends' Aggie Ring Day celebrations. When she received her ring Monday, it was drastically different than the ones she previously attended. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas A&M University's Association of Former Students adjusted the way students picked up their Aggie gold. Family and friends could not accompany recipients, and appointments to get the jewelry were scheduled throughout the entire week. Masks were required, fewer volunteers were assisting, and students were asked to return home to celebrate with loved ones rather than doing so at the Alumni Center, where rings were distributed. Around 100 recipients cycled through the process each hour, with surfaces sanitized between each group, said Kathryn Greenwade, the Association's vice president for communications and human resources. In past years, 100 recipients cycled through the building every 15 minutes.
U. of Missouri ends fund drive after raising $1.4 billion
With a final $2 million donation that pushed fundraising past $1.4 billion, the University of Missouri on Friday ended its Mizzou: Our Time to Lead campaign. The goal of the campaign, which started in 2012, was $1.3 billion, reached in March. The public launch was in 2015, but it got off to a slow start amid campus protests. Tom Hiles, MU's chief fundraiser, led the effort on the campaign before his retirement. Campaign chairs were Cathy Allen, Jose Gutierrez and Richard Miller. "Their strong leadership and the support of the entire university community were instrumental in the campaign's success," said Mun Choi, University of Missouri System president and MU Chancellor, in a news release. Eighty percent of the money raised came from donations and pledges, while 20 percent was deferred gifts, such as estate bequests.
'We won't die for your dollars': U. of Missouri students protest for COVID-19 safety
Passing a megaphone around and wiping it down after each use, University of Missouri students voiced their concerns about COVID-19 safety Friday morning. "Who's health? Our health!" and "Students over statues" were the rallying cries of about 30 students participating in a protest organized by the Missouri Coalition for COVID Safety. The protest took place on Francis Quadrangle in front of the MU columns, where students held up signs that read "We won't die for your dollars" and "Choi = liar." According to its Twitter bio, the coalition consists of "organizations and individuals across Missouri & the University of Missouri System demanding our health and wellbeing be taken into account." The organization released a letter of demands, including a call for increased COVID-19 testing, turning to fully virtual learning, the removal of the Thomas Jefferson statue and protection of staff, faculty and students who speak critically of university policies. Olivia McGee, 21, is a senior at MU and a member of the Missouri Coalition for COVID Safety. She spoke about how seeing the Jefferson statue affects her experience at MU. "As someone who was assaulted at a college party and someone who knows many people who have been assaulted at this here campus, I don't think it's fair, especially to Black students on this campus who have to walk by this statue that is a reminder of a man who kept Sally (Hemings) as his concubine," McGee said.
What Higher Ed Needs to Know About the Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett
As Amy Coney Barrett enters the process to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, much attention will be devoted to Barrett's potential support for overturning Roe v. Wade and upending abortion laws nationwide. But if Barrett, a federal judge who was widely reported late Friday to be President Trump's nominee, is confirmed, her track record also suggests implications for higher education. Trump's official nomination is expected on Saturday. Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit who has taught at the University of Notre Dame for close to two decades, wrote a consequential decision last year that makes it easier for students to allege anti-male bias when they're punished for sexual misconduct. How has Barrett's academic career shaped her ascent to nominee for the nation's highest court, and how could a Justice Barrett affect higher education? Barrett graduated from Notre Dame's law school in 1997 and was hired as a professor there in 2002. Her journey from Notre Dame to a potential spot on the Supreme Court was reportedly planned and promoted by a group of law professors at the university who aimed to point the nation's courts in a more conservative direction.
Amy Coney Barrett, if confirmed to the Supreme Court, could have a sweeping impact on colleges and universities
Before her nomination to the Supreme Court Saturday by President Donald Trump, and her time as a federal appeals court judge, Amy Coney Barrett was a popular law professor for 15 years at the University of Notre Dame, where one former colleague recalls her impact on one student in particular. A brilliant first-year law student had been blind nearly since birth, said O. Carter Snead, a Notre Dame law professor specializing in bioethics. The university hadn't given her the equipment she needed to read her texts, and the student went to Barrett asking for help. "Judge Barrett replied, 'This is no longer your problem. This is my problem,'" Snead recalled. "And Judge Barrett proceeded to straighten the matter out herself." She mentored the student, who went on to become the first blind judicial clerk on the Supreme Court. While former colleagues at the university describe Barrett's compassion, legal experts also see her appointment as potentially having far wider ramifications on the nation's colleges and universities. And to her critics, those impacts could be far more hard-hearted than what she does in her personal and professional life. At a time when the nation is confronting racial inequity, Barrett's appointment could mean a shift to a more conservative court, which could narrow or end the consideration of race in admitting particularly Black and Latinx students to college.
The Trump Administration Says Diversity Training Can Be Harmful. What Does the Research Say?
With an executive order this month, the Trump administration took aim at the anti-racism training that is becoming commonplace at colleges and other workplaces. The directive bars federal departments and agencies, government contractors, and any recipients of federal grants from holding such training for employees. President Trump's order criticizes training that "perpetuates racial stereotypes and division and can use subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint." The text then states: "Research also suggests that blame-focused diversity training reinforces biases and decreases opportunities for minorities." While it's unclear whether colleges -- many of which receive federal grants -- would face consequences under the order, the directive has reignited debate around diversity training and whether it does any good. The issue is top of mind for college leaders, who are grappling with higher education's broader reckoning over racial injustice and facing greater pressure from students and others to require such training for faculty and staff members. What does the research actually say about diversity training's effectiveness?
Have College Students Spread Covid-19 Beyond Their Campuses? It May Be Too Early to Tell
The migration of students back to college campuses this fall has led thousands of young people to contract Covid-19 who probably would not have otherwise gotten the disease. But have those cases led to outbreaks beyond their campuses? A report published on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that it is a possibility. Cases among younger people surged in June, July, and August, the report says, and younger people probably spread the disease to older populations. The CDC said the data "provides preliminary evidence that younger adults contributed to community transmission of Covid-19 to older adults." But in conversations with The Chronicle this week, public-health officials in counties and states that saw outbreaks on college and university campuses this summer said that if they had seen evidence of infection in the areas surrounding those campuses, it was limited.
Data reveal complex picture between colleges and county COVID-19 case counts
An extensive review of county-level COVID-19 case data in the United States reveals a complicated picture that in some ways challenges popular narratives about the role colleges and universities played in the pandemic's spread, and in other ways reinforces them. In short, U.S. counties containing colleges and universities have from the very beginning been home to the majority of new coronavirus cases detected. That's in part to be expected -- these counties are home to about 90 percent of U.S. residents and include virtually every population center. Adjust for the number of residents in each county, however, and it becomes clear that counties without a college or university have actually been recording proportionally more new cases per day since the beginning of August than have counties with a college. That reality has significant implications for the idea that colleges and universities have turned into the country's viral hot spots as students returned to campus this fall. But the viral hot spot narrative isn't wrong, either. An examination of certain individual counties' data shows that some colleges holding in-person classes appear to be correlated with rising local rates of COVID-19 infection.
How might the Ginsburg death affect the Senate race in Mississippi?
Bobby Harrison writes for Mississippi Today: Mike Espy, like most Democratic Senate candidates across the nation, has significantly benefitted from campaign contributions following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and as a Senate fight looms over filling the court seat she left vacant. But whether that fight will help Espy win a Senate election here in Mississippi remains to be seen. The death of Ginsburg and soon after the release of a poll showing Espy within one percentage point of incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith have focused attention on a Mississippi race that to a large extent had been overlooked by the national and state media. It should be stressed that the poll, by the Tyson Group, was conducted in late August before the death of Ginsburg. ... The death of Ginsburg, the best-known member of the Supreme Court, has evoked passion by Democrats on the issue of filling federal court vacancies. Passion on that issue had been primarily on the side of Republicans in past elections. While an argument could be made that this passion could benefit Democrats in Senate races in many parts of the country, it is not so clear what the impact will be in Mississippi.

K.J. Costello's 623 yards lead Miss. St. past No. 6 LSU, 44-34
New Mississippi State coach Mike Leach put his "Air Raid" offense in the hands of a transfer quarterback who showed up over the summer and the results were like nothing defending national champion LSU or the Southeastern Conference has ever seen. K.J. Costello passed for an SEC record 623 yards and five touchdowns and the Bulldogs knocked off sixth-ranked LSU 44-34 on Saturday. "I don't know if any individual could visualize this taking place," said Costello, who was Stanford's starter in 2017 and 2018 before head and hand injuries sidelined him last season. "I wasn't visualizing sitting here breaking records. ... I'm excited about the potential that this offense has because, believe it or not, we did leave a lot on the field today." Costello's passing yardage in his first game since moving from Silicon Valley to Starkville, Mississippi, eclipsed the 544 yards Georgia's Eric Zeier had against Southern Mississippi in 1993 to set the conference record.
MSU's KJ Costello throws for 623 yards, five TDs to stun LSU
The Pirate stormed into the Bayou and knocked off the defending national champions on Saturday. Mississippi State stunned No. 6-ranked LSU, 44-34, in Mike Leach's Mississippi State debut to open the 2020 college football season. Graduate transfer quarterback KJ Costello excelled in his debut, passing for 623 yards and five touchdowns in Leach's signature Air Raid offense. Costello's 623 passing yards broke both the SEC's single-game passing records. "The thought that I was pleased with was that we played together as a team," Leach said. "We didn't play perfect and we weren't necessarily consistent, but we did play together. We kept pushing one another and never emotionally backed off our focus." Neither offense could get much going in the first quarter, and Mississippi State (1-0, 1-0) led 3-0 after a Brandon Ruiz 35-yard field goal. Mississippi State forced four-consecutive punts on the first four LSU (0-1, 0-1) drives, but the LSU defense put the Tigers on the board. Jabril Cox scored the first touchdown of the game on a 14-yard interception return. Costello responded by throwing two touchdown passes, one to Tyrell Shaves and one to Osirus Mitchell, to put the Bulldogs up 17-14 at halftime.
Swashbuckled: Mississippi State shocks No. 6 LSU in Baton Rouge
A pirate sailed into the bayou Saturday and left with more than treasure. In the first game of the Mike Leach era, Mississippi State navigated its air raid offense to a decisive 44-34 victory over defending national champion and No. 6-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge. If Leach was the captain Saturday, senior quarterback K.J. Costello was the first mate. Costello, a Stanford graduate transfer, provided aerial acrobatics seen by a select few signal-callers in program or conference history in southeastern Louisiana. He finished with 623 yards on the day, breaking Dak Prescott's single-game record and a 27-year-old SEC mark. His 60 attempts also stand as the most in an MSU history long on rushing stars, but shorter on signal-caller success. "It ranks pretty high when you consider it's at LSU and playing the defending national champions," Leach said of where Costello's day sat among those throughout his 18-year head coaching career. Costello, who noted in recently he spent his summer watching previously dynamic air raid quarterbacks Graham Harrell, Anthony Gordon and Gardner Minshew II, looked the part of the next great product of a system that's terrorized defenses from Division III to Southeastern Conference levels since its invention in the mid-1980s -- passing for 292 yards on 21-of-36 passing in the first half alone, a higher mark than any MSU quarterback reached in 2019.
5 takeaways from Mike Leach, Mississippi State upset LSU in Death Valley
You asked, Mike Leach delivered. The question was whether Leach could implement the Air Raid offense at a place like Mississippi State, where running the football has been as much of a cultural identity item as the shrimp gumbo you can find at plenty of eateries around Tiger Stadium. The knee-jerk answer is yes. Mississippi State shredded No. 5 LSU through the air in a 44-34 upset victory Saturday afternoon. The only things that died in Death Valley was the Bulldogs' old way of operating an offense and perhaps LSU's chances of defending its national championship. "We played together as a team," Leach said. "We didn't play perfect. We weren't necessarily consistent, but we did play together. Kept pushing one another. We never emotionally backed off our focus to go out there and play." Here are 5 takeaways from Mississippi State's win.
Analysis: Seven things we learned from Mississippi State's upset win over No. 6 LSU
Unranked Mississippi State, led by head coach Mike Leach, beat defending national champion and No. 6-ranked LSU at Tiger Stadium. To think of typing that sentence eight months ago, let alone eight days ago, you might've called me insane and shipped me back to Indiana. Well folks, it's reality. The Bulldogs outclassed a Tiger team that endured a massive amount of roster turnover and coaching changes in the offseason, but the sentiment remains: Leach returned to the SEC in the most Leach way possible, by kicking down the damn door. With that, here's seven things we learned from MSU and their charismatic first year head coach in Saturday's win.
In game surrounded by uncertainty, Mississippi State defense assures its place under Zach Arnett
Mississippi State's awe-inspiring win over No. 6 LSU Saturday boasted plenty of numbers that'd force a statistician into early retirement. Starting quarterback K.J. Costello threw for more yards -- 623 -- than any player in MSU or Southeastern Conference history. His 60 attempts were also a school record. Seniors Kylin Hill, JaVonta Payton and Osirus Mitchell all corralled over 100 yards receiving, despite only two players in the past three years having eclipsed that mark. But for all the offensive fireworks that were scattered across the stat sheet Saturday evening, it was the MSU defense that proved the most pleasant surprise for Bulldog staffers and maroon and white-clad onlookers. With Joe Burrow guiding a century-defining offense a season ago, LSU passed for over 6,000 yards and scored 48.4 points per game. As impressive, the Tigers converted on a tick under 50 percent of third down conversions. What a difference a year makes. In Saturday's anemic display from Burrow replacement Myles Brennan, LSU finished 5 of 17 on third downs, though not entirely out of their own doing. Arnett, who led the nation's No. 5-ranked defense at San Diego State, brought persistent pressure from the edge in the form of Copiah-Lincoln Community College imports Tyrus Wheat and Jordan Davis.
'Embarrassing': LSU secondary torched by Mississippi State without cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
LSU allowed a Southeastern Conference-record 623 yards passing against Mississippi State on Saturday in Tiger Stadium, and while preventing such production requires the entire defense, the Tigers' secondary struggled in a season-opening 44-34 loss. Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello torched LSU's defensive backfield. Playing his first SEC game since transferring from Stanford, Costello thrived in the Bulldogs' new Air Raid offense by attacking No. 6 LSU's young defensive backs. Costello threw five touchdown passes. "Embarrassing," senior safety JaCoby Stevens said. "It's like going into a boxing ring and getting knocked out." LSU had to play without sophomore All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., who was hospitalized overnight Friday after becoming "acutely ill," LSU said in a statement released Saturday morning. Stingley, whose condition wasn't related to the coronavirus, was suddenly unavailable. The absence of one of the best cornerbacks in college football forced LSU to rely on inexperienced players, and they faltered in man coverage. Coach Ed Orgeron said LSU had "too many missed assignments," allowing Mississippi State players to run wide open. "We have no excuses," Orgeron said.
How Mike Leach, K.J. Costello had memorable Mississippi State debuts
None of them wanted to leave. The group of a hundred or so Mississippi State fans who made the trip down to Baton Rouge stood in the lowest bowl of Tiger Stadium with the phrase "Welcome to Death Valley" hanging above their heads in big, block lettering behind them. Those are intimidating words. More years than not, they've hung above Bulldog fans' heads as a reminder of the difficulty of winning there. More years than not -- 13 of the last 15 they've played at the venue, to be exact -- those words rang true. Not Saturday. Not on the day a new era of Mississippi State football dawned. Not on the day Mike Leach and K.J. Costello made their Mississippi State debuts. The mood was anything but frightful for the folks who braved what has historically been an extremely unfriendly environment to them. Mississippi State just beat the defending national champion LSU Tigers. The Bulldogs were dancing and prancing on the field where the upset occurred as the fans applauded them from the bleachers. Most of the players were gathered in the end zone in which freshman corner Emmanuel Forbes put an exclamation point on MSU's 44-34 victory with an interception as time expired.
Mississippi State vaults into AP Poll, Amway Coaches Poll after LSU win
What a difference a week makes. Last week, Mississippi State was on the outside looking in of both major college football polls. The Bulldogs barely received votes in the Associated Press Poll and the Amway Coaches Poll. Now they're ranked in both. A lot changes after beating the No. 5 team in the country -- a team that just so happened to be the defending national champion -- on its own field. Mississippi State's win over LSU vaulted the Bulldogs to No. 16 in the AP Poll and No. 14 in the Amway Coaches Poll. The Tigers fell to No. 20 and No. 17, respectively.
Mississippi State ranked ahead of Arkansas game
Mississippi State vaulted into the AP Top 25 poll Sunday following a season-opening victory at LSU. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 16 in this week's poll after receiving just six votes last week. Mississippi State is scheduled to host Arkansas on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, Mississippi State won 44-34 at LSU. Transfer quarterback K.J. Costello passed for an SEC record 623 yards and five touchdowns in the first game under new Bulldogs coach Mike Leach. Mississippi State is one of eight ranked SEC teams this week, all of which are scheduled to play Arkansas this season. Georgia remains ranked No. 4 this week after defeating the Razorbacks 37-10 on Saturday. In addition to Georgia and Mississippi State, ranked SEC teams include Alabama (2), Florida (3), Auburn (7), Texas A&M (13), LSU (20) and Tennessee (21).
On a 'video game numbers' kind of day, State, Leach, Costello stole the show
Mississippi sports columnist Rick Cleveland writes: Eager Mississippi football fans had waited months for the coaching debuts of Mike Leach at Mississippi State and Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. And while both famous coaches had their moments Saturday, the day belonged to Leach, his new quarterback K.J. Costello and the Mississippi State Bulldogs. All they did was set school and Southeastern Conference passing records en route to a 44-34 victory over defending national champion LSU at Baton Rouge. "Better than average," Leach deadpanned, and Leach is most assuredly the master of deadpans. With Costello throwing an array of lovely passes for a stunning 623 yards, State defeated the nation's sixth-ranked team and is certain to rise high up into college football's Top 25. The Southeastern Conference is in its 87th season of football, and it took Leach's Air Raid offense just one game to set the league's single game passing record.
Ole Miss, MSU fans partake in home tailgating festivities
With tailgating outside stadiums banned and seat capacity limited, many football fans are having to change their normal game day traditions. In August, Gov. Tate Reeves signed an executive order limiting seating in college football stadiums to 25 percent, to help limit the spread of COVID-19. So instead of traditional tailgating activities taking place at The Grove in Oxford or The Junction in Starkville, some fans are bringing the Saturday celebrations to the backyard of their homes. For years, Monroe County MSU Alumni Vice President Chris Eaves has taken his tailgate trailer and parked it outside of Davis Wade Stadium on Saturdays. But this season, he said he and his family are going to enjoy continuing the tradition at home. Fans like Jamie Morgan, who is the Monroe County MSU Alumni president, believe the home tailgating experience is a way to decrease exposure to the coronavirus. "We are trying to enjoy it by bringing the tailgating experience home while limiting our exposure," Morgan said. "With so many people going so many places, you never know what you might be exposed to."
Thank you for not attending: Opening of 2020 SEC football season was like no other
Under normal circumstances, a major-conference football program debuting a new head coach would welcome fans to its season opener. That wasn't the case Saturday for the Arkansas Razorbacks, who were playing their first game under Sam Pittman. A message, posted around the stadium in Fayetteville, Arkansas, was this: "Thank you for NOT attending today's game." That signage was directed at fans who showed symptoms of COVID-19 or were at risk, urging them to stay away this time. In Columbia, Missouri, similar signs mandated no gatherings. The messages were a concession to the pandemic that shut down the nation and the sports world, delaying the start of the 2020 football season. A man in the stands at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge had his mask pulled down below his mouth. An usher approached him: "Sir, please put your mask all the way on." By the end of LSU's upset loss, the only noise in a tomb-like Death Valley was a smattering of Mississippi State fans in the south end zone whooping it up. The rest of the 21,124 were gone.
Bulldogs Fight to the Finish with Alabama, Come to a 1-1 Draw
The Mississippi State soccer team embodied one of their core values on Friday night, 'grit' as they fought to the finish against Alabama, ending in a 1-1 tie in double overtime. The Bulldogs (0-0-2, 0-0-2) pushed back against the Tide (1-0-1, 1-0-1) as junior forward Hailey Farrington-Bentil tied it up with one second left on the clock in regulation. "Obviously, disappointed not getting the result tonight," said head coach James Armstrong. "Definitely much improved from last week on both sides of the ball. Any team that scores with one second left to go shows how much fight that team has and how much believe they have in one another. Lots to work on, but overall a much-improved performance from last week." The Bulldogs will travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on Ole Miss for the Magnolia Cup on Oct. 2. The match will start at 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
'I'm embarrassed.' Southern Miss interim coach apologizes for 66-24 loss to Tulane
Southern Miss interim head coach Scotty Walden and the three players who spoke with the media after Saturday's lopsided loss to Tulane echoed each other in their embarrassment. Tulane (2-1) throttled USM 66-24 Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium, leaving the Golden Eagles reeling badly at 0-3. "I want to send an apology to our fans, to our players and our coaching staff and everybody who came to the game," Walden said. "I truly appreciate the support and I was surprised how many people stayed around late. "I'm embarrassed. The team is embarrassed. That's not the way we want to lose." Less than 10 months ago, Tulane topped the Golden Eagles 30-13 on Jan. 4 in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, in a game that USM led 13-0 after one quarter. USM jumped out to a 14-0 lead on Saturday following an 88-yard touchdown toss from Jack Abraham to Jason Brownlee at the 10:31 mark of the first quarter, but the Golden Eagles could only manage 10 points the rest of the way while the Tulane offense piled up 572 yards on offense. Tulane's 66 points were the most ever scored against USM at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Ole Miss, Florida football teams kneel before opening kickoff to 'acknowledge unrest'
Ole Miss and Florida football players demonstrated together before the first snap of the 2020 season. Florida lined up to kickoff but all of Ole Miss and Florida's players knelt together. The referees whistled Florida for a delay of game. Ole Miss declined the penalty. "As members of the Ole Miss and Florida football teams, we recognize the impact of our personal platforms and are choosing to amplify the issues that directly impact us," Ole Miss released in a statement. "Together we have chosen to take the opening series of today's competition to acknowledge the unrest in our country surrounding the treatment of African Americans. We will continue to support social justice efforts as members of the Southeastern Conference and members of our respective communities." No players demonstrated during the national anthem as college football players customarily remain in the locker room during the song. Both Florida and Ole Miss stuck to that tradition. "We did have conversations with Dan about that," Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said postgame. "Both teams were all aboard. I thought that went well.
As LSU football returned, campus was eerily quiet. But fans insist: 'It's still gameday.'
LSU football returned Saturday, but the vaunted on-campus tailgating atmosphere around campus did not. The Parade Ground felt emptier than it's ever been. No children surrounded the Indian Mounds, looking to roll down them. Anybody roaming around was headed toward the stadium or students headed to their dorms. Tailgating was not permitted on campus because of the coronavirus pandemic, but fans could gather near and around their cars with others attending the game. People walked around with masks, socially distancing and following the university's guidelines around tailgating. But, cross an invisible line at the North campus gate at Chimes Street or at the South Campus gate at Parker Boulevard, and things got a little more festive. The area surrounding The Chimes Restaurant and Taproom, The Varsity Theatre and The Revelry was packed more than two hours before kickoff. Johnny Denenea and his friends -- Rick Millet, Kirk Barrell and Denis Taylor, all graduates of the LSU class of 1985 -- normally set up a large tailgate on campus every week. Instead, the four had lunch with Denenea's freshman daughter Aimee at The Bulldog patio. Millet -- whose friends call him the "Professor of Tiger Mania" -- lamented that it was great tailgate weather, with temperatures in the low 80s instead of the typical blistering heat of an LSU season opener.
'Big difference': Auburn enjoys first gameday of pandemic play
When the Auburn football players looked up to the stands Saturday, they saw the sights of a gameday unlike any other to ever hit the Plains. The students were spread out all around the stadium, all with masks and all positioned in separated sections. But with their ears, the Tigers only heard the familiar sounds of gameday. And between the whistles, it only felt like football. Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn thanked the fans after the team's 29-13 win over Kentucky on Saturday, after those supporters monitored social distancing and only filled Jordan-Hare Stadium to about 20 percent capacity as Auburn adjusted to pandemic play. Only current Auburn students were permitted in the general seating section. Tailgating was barred from the university to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and in the hours after the game campus cleared out and was quiet. But during the game, Auburn cherished its home-field advantage, and students enjoyed their experience in the new normal. "I really want to give a shoutout to our students," Malzahn said shortly after the win. "It was extremely loud, specifically in the fourth quarter. "We didn't really know what to expect, but they made a big difference."
Fans, Yell Leaders, Aggie Band adapt to stark differences in game day experience
Football returned to Aggieland on Saturday, but the game day experience was different -- no tailgating outside Kyle Field, a limited number of fans inside the stadium and no live halftime performance from the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band. Still, football was played, and fans witnessed A&M beat Vanderbilt 17-12 in person Saturday night. "The spirit is still the same," said Mary Pat Gilbert, who was in attendance. "It obviously looks a lot different, and it was very strange. When we got here there were no crowds to get up to our seats. We don't have anybody sitting behind us, we don't have anybody sitting in front of us, so it's a little bizarre, but the spirit is exactly the same." Kyle Field holds 102,733 people, but its occupancy has been limited to 25% for the season. Saturday's official attendance was 24,073. Those lucky few in the stands included season-ticket holders who elected to keep their seats, students who opted into a full-season sports pass, members of the Aggie Band and even a small allotment of Vanderbilt fans.
COVID-19 precautions will affect Tide fans at Bryant-Denny Stadium
Ripple effects from the COVID-19 pandemic will vastly reduce the carnival-like spectacle for next Saturday's 2020 University of Alabama home football opener in Tuscaloosa. In size, Saturday will more resemble a tepid A-Day, pre-2007 -- when the arrival of coach Nick Saban inspired a record crowd of 92,138 for the spring practice culmination -- because just 20 percent of the 101,821 full capacity of Bryant-Denny Stadium will be allowed into the game, following CDC and Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines. And to provide social distancing: No tailgating. No Walk of Fame. No Elephant Stomp. The Million Dollar Band will perform with just 96 members, instead of all 400, and only from the stands. There'll be no half-time performance on the field. And while the 20,000-ish ticketholders will still make cheerful noise, among that murmur won't be the cry of hawkers offering fistfuls of crimson paper, face value or market, by Rama Jama's, or up and down The Strip, where passers-by might be seeking a pair or more, looking to hook up with a seller. All ticketing is electronic.

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