Friday, January 23, 2015  SUBSCRIBE   
Potential presidential candidates to make local visit
Two possible presidential candidates plan to visit the area in the days ahead. Mitt Romney was scheduled in December to speak at Mississippi State University on Wednesday. With another presidential bid a possibility, national news organizations are expressing an interest in attending Romney's speech, according to Harriet Laird with the university's public affairs department. "Everybody from National Public Radio to Bloomberg to NBC and ABC News, The Wall Street Journal," said Laird.
Moroccan Diplomat Meets with MSU, State Officials
A visit to Mississippi by Morocco's top diplomat to the United States continued Wednesday. Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal spent the day in Jackson where he addressed Mississippi State's Executive Lecture Forum, and also met with state economic development and elected officials. Among other activities while in the capital city, the ambassador and MSU President Mark E. Keenum and other MSU officials participated in a briefing with the Mississippi Development Authority and met with Gov. Phil Bryant.
Critics Hailing Soon-to-be-Released Novel by MSU Faculty Member
Though it won't be formally released until early February, a critically acclaimed novel by a faculty member of Mississippi State University's English department is available in local book retailers. "Before He Finds Her" by Michael Kardos is scheduled for release Feb. 3 by Grove Atlantic/Mysterious Press. Many of his students realize he's a novelist -- and several have read his books -- but Kardos said he feels that the process of writing popular fiction is important because it enhances his teaching skills at MSU. "I'm better in the classroom if I write a little bit every day, so I'm reasonably consistent," he said.
Michael Kardos Reads at Seton Hall
The first reading of the spring semester Poetry-in-the-Round reading series will bring novelist and short story writer Michael Kardos to Seton Hall's campus on February 4 at 7 p.m. in the Faculty Lounge of the University Center. This reading is free and open to the public. Kardos will be reading at Seton Hall on the release of his new novel, Before He Finds Her, a suspenseful novel of family, murder, and the attempts we make to reclaim our future. Kardos currently lives in Starkville, Mississippi, where he is an associate professor of English and co-director of the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.
Mississippi State Grad Student Earns $84,000 Grant
A Mississippi State biological sciences doctoral student is among 105 around the nation sharing an $8.6 million Science to Achieve Results fellowship. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that Sara Shields-Menard of Thibodaux, Louisiana, will receive a total of $84,000. The two-year grant covers her tuition, travel and a stipend to support her dissertation research. "I work with Dr. (Janet) Donaldson in biological sciences and Dr. (Todd) French in chemical engineering," Shields-Menard said, adding that her investigation "is part of the lab group's effort to convert waste sources such as lignocellulosic biomass or waste water into alternative fuels" such as biodiesel.
Delta Ag Expo attracts large crowd
The 42nd annual Delta Ag Expo drew approximately 2,000 attendees Wednesday to the Cleveland Expo Center where agricultural exhibits along with extension and research persons provided the latest information for farmers and others interested in agriculture. Craig Hankins, Bolivar County Extension agent, said, "This is a better crowd than we had last year. I have been involved with the Ag Expo as the county agent three years and this is a great turnout." Dr. Larry Falconer, extension professor, and Dr. Keith Coble, professor of ag economics at Mississippi State University, discussed the Farm Bill decisions for 2015 which included base reallocation, ag risk coverage, price loss coverage and updating yields.
PPS Starkville, Partnership organize school bond educational efforts
The organization that represents Starkville's business community and a city school district stakeholder group launched a campaign Wednesday to educate county residents about the proposed $13.2 million-maximum Oktibbeha County School District bond in order to win over the hearts and minds of those who might oppose its issuance before an election is called. The joint Greater Starkville Development Partnership-Parents for Public Schools Starkville initiative began after the GSDP's board of directors unanimously passed resolutions supporting the educational effort, its associated publicity costs and a petition to remove signatures from the original issuance-blocking petition.
New laundromat opens in the Golden Triangle
There is a new laundromat in Starkville. Spin City opened Dec. 15. Located at 421 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. East, it is open 24/7. It offers 41 units -- 21 dryers, 20 washers -- inside of a 3,000 square foot building and some of the washers can accommodate up to 80-pound loads, according to Jason Perry, the owner. There is coffee available, televisions and free Wi-Fi for customers.
New president search, industrial prospects highlight EMBDC banquet
The PACE Group out of Tupelo has been selected by the executive committee of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation to find a new president for the organization. The announcement came at the EMBDC's annual meeting and banquet Thursday in the Kahlmus Auditorium at Mississippi State University-Meridian. Also at the meeting, EMBDC Chairman Bob Luke said there is serious interest in the Loblolly and Handy Hardware properties, which represent two of the area's industrial heartaches of the past decade. Mississippi Power executive Eddie Kelly said he expects The PACE Group to find a highly qualified executive that will bring jobs to East Mississippi.
George Will to headline Outlook Symposium
Syndicated columnist George Will will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Outlook Symposium at the BancorpSouth Conference Center on Jan. 28. The free symposium replaces the former Northeast Mississippi Economic Forecast Conference, which was held for 12 years, the last in 2013. "In the past, it focused on the economy of the region and state," said Karen Geddie, the CDF's vice president of Chamber of Commerce. "We wanted to try to give it a broader appeal to a broader audience." Will's speech will be followed by a question-and-answer session moderated by Charles Overby, former chairman of the Freedom Forum, Newseum and Diversity Institute.
Study: Mississippi manufacturing jobs pay better
Manufacturing jobs in Mississippi pay an average of $.53 per hour more than nonmanufacturing jobs in the state. That finding was part of a study by the Economic Policy Institute that looked at the overall impact the manufacturing has on the U.S. economy. "What we've said all along is what made the middle class so strong was the rapid development of the manufacturing part of our economy," said Jay Moon, president of the Mississippi Manufacturing Association and chairman of the State Workforce Investment Board. Those jobs are returning, Moon said, bolstered by the national economy's burgeoning economy and an influx of jobs returning to the U.S. from overseas manufacturing installations.
Show us the jobs: Port assures community tenant agreements coming
State port tenants are expected to sign agreements to create and maintain specified numbers of jobs, Executive Director Jonathan Daniels said Thursday, but community groups are frustrated that those agreements are not already in place. The federal government expects post-Katrina restoration and expansion to ultimately create 1,300 jobs in exchange for $580 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD told the port almost a year ago to put the agreements in place or face unspecified sanctions. Reilly Morse of the Mississippi Center for Justice told port commissioners Thursday morning the agreements are long overdue. "You have to keep your word," he said.
Mississippi House passes pair of low-impact Common Core bills
Mississippi House members overwhelmingly approved a pair of bills Thursday that may immunize members against controversy over Common Core State Standards, but could have little effect over what's taught in the state's public school classrooms. House Bill 156, approved 95-21, would remove references to Common Core from Mississippi law and replace them with the words "Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards." In 2013, the state Board of Education began referring to the Common Core standards it adopted by that phrase.
House approves renaming Common Core
The phrase "Common Core" would be removed from state law under legislation that passed the Mississippi House 95-21 Thursday, but that does not mean the Common Core academic standards would be replaced. House Education Committee Chairman John Moore, R-Brandon, said time and again Thursday as the proposal was debated on the House floor that the legislation would not require the state Board of Education to replace the Common Core academic standards. Both Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves have called for the replacement of the Common Core standards. And Tea Party Republican senators like Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, and Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, have said that they would not support simply changing the name or "a rebranding" of Common Core. But no Republican in the state House voted against the legislation Thursday.
Lawmakers to stop 'dirty, rotten scoundrels' in D.C.
State representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly passed two bills they insist have nothing to do with Common Core despite repeated probing from suspicious Democrats. House Bill 156 changes all reference to "Common Core" with "Mississippi College and Career-Ready Standards" in the section of law dealing with school accountability. It also separates the state's accountability system from that of the federal government. That measure passed 95-21. Although neither bill scraps Common Core, both address some of critics' biggest complaints about the controversial education standards, which were developed by a national group and adopted by 45 states, including Mississippi. "It will stop those dirty, rotten scoundrels in Washington" from forcing their agendas into Mississippi classrooms, said state Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, only somewhat joking.
Inspection sticker abolishment draws legislative debate
After much debate, a bill to eliminate Mississippi's $5 vehicle inspection stickers passed the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. Proponents of doing away with the inspections and stickers say it's an antiquated requirement given modern automobiles and the fee doesn't cover the costs. They said the Department of Public Safety collects about $2 million to $3 million a year from inspections. But DPS in hearings on the issue last year told lawmakers the agency loses money on the program. Some service shops that offer inspections have complained that the $3 of the $5 they keep doesn't cover the cost of a thorough vehicle inspection, and fewer shops offer the service.
Bills would feed inmates deer, MREs
Mississippi inmates may soon be chowing on venison, if a bill passed out of committee Wednesday becomes law. But if another measure passes this year, many prison inmates would be living in tents, put to work to pay child support and eating military rations. The House Corrections Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed HB 387, titled "Venison Harvesting Program for Inmate Consumption." It was authored by House Corrections Chairman Tommy Taylor, R-Boyle. But HB 447, the "State Prison Reform and Rehabilitation Act of 2015," yet to be taken up by committee, would have many inmates eating military Meals Ready to Eat, in their tents.
Breitbart has McDaniel's big announcement
State Sen. Chris McDaniel's big announcement is apparently the creation of a PAC to go after the "GOP establishment," in Mississippi and across the country according to, which has posted an exclusive breaking story. McDaniel's announcement Tuesday that he would have an announcement by week's end had prompted a lot of speculation, particularly that he might be announcing a run for statewide office.
Haley Barbour Zings Romney: 'You Don't Learn Much From the Second Kick of a Mule'
Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour has a bit of folksy wisdom to share with Republican voters when it comes to the possibility of Mitt Romney making another run for the White House. "My grand-daddy used to say you don't learn much from the second kick of a mule," Barbour, who now heads up the BGR Group lobbying firm, told "With All Due Respect" hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on Thursday. Barbour's remark came at the end of a telling exchange that made clear that he, like many in the party, is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a third Romney candidacy.
Condoleezza Rice Taking Over Jeb Bush's Education Foundation
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday tapped former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to serve as chairman of his education foundation, turning over the organization to the former diplomat and academic who remains popular inside the Republican Party. While hardly an endorsement of a presidential campaign that has yet to formally launch, Rice's move to take over the leadership of Bush's foundation was sure to be noticed by the GOP activists already engaged in the 2016 race. "Of course, they are going to think she must be inclined to support Jeb," said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee member from Mississippi. "That doesn't make it so. But reasonable people could come to that conclusion."
House abortion bill switch reveals emerging clout of moderate Republicans
After spending the last few years butting heads with his most conservative members, House Speaker John A. Boehner has a new headache: a revolt by moderates. Tired of staying quiet while tea-party-minded conservatives pull the Republican majority further to the right, more temperate voices are starting to rise in the new GOP-led Congress. The shifting terrain represents an unexpected -- but not wholly unwelcome -- new challenge for Boehner as he struggles to control his party.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Settles With Videographer Over Drones
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reached a settlement with the videographer to whom it issued its first fine for reckless drone use, ending a court case that challenged the government's authority to regulate unmanned aircraft. Raphael Pirker agreed on Thursday to pay the FAA $1,100 to settle the agency's $10,000 fine for allegedly flying a drone recklessly to film the University of Virginia in 2011. Under the settlement terms, Mr. Pirker doesn't admit to guilt and the FAA agreed to drop some of its accusations against Mr. Pirker.
Scientists Work to Contain Modified Organisms to Labs
Could genetically modified bacteria escape from a laboratory or fermentation tank and cause disease or ecological destruction? This is not known to have occurred. But two groups of scientists reported on Wednesday that they had developed a complex technique to prevent it from happening. "It really addresses a longstanding problem in biotechnology," said Farren Isaacs, an assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology at Yale, who led one of the research groups. He called it a "really compelling solution to engineering biocontainment, or biological barriers that limit the spread and survival of organisms in natural environments."
Disneyland measles outbreak and the disgraced doctor who whipped up vaccination fear
Just before 7 p.m. last Thursday, as the Disneyland measles outbreak was emerging, the Los Angeles Times published an outraged editorial. It didn't blame Disneyland, where the outbreak originated before going on to infect 70 people across six states. Nor did it blame any public agency. Instead, it took aim at a buoyant movement that won't "get over its ignorant and self-absorbed rejection of science." The faction was the anti-vaccine movement -- its holy text a retracted medical study, its high priest a disgraced British doctor named Andrew Wakefield. "The prospect of a new measles epidemic is disturbing," the editorial said. "So is the knowledge that many ill-informed people accept a thoroughly discredited and retracted study in the journal Lancet that purported to associate vaccination with autism."
Operatic soprano to present recital Friday at MUW
A guest artist recital featuring Susan Williams, soprano, and Kevin Chance on piano is set for Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Connie Sills Kossen Auditorium of Poindexter Hall on the Mississippi University for Women campus. Williams has performed nationally and internationally in a wide range of leading opera roles and as a vocal soloist. Most recently, she traveled to Kolkata, India, where she performed concerts at St. Paul's Cathedral, the Oberoi Grand Hotel, the American Consulate and gave lecture performances and master classes for various schools.
Longtime MUW Faculty Member Named Faculty Member of the Year
An MUW faculty member dubbed the Faculty Member of the Year told students a little bit about her story Thursday night. The university's Gordy Honors College's Forum Series kicked off with a lecture by Mary Jo Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is the director of the MUW Associate of Science in Nursing program. Gordy Honors College Director Thomas Velek says the lecture enables the award winner to tell the audience what motivates them, and what their goals for the future might be.
Ole Miss, Mississippi State Get High Marks for Online MBA Programs
The University of Mississippi's online MBA program is ranked in the U.S. News & World Report's 2015 list of 25 Best Online MBA Programs. UM tied Ball State University for No. 16. Other SEC schools on the list include Florida at No. 4, Auburn (No. 10) and Mississippi State (tied with the University of Tennessee at Martin for No. 18). Indiana University, Temple University and the University of North Carolina all tied for No. 1. "We are very proud of the success of the online MBA program and the recognition of the incredible value this program provides to our students," said Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration.
USM's Pride of Mississippi to march in St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin
This upcoming spring break, University of Southern Mississippi senior Paige Odom won't be sleeping late or hitting the beaches in Gulf Shores, Alabama, soaking up the sun. Odom, who plays the piccolo in the Pride of Mississippi, will be among 130 band members to march in the 2015 St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17 in Dublin, Ireland. "I am so excited to go, an opportunity like this only comes once in a lifetime for a broke college student," said Odom, a State Line native who has played the flute and piccolo in bands since sixth grade. The March 12-19 trip to Ireland will not be the first for the Pride -- the band also marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in the late 1990s, said James Standland, director of the Pride.
Bond set at $202,000 for suspect in USM kidnapping
Bond was set at $202,000 for a University of Southern Mississippi student who was arrested Tuesday on kidnapping and domestic violence/simple assault charges. Joseph Tremaine King, 40, is still in Forrest County Jail for allegedly assaulting and holding another Southern Miss student against her will for several days at his 37th Avenue apartment, according to University Police Chief Bob Hopkins. Joe Paul, vice president for Student Affairs at Southern Miss, said King was still currently enrolled at the university, but will be placed on interim suspension. Southern Miss President Rodney Bennett said he was deeply disturbed to learn of the matter.
Date set for Rust College, Oliver trial
Rust College and former professor Sylvester Oliver have 13 months to prepare for a civil lawsuit in federal court. Nine women have accused Oliver of sexual misconduct, dating back more than a decade. The Holly Springs college is named as a co-defendant. The trial is set to begin Feb. 1, 2016, at 9:30 a.m. in the Federal Building in Oxford. Senior Judge Neal Biggers Jr. will hear the jury trial, which is expected to last about a week. The case was initiated by a Rust College student who accused Oliver of forcing himself on her in his office more than two years ago.
Angie Nelson guides MGCCC students interested in the medical field
Angie Benigno Nelson of Moss Point is an educator and administrator of the Allied Health Department Chair at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Gautier. Nelson has been at this position for nine years, and works under the Division of Nursing and Allied Health where she oversees the operation of the college's six credit Allied Health programs. What Nelson likes most about her work is that "ah-ha" moment with a student. Nelson attributes her career choices and ambition to her parents -- her father is a marine biologist and her mother is a public school educator.
U. of Alabama students in online scare back in class
Two University of Alabama students arrested last fall for messages campus police say caused additional fear and anxiety in the wake of a threatening online post have been allowed to return for the spring semester. Daniel Evan Simmons and Dakota John Timm were conditionally allowed to return following interim suspensions from UA in the fall for alleged violations of the student code of conduct. Spring classes began Jan. 7. "To continue as students, Simmons and Timm must fulfill a set of requirements mandated by the university during the remainder of their time as UA students," UA Director of Media Relations Cathy Andreen said.
Toomer's Corner intersection to be reconfigured, improved
Toomer's Corner will be getting some love this Valentine's Day, as it will once again be home to a pair of large live oaks. Toomer's Corner will be getting some love this Valentine's Day, as it will once again be home to a pair of large live oaks. The corner has been void of foliage since its former trees were removed in April 2013 after being poisoned following the 2010 Iron Bowl. "Our goal all along was to restore the corner with large trees at the earliest opportunity," said Dan King, assistant vice president for Facilities Management at Auburn University, in a previous press release. "Last summer we completed the hardscape to improve aesthetics and the pedestrian experience. The only thing missing was the trees. We think this plan honors the tradition of the historic original oaks."
UGA students take flight in drones class
The lawn outside the University of Georgia's journalism school recently was filled with buzzing as students tried their hand at flying drones for the first time. The students are now in the third week of "Drones, Drones, Drones" a new course this semester dedicated to analyzing the airborne technology. The course is being offered through the New Media Institute, a certificate program at UGA that teaches students about emerging technologies and prepares them to use new media in their careers. According to the syllabus, the class aims to "explore the appropriate and effective use of drones, chart the regulation and proposed legislation of drones, and learn how to operate drones."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appoints new regents to Texas A&M University System
New Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed two new members to the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and reappointed regents chair Phil Adams on Thursday. Robert Albritton and William Mahomes Jr. will replace outgoing regents John D. White and Jim Schwertner effective Feb. 1. Adams was first appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2001, again in 2009 and was selected to a two-year term as chairman in May 2013.
U. of Missouri Faculty Council discusses Title IX training, race relations committee
Betsy Rodriguez apologized to a crowded table of University of Missouri Faculty Council members Thursday afternoon after responding to complaints about a Title IX online training course for mandated reporters. Rodriguez, University of Missouri System vice president for human resources, fielded questions from council members about problems many were having in accessing the online training. Rodriguez said in an evolving field like Title IX, there was pressure to get the training program rolled out quickly. The rush led to problems when the training program was released, and many who need to take the training before the Jan. 30 deadline cannot access it on their computers. The course, titled "Harassment: What It Is and How to Stop It," was first sent out to UM employees last fall.
Obama's Proposed Changes to 529 College Savings Plans Would Reduce Benefits
President Obama is proposing a radical change to the 529 college savings plans held by millions of families, which would require those who use them to rethink their approach to college savings. As part of his plan to simplify the tax code and help the middle class, one of the 529 plan's most attractive benefits would be eliminated: Money could no longer be withdrawn tax-free. (The new rules would apply only to new contributions.) But some experts said 529 plans, which are used by seven million families and hold $217 billion, disproportionately benefit the most affluent families, which can afford to save.
Push to Tax '529' Plans Stokes Debate Over Income, Student Aid
President Barack Obama 's push to start taxing college-saving accounts, including the popular "529" accounts, would affect millions of Americans who are stashing money for their children's education, stirring debate about how to structure federal student aid and how to define the middle class. The proposal, which has sparked a public backlash but faces dim prospects in Congress, targets so-called 529 savings accounts that boomed after Congress passed the tax breaks starting in 2001. States have promoted the plans as a way for middle-class parents to combat escalating college costs. The president’s proposal, which has critics within his own party, has generated concern among middle-income families who say they prefer the current system.
Association of American Colleges and Universities sessions focus on integrative learning
Integrative learning. It sounds good, and it's a cornerstone of the Association of American Colleges and Universities' Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) initiative to advance liberal education. But what is integrative learning, exactly, and how can liberal arts advocates use it to make their case for a broad education – especially in an increasingly jobs-focused environment? A series of sessions focused on that question Thursday at AAC&U's annual meeting in Washington.
EDITORIAL: Optimism alone won't lift Mississippi off the bottom
The Sun Herald editorializes: "Gov. Phil Bryant used his State of the State address Tuesday to share his belief that 'Mississippi can and will improve its public education system, build a stronger economy, become a healthier place to live and put our people to work.' Yet even though he declared 'Mississippi is in the best financial condition in recent history,' he outlined a timid legislative agenda for a state so desperately in need of bold action and innovative initiatives. ...At the risk of reveling in the bad, as Bryant put it, we believe no honest State of the State at this point in its history should sugarcoat this state's miserable rankings in the education of its children, the health of its residents and the income level of its work force."

Mississippi State's William drills game-winner to beat Ole Miss
On the road. Freshman point guard. Tie game. Everything suggested that Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer should call a timeout with 14 seconds remaining. Nope. Schaefer let Morgan William have that ball, and she delivered with a jumper from a half-step inside the 3-point line that beat Ole Miss 64-62 on Thursday. "Sometimes you want to call timeout in that situation," Schaefer said. "I got a lot of good players y'all and sometimes I think in that situation you got to let your players go make a play." It was a heck of a play by William --- everyone from Ole Miss kept on saying after the game how tightly its freshman point guard, A'Queen Hayes, was defending her -- and indicative of where this rivalry is headed.
William's late basket lifts No. 18 Bulldogs past Rebels
Morgan William will be celebrated for a long time by Mississippi State fans. The diminutive freshman guard hit an 18-foot jumper with three seconds left to lift the No. 18 Bulldogs to a 64-62 win over Ole Miss at Tad Smith Coliseum on Thursday night. It was a tale of two halves for the Ole Miss Rebels and Bulldogs Thursday night. Ole Miss controlled the first half, even with its leader, Tia Faleru, on the bench with foul trouble. The Bulldogs shook off a subpar shooting effort to take control in the final 20 minutes. That improved effort secured their first win over Ole Miss on the road since 2012. William's shot punctuated an impressive comeback for the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State in middle of strong week
A week ago, 16 straight conference losses and 22 consecutive true road defeats highlighted Mississippi State's resume. Two games later, the Bulldogs erased those flaws and showed signs of improvement. MSU captured its first conference win of the season with a second-half comeback against Vanderbilt last weekend. Wednesday, it dominated Auburn for three-quarters of the road contest. The results have changed recently, but the journey to the wins began with the final game of the 2014 calendar year.
Bulldogs' Day soaking up lessons, wrestling with future
Dillon Day wasn't heavily recruited out of high school. After all, the former West Monroe (La.) High School product was only a two-star prospect and weighed just 237-pounds entering his senior year. Day had received two scholarship offers from Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe before Mississippi State came through with a national letter of intent on signing day in 2010. Five years and 46 starts at center later, Day is in Mobile, Ala., among the nation's elite at the Senior Bowl hoping to improve his NFL draft stock. The Senior Bowl on Saturday will be the second all-star game that the now 6-foot-4, 300-pounder has participated in as many weeks.
Senior Bowl: Mississippi State's Preston Smith's stock rising into first round
Many wondered if the momentum Preston Smith generated at the start of the 2014 season would continue into NFL Draft discussion. The first couple of Senior Bowl practices answered that question for the former Mississippi State defensive end. Smith has grabbed the attention of NFL scouts. According to, Preston Smith has climbed into the first round of this year's draft. The three-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week, impressed on the first day of Senior Bowl practice with his size.
Mississippi State's Smith aims to become more disruptive
It seems odd that a defensive lineman promoted by his school as one of its most disruptive players ever would need to improve his explosiveness, but NFL hopefuls follow the league's advice. So it is with Preston Smith. The athletics website for Mississippi State promotes Smith as one of the most "disruptive and athletic defensive linemen in school history." Smith is among many players trying to impress NFL scouts at Senior Bowl practices this week.
Two Ole Miss players arrested in Oxford
Two more Ole Miss football players are in trouble with the law. Safety Trae Elston and wide receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow were both arrested shortly after midnight today and charged with disorderly conduct, according to the Lafayette County Detention Center's booking log. Elston was also charged with resisting arrest. Oxford Police Department officers were the ones on the scenes. Details are not yet known, and an Ole Miss spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Vanderbilt rape testimony brings up possible NCAA violation
Alcohol consumption was the focus of testimony again in the rape trial of two former Vanderbilt University football players on Thursday, and the manner in which it was provided may have violated an NCAA rules. The alleged victim in the case testified under oath that a booster purchased drinks for Commodores football players on June 23, 2013, a violation of the NCAA's "extra benefits" rule. Bylaw 16.02.3 rule states that athletes may not be provided with money, gifts, loans, flowers or other items from anyone representing an institution, including fans. Angela Gentry, who is from West Palm Beach, Fla., was identified in earlier court filings as being a person who picked up the alcohol tab for Vanderbilt players. She could meet the NCAA's definition for a booster.
As Benson family feud explodes in court, battle over nearly $2 billion fortune begins
The shocking struggle for control of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans escalated Thursday as family members associated with Rita Benson LeBlanc filed a lawsuit claiming that the teams' owner and family patriarch Tom Benson is incompetent and is being directed by a manipulative wife and her allies at the highest level of the sports empire. The suit was filed one day after Tom Benson unexpectedly announced plans to transfer future ownership of the clubs to his wife, Gayle, cutting off his daughter, Renee LeBlanc, and his two grandchildren, Ryan LeBlanc and Rita Benson LeBlanc, who until recently had been designated as the heir apparent. The legal battle lays bare the internal strife within one of Louisiana's richest families and its highest profile business owners, pitting Benson and his wife of 10 years against his adopted daughter and her children.

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