Friday, December 19, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Bulldogs boost sales tax numbers in Golden Triangle
Sales tax revenue from October was up throughout the Golden Triangle, but of particular interest to Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau director Nancy Carpenter were the motel tax receipts. Sales tax revenue from motels was $30,295 for October, a healthy 30.8-percent jump from the same month a year ago. Carpenter provided a succinct, three-word explanation for that: Mississippi State football. "You know, sometimes when I talk about Mississippi State, people just think I'm a fan, which I am, of course," Carpenter said. "But it goes farther than that. Our motels were packed in October and the reason for that, more than anything else, was the success of Mississippi State's football team." Not surprisingly, Starkville also witnessed a jump in sales tax revenue compared to the same month a year ago.
 
Mississippi State Students Recognized by Retired Faculty
Five upper-level students at Mississippi State are 2014 honorees of the university's Association of Retired Faculty. Juniors Patrick D. Brown of Hernando, Kylie A. Dennis of Memphis, Tennessee, and Peyton Williams of Pontotoc, along with seniors Joanna L. King of Bentonia and Ryan J. Weitzel of Gulfport, recently were recognized at the organization's annual undergraduate award ceremony. Founded in 1986, MSU's Association of Retired Faculty presents awards that serve as tributes or memorials to campus colleagues and association members who made major contributions to student development over their careers at the 136-year-old land-grant institution.
 
Architectural Digest features MSU Riley Center
Mississippi State's Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts is among "14 Historic American Theatres" featured this month in Architectural Digest magazine's online edition. The MSU Riley Center is listed with some of the country's most visually appealing and historically interesting theaters. Since reopening in 2006, the MSU Riley Center has served as a varied showcase of American musical heritage. The Riley Center also includes a state-of-the-art conference facility. Meridian's Riley Foundation, a longtime MSU supporter, made the $12.1 million anchor contribution for the revitalization of the Riley Center, and the foundation continued its legacy of support through renovation of the Newberry and Kress buildings in the city's downtown.
 
Ancient seals may support existence of biblical kings David and Solomon
A team of archaeologists from Mississippi State University has found and studied a collection of ancient stamps they claim supports the biblical account of the reigns of kings David and Solomon. Historians have suggested ancient Israel was only a collection of loosely organized tribes during the period of ancient history purportedly ruled by David and Solomon. In other words, there was no kingdom -- no David and Solomon. But in a newly detailed paper, published this week in the journal Near Eastern Archaeology, researchers argue that six ancient clay seals used for official postage confirm the existence of a more expansive political entity.
 
No recognition for prior administration's Starkville city hall efforts
As it stands, a plaque will be placed on Starkville's new City Hall next year that will honor four aldermen who were not in office when its plans were developed and three others who fought against its construction. Aldermen voted 4-3 to recognize themselves, not the prior board of aldermen that actively planned and enacted the building's financing and construction, with the designation Tuesday. Construction of the $6 million-plus facility began after the previous board of aldermen approved a 2012 public-private partnership utilizing certificates of participation that would fund the city's new municipal home and renovations to the current City Hall for Starkville Police Department usage.
 
Mississippi Hills boosts region
The federal approval of the Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance's management plan could mean opportunities for the region's largest and smallest tourism promoters. The Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area is one of just 49 such areas in the nation. It covers all or parts of 30 counties bordered by I-55 on the west, State Highway 14 on the south, Alabama on the east and Tennessee on the north. Bobby King, MHNHA program manager, said one of the greatest advantages of the Heritage Area's ongoing development is regionwide cooperation. Only a small fraction -- Alcorn, DeSoto, Lafayette, Lee, Lowndes, Marshall and Oktibbeha -- of the 30 eligible counties are represented by county or municipal memberships.
 
Shale oil: market correction or longterm direction?
The golden age of hydraulic fracturing began about 10 years ago "as oil and gas producers began to explore the nation's massive shale formations in earnest," according to an essay on the American Society of Mechanical Engineers website. Mississippi State University is taking the long view on the future of oil and gas exploration. It announced earlier this month that it would resume its petroleum engineering program after a hiatus of 20 years. It was discontinued in 1995 due to budget trimming. The decision to reestablish the program next fall was more because of hydrofracking in general than the Tuscaloosa play, said Jason Keith, interim dean of the Bagley College of Engineering.
 
Bryant impressed with unmanned maritime system demonstration
It can assist with search and rescue, map the ocean floor or be used for environmental monitoring. On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Bryant took a boat trip on the Mississippi Sound to watch a demonstration of an unmanned maritime system. Bryant says the new technology could help expand Mississippi's blue economy. It's called the C-Worker Six, an unmanned, autonomous surface vehicle. "When you hear about a search and rescue called off, with an unmanned system, you can still operate. Those men and women can do that operation without endangering more people to try and find the people that are missing," the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's Michael Toscano said.
 
'Blue Economy' important for state's future
A new study looking at Mississippi's maritime industries spotlights the importance of shipbuilding, fishing, oceanography and marine technology as a dominant force in the state's economy. The data show that in the three coastal counties, about 51,000 people -- 35 percent of the entire workforce -- are employed in so- called blue industries. And it's not just the Mississippi Gulf Coast that has a stake in the blue economy. The Mississippi River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway also connect the state to the global maritime economy. And the state's infrastructure includes 15 ports, including two deep draft ones in Gulfport and Pascagoula. One challenge the researchers discovered was the blue economy, unlike the manufacturing and agricultural economies, is not centralized or coordinated.
 
Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue
There is a flourishing industry that pairs plaintiffs' lawyers with state attorneys general to sue companies, a collaboration that has set off a furious competition between trial lawyers and corporate lobbyists to influence these officials. Much as big industries have found natural allies in Republican attorneys general to combat federal regulations, plaintiffs' lawyers working on a contingency-fee basis have teamed up mostly with Democratic state attorneys general to file hundreds of lawsuits against businesses that make anything from pharmaceuticals to snack foods. In no place has the contingency-fee practice flourished more than in Mississippi, where lawyers hired by Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, have collected $57.5 million in fees during the last two years -- three times as much as Mr. Hood has spent on running his state office during the same period. Mr. Hood has taken in $395,000 in campaign contributions from trial law firms over the last decade, more than any other attorney general.
 
Mississippi Board of Education releases 'bolder' strategic plan
The Mississippi Board of Education is abandoning incremental goals in favor of big ones, according to a strategic plan released Thursday. The goal of raising the state's graduation rate to 83 percent? Now officials want every student to graduate high school. Forget trying to boost test scores to where 60 percent of all students score proficient or higher by 2016. Now, the aim is that all students will score at a proficient or higher level on every single state test. "It's much bolder in terms of where we want to take the state," said state Board of Education Chairman John Kelly, who presented the plan to an audience of state Department of Education employees, local superintendents and others.
 
MAEP supporter calls potential legislative alternative 'dirty, political trick'
The Mississippi Legislature could create an alternative to a ballot initiative that would allow voters to decide if lawmakers should be required by the state Constitution to adequately and efficiently fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. "Of course, that has never happened in the history of the initiative law," said Better Schools, Better Jobs' Patsy Brumfield of a legislative alternative. Senator John Polk (R-District 44) said BSBJ's amendment would "open up a lot of area that I don't think the people of Mississippi want to get into." He said if the amendment passes and the legislature does not fund MAEP, the state would be sued, which would end up in Hinds County Chancery Court.
 
Jindal raises money for Reeves
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is helping raise campaign cash for Mississippi's Republican lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, who's seeking a second term in 2015. A Reeves campaign email says Jindal was appearing at Reeves' fundraiser Thursday evening at a home in Gulfport, with ticket prices ranging from $250 to $2,500. The Advocate reports that Jindal was returning to Baton Rouge after the event.
 
Tom Vilsack: Cuba deal a boon for U.S. farmers
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said reforms announced by President Barack Obama will make it make easier to sell U.S. farm products to Cuba. "What this particular opportunity creates is a much more efficient, less-expensive opportunity for Cuba to buy American agricultural products," Vilsack told POLITICO on the sidelines of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meeting. The biggest agricultural winners from the Cuba announcement will be farmers in the Southeastern states. They can easily ship products like poultry, rice and corn to Cuba. As of 2006, a full quarter of Alabama's agricultural revenue came from exports to Cuba, including sales of catfish, soybeans and poultry. Other leading states exporting to Cuba include Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, North Carolina and Mississippi.
 
U.S. agriculture has big appetite for Cuba trade
U.S. agriculture has a big appetite for freer trade with Cuba. From wheat to rice to beans, the industry stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of President Barack Obama's plan to ease economic and travel restrictions imposed against the communist-ruled island. Agricultural exports have been among the few exceptions to the half-century old U.S. trade embargo, though they've been subject to cumbersome rules. Major U.S. farm groups including the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union, as well as leading agribusinesses such as Cargill Inc., have long advocated normalized trade relations with Cuba, a market of 11 million consumers just 90 miles off U.S. shores.
 
U.S. Struggles for Response to Sony Hack
The U.S. government is looking for ways to retaliate for North Korea's apparent hacking of Sony Pictures but is struggling for an appropriate solution, according to people familiar with the discussions. U.S. officials have evidence that could point to North Korea as directing the attack, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the government was still investigating who was responsible and wasn't prepared to point the finger at any country. North Korea's government has denied responsibility. The attack creates a thorny situation for the Obama administration, in part because such a breach is not the type of hacking scenario contemplated in the government's many drills and contingency-planning for cyberattacks from foreign countries.
 
Transgender workers get civil rights protections, Justice Department says
Employment discrimination based on gender identity is forbidden under the Civil Rights Act, the U.S. Justice Department said Thursday, announcing a change in the way it will litigate claims. The department will no longer take the position that the "prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se (including transgender discrimination)," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said this week in a memo to U.S. attorneys. The change in position affects public employees. The Justice Department doesn't have the authority to sue private employers over discrimination claims. Holder said he based his new interpretation on the text of the act, Supreme Court case law and recent developments in jurisprudence.
 
Apple CEO donating to gay rights campaign in South
Apple chief executive Tim Cook, the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, is donating money to help fund a gay rights initiative in his native Alabama and two other Southern states, organizers said Thursday. The amount of Cook's contribution to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign wasn't disclosed, but the advocacy organization called it "substantial." Organizers said it would help fund a three-year, $8.5 million campaign launched in April in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Cook, who was born in Mobile, grew up in nearby Robertsdale, Ala., and attended Auburn University, made headlines in October by coming out as gay.
 
Poll finds Americans skeptical of commercial drones
Americans are skeptical that the benefits of the heralded drone revolution will outweigh the risks to privacy and safety, although a majority approve of using small, unmanned aircraft for dangerous jobs or in remote areas, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. By a 2-1 margin, those who had an opinion opposed using drones for commercial purposes. Only 21 percent favored commercial use of drones, compared with 43 percent opposed. Another 35 percent were in the middle. Support for using commercial drones was the weakest among women and seniors, while college graduates and wealthier people were more apt to favor it. Elliot Farber, 26, said drones are just the latest technological advancement and he doesn't understand why anyone would oppose them.
 
German researchers discover a flaw that could let anyone listen to your cell calls
German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale -- even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available. The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest evidence of widespread insecurity on SS7, the global network that allows the world's cellular carriers to route calls, texts and other services to each other. Experts say it's increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world's billions of cellular customers.
 
Mississippi universities win final OK to raise tuition
Mississippi's College Board gave final approval Thursday to plans for the state's eight public universities to raise tuition by an average of 3.2 percent this fall. Universities say they need more money to increase faculty salaries, cover operation costs and make up for cuts to state aid. Though appropriations to the university system rose by almost $40 million this year, it still remains more than $55 million short of state appropriations in the 2008 budget year. On a per-student basis, aid shrank even more during the recession. Lawmakers have recommended lower funding for universities next year, although universities assumed they would get more money, said Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds. "None of us like the idea of increasing tuition," he said.
 
Bounds: No word yet on University of Nebraska post
Hank Bounds, Mississippi's commissioner of higher education, said he has not yet heard whether he will be asked to become the next president of the University of Nebraska. During a break in the meeting of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of state Institutions of Higher Learning on Thursday, Bounds said it "would be speculative at this point" when asked if he would accept the job if offered. Bounds, 47, said in November being a finalist for the post "was a wonderful opportunity." But the Forrest County native added, "It is hard to think about leaving Mississippi. I have lived here all my life and I have had wonderful opportunities."
 
U. of Southern Mississippi's DuBard School: Giving hope
When Leah Byrd began attending the DuBard School for Language Disorders at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2008, the 6-year-old had been diagnosed with autism and a severe language deficit. "When Leah enrolled, she would have severe meltdowns," recalled her mother, Jennifer Byrd of Seminary. "She had trouble with some sounds, including the 'GO,' but within a month, she said the word 'goat' to me. Within three weeks, she was writing her name in cursive --- when before she had trouble printing." Fast forward to 2014, those meltdowns are non-existent and Leah, now 12, has learned to speak articulately, as well as read, and she may be entering public school next year. "The DuBard School has changed her life. It has been a 180-degree turnaround. She has learned to adapt so much better," said her mother.
 
Community College Board delays decision on leader
The Mississippi Community College Board will wait until at least January to name a new leader of for the state's 15 two-year schools. The board met Thursday and interviewed two finalists to become executive director, then chose to put off a decision, said board chairman Bruce Martin of Meridian. Martin declined to comment when asked whether the board would consider new candidates. He also wasn't sure if a decision would be made at the board's Jan. 16 meeting. The board has not identified the two finalists. The board coordinates the functions of the colleges, each of which has its own boards of trustees.
 
North Korea fully capable of Sony computer hack, says UGA expert
Whether it ultimately is deemed responsible for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment computer files, and for the threats of violence that prompted Sony to pull its new film "The Interview" from U.S. theaters, the North Korean government certainly has the capability for such mischief, according to a UGA professor who is a leading expert on the Korean peninsula. Han S. Park, director of UGA's Center for the Study of Global Issues, pointed Thursday to North Korea's December 2013 satellite launch as evidence that the famously isolated country "has the technical capability" for sophisticated computer hacking. Asked specifically whether North Korea was responsible, Park said only that he "wouldn't be surprised."
 
LSU to send 1,650 students off in fall graduations
About 1,650 students are expected to graduate during LSU's fall commencement Friday. Keynote speakers include University of Louisiana System President Sandra Woodley at the College of Agriculture ceremony at 9 a.m. in the Maddox Fieldhouse; Washington University Dean and LSU alumnus Carmon Colangelo at the College of Art & Design ceremony at 12:30 p.m. in the Student Union Theater; LSU Vice Provost for Diversity Dereck Rovaris at the College of Science ceremony at 12:30 p.m. in the Maddox Fieldhouse; and Hillary Prevot, a biological engineering graduating senior from Shreveport, at the College of Engineering ceremony at 6 p.m. in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
 
AFA breaks silence, defends Bobby Jindal's prayer rally at LSU
Following the lead of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, the group sponsoring a controversial prayer rally at LSU in January said the event is solely about prayer. On Thursday, Jindal defended the event, saying "it's no a political event. It's a religious event." American Family Association president Tim Wildmon released a statement early Friday morning. The event has drawn heavy criticism because of the views of its sponsor organization, the Tupelo, Mississippi-based AFA. The organization has linked same-sex marriage and abortion to disasters such as tornadoes and Hurricane Katrina.
 
Mom's journey following daughter to U. of Florida culminates Saturday in master's degree
Sometimes, people get so settled and set in their ways they don't see how full their lives can be, how much broader and richer, and what they have to offer. Roxie Gordon was in such a state at the age of 55 -- a divorced mother selling real estate in Windsor, Connecticut, while her daughter, Alexis, was enjoying her time as a top tennis player and student at the University of Florida. But in 2004, a major disruption occurred that permanently altered both paths. Alexis found herself pregnant and withdrew from school to come home to have her baby so Roxie could help raise the child. That child, Imani, turns 10 on Friday, the same day Roxie receives her master's degree in mental health counseling from the University of Florida College of Education.
 
U. of Kentucky gets $559,626 grant to boost math graduate students
The University of Kentucky is getting more than $500,000 to help more students get graduate degrees in math. The National Science Foundation has given UK's math department a $559,626 grant to create and fund the new Graduate Scholars in Mathematics program. The program, which will launch in 2015, will have a special emphasis on helping first-generation college students and students from Appalachia. "Research and graduate education are fundamental parts of the University of Kentucky's mission, and support from the National Science Foundation will help UK's Department of Mathematics build critical capacity in its graduate program," said President Eli Capilouto.
 
U. of South Carolina, Kappa Sigma house owner quarrel in court
The University of South Carolina and the owner of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house sparred in court Thursday about whether members can stay in their fraternity house after the chapter lost its charter. The Kappa Sigma Housing Corp. of Columbia, which won a temporary delay last week of USC's order evicting Kappa Sigma members, stands to lose $320,000 in housing-and-dining fees if the $1.7 million house is empty for the spring semester, Housing Corp. attorney Everett Kendall told Circuit Judge Casey Manning. An attorney representing USC, Bobby Stepp, said owners of the Kappa Sigma house could sue for lost revenue but have no standing to allow members of an expelled fraternity chapter to remain in the Greek Village house.
 
Gov. Rick Perry discusses empowering education, Aggie legacy at A&M convocation
Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Aggie graduates at Thursday night's convocation that it is their duty to protect the university's timeless traditions. On the eve of a trio of fall graduation ceremonies, the audience of more than 1,000 students, friends and family members listened to Perry explain on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge that the seniors owe it to the Aggie veterans who died in the line of duty to lead successful lives. "You who graduate inherit a legacy of freedom," Perry said, "So make the most of it. Live lives that are worthy of what they sacrificed." Perry said he was not interested in having the university rename the Academic Building after him.
 
Texas A&M System sells off nearly half of drug manufacturer Kalon to Fujifilm
When Texas A&M University System officials began Kalon Biotherapeutics in 2011, they hoped the private drug development company would grow enough for a private company to acquire it. On Thursday, with a swish of Gov. Rick Perry's pen, Fujifilm Diosynth Technologies acquired 49 percent of the company. "Today's announcement also represents a major step forward for a state that is rapidly developing into the country's new home for biotechnology," Perry told the 100 or so officials gathered Thursday afternoon in the Bush Library for the closing of the acquisition. Perry made it clear that Fujifilm's presence is another piece in the biocorridor puzzle, which is expected to bring an estimated 6,000 jobs and $42 billion to the area in the next 25 years.
 
Leader of Oregon's marijuana movement sets sights on Missouri
After winning his fight to legalize marijuana in Oregon, Anthony Johnson is rooting for the same to happen in Missouri, where an effort to place the issue on the 2016 ballot is underway. Johnson, a former Missouri resident and University of Missouri graduate who took an interest in the reform of marijuana laws while a student in Columbia, worked for more than two years on the marijuana campaign in Oregon. That effort culminated in approval of the measure on the Nov. 4 ballot. He's planning to help a similar measure pass in Missouri. "I had been working on the issue for about 15 years, starting when I was in a dorm room at the University of Missouri," Johnson said. "I saw firsthand African-American friends treated more harshly for marijuana than my white, middle-class friends, and that was what started my activism."
 
Obama's College-Ratings Plan Arrives, but Most Specifics Stay Behind
The college-ratings plan that the Education Department is releasing on Friday can best be described as incremental. The plan, the product of more than a year of discussion and debate, is less a proposal than a progress report -- an update on metrics the department is considering using in its system. It's unlikely to assuage colleges' concerns, but it's unlikely to increase their anxiety, either. Publication of the much-anticipated draft plan comes almost three years after Mr. Obama used his State of the Union address to put colleges "on notice," stating that his administration would not continue to subsidize rising tuition.
 
Title IX administrators discuss emotional demands of job
Richard Baker's first case as an administrator of Title XI of the Education Amendments of 1972 showed him how different this job was going to be. The vice president for equal opportunity at the University of Houston had worked on nondiscrimination issues for years, but dealing with a student's report of sexual assault was more emotionally charged than anything he'd ever faced professionally. In that first sexual assault case four years ago and others since, he said, "there's this sense of 'Do you believe me? Do you really believe that this happened to me?' That really stuck with me." Baker's not alone. Experts say that the Title IX coordinator position is uniquely stressful in that these administrators are often some of the first people to interact with alleged victims, and must delicately ask for precise and difficult details to guide their investigations.
 
A Steep Slide in Law School Enrollment Accelerates
The bottom of the law school market just keeps on dropping. Enrollment numbers of first-year law students have sunk to levels not seen since 1973, when there were 53 fewer law schools in the United States, according to the figures just released by the American Bar Association. The 37,924 full- and part-time students who started classes in 2014 represent a 30 percent decline from just four years ago, when enrollment peaked at 52,488. Part of the problem is that jobs that once required lawyers -- for sifting through documents before a trial, for instance -- are increasingly being automated. Do-it-yourself services, like LegalZoom, are gaining popularity with consumers.


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State's Preston Smith anxious to face hometown school in Orange Bowl
After growing up in the shadow of nearby Atlanta, Georgia native Preston Smith was watching closely when bowl selections were made this season. Knowing his Mississippi State team was in line for one of six prestigious bowls, the Bulldogs' defensive end figured it would come down to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta or the Orange Bowl in Miami. Though he's a native of Stone Mountain, Georgia, Smith found himself rooting hard for Miami. "I love home," said Smith. "But there's something about Miami. I've been to Miami one time, on spring break, and I really loved the atmosphere. It's one of those places you wish you stayed longer." Smith got his wish, as the Bulldogs will play in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, and their opponent is another slice of home for the 6-foot-6, 267-pounder. The Bulldogs will meet Georgia Tech, a team from just down the road from Smith's boyhood home.
 
Gray moves to safety for Bulldogs
Last week, Mississippi State's J.T. Gray was named part of the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team at linebacker. But as the Bulldogs began preparing for its Orange Bowl battle with Georgia Tech, Gray has found himself at a new position -- in the secondary. The 6-foot, 196-pounder was a three-star safety at Clarksdale High School and started his college career there before shifting down to linebacker during training camp. "The first few months were tough moving to linebacker but I got the hang of it," Gray said. "Now they're switching me from linebacker to safety and I'm adapting to that pretty well. They are both pretty much the same."
 
Mississippi State tackles triple option offense
Richie Brown has fond memories of the triple option offense. The last time the Mississippi State linebacker faced it was his senior season at Long Beach. Brown finished with 30 tackles. "It was high school," the sophomore said. "Just running to the ball. (Defensive lineman) Nick James was out there with me too." Both will take the field Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl, facing Georgia Tech's triple option attack. In Brown's 30-tackle game against Pearl River, his team lost. He's looking for a different outcome this time around. To prepare for Georgia Tech's triple-option, MSU relies on its scout team. Freshman quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who ran the option in high school, has been the scout-team quarterback.
 
Mississippi State's Dak Prescott received draft grade, will wait to decide
Dak Prescott has received his draft grade from the NFL. The Mississippi State quarterback wouldn't reveal what it rated him as. "I'm not even focused or paying attention to it," Prescott said "I'm just worried about Georgia Tech and getting this Orange Bowl win." Prescott said that he spoke with MSU coach Dan Mullen about it, but the two would talk more after the Orange Bowl. The grade is used to help underclassmen make a decision regarding the NFL Draft. It projects only football ability. It doesn't take into account character, team needs or depth at the position or in the draft.
 
Mississippi State looks for bounce-back performance in Jackson
With the game already decided, Mississippi State point guard I.J. Ready saw an opening for an easy basket. Knifing through the middle of Arkansas State's defense, the sophomore point guard was uncontested as he drove through the lane to attempt a last-second layup. He then watched helplessly as the ball rolled off the front of the rim. It was that kind of night for MSU's basketball team. Mere seconds after Ready's miss, the final horn sounded on MSU's 69-55 home lost to Arkansas State, a defeat that coach Rick Ray called "As disappointing a loss as we've had since we've been here." Now, the Bulldogs face the task of bouncing back. To do that, they'll have to win away from the Humphrey Coliseum for just the second time all season. On Saturday, MSU will head to the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, where it will host South Carolina-Upstate.
 
Okorie helps fuel fast start for Mississippi State women's basketball team
It's scary to think how good Chinwe Okorie can be if she is growing every day. That's how the Mississippi State sophomore center feels about her development in the first two months of her college career. Considering Okorie is a 6-foot-5 presence in the paint who has the length and strength of a prototypical center, there's no telling what kind of impact she will be able to have on the game after she gains experience and polishes her shooting touch. For now, though, Okorie is focused on honing her shooting skills around the rim and learning every day. Despite her inexperience, Okorie has played a key role in No. 21 MSU's program-record 12-0 start to the season. MSU will look to extend that winning streak at 9:30 p.m. Saturday when it takes on Illinois-Chicago in its first game at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
 
Judge orders Harvey Updyke to pay $700 in restitution or face arrest
A Lee County Circuit Court judge on Thursday ordered Harvey Updyke Jr., the man who pleaded guilty to poisoning the Toomer's Oaks, to pay $700 in restitution by Feb. 11 or face arrest. "Mr. Updyke is willfully in contempt," Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob A. Walker said in regard to restitution. Walker ordered a review in October following notification from the State Probation and Parole Office the 66-year-old, who resides in Albany, La., had not been making payments, according to court records. Updyke was ordered in November 2013 to pay nearly $800,000 in restitution to Auburn University for the poisoning of the trees, beginning in December 2013.
 
Alabama track and field player charged with possession; police seize $3,000 from dorm room
A freshman member of the University of Alabama's track and field team was arrested earlier this month after drug agents found cocaine, marijuana wax and more than $3,000 cash in his dorm room, according to court records filed Tuesday. According to the fruits of crime forfeiture complaint filed after the seizure of the drugs and cash, agents with the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force received a tip that Jonathan Marino, the freshman track and field jumper from North Carolina, was known to sell marijuana out of his dorm room.
 
UAB faculty drafts no-confidence resolution against president
Faculty members at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have drafted a no-confidence resolution against the president following his decision to kill the school's football program despite it finishing with its best record in years. The document, released Thursday by the university, accuses UAB President Ray Watts of failing to share governance of the university with faculty members. The decision to eliminate football came after first-year coach Bill Clark led the team to a record of 6-6, the best in years. The Faculty Senate is scheduled to vote on the document during a special meeting on Jan. 15. While largely symbolic, a no-confidence vote could undermine Watts' ability to lead the university of more than 18,000 students.
 
Athletics directors hope Luck can bring hands-on campus experience to NCAA
By hiring West Virginia University athletics director Oliver Luck as its executive vice president of regulatory affairs, the National Collegiate Athletic Association hopes to show how much it cares about what its members' top sports officials have to say -- but some wonder which voices among the NCAA's 1,100 institutions are going to be better heard with the arrangement and which are more likely to be drowned out. During a press call on Thursday, Luck said he hopes to build "additional trust and confidence" within the membership. Luck's new role brings all of the national office's regulatory functions -- including academic affairs, eligibility, and enforcement -- together "under one umbrella," the NCAA said.



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