Friday, March 28, 2014  SUBSCRIBE   
 
Some $70K in scholarships still available through Gulf Coast Community Foundation
Approximately $70,000 in scholarship opportunities is available for local students through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation's website. The foundation will continue accepting scholarship applications for the 2014 cycle until April 15. Since 2005, GCCF has awarded over 1,400 scholarships to local students totaling to over $1 million dollars. Scholarships administered by the foundation have given students such as Zach Waldrop, now at Mississippi State University, an opportunity to achieve their dreams. "The scholarships I received through the foundation gave me the opportunity to work towards my degree in mechanical engineering," Waldrop said. "Once that is achieved I'll be able to give back to the community that helped me."
 
MSU-Meridian 'Goes Green'
Local college students are getting the opportunity to be involved with a greenhouse on the campus of MSU-Meridian. Many plants are being grown in the building, which was built last year. MSU Meridian recently began a partnership with the Love and Peas Community Garden. The plants will be grown in the greenhouse and then transplanted in the garden once the threat of frost is gone. "I want to expose students to the really simple steps that you need to do just to grow your own plants," said biology instructor Dr. Jarrod Fogarty. A work day will take place in the community garden Saturday to prepare it for the Growing Health, Sustaining Wellness Conference on April 5 at the MSU Riley Center in downtown Meridian.
 
Meteorologist Ethan Huston Joins WGAL Lancaster
Hearst Television-owned NBC affiliate WGAL Lancaster, Pa. (DMA 43), has added Meteorologist Ethan Huston to its News 8 Storm Team. He comes to WGAL 8 from Hearst Television sister station WAPT Jackson, Miss., where he served as weekday morning meteorologist for five years. Prior to WAPT, Huston was a meteorologist at WTOK Meridian, Miss. Huston received his master's degree in geosciences/broadcast meteorology from Mississippi State University.
 
Unemployment stats show continued improvement
For the month of February, Mississippi's jobless rate sank to the lowest it has been since October 2008. Rates in the Golden Triangle area also dropped. Oktibbeha County had a rate of 9.6 percent in February 2013. It was 7.8 percent last month. About 1,630 people were looking for work and about 19,180 had work. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security, which compiles county and state unemployment rates each month through survey data, had Mississippi's rate as 7.4 percent last month, a 0.1 percent decrease from January and the lowest rate the state has seen since October 2008.
 
Starkville students take on engineering course
This is the first semester for Project Lead The Way at the Millsaps Career and Technical Center in Starkville. Starkville is one of only three schools in the state to offer this curriculum. Students are doing what the teacher calls a bit of reverse engineering which she says gives them a better grasp of this design project. Educators say this course is a big step up from the traditional STEM courses. The students say it's a challenging but exciting class.
 
Should Mississippi execute its first woman in 70 years?
Despite the evidence that led a jury to conclude that Michelle Byrom masterminded a plot to kill her husband, the fact that the former lounge dancer may now face execution "just feels wrong," former Mississippi Supreme Court justice Oliver Diaz has written. In 2000, Ms. Byrom was convicted of capital murder for a role in the death of Edward Byrom Sr., sending her to Mississippi's death row. Two co-defendants, including her son, Edward Byrom Jr., the triggerman, received less than 10 years in prison after they agreed to become witnesses for the state. Now, as the execution looms, Mississippi faces a choice that critics contend could reflect on the US justice system more broadly: Should the state execute a woman said to have mental illness and an abusive past?
 
Schools Chief Raises Academic Bar for Students in a Mississippi District
At the end of Dennis J. Dupree Sr.'s second year as superintendent in Clarksdale, Miss., he was up against a gargantuan challenge: All but two schools in the district were considered failing or at risk of failing under the state's accountability system. Those dismal marks came just as the veteran educator was in the early stages of overhauling all nine district schools in an attempt to drastically improve academic achievement in the community, an impoverished Mississippi Delta town that is still deeply divided by race. But a more pressing matter for the veteran educator was tackling the education deprivation he saw.
 
Dickie Scruggs, who helped fellow inmates in prison, moves to home confinement
He earned millions and made national headlines suing corporations, but disbarred attorney Dickie Scruggs returned home quietly last week to Oxford, where he will finish a prison sentence under home confinement. His old friend Mike Moore, a Jackson lawyer who previously served as state attorney general, said officials at a federal prison camp in Montgomery probably hated to see Scruggs go. The high-octane lawyer had been teaching math classes to inmates so they could pass the GED test. In fact, Scruggs earned his certification to teach the classes after he realized inmates were failing the GED because of poor math skills. Scruggs first made his legal reputation on the Coast. He and his wife, Diane, raised their family in Pascagoula before moving to Oxford, where his law office sat on the town square.
 
Legislators contemplate budget compromise
Legislative leaders met behind closed doors Thursday trying to reach a budget compromise that has a Saturday night deadline. At one point Thursday, there was hope that negotiators could hammer out a final compromise on Thursday or today and present it to the House and Senate chambers Saturday for final approval. But late Thursday, that agreement had not been reached. "They are still talking," Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said of House Appropriations Chair Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, and his Senate counterpart, Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale. The budget deal must be approved by the two chambers by Monday night.
 
Religion bill sent to talks
The controversial Religious Freedom Act is going to conference, but a key Senate negotiator indicated Thursday he is not interested in keeping the proposal alive as a study. The legislation is designed to protect a person from being forced to engage in a practice that "burdened" his or her religious rights. After it passed the Senate, it attracted national attention. Some claimed the proposal might allow a business to refuse services to a gay couple. The House amended the bill to establish "the Religious Freedoms Study Committee to be charged with the responsibility of studying and preparing a report regarding proposed legislation that protects the religious freedoms of the citizens of the state of Mississippi." But instead of accepting the House changes in the legislation, the Senate on Thursday invited conference where leaders from both chambers will have an opportunity to hammer out a compromise.
 
Pope and president all smiles, but Vatican official also raises religious freedom in U.S.
President Barack Obama proclaimed himself a "great admirer" as he met Pope Francis for the first time Thursday, delivering a box of vegetable seeds from the White House garden, along with an invite to tour it in person. But if Obama was hoping, as the White House said, the gift would help harvest a "shared commitment" to fighting poverty, it wasn't evident in a statement the Vatican released several hours after the encounter, which it characterized as "cordial." The meeting came just two days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments over the requirement in the Obama's health care law that employer-provided health insurance provide free contraception -- a provision hotly contested by a number of religious institutions.
 
Borsig: All welcome at MUW homecoming
Mississippi University for Women President Jim Borsig is encouraging everyone to attend the college's homecoming this weekend. "There are things for the community as well as for the alumni as well as student events," Borsig said. On Friday night, the university will host a 5K Glow Run. Borsig said 125 people have signed up for the event so far. Borsig encouraged everyone, not just university alumni, to come and tour the campus as well as participate in the weekend's events.
 
MUW Education Department Hosts Panel of Veteran Teachers
Some long-time educators return to the Mississippi University for Women campus to teach the next generation. MUW Education Alums spent Thursday night sharing their teaching experience with college students. Following a reception, the MUW Education Department hosted a panel of educators to talk about women in leadership, along with many of the challenges future teachers will face.
 
ESPN's Rob King addresses inaugural New Media Conference at UM
Rob King, senior vice president of editorial, print and digital media at ESPN, kicked off Ole Miss's first ever New Media Conference Thursday with advice to students as intelligent risk-takers. "This time that you are going through right now is a very important time, and it matters," King said. "Take this time to fully embrace who you are, and don't let anybody tell you that who you are doesn't matter." Arguably at the height of his career, King advised students in "the awful in-between years" to consider lessons he has encountered through life experience. King encouraged students seeking employment opportunities to learn as much as possible before applying. "In your world, there is no business you cannot find out about -- all of the information is available to you," he said. "Understand that."
 
Drive raises $200K for U. of Southern Mississippi
Two numbers to consider for the University of Southern Mississippi Founders' Day ceremony. The first is 104, of course. Southern Miss has existed in some form since 1910, when the state chartered Mississippi Normal College as a teachers' school. The other is 200,000. That's the amount of money ($200,391 to be exact) Southern Miss raised through its 36-hour fundraising "Gold Rush" campaign Tuesday and Wednesday. USM Foundation Executive Director Shannon Fleming made the announcement at the Southern Miss Founders' Day ceremony Thursday. "We absolutely intend to continue the Gold Rush every year," said Vice President for Advancement Bob Pierce, who called the campaign a success.
 
Camp Shelby to become equipment hub
Officials from Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center announced Wednesday an agreement with a national transportation research organization. The agreement -- which was signed with The National Center for Freight and Infrastructure Research and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- is designed to assist military planners in identifying Camp Shelby as a critical part of a strategic military intermodal logistics hub. The idea for the agreement came last month in Gulfport during a symposium hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi.
 
Ukrainians visiting Mississippi grateful for support in U.S.
In a whirlwind, week-long trip to the United States spent mostly in Mississippi, a delegation of Ukrainian attorneys and physicians here to learn about health-care reform and delivery of services are finding a Southern hospitality twist they might not have expected. Their Mississippi hosts, from families who've opened their homes to them to staff at the International Visitors Center of Jackson, understand their country's current political turmoil and sympathize with them as Russia encroaches into their homeland. The delegation of six Ukrainians are in Jackson through the Open World Program, an initiative funded by the U.S. Library of Congress. Facilitating their visit in Mississippi is the International Visitors Center of Jackson housed at Jackson State University. It's the only Center for International Visitors in the nation affiliated with a historically black university, said Shirley Harrison, the center's Open World Program coordinator.
 
Community garden at Delta State successful in educating community
Spring has officially sprung and along with it some new green buds in the Delta State University Wiley Community Garden. The garden will celebrate its first anniversary on April 22 and Dr. Ellen Green, associate professor of biology at DSU, looks forward to it's continued success and the spring planting season. "I think it's been a smashing success and I encourage everyone to check it out for themselves. The garden is located on South Fifth Avenue and we'll be having our spring planting session in a few weeks," she said. Green explained the purpose of the community garden is not only to educate DSU students, but Cleveland residents as well.
 
Alcorn State's Ward set to speak at academic banquet in West Point
Marcus D. Ward, vice president for Institutional Advancement and executive director of the Alcorn State University Foundation Inc., along with being a West Point High School alumnus, is keynote speaker for the West Point High School academic achievement awards banquet in early April. "We try our best to have former West Point students to be our speakers for the banquet," said Robert Smith, one of the event's coordinators. "We are very pleased to have Marcus Ward come and speak. We want West Point alumni to inspire the students to understand they can reach their goals through education."
 
Remembering a giant of history: Winston Churchill topic of lecture at Co-Lin classes
In early June 2014,70 years will have transpired since the D-Day invasion, a major battle in a war that scores of Lincoln County and Brookhaven veterans participated in, many still alive today. In part due to the extraordinary times during World War II, but mainly because of his unique character, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill remains an inspiration to this day, including students at Copiah-Lincoln Community College. History instructor Brett Shufelt brought guest speaker, Michael Reinhard, a professor of political science at Millsaps College, to Co-Lin to ignite an interest in the history and times of Churchill. Reinhard's lecture, "Winston Churchill: Lessons in Leadership," lasted just over an hour and was delivered to a packed classroom auditorium.
 
Northeast Mississippi Community College plans internship program
Northeast Mississippi Community College is fleshing out the details of its partnership with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi in Blue Springs -- the TIGER Internship Program. Northeast program developers completed visits to the five counties the college serves on Wednesday in Corinth. They have held sessions in New Albany, Booneville, Ripley and Iuka, bringing together business and industry representatives who might provide work experience internships to their students "This concept has slowly but surely changed as we've received feedback," Dean Rilla Jones said, inviting participants to offer feedback that can be incorporated into the program's design. As the program is implemented, Northeast faculty who supervise the student interns will have to work closely with supervisors at the work sites to be sure both the employer and the student get the most from the experience, said Nadara Cole, vice president of Workforce Training and Economic Development.
 
LSU students promised reimbursement in scheme at McDonald's
The company that operates a McDonald's inside LSU's Student Union pledged Thursday to reimburse students targeted by former restaurant employees in an alleged scheme that police say resulted in the theft of more than $30,000 in the past year. Meanwhile, LSU Police arrested a seventh person accused in the fraud scheme, which could result in more arrests as the investigation continues, said Capt. Cory Lalonde, an LSU Police spokesman. Chartwells, the company that operates the McDonald's through a partnership with LSU, sent an email Thursday to students victimized in the scheme, pledging to pay back anyone who "used their account at this McDonald's restaurant during the time period when the suspected unauthorized transactions occurred," the email states.
 
House panel OKs pension fix for Louisiana college and university faculty
Colleges and universities would be required to increase the contributions they make toward faculty pensions under legislation approved Thursday by a Louisiana House panel. House Bill 6, as amended in committee, would require the employer contribution to what is called the Optional Retirement Plan to reach 6.2 percent by 2018. It is the same amount private employers are required to contribute toward Social Security but less than what other public universities and colleges in the U.S. pitch in to the retirement plans for, primarily, their faculty. As an employer, the state of Louisiana contributes the least of any public education employer in the country.
 
U. of Florida's push for pre-eminence ahead of schedule
Eight months in, the University of Florida's pre-eminence initiative is already ahead of schedule, Tom Mitchell, vice president of development for the university, told a group of university trustees Thursday. The UF Foundation has raised $236 million in commitments and endowed 10 new chairs, Mitchell told the Committee on External Relations of the board of trustees. And the foundation has raised $64 million in private money for new construction projects around the campus, including $21 million toward the $50 million O'Connell Center renovation project.
 
Firm will get about $186 million to manage UF Online
The University of Florida will pay Pearson Embanet an estimated $186 million over the life of its 11-year contract -- a combination of direct payments and a share of tuition revenue -- to help launch and manage the state's first fully online, four-year degree program. How UF evaluates how well Pearson does its job is unknown -- the standards by which the contractor is measured are still being withheld from the public, such as minimum enrollment figures and total tuition levels. UF officials maintained that those criteria are "trade secrets" exempt from state public records law.
 
Tennessee college funding falls short, could mean tuition hikes
Tennessee colleges and universities are staring at state funding that would be $20 million short of the level recommended to carry out a plan that's supposed to reward schools based on performance. That could trigger tuition hikes at some campuses for the 2014-15 year greater than the 2 to 4 percent increases suggested last fall. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission in November recommended that the state allocate $29.6 million more funds to carry out an outcomes-based funding formula that came from the 2010 Complete College Tennessee Act. Gov. Bill Haslam's proposed 2014-15 budget would deliver just $9.3 million in additional higher education dollars, enough to cover only 1 percent salary increases required for employees.
 
WUGA-TV to cease local program production
As a result of a recently completed review of the University of Georgia's public television station WUGA-TV, programming revisions and a reduction in staff were announced today. The station will cease local program production effective July 1, and will carry the World Channel from the national Public Broadcasting System around the clock. The changes come in response to a study requested by UGA President Jere W. Morehead. He requested that a task force provide him with objective data to understand whether and how the TV station serves the educational interests of the institution and advances its academic reputation.
 
Texas A&M Corps of Cadets panel lauds growing culture of diversity, acceptance
As a female cadet at Texas A&M in the 1970s, Col. Pauletta Blueitt, '81, once witnessed a male cadet strike a female cadet in the eye with a guidon during an outfit run. "We had some very angry, bitter male cadets that resented us greatly for having encroached upon that sacred unit known as the Corps of Cadets," Blueitt recalled during a panel discussion Thursday celebrating the university's 50 years of inclusion. "We endured quite a bit of hostility, in some cases violence, so I really felt very isolated from that standpoint." A retired Air Force colonel, Blueitt was in the fourth freshman class that allowed women into what had traditionally been an all-male Aggie Corps of Cadets. Things have changed at Texas A&M since then.
 
State legislators meet on Texas A&M campus to discuss pressing issues
Local state representatives in the Texas House and Senate gathered on the Texas A&M campus Thursday afternoon to reflect on the last legislative session and what the future holds for hot-button issues facing Texans. State Sen. Dr. Charles Schwertner and State Reps. John Raney and Kyle Kacal were joined by Evan Smith, the Texas Tribune's CEO and editor-in-chief, for a discussion covering everything from public education to immigration to deregulating tuition for higher education. As spending for public education and health care continues to rise, Raney said higher education is losing the battle for the limited funding available. Schwertner said he'd look into re-regulating tuition, which would require the state to be more willing to help with costs like tuition revenue bonds, which fell through in the last session.
 
U. of Missouri Health Care shifts nurses' job titles, duties
University of Missouri Health Care is eliminating current job titles for the hospital's nursing staff and reclassifying them into new roles. About 75 inpatient nurses are applying for new positions under the new organizational model hospital administrators have been exploring over the past year, MU Health spokeswoman Mary Jenkins said in an email. None of the staff has been laid off, Jenkins said, adding that there are enough new positions for all of the current staff members whose roles no longer exist. The time that clinical nurses have from their previous roles will still count toward their retirement.
 
U. of Missouri law school class focuses on cultural consciousness
lhyung Lee sips water from a plastic Shakespeare's cup, combing through papers as his students file in. "Shall We Dance" from "The King and I" plays over their conversations. Lee is wearing a dark-gray suit complemented with a bow tie, his hair neatly combed and parted to the left. He is crisp in the way someone practicing law often is, but has an especially acute awareness of the nuances and implications of appearance and habit. In a way, this is what he will be teaching today. Lee is a professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, specializing in international dispute resolution, law and society in East Asia, intellectual property dispute resolution and international and comparative law. On Wednesdays, he teaches cross-cultural dispute resolution. "This is not your typical law school class," Lee said.
 
In a Buyer's Market, Colleges Become Fluent in the Language of Business
The ruling this week that Northwestern University must treat scholarship football players as employees defies the way colleges view themselves, and has administrators nationwide wondering if this is the first step toward turning college sports into something unrecognizable. But in one key sense, the decision by an official of the National Labor Relations Board, which will allow the players to form a union and bargain collectively, fits into a long and familiar trend: Higher education is today less a rite of passage in which institutions serve in loco parentis, and more a commercial transaction between school and student. Graduate students are forming unions, or trying to, at a growing number of universities. The new vogue in college ratings compares them by graduates' incomes, and publications are full of debate about the price and value of college. Bookstores carry shelves of volumes on wringing more aid from schools and maximizing return on investment.


SPORTS
 
Mississippi State women defeat Auburn, reach WNIT quarterfinal round
As shooters go, Kendra Grant knows the mantra: The only way to get out of a slump is to keep shooting. As anyone who has watched the Mississippi State women's basketball team this season can attest, the Bulldogs can look dead in the water in one half and look like a different team the next 20 minutes. Grant and MSU proved both of those adages Thursday night in one of the Bulldogs' most improbable comebacks of the season. The junior guard scored 12 of her game-high 20 points in a momentum-changing run in the second half, and MSU weathered the storm at the free throw line down the stretch to beat Auburn 59-54 in the third round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament before a crowd of 1,809 at Humphrey Coliseum. "Once again, this team doesn't quit," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said.
 
Bulldogs rally for victory
The third time was the charm for Mississippi State. Auburn had defeated the Bulldogs twice during the regular season but MSU simply would not go away in the third round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament on Thursday night. The Tigers held a 14-point lead at the first media timeout of the second half and the Bulldog had yet to lead in the contest. Then MSU proceeded to go on a 19-4 run out of the timeout and finished with a 59-54 victory to advance to the Elite Eight of the WNIT for the first time. Martha Alwal added her 31st career double-double and 12th of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds in addition to five blocked shots.
 
Kendra Grant leads Mississippi State to comeback win over Auburn
With Mississippi State's season hanging in the balance, Kendra Grant caught fire. The junior scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half to help Mississippi State rally past Auburn 59-54 in the Women's NIT round of 16 at Humphrey Coliseum. "Well once again, this team just doesn't quit. They are just so resilient," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "...I don't think we had a good stretch in the first half." That didn't matter against Auburn (19-15), which was 2-0 this season against Mississippi State entering Thursday's game. "With the SEC being what it is, we should have met in the championship," Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. "Not in the third round."
 
Mississippi State advances to WNIT quarterfinals with victory against Auburn
Mississippi State was determined to extend its women's basketball season a tad bit longer. Rallying from a 14-point deficit early in the second half, the Bulldogs stormed past Auburn 59-54 into the quarterfinals of the WNIT. MSU (22-13) will make its first quarterfinal appearance and host South Florida (22-12) at 5 p.m. Sunday. The Bulldogs' 22 victories are the most since the 2008-09 squad won 23 contests. "Once again, this team doesn't quit," MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said. "Resilient is the word. We did not have a good stretch in the first half. To come out in the second half and have that kind of effort ...this team is different."
 
Tigers fall to Mississippi State in WNIT Sweet 16
Turnovers and fouls. That's what it came down to in Auburn's 59-54 season-ending loss to Mississippi State in the quarterfinals of the WNIT on Thursday night at Humphrey Coliseum. The Tigers (19-15) committed a seson-high 26 turnovers, which the Bulldogs (21-14) took full advantage of. And if that wasn't bad enough, with the Tigers trailing by 2 with just under a minute left in the game, Auburn senior leading scorer Tyrese Tanner fouled out, ending her career on the Plains. "It is a tough way to end the season," Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. Mississippi State will play South Florida in the WNIT's Elite Eight.
 
Multiple outfielders to take part in Mississippi State-Arkansas baseball series
Unfortunately for Mississippi State coach John Cohen there's only three starting outfield spots in a lineup. In the musical chairs of the Bulldogs outfield, Cohen has to figure out which player involving Jake Vickerson, C.T. Bradford, Demarcus Henderson and Derrick Armstrong won't have a seat this weekend. When No. 16 MSU (18-9, 4-2) hosts Arkansas (16-8, 3-3) for a three-game set, Cohen will need two critical pieces of information - who's pitching for the Razorbacks and the health status of Bradford. "They're all really mature kids and they realize what we're trying to accomplish here," Cohen said.
 
Bulldogs look to maintain momentum
Mississippi State will vie for its third consecutive series victory to open SEC play this weekend, hosting Arkansas for a three-game set. The 16th-ranked Diamond Dogs took two games each from Georgia and Vanderbilt to begin league play and hope to remain atop the league standings against the Razorbacks. "You just hope your club gets off to a really good start (against Arkansas)," said MSU coach John Cohen. "We'd love to have the same type of home field advantage that we had last weekend with a tremendous, vocal crowd. I think our kids really feed off of that, who wouldn't? We've got to get off to a great start on the mound and certainly Preston (Brown) did that last weekend also."
 
Setup Pitch: Arkansas (16-8, 3-3) vs. No. 16 Mississippi State (18-9, 4-2)
Early this season, the talk around the baseball team dealt with comparisons to last season, when Mississippi State went 17-0 before losing its first game. This year it lost the season opener and, through eight games, was a .500 team. Perhaps the expectations were too high for a team that went to the College World Series finals a year ago. But as the 16th-ranked Bulldogs enter their third Southeastern Conference series of the year, they are ahead of last year's pace in the Southeastern Conference. Today, MSU hosts Arkansas with a chance for its third SEC series win. The Bulldogs didn't win their third conference series until April 20 last year.
 
Freshman Silkwood growing, along with rest of Mississippi State softball team
When Mississippi State desperately needed a lift on the softball diamond Sunday afternoon, head coach Vann Stuedeman turned to a freshman. Alexis Silkwood delivered. The former Marquette Catholic High School standout from East Alton, Ill., threw a complete-game three-hitter as MSU snapped a six-game conference losing streak with a 5-2 win over No. 21 Auburn. Taking to the circle at Jane B. Moore Field when her team needed her the most was something Silkwood envisioned when she made her first official visit to the school more than a year ago.
 
MSU NOTEBOOK: Wilson gets back to football
De'Runnya Wilson has had a busy freshman year. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder appeared in all 13 games for Mississippi State as a wide receiver catching 26 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Wilson also walked onto the basketball team after he completed his football duties playing in seven games scoring six points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Wilson left the basketball team prior to the SEC tournament to recover a slight groin injury before spring football practice began. "As far as his transition, he was in shape from basketball," said wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales. "Obviously now he'll get a chance to get bigger, faster and stronger with us with football speed. But his mentality and attitude have been awesome and is everything that we need."
 
Mississippi State QB coach Johnson building bond with Prescott
Brian Johnson's first act as Mississippi State's new quarterbacks coach was to humble his star pupil. In the first drill of the first spring practice last week, Johnson introduced Pete Maravich ball handling drills that would be more familiar to basketball players. All the MSU quarterbacks, including the Southeastern Conference's most experienced returnee at the position Dak Prescott, struggled with the figure-eight and spider drills with a football. "Nobody handles the ball more than the quarterback and I believe strongly we as quarterbacks are ball handlers," Johnson said. "It was nice to see him and the other guys realize why we're doing this because they're going to catch snaps and throw the ball from all different angles."
 
Former Ole Miss coach Orgeron surfaces at Mississippi State coaching clinic
Ed Orgeron's head coaching tenure at Ole Miss ended the day after a loss to Mississippi State. On Thursday, nearly seven years after losing to the Bulldogs in the 2007 Egg Bowl to cap off a 10-25 three-year tenure, Orgeron was in Starkville again -- this time as the featured speaker at MSU's coaching clinic. Orgeron arrived on Mississippi State's campus and spent time talking to coaches, players and many of the state's high school coaches in attendance this week. "It's great to see all these high school coaches out getting to see someone who has had success in every phase ...as a position coach, as a head coach, as a coordinator ...all of the different titles and roles he's had," Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen said. "He's a guy I have tremendous respect for and think is a fabulous football coach."
 
Dooley on college athletes unionizing: It's just a sign of the times
Vince Dooley is sure relieved he's not running an athletic program these days. Not after a decision allowing Northwestern football players to unionize, and what that might mean for all college sports. "If this ever happens," said Dooley, now retired after four decades as Georgia's football coach and athletic director, "the issues would be unlimited. What might happen from school to school, from day to day, from year to year, I don't know. I'm just glad I've served my time." Around the country Thursday, coaches and administrators pondered the potential ramifications of the stunning decision by the National Labor Relations Board, which ruled the Northwestern football team -- up to now, referred to by the NCAA as student-athletes -- are actually university employees in everything but name. Therefore, they should be able to bargain collectively for their fair share of an industry worth billions.
 
Racial divide in public opinion on paying athletes
When defending his position that college athletes should not be paid, National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert points to public opposition to the idea. "We have long heard from fans that there is little support for turning student-athletes into paid employees of their universities," Emmert said in response to this week's Washington Post/ABC News poll that found only 33 percent of the public support paying athletes. The overwhelming majority of athletes are also playing sports that don't generate millions for their universities, and they skew middle-class and white. The majority of football and men's basketball players, on the other hand, are black, and in many cases from low-income homes. So perhaps it's not surprising that the Post/ABC poll, as well as a new poll from HBO Real Sports and Marist College, revealed a large racial divide among those who believe athletes should be paid -- and who believe race is part of the reason they're not.
 
College Athletes Aim to Put Price on 'Priceless'
If quarterback Johnny Manziel were an employee of Texas A&M, he would be a bargain. While university officials readily acknowledge that their star player's contributions to the university have been "priceless" and "immeasurable," Johnny Football, as he is known to his fans, probably cost the school about $120,000 in scholarships during the three years that Mr. Manziel, who is now going pro, attended Texas A&M. When Mr. Manziel sharply lifted the national profile of the Aggies' football program in 2012 and 2013, donations to the school rose by $300 million from the previous year to $740 million, a record. "Manziel has gotten a lot of benefits out of his college career in terms of training and exposure," said Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College and an expert on the business of sports. "But one could say this is a commercial enterprise, and if the free market were operating here like in the N.F.L., players would be getting roughly 50 percent of the revenues they create." College athletics, however, hardly resemble a free market.



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