Michigan State University holding virtual ceremonies for fall 2020 graduates

EAST LANSING, MI — All commencement ceremonies at Michigan State University for fall 2020 graduates will be held virtually, the university announced Thursday.

More than 2,600 graduates will be recognized Dec. 18 and 19 at commencement ceremonies that will be streamed on the MSU commencement website, according to a university release. The names of graduates will be scrolled on the screens at the end of the ceremonies, the release said.

“I am incredibly proud of these students for not only completing their degrees but doing so under such difficult circumstances,” said MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. “It is fitting to have three highly accomplished alumni serving as our keynote speakers. They remind us of the impact we can have on the world as Spartans.”

Scheduling for spring 2021 commencement is currently being developed, according to the commencement website. Details will be posted in late January, according to the website.

Todd Penegor, president at CEO of The Wendy’s Co., will be the keynote speaker for the master’s degree ceremony at 10 a.m. Dec. 18, the release states. Penegor grew up in Iron Mountain, Michigan, and earned a bachelor of arts in accounting in 1987 and an MBA in finance in 1989 from MSU.

Princeton University professor Mara Tienda will address doctorate degree recipients at 2 p.m. Dec. 18. Tienda, a sociology and public affairs professor at Princeton, was a member of MSU’s Honors College and earned her bachelor of arts in Spanish from the university in 1972.

Draymond Green, a current member of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, will address the baccalaureate degree recipients at 10 a.m. Dec. 19, the release states. In his time at MSU, Green helped the Spartans earn two Final Four appearances and a Big Ten Tournament championship in 2012.

More information on the commencement ceremonies can be found here.


2-year, on-campus living requirement back at Michigan State University

No spring break, more in-person classes coming for Michigan State University students

Fall enrollment decline could result in $54M loss for Michigan State University

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How Ohio State could impact Big Ten, College Football Playoff debate

Welcome to Before The Snap, For The Win’s college football show where we’ll break down the sport’s trending storylines, examine each week’s biggest matchups and track the College Football Playoff and Heisman Trophy races.

Going into Week 14 of this strange college football season, the top-4 teams in the country remain clear: Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State. But whether or not those four teams actually make it to the College Football Playoff is a bit more complicated this year because the season is carrying on through the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of Thursday morning, Ohio State has the second-best chance to make the College Football Playoff, according to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, at 77.4 percent — behind only Alabama with 96.4 percent.

However, the Buckeyes are 4-0 and have had two games this season canceled already, and they have two games remaining on their schedule. They’re set to play Michigan State on Saturday and Michigan the following weekend. But if either of those matchups are canceled, they won’t meet the Big Ten’s six-game threshold to be eligible for the conference championship game.

If Ohio State plays and wins its next two games, none of this will be an issue. But if it’s unable to play for a conference title — a factor the selection committee considers — can it still make the playoff?

We break down Ohio State’s position in the Big Ten and how this season’s playoff debate could be even more complex than usual.

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College football odds, picks for Week 14 in Big 12: Iowa State can make history Saturday vs. West Virginia

First impressions are important, but they aren’t permanent. As Iowa State sits on the verge of clinching a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game, I think back to its season-opening loss to Louisiana as a good example. I wasn’t surprised that the Cyclones lost that game, but my big takeaway was that they weren’t good enough to really make noise in the Big 12 Championship Game race, let alone win it all. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

Let me explain. My rationale was that while the 31-14 score was misleading — the Ragin’ Cajuns had two special teams touchdowns and one explosive 78-yard score — an otherwise evenly-played game was still a problem for Iowa State. Should the Cyclones really be going blow-for-blow with a Sun Belt opponent if they’re going to be one of the two best teams in the Big 12? 

As it turns out, though, Louisiana is pretty damn good, too, and headed towards a Sun Belt title game rematch with Coastal Carolina. The Cyclones were also missing top tight end Charlie Kolar that day. And it was the first game of 2020. Who knows with these teams sometimes?

That’s not to say that the Louisiana loss doesn’t matter now, but not when it comes to the Big 12 race. Iowa State has capitalized on a rare window by beating Oklahoma early in the year when the Sooners were more vulnerable and then inching past Texas over Thanksgiving weekend on a short week. Running back Breece Hall’s “five-star culture vs. five-star players” money quote has become the unofficial M.O. of the Cyclones’ 2020 season. Coach Matt Campbell has almost always had his team ready to play big games, but this is the first time the Cyclones have topped the Sooners and Longhorns in the same year. 

Iowa State has clinched at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title, but hasn’t won a conference championship since 1912. To be clear, there’s still some work to be done before it can break that streak. But the Cyclones, ranked No. 9 in the latest College Football Playoff poll, are in good position to do that. It starts with the final regular-season game against West Virginia. Speaking of which …  


West Virginia at No. 9 Iowa State

Latest Odds:


I’m not particularly worried that the Cyclones will look toward the end zone before catching the ball, if you catch my drift. This is a good defensive battle and the score should reflect that. If taking the under on the 49.5 point total is your thing, I don’t think it’s a bad play. The key for me is that while West Virginia’s offense has been better, it’s mostly been better at home against so-so competition. Conversely, it hasn’t traveled well and the Mountaineers would need to prove otherwise for me to ride with them. Pick: Iowa State -6.5

No. 15 Oklahoma State at TCU 

You smell that? We have a stinky line in Fort Worth,

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College football picks, odds for Big Ten in Week 14: Ohio State rolls, Wisconsin bounces back against Indiana

The Big Ten has had a theme of games getting canceled this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That will be the case once again this week with Maryland at Michigan and Northwestern at Minnesota off due to the virus and protocols.

After being forced to cancel last week’s game due to COVID-19, Ohio State returns to the field to show that it belongs in the conversation for the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 4 in the most recent College Football Playoff Rankings behind the likes of Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson. Ohio State just has Michigan State and Michigan to cap off the season and in actuality, Michigan State could be their final opponent of the season given Michigan’s recent COVID-19 outbreak. 

The most intriguing game on the Big Ten slate is Indiana taking on Wisconsin in the only battle of ranked teams. However, a game that looked really interesting on paper took a hit last week when Hoosiers star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. suffered a torn ACL against Maryland. Now sophomore Jack Tuttle, who has very limited experience, will take over the reins and have an uphill battle against a very tough Wisconsin team on the road. 

Let’s take a closer look at this week’s conference slate with the latest edition of Big Ten picks.

No. 4 Ohio State at Michigan State

Latest Odds:


Ohio State returns to the gridiron after having last week’s game canceled as a result of COVID-19. The Buckeyes will be looking to make a statement with just two more games remaining on their schedule. However, this matchup against Michigan State could be just what the doctor ordered for Ohio State. The Buckeyes possess the top scoring offense in the Big Ten while the Spartans rank dead last with just 18 points per contest. While a three-touchdown line is hefty, I have zero doubt that Justin Fields and company will put a ton of points on the board. Pick: Ohio State (-23.5)

Latest Odds:


Nebraska has been one of the most disappointing teams in the Big Ten this season. Despite only having one win entering last week’s game against Iowa, the Cornhuskers took the Hawkeyes to the limit and even led in the second half. Quarterback Adrian Martinez was nearly flawless as he threw just two incompletions and made plays with his legs. This game has the potential to be another close one for a Nebraska team that has lost three of their past four games by eight points or less. However, I think the Cornhuskers do just enough to steal one on the road. Pick: Nebraska (+2.5)

Polar opposites will be doing battle when Penn State takes on Rutgers. The Nittany Lions had lofty expectations entering the 2020 season and didn’t earn their first win until just this past week against Michigan. On the other hand, Rutgers has been the laughingstock of the Big Ten for several seasons, but coach Greg Schiano has really turned the

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LSU, Penn State and the 2020 stumbles of college football’s power programs come to light in Week 14

It has been just 11 months since LSU topped Clemson 42-25 in the College Football Playoff National Championship, completing what might have been the best season by a team in the sport’s history. And it already feels ancient.

On Saturday, LSU will stumble toward its 2020 finish line with a makeup date against Alabama that perfectly encapsulates all that has gone wrong for the Tigers in the past 11 months.

This week, head coach Ed Orgeron lamented the latest opt-out of a star player, as WR Terrace Marshall ended his time with the program. Orgeron spoke glowingly of his former players, the stars of 2019, now off to spectacular starts in the NFL. He did his best to add some optimism to a lost season, promising the 3-4 Tigers would “be champions again” at some point.

But when Orgeron was asked whether his team was better equipped today to face Alabama than it would have been three weeks ago, when the game was originally scheduled to be played, his answer felt pretty telling of all that 2020 has wrought for the defending champs.

“Yes,” Orgeron said, “because now we have enough players to play the game.”

After winning the CFP championship last season, 2020 has been much harder on Ed Orgeron and 3-4 LSU. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

LSU is among the most prominent examples of 2020’s misfortunes.

But Orgeron’s misery is nothing compared to what has happened at Penn State. The Nittany Lions won their first game of the season last week, but that’s hardly enough to forget how inept they looked during an unprecedented 0-5 start. Now, Penn State travels to Rutgers this weekend with more potential embarrassment waiting around every corner.

The team Penn State beat last weekend might be in a worse position. Michigan just canceled its game with Maryland this weekend, COVID-19’s intrusion into the Wolverines’ locker room the latest problem for embattled coach Jim Harbaugh.

Look around the standings and it’s not hard to find programs that ended 2019 on a high note — Louisville, Baylor, Utah, Tennessee — that might now be wondering if playing this season was worth all the trouble. And that doesn’t even touch on Nebraska. No team has ever pushed harder or argued louder for the right to go 1-4.

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Orgeron, for one, refused to blame COVID-19 for the setbacks, but it is fair to wonder whether LSU-Alabama or Tennessee-Florida or Virginia Tech-Clemson might be a whole lot more interesting if everything off the field in 2020 had been — well, a whole lot less interesting.

“Nobody wants to go through a season like this, but I do believe we’re building character and grit that will help us later on,” Orgeron said. “You always have to represent LSU with pride, and the standard is very high. We haven’t met that. I’m not going

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Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State odds: 2020 college basketball picks, Dec. 3 predictions from proven model

The Eastern Illinois Panthers will take on the Chicago State Cougars at 3 p.m. ET Thursday at Lantz Arena. EIU is 0-3 and is playing its first home game, while Chicago State is 0-3 and 0-1 on the road. Chicago State was 4-25 last season and winless in the WAC. Eastern Illinois went 17-15 overall with a 9-9 mark in the OVC. 

The Panthers are favored by 24 points in the latest Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State odds from William Hill Sportsbook. The over-under for total points expected is set at 134. Before entering any Chicago State vs. Eastern Illinois picks, you’ll want to see the college basketball predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every FBS college basketball game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated an impressive profit of almost $2,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread. It’s also off to a fast start in the 2020-21 season, going 4-1 on its top-rated picks and returning over $300. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several college basketball odds for Chicago State vs. Eastern Illinois:

  • Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State spread: Eastern Illinois -24
  • Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State over-under: 134 points
  • Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State money line: Eastern Illinois -10000, Chicago State 2000

Latest Odds:


What you need to know about Eastern Illinois

The Panthers fell 66-63 to the Dayton Flyers on Tuesday. One thing holding EIU back was the play of guard Josiah Wallace, who struggled from the floor. He played for 29 minutes but put up just six points on 3-for-14 shooting.

Though EIU is winless, it has played a tough schedule and has been able to cover in two out of three matchups. The Panthers easily stayed within the 14.5-point spread against Dayton and the 20.5-point spread against Wisconsin in a 77-67 loss. 

What you need to know about Chicago State

Chicago State, meanwhile, has struggled to be competitive thus far. The Cougars are 0-3 against the spread and are coming off a 74-44 loss to North Carolina A&T. 

They’ll need to improve on both ends of the court, and it will start with more accurate shooting. The Cougars are hitting just 31.2 percent of their shots from the field and only 19.7 percent from 3-point range. Jordan Polynice (10.7 ppg) is the only player scoring more than 7.0 ppg.

How to make Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State picks

The model has simulated Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State 10,000 times and the results are in. It is leaning under on the total, and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in over 70 percent of simulations. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

So who wins Eastern Illinois vs. Chicago State? And which side of the

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NC State vs. UMass Lowell odds, line: 2020 college basketball picks, Dec 3. predictions from proven model

The UMass Lowell River Hawks will take on the NC State Wolfpack at 4:30 p.m. ET on Thursday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The River Hawks are 1-2 while NC State is 2-0. The programs have never played before but both are exceeding the expectations of oddsmakers early in the 2020-21 college basketball season.

The River Hawks have covered in two of three games so far and NC State has covered comfortably as sizable favorites in each of its first two games. The Wolfpack are favored by 17 points in the latest NC State vs. UMass Lowell odds from William Hill Sportsbook and the over-under is set at 152. Before entering any UMass Lowell vs. NC State picks, you’ll want to see the college basketball predictions from the model at SportsLine.

The SportsLine Projection Model simulates every Division I college basketball game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated an impressive profit of almost $2,600 for $100 players on its top-rated college basketball picks against the spread. It’s also off to a fast start in the 2020-21 season, going 4-1 on its top-rated picks and returning over $300. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on NC State vs. UMass Lowell. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several college basketball odds for UMass Lowell vs. NC State:

  • NC State vs. UMass Lowell spread: NC State -17
  • NC State vs. UMass Lowell over-under: 152 points
  • NC State vs. UMass Lowell money line: NC State -2400, UMass Lowell +1100

What you need to know about NC State

NC State played well at home against the North Florida Ospreys last Friday as the team secured an 86-51 win. NC State got double-digit scoring from four players: F Jericole Hellems (17), G Cam Hayes (13), F D.J. Funderburk (11), and F Manny Bates (10).

Funderburk averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game a season ago. He and Bates will be a particularly difficult matchup for the River Hawks. UMass Lowell doesn’t have anybody on the roster who measures taller than 6-foot-8 and Funderburk is 6-foot-10, while Bates is 6-foot-11. 

What you need to know about UMass Lowell

Meanwhile, UMass Lowell came up short against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday, falling 74-64. Guard Obadiah Noel had a tough game, finishing with 15 points on 5-for-21 shooting and turning the ball over four times in his 40 minutes on the court. However, Noel has still averaged 24.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and poured in 35 on just 19 shot attempts in a hard-fought loss to Illinois State last week.

How to make NC State vs. UMass Lowell picks

The model has simulated NC State vs. UMass Lowell 10,000 times and the results are in. It model is leaning over on the total and it’s also generated a point-spread pick that is hitting in almost 70 percent of simulations. You can only

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Worcester School Committee stands by decision to extend remote learning, will respond to letter from state education officials

Members of the Worcester School Committee on Thursday night stood by a decision to extend remote learning during the pandemic, as the district administration works to respond to a request for more information from Massachusetts education officials.

Superintendent Maureen Binienda told committee members during Thursday’s meeting that the district received a letter from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education seeking more information about when students are expected to return to classrooms. Other districts that are using online learning models also got a letter, Binienda said.

Last month, the committee voted to push back the start of a hybrid learning model as updates to school HVAC systems were ongoing. Members had vowed to not bring back students until buildings are safe, and also noted rising coronavirus rates in the community, which continue to increase. Students with the highest level of needs are slated to return to school buildings on Jan. 25, while other students are expected to return later.

Gov. Charlie Baker, Education Secretary James Peyser and DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley in November urged districts to bring students into classrooms unless there is evidence of in-school spread of coronavirus.

“We did receive a letter this week, as did other districts who have been full remote with special needs students, stating that they would like us to send a plan within 10 days and share what is our plan for getting our Group C, special ed students, back in school,” Binienda said.

The district is working on a response that refers to the hybrid plan previously approved by the committee.

“We will be writing that report this weekend and giving it to the mayor on Monday to review. We will include in that report a copy of both the district and the school-level reopening transition plan,” Binienda said.

Mayor Joseph Petty, the chair of the committee, noted that decisions on schooling are not made lightly and that Binienda meets regularly with Worcester Medical Director Dr. Michael Hirsh.

“I’m not disagreeing with the [DESE] commissioner. Worcester, I think, is different than some other communities and if I could bring everybody back I would. I would bring definitely back Group C,” Petty said. “I think it’s a bigger mistake to have jump-starts and start over again.”

Member Tracy O’Connell Novick noted that each day, multiple districts across the state have shifted learning plans and said disruption of the educational process is harmful to children’s learning.

“I do very much, Mr. Chair, resent the amount of pressure that the department and the state are putting on schools right now. I do not think that their primary concern right now is actually the education of our children. I think they’re trying to win a point,” Novick said.

Novick requested that Petty write and submit a cover letter that includes information about the positivity rate in Worcester, the communicability of coronavirus and its long-term effects.

Committee members said Thursday that they are glad Worcester students have not had to flip-flop between hybrid and remote models and

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State Superintendent Michael Rice orders replacement of GISD special education funding formula

GENESEE COUNTY, MI — State Superintendent Michael Rice has ruled the formula used to funnel some special education dollars through the Genesee Intermediate School District to local districts does not meet legal requirements.

In a Nov. 24 ruling, Rice ordered that the current formula be immediately replaced with one that is more equitable.

Under the previous formula, the GISD Mandatory Plan appropriates $3.8 million of Act 18 special education funds back to local districts based on a three-part formula:

-Total special education headcount

-Full-time-equivalent (FTE) special education student head count

-Total FTE headcount

FTE head count is adjusted for part-time student numbers. These three factors are currently equally weighted.

The formula did not accommodate Flint Community Schools’ declining enrollment and unique circumstances created by the water crisis, Rice ruled.

Flint schools had a total student count of 7,207 in 2013, the year the formula was last modified.

This year, enrollment is around 3,200, a lost nearly 4,000 students over a seven-year span.

The Flint district is now the sixth largest school district in the county, behind Grand Blanc, Davison, Flushing, Carman-Ainsworth, and Fenton.

Approximately 22% of Flint’s students have special needs and require an individualized education program, almost twice the statewide average.

Under the existing formula, Flint Community Schools received $253,456 in special education funding from GISD Act 18 funds during the 2019-20 school year.

Rice outlined a new formula in his ruling that removes total FTE headcount.

Under the new proposed formula, the district would have received $549,409 in the same school same year.

Other school districts in Genesee County that would receive increased funding under the new proposed formula include Carman Ainsworth, Linden, Mt. Morris, Kearsley, Genesee School District, Flushing and Bendle.

The change also means less money for 25 of the 36 districts or public school academies with a high total student count but lower percentage of special education students.

The ruling by Rice indicates progress for students receiving special education funding at Flint Community Schools and throughout Genesee County, per a Flint Community Schools news release.

“This isn’t just a step forward for Flint Community Schools—it’s a step forward for all students in Genesee County who rely on the critical special education services schools provide,” Flint Community Schools Board of Education President Casey Lester said in a statement. “I am pleased that we are advancing toward a commonsense solution that puts the needs of children first.”

The formula proposed by Rice differs both from the current formula and the formula recommended by Flint Community Schools in their formal objection, GISD Associate Superintendent Steven Tunnicliff said in an email to MLive-The Flint Journal.

This decision impacts every local school district and public school academy in Genesee County, Tunnicliff said.

Rice also noted in his ruling that the GISD may, in collaboration with local districts, public school academy leaders, and the parent advisory committee, submit an alternative formula that would address the deficiencies determined to exist with the current plan for his consideration and approval, Tunnicliff said.


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Washington State University Health Sciences Launches Life Sciences Incubator, sp3nw, Supported by $250,000 Grant From Bank of America – Press Release

SPOKANE, Wash.–(Business Wire)–Washington State University (WSU) Health Sciences today announced the launch of Spinout Space in Spokane (sp³nw), a new life sciences incubator that will launch start-up companies. As part of this launch, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation confirmed its support for sp3nw with a $250,000 grant, allowing sp3nw to begin incubating WSU research and innovation into biotech, pharma, diagnostics, and medical device companies, while also connecting regional entrepreneurs with WSU faculty expertise.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201203005670/en/

“There is a long-unmet need in the state of Washington for an entity like sp3nw to identify, support, incubate and accelerate early-stage life science and health care companies,” said Glenn Prestwich, WSU President’s Distinguished Professor, and director of sp3nw. “With Bank of America’s support and commitment to creating economic advancement across the state, sp3nw can now begin to spin out companies from WSU technologies, while also connecting emerging life sciences companies to WSU researchers and experts.”

With its extensive networks of affiliates and mentors, sp3nw offers something truly unique to WSU and community bio-entrepreneurs. The collaborative program makes it easier to commercialize discovery and invention. The resulting products will catalyze global health care innovation, while also driving economic opportunity and job growth in the region.

sp3nw, its partners and supporters join a growing movement to apply life sciences beyond the laboratory. Organizations are coming together to bring life-saving and life-enhancing products to market faster and at a reduced cost. The resulting products will catalyze global health care innovation, drive economic growth, and create high-value jobs.

The grant provided by Bank of America is intended to advance economic mobility by supporting nonprofit organizations serving education and workforce, community development and basic needs. In addition to funding from Bank of America’s $1 billion, four-year initiative, year to date, the bank has deployed more than $830,000 to 32 local organizations across Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho to address basic community and health needs.

“The health and humanitarian crisis brought on by the coronavirus illustrates the importance of health care innovation. This grant represents our confidence in sp3nw’s mission to provide vital support for local entrepreneurs and researchers bringing life-changing technologies to market,” said Kurt Walsdorf, Bank of America Spokane and Idaho market president. “At Bank of America, we believe this innovative incubator model will help foster economic growth that further anchors Eastern Washington’s prominence in our state’s fast-growing health care industry while creating sustainable, local, high-wage jobs in the Inland Northwest.”

This project ties to the foundational land-grant mission of WSU and its health sciences campus, where service to the community is bolstered by students’ access to life-changing education and research. These future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and researchers then bring the benefits of innovation to the health care needs of the citizens of Washington.

“Bank of America’s generosity and support are enhancing quality of life and economic vitality, while

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