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November 14, 2014 News, Slider Featured stories
Kalli Bubb/The News Chase Bryant (above) was one of the stars to play at CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” concert at the CFSB Center Wednesday night.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Chase Bryant (above) was one of the stars to play at CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” concert at the CFSB Center Wednesday night.

(WITH SLIDESHOW) – As promised, CMT brought its film crews and country music stars to invade campus Wednesday. As part of the prize for winning CMT’s “Country College Town Sweepstakes,” the show “Hot 20 Countdown” was filmed throughout campus and an A-list concert was brought to the CFSB Center.

Tuesday it was announced students should meet in the Quad Wednesday afternoon for an opportunity to be on television by making an appearance on the “Country Music Countdown” show.

Around 75 students gathered in front of the Rainey T. Wells statue in the Quad and hooped and hollered as the two hosts of “Hot 20 Countdown” filmed the show’s opening stand up and introduced videos.

“I’ve wanted to be on CMT since I was 13,” said Sarah McKenzie, senior from Cadiz, Ky., who finally had the opportunity to achieve that dream Wednesday.

The hosts of the show posed for pictures with students and carried conversations between takes despite the cold temperatures.

Kory Savage/The News President Bob Davies crowd-surfs across a pit of students after playing a game of corn hole with country music star Joe Nichols.

Kory Savage/The News
President Bob Davies crowd-surfs across a pit of students after playing a game of corn hole with country music star Joe Nichols.

Murray State was the smallest school in the sweepstakes, beating out much larger universities like Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University by a multitude of votes.

“I think it was a shock,” said Cody Alan, host of “Hot 20 Countdown.” “You would think larger schools would have the advantage, but I think the passion for CMT, our show, ‘Hot 20 Countdown,’ and for what we were doing in our quest to find the one school in America that wanted to have a free country music concert that it showed the passion behind the cause and I was happy to see it.”

Not only did Alan feel this way about Murray State’s victory in the sweepstakes, his co-host Katie Cook had similar feelings.

“It really shows that determination pays off in a contest like this,” she said. “We are all really proud of you guys.”

Unlike many of the other students in attendance at the filming, Emily Clark, junior from Owenton, Ky., said her teacher let her out early to be a part of the unique experience.

“The whole experience is just really cool,” Clark said. “It is just a really good opportunity and I didn’t even have to skip class to come. We convinced the teacher to let us out early.”

The tapings across campus were a preview to the main concert event Wednesday night.

As part of the prize for winning the sweepstakes CMT brought Chase Bryant, Joe Nichols and Big and Rich to the CFSB Center for a free concert just for Murray State students and the Murray community.

Chase Bryant opened the show by saying he could “use a little bit of Murray, Ky.,” and dedicated a song to all the couples in love in the audience to raise their phones up high, lighting up the arena with the glow of cell phone light.


Kory Savage/The News President Bob Davies crowd-surfs across a pit of students after playing a game of corn hole with country music star Joe Nichols.

Bryant pleased the crowd most when he covered the song “Fishin’ In The Dark” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and then stripped off his shirt and put on a Murray State T-shirt. He then sang his hit single “Take It On Back,” to close his set.

Between sets, Alan and Cook entertained the crowd with games and activities like  a sign competition. The winning sign read “Save a horse, ride a racer!”

There was also a corn hole competition between President Bob Davies and Nichols, which Nichols was the winner of.  Davies then crowd-surfed across the pit.

The crowd erupted with applause as Nichols opened his set with his 2002 hit “Brokenheartsville,” and told the crowd they “looked so beautiful tonight like the stars in the sky.”

Nichols surprised the crowd by doing his own rendition of “country rap” by rapping the song “I Like Big Butts” by Sir Mix-A-Lot.

A surprise in the audience was an appearance by Santa Clause. Many students and children in the audience fled to the man dressed up in the red suit for pictures and to tell him their Christmas wishes.

“The people at Froggy told me if I dressed as Santa I would have a better chance of getting to the front,” said Doug Mullins of Murray. “My wife told me people would think I was crazy but so many children have come up asking for pictures that it makes the whole thing worth it.”

Big and Rich closed the show and started their first song in the back of the arena and working their way through the crowd to the stage.

John Rich, one of the two lead singers in the group, congratulated Murray State by saying students in Murray kicked the other schools’ asses.

Big and Rich also debuted their new single “Who You Been Lovin’ Lately” that they collaborated on with country artist Tim McGraw.

Big and Rich ended their set and closed the show by playing their biggest hit, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”

Nicole Fix, sophomore from O’Fallon, Ill., was excited for CMT to bring entertainers, like Nichols and Big and Rich, which she grew up loving and listening to.

“I was most excited to see Joe Nichols and Big and Rich,” Fix said. “They’re from my childhood so it doesn’t matter if their songs are from six years ago; they’re great entertainers.”

The footage shot in Murray Wednesday will be shown on CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” show at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22 on CMT.

Story by Breanna Sill, Features Editor

Legendary comedian and entertainer greets new, familiar faces

October 17, 2014 Features, Slider Featured stories

Breanna Sill/The News Bill Cosby sports a Murray State baseball cap and sweatshirt at the opening of his “Far From Finished” tour performance Saturday.

Historic funny man Bill Cosby brought his comedy tour, “Far From Finished,” to the CFSB Center Saturday night to provide a bit of comedic relief to round out the day’s Homecoming festivities.

Cosby took to the stage in a Murray State sweatshirt and baseball cap. Within minutes Cosby had students and community members doubled over in their seats laughing.

Cosby poked fun at everything from graduation and marijuana to women and religion.

“When even the school is tired of taking your money, you know your kids have been in school too long,” Cosby said of his daughter’s numerous major changes throughout her college years.

  Cosby also made crowd engagement a large part of his performace. If he heard a wrong answer to a question he asked, he would politely ask the audience member to stay in their seat after the show ended to be explained the correct answer by “a volunteer.”

Before the show began, Cosby did a meet and greet with a few lucky community members and President Bob Davies and his family.

However, this was not the first time the two men had met.

During Davies’ adolescent years he played competitive tennis in Reno, Nev., and Cosby, who loves tennis, would come to the court and watch his team play and occasionally join in.

“One time, during a celebrity tennis match, he was doing a fundraiser type of deal,” Davies said. “His celebrity partner didn’t show up at the last minute – I think it was a plane issue – and he remembered playing with me and so he just looked at me and said, ‘Let’s go!’”


Photo courtesy of the CFSB Center Zbynek Smetana surprised Bill Cosby Saturday night with artwork that was displayed on “The Cosby Show” that now resides in Murray State’s permanent art collection.

Davies was able to sit down with Cosby and remind him of the event and talk about their mutual friends and memories of playing tennis together backstage before the show.

For many people, Cosby may be most well-known for his time on his sitcom “The Cosby Show,” which was based on his own family.

During Cosby’s time on the popular sitcom, the fictional Huxtable family became a household name.

What some viewers of the television show may not know about is Cosby’s love of art. Throughout the show, the painting that was hung above the fireplace in the Huxtable home was different in every episode.

Three of the different pieces of art displayed during the show were photographs of paintings created by Ellis Wilson, an artist from Mayfield, Ky.

These paintings are now property of the Murray State art and design department’s permanent collection, after being donated to the Clara M. Eagle art gallery.

The paintings have not been shown on campus since 2000.

Zbynek Smetana, chair of the department of art and design, thought surprising Cosby before his show by pulling the paintings out of the permanent collection would be a nice gesture.

“At first, when I showed Mr. Cosby the paintings, he asked me if he could buy them,” Smetana said. “I told him he could not because they were property of the University, but we did shake hands and strike a deal.”

Smetana promised Cosby he would have the University’s photography department take high quality photographs of the paintings and have them sent to Cosby’s team for use in his upcoming NBC and Netflix specials.

“We will have the paintings photographed to look real,” Smetana said. “And Murray State will be credited during the specials.”

Story by Breanna SillAssistant Features Editor

Zac Brown Band to appear at CFSB Center

January 24, 2014 Features, Media Reviews

Photos courtesy of zacbrownband.com
Lead singer, Zac Brown, performs in Fresno, Calif.

Three-time Grammy winning and multi-platinum selling artists, musicians of the Zac Brown Band, will make an appearance at the CFSB Center Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.

Zac Brown, lead vocals, along with band members Coy Bowles, Jimmy De Martini, Chris Fryar, Clay Cook, Daniel de los Reyes and John Driskell Hopkins will perform along with opening acts Levi Lowrey and the AJ Ghent Band.

Levi Lowrey is a singer and songwriter with a unique country vibe from Dacula, Georgia. Lowrey began as a fiddle player and has several nominations from the Country Music Awards and co-wrote “Colder Weather,” “Day for the Dead” and “The Wind” with the Zac Brown Band. Lowrey’s self-titled album features 13 new songs and debuts on Feb. 25.

The AJ Ghent Band composes soul, funk and country songs. Along with the Zac Brown Band, Levi Lowrey is a part of the same label company, Southern Ground. AJ Ghent, lead vocals, has performance in his blood. His grandfather and father were guitarists for their church.

The band toured with the Zac Brown Band in 2013 and continues to tour now.

Though the Zac Brown Band has a southern rock vibe, it is still one of the most popular country groups in the world. In 2013, the band performed more than 70 headline dates for more than 1.3 million fans and appeared in more than a dozen festivals.

Now, it has released the most recent four-song EP album, “The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1.” Dave Grohl, lead singer of the Foo Fighters, is collaborating with the band by playing drums for “Let It Rain” and “Day of the Dead” to give the band a new sound.

The band gave its fans some insight about the album and what it has to offer.

“We are at a brand new beginning with our sound. It is still us, but it is pushed to another limit,” Brown said in an interview with LiveNation.com.

Students Kendall Young, senior from Evansville, Ind., and Michael Adams, graduate student from Paducah, Ky., have seen and heard about their favorite band coming to Murray and are excited to see them again.

“I saw Zac Brown two years ago over Winter Break in Evansville,” Young said. “It was a great experience and I plan on seeing them again.”

“I saw the band before at the Country Music Awards in Nashville three summers ago,” Adams said. “It wasn’t a long performance, but it was still fun.”

Young and Adams explain their favorite songs and why they love Zac Brown so much.

“One of my favorite songs is ‘Keep Me In Mind’ because it is just a song that makes me smile from how fun it is,” Young said. “Unlike some performers, they don’t use autotune, which is refreshing.”

“My favorite song would have to be ‘Natural Disaster’ off of their ‘Uncaged’ album,” Adams said. “Their songs have a lot more in common with old-school country music, and I think that gives them an authenticity that a great majority of country music lacks today.”

The staff at the CFSB Center is proud and excited for the band to perform in front of Murray’s community. Shelley Todd, director of the CFSB Center and Lovett Auditorium, admits how chaotic this show will be.

“We have 11 trucks and buses coming in with Zac Brown with all of their equipment, lighting, instruments, etc. and we couldn’t be more excited for them to perform in Murray thanks to routers and the success of other shows in the past,” Todd said. “We expect the show to be sold out because the band has sold out other cities.”

Ticket prices range from $45 for upper level seating to $74.50 for floor seating.


Story by McKenzie Willett, Staff writer

Student Athlete Advisory Council to host Hotcakes for Heroes

February 1, 2013 Athletics, Sports News

Murray State Athletics has announced that a limited number of tickets are available for the Hotcakes for Heroes breakfast Saturday at the CFSB Center prior to the Racers hosting Austin Peay at noon.

Hotcakes for Heroes will begin serving at 10:30 a.m. in the CFSB Center and continue until 11:45 a.m. The cost is $5, which includes pancakes, butter, syrup, sausage and coffee, milk or juice.

The event is sponsored by the MSU Student Athlete Advisory Council, and funds raised help a soldier attend the OVC Basketball Tournament in Nashville, Tenn., in March.

The Hotcakes for Heroes breakfast precedes the men’s nationally televised basketball game against Austin Peay on ESPNU at noon.

The day is a double header, as the Murray State women’s team hosts Austin Peay at 2:15 p.m.

Froggy 103.7 FM will also host a live remote broadcast from the CFSB Center, starting at 10:30 a.m. with a variety of guests talking about Racer basketball.

Those attending the breakfast must have a game ticket or purchase a game ticket in addition to the $5 Hotcakes for Heroes breakfast charge. Game tickets are available through the MSU ticket office.

Story courtesy of Sports Information.

Lovett announces Little Big Town concert

November 7, 2012 Features, Slider Featured stories

Photo courtesy of littlebigtown.com

Murray State’s Lovett Auditorium may be the first stop for the up and coming Little Big Town’s soon to be Tornado Tour.

The group will visit Murray State on Thursday, Jan. 31 where they will perform some of their newly famed songs such as “Pontoon” and “Tornado.”

Little Big Town reached higher levels of fame than ever with their first number one hit “Pontoon” on the Hot Country Songs chart in September of 2012. The group has since become known as country music’s rising star, as they have experienced more success than ever. … Continue Reading

Preparing to win: Improved team set for new season

Beamer Baron ||The News

The women’s basketball team is preparing for what Head Coach Rob Cross said is a long and difficult road to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament. To get ready for tough games against opponents such as Tennessee Tech, UT Martin and Morehead, Cross focused on heavy recruitment.

Freshman forward/center Natanya Jackson, freshman guard Erica Sisk, freshman forwards Kelsey Dirks and Bianca Babic, junior guard Alyssa Like and freshman guard/forward Christy Soldo will all be playing their first season as Racers.

“Sisk led her team to an undefeated season in Mississippi,” Cross said. “Dirks was an all-state player in Illinois. Like was an all-American guard and Natanya Jackson is 6’4” and has such an imposing presence. They can certainly impact things on both ends of the floor for us. We’re excited about what they all bring.”

With a stacked roster full of potential, the Racers also have to face the loss of graduates Mallory Schwab and Kayla Lowe. Lowe averaged a 74.7 percent shooting and Schwab averaged over 20 minutes per game. Cross said losing impactful players gives the seniors this year a chance to step up.

“One of the things that has happened so far is we’ve had great leadership from our seniors,” he said. “Mariah Robinson has been acting as captain of the team and we’re very excited about what she’s done.”

Experience and drive on the court is important for success, but communication and leadership is another key to a strong team. To make sure the team plays together effectively on both sides of the ball, this years’ seniors have taken incentive to provide team unity.

“The other seniors, Tessa Elkins, Kyra Watson and Candace Nevels have done a really good job stepping up and providing positive energy,” Cross said. “I’m excited about our communication. It’s the best it has been since I’ve been here. They do a great job talking on the court, and I believe that great teams are loud teams.”

The team will need all the tactics and athleticism they can get for the OVC tournament. Cross said the schedule they have this season is definitely not an easy one. He is hoping the momentum from last year will carry over into this year, the team made it to the fourth round of the tournament but lost to UT Martin.

“We have a lot of home games this year which is different,” he said. “We’re traveling to Virginia to play a James Madison team that won 29 games last year. We have tough non-conference play, but we’re very excited for how it’ll set us up for the conference. I can honestly say we have six of the top seven team of our conference in our division. It’ll be tough to play those teams twice.”

The skill, athleticism and drive of a revamped Racer team is reason enough for fans to come out and watch good basketball. Fan support gives players the motivation they need to play hard and represent Murray State. Cross said he wants to see more fans in the seats and support from the student body.

“They’re going to see some great athleticism and speed from people like Erica Burgess and Erica Sisk,” he said. “They’re going to see a great team play extremely hard. We open the season against Western Kentucky as a double header with the men. We expect that to be a good turnout. It would be great to tip off and see 9,000 fans in the stands for our game.”

The team’s first game of the season will be at 5:15 p.m. Nov. 9 at the CFSB Center against Western Kentucky.

Carly Besser, Staff Writer

Former NBA player shares story, inspires athletes

October 11, 2012 Athletics, Sports News

Chris Herren was invited by Head Basketball Coach Steve Prohm to speak to students and athletes at the CFSB Center last Wednesday. ||Maddie Mucci/The News

If there is ever a story about opportunity, failure, loss and redemption and life and death it can be heard from former NBA player and drug addict Chris Herren.

Men’s Head Basketball Coach Steve Prohm invited Herren to speak at CFSB Center to hundreds of Murray State students, athletes and faculty members Wednesday afternoon about his struggle with substance abuse while being a basketball standout and starting a family.

Herren was a McDonald’s All-American for Durfee High School in Fall River, Mass., his senior year. He was rated the second best guard in the nation at that time, right behind future 11-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson. He had his pick of major college programs such as Duke, Kentucky, Florida and UCLA but he chose to stay in his home state and attend Boston College.

Herren said that decision changed his life forever.

Four months into his freshman year, Herren was kicked out of Boston College for testing positive for cocaine and marijuana three times.

Among his many regrets, Herren discussed his biggest.

“I had an opportunity in 1994 to sit in a gym like this and hear people talk about substance abuse and all I had to do was pay attention.” Herren said. “My biggest regret is that I didn’t listen.”

After he had been kicked out of Boston College, he joined Fresno State’s squad until he was drafted by the Denver Nuggets as the 33rd overall pick in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft. He would then be traded to his beloved Boston Celtics after his rookie season, all the while battling drug addiction.

After two seasons Herren said his addiction had grown so strong he gave up an opportunity to continue to play in the NBA to continue to chase his drug habit.

The men’s basketball team sits in the front row and listens to Chris Herren share his story Wednesday at the CFSB Center. ||Maddie Mucci/The News

After seven felonies, a botched basketball career and a family to take care of, Herren took control of his life.

sixteen years of self-destruction and drug abuse ended Aug. 1, 2008, for Herren and he realized sharing his story might be his true calling.

Herren has spoken to a wide range of audiences from high schools to the Oklahoma City Thunder and said if he could help just one person it would all be worth it.

“The overall goal is to educate, to raise awareness, to hopefully inspire some of these athletes to not go down the same road,” Herren said. “You know, you never imagine your life will turn out the way it does when you are 18, 19, 20 years old playing college sports.”

Herren’s story goes far beyond the realm of sports. Millions of people can relate to his story whether its personally or not. It is a story about perseverance and redemption and he said it strikes a nerve with people because he doesn’t hold back anything.

“Honesty, it’s just the rawness and honesty of the story,” he said. “I don’t come in here and try to sugarcoat anything. In a sense because what it’s about is getting to the kids and deterring them from going down this path.”

He uses his life as a cautionary tale about self-control and self abuse. Herren ended his speech with a word of warning.

“I sat in your seat and said ‘It wouldn’t be me,’” Herren said. “Straight up, there is a Chris Herren sitting in this crowd though. Today is your 1994. Today is the time to ask yourself what is it about myself I don’t like? How can I escape who I am? Today is your day to not be me.”

Nick Dolan, Staff Writer

Former NBA player Chris Herren to share his story

October 9, 2012 Athletics, Sports News

Murray State men’s basketball coach Steve Prohm announced a special speaking engagement that student-athletes and young people alike will want to attend when former college and NBA player Chris Herren tells his story Wednesday (Oct. 10) at 2 p.m. in the CFSB Center.

Admission is free and all coaches and young people are invited to attend.

With over ten years of basketball experience in the NCAA, NBA and Europe, Chris Herren will share his experiences of living in the athlete spotlight and the struggles he faced in dealing with his addictions. Herren played at Boston College, Fresno State and in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics. He also played in Turkey and China.

“Over the last two years I’ve been able to build a good relationship with Chris,” Prohm said. “He has an awesome message to share on overcoming addiction and the daily struggles that he faced in his basketball career.”

Herren operates Hoop Dreams and works with basketball player development, but also travels the nation and shares his story with audiences to make a difference in their lives. In 2011 his memoir, Basketball Junkie written with Bill Reynolds, was released and was followed by the ESPN Films documentary, UnGuarded, directed by Jonathan Hock.

“We’re excited Chris Herren is coming to Murray to impact our community and particularly our student-athletes,” Prohm added. “I’m really glad to get him on campus and I invite everyone to take advantage of this opportunity to hear Chris’ message.”

Project Purple is Chris Herren’s current initiative, which assists individuals and families struggling with addiction.

Story courtesy of Sports Information

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