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Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief

Wednesday Sports in Brief


Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

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Wednesday Sports in Brief

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL The NFL will cut its preseason in half and push back the start of exhibition play so teams have more time to train following a virtual offseason made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL

The NFL will cut its preseason in half and push back the start of exhibition play so teams have more time to train following a virtual offseason made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t announced that the preseason will be cut from four games to two.

Players are still discussing with their union whether to ask for cancellation of all preseason games, according to two people familiar with their thinking. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because a decision hasn’t been made.

The pandemic forced teams to conduct their entire offseason programs via videoconference. So, teams will be gathering together for the first time when training camps open July 28.

—By AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals have replaced the New York Yankees as the opponent for the Chicago White Sox in the Field of Dreams game on Aug. 13 at Dyersville, Iowa.

The schedule change caused by the new coronavirus pandemic meant the White Sox no longer play the Yankees this season. The new opponent, first reported by The Des Moines Register, was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the arrangements who spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the matchup has not been announced.

Major League Baseball hopes to announce its new schedule next week. Each team will play 60 games, 40 against division rivals and 20 against teams in the corresponding regional division in the other league.

— By Baseball Writer Ronald Blum.

NEW YORK (AP) — The baseball organization that presents the annual MVP awards will consider whether the name of former commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis should be pulled from future plaques.

“The issue is being addressed,” Jack O’Connell, longtime secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, said Wednesday. “It will definitely be put up for discussion.”

Former NL Most Valuable Players Barry Larkin, Mike Schmidt and Terry Pendleton this week told The Associated Press they would favor removing Landis’ name because of concerns over his handling of Black players.

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — J.R. Smith has joined LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for their championship push.

The Lakers announced their long-anticipated signing of Smith as a substitute player Wednesday, the first day allowed under the rules of the NBA’s summer restart.

Smith is the Lakers’ roster replacement for Avery Bradley, who cited family reasons last week for his decision not to finish the season with his team in Orlando amid the coronavirus pandemic.

GOLF

Cameron Champ was added to the field in the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit under a modified PGA Tour policy that allows players who test positive for the coronavirus to be eligible if they had no symptoms and get two negative test results at least 24 hours apart.

The decision Wednesday was the latest change to an evolving “Health and Safety Plan” as the tour enters its fourth week back from the COVID-19 shutdown. Champ is among six players and two caddies on the PGA Tour who have tested positive.

Ricky Elliott, the caddie for Brooks Koepka, tested positive before the Travelers Championship last week in Connecticut, and then had a negative test.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley will remain on staff but will take a pay cut and must undergo diversity training after being suspended for using a racial slur in a 2013 text message.

Utah announced Wednesday that Scalley will participate in diversity and inclusion education and have his salary cut from $1.1 million to $525,000.

His contract also was trimmed from a multiyear deal, which he signed last year, to a one-year deal, and he will no longer be the designated head coach in waiting.

Scalley was suspended last month when his use of a racial slur in a text message was posted on social media. Scalley issued a public apology for using the slur and Utah hired an outside firm to conduct an investigation.

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The NCAA’s infractions case against the University of Kansas men’s basketball program has been accepted into a newly created independent investigation process that was created to handle especially complex cases.

The Infractions Referral Committee said Wednesday that the case against the Jayhawks and coach Bill Self would go through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process. The approval is the first significant step in a process that was created in August 2018 to deal with select cases and minimize perceived conflicts of interest.

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Kansas has been accused by the NCAA of committing five Level I violations, which are considered the most egregious, as part of the fallout of an FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. The case hinges on whether representatives of apparel company Adidas were acting as boosters when two of them arrange payments to prospective recruits.

SOCCER

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta United has signed free-agent midfielder Jürgen Damm, a former member of the Mexican National Team.

Damm played on four Mexican professional championship teams and most recently played in Liga MX for Tigres UANL.

Atlanta purchased Damm’s Discovery Rights from the Houston Dynamo in exchange for $50,000 in general allocation money. He will join the Atlanta roster after the team returns from the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida.

Atlanta United cleared an international roster spot for Damm by waiving midfielder Luiz Fernando.

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos will miss the upcoming MLS restart tournament to have hernia surgery.

The Galaxy announced Dos Santos’ injury Wednesday.

The club says Dos Santos will be sidelined for roughly six weeks by the minimally invasive surgery, which will be conducted at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Santa Monica.

DALLAS (AP) — Six players with FC Dallas have tested positive for COVID-19 and the entire team has been quarantined ahead of the MLS Is Back tournament.

The club confirmed in a statement Wednesday that the players tested positive upon arrival in Florida for the month-long tournament starting next week.

The team said all players and staff tested negative for coronavirus before leaving for the tournament on Saturday. Upon arrival, two players tested positive. Four more positive tests were uncovered in subsequent testing.

TRACK AND FIELD

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — George Williams, longtime track and field coach at St. Augustine’s College and a former coach with the U.S. Olympic team, has been fired, his attorney said Wednesday.

Nicholas Sanservino Jr., the attorney representing Williams, released a statement confirming that the 78-year-old coach had been fired on Wednesday without cause by the historically black college in Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Coach Williams will vigorously fight for his rights so he can continue to serve the students and greater community.,” Sanservino said in the statement.

Williams, who was not available for comment, is scheduled to address his firing on Thursday, Sanservino said.

COURTS

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man was freed from prison Wednesday after a county prosecutor declined to retry his case, punctuating years of work by WNBA star Maya Moore and other supporters who argued he was falsely convicted of burglary and assault charges.

Moore was on hand when Jonathan Irons, 40, walked out of the Jefferson City Correctional Center. She clapped as Irons approached a group of people waiting for his release. She then dropped to her knees at one point before joining a group hug around Irons.

He had been serving a 50-year prison sentence stemming from the non-fatal shooting of a homeowner in the St. Louis area when Irons was 16. But a judge threw out his convictions in March, citing a series of problems with the case, including a fingerprint report that had not been turned over to Irons’ defense team, according to The New York Times.

OBITUARY

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) — Everton Weekes, who formed one of the famous three “Ws” of West Indian cricket as part of a formidable batting lineup for more than a decade, has died. He was 95.

West Indies Cricket said the Barbados-born Weekes died Wednesday. He played alongside Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott, with all three players making their test debuts in 1948.

He was also a highly respected coach, analyst, team manager, match referee for the International Cricket Council, and a member of the ICC Hall of Fame.

Weekes made his test debut at the age of 22 against England at Kensington Oval. His final match was against Pakistan in Trinidad a decade later.

In his career, Weekes played 48 test matches and made 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61 per innings. That included a world-record five consecutive centuries in 1948 — scores of 141 against England in Jamaica, followed by scores of 128, 194, 162 and 101 in India. In his next innings, he made 90 when he was run out.

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NBA The NBA has told the National Basketball Players Association that it will present a 22-team plan for restarting the season to the league’s board of governors on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The teams that will be going to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex on…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NBA

The NBA has told the National Basketball Players Association that it will present a 22-team plan for restarting the season to the league’s board of governors on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

The teams that will be going to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports complex on the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, would play eight games to determine playoff seeding starting around July 31 before the postseason begins, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the league has not released its proposal publicly.

The plan, once approved, would have 13 Western Conference teams and nine Eastern Conference teams going to Disney, and the cutoff being that teams must be within six games of a playoff spot at this point. Playoffs would start in August, and the NBA Finals will likely stretch into October, the person said.

—By AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball rejected the players’ proposal for a 114-game regular season schedule with no additional salary cuts, and will turn its attention to a shortened slate of perhaps 50 games or fewer. Owners last week proposed an 82-game schedule starting in early July

“We do not have any reason to believe that a negotiated solution for an 82-game season is possible,” Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem wrote in a letter Wednesday to chief union negotiator Bruce Meyer that was obtained by The Associated Press.

MLB’s plan included a sliding scale of pay decreases that would leave players at the $563,500 minimum with 47% of their original salaries and top stars Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at less than 22% of the $36 million they had been set to earn.

Players insisted they receive the prorated salaries agreed to in a March 26 deal, which would give them 70% pay at 114 games. That agreement called for the sides to “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators.” The union has said no additional cuts are acceptable.

NFL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees was sharply criticized by fellow high-profile athletes, including some of his own teammates, on Wednesday after the Saints quarterback reiterated his opposition to kneeling during the national anthem.

In an interview with Yahoo, Brees was asked to revisit former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s 2016 protest of police brutality against minorities, in which Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem before games.

“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States,” Brees began, adding that the national anthem reminds him of his grandfathers, who served in the armed forces during World War II. “In many cases, it brings me to tears thinking about all that has been sacrificed, and not just in the military, but for that matter, those throughout the civil rights movements of the ’60s, and all that has been endured by so many people up until this point.”

Critical responses to Brees’ statements appeared on social media from a couple major professional athletes, including the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James and Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Denver Broncos coach Vic Fangio is apologizing for suggesting discrimination and racism aren’t problems in the NFL.

“After reflecting on my comments yesterday and listening to the players this morning, I realize what I said regarding racism and discrimination in the NFL was wrong,” Fangio said in an apology posted on the team’s Twitter account Wednesday.

“While I have never personally experienced those terrible things first-hand during my 33 years in the NFL, I understand that many players, coaches and staff have different perspectives,” Fangio added. “I should have been more clear and I am sorry.”

Fangio said he only meant to convey that in his experience, those ills didn’t exist in locker rooms or on the playing field where teams rallied behind common goals.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Two more Oklahoma State football players have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning to campus for voluntary workouts, bringing the total to three.

Senior associate athletic director Kevin Klintworth wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday that of the 150 staff, administrators and athletes tested, three athletes had asymptomatic positives.

Linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga announced Tuesday he tested positive after he attended a protest in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The other two players were not identified.

OSU spokesman Gavin Lang said there would be no additional comment.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer and its players’ union agreed to a six-year labor contract through 2025 that paves the way for a tournament in Florida after the season was suspended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The deal was announced Wednesday following tense talks that led to some players skipping voluntary workouts and the league threatening a lockout.

MLS and the Major League Soccer Players Association agreed Feb. 6 to a five-year labor contract, but the deal had not been ratified when the season was stopped on March 12 after only two matches had been played by each team.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The LA Galaxy will meet with new Serbian winger Aleksandar Katai on Thursday to discuss a series of alarming social media posts by his wife.

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Electric Companies Have Already Gathered An Army of Lawyers To Take this Down.

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Tea Katai made the since-deleted posts on her Instagram story this week, the Galaxy confirmed Wednesday night in a statement that called the posts “racist and violent.”

The team says its meeting with Katai will “determine next steps.”

Tea Katai’s posts included a profane call, written in Serbian, to “kill” protesters. Another called protesters “disgusting cattle,” also in Serbian.

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s soccer federation has announced a new professional women’s league that will begin play next year.

Called the WE League, for women’s empowerment, the new organization will initially consist of six to 10 teams and will kick off in the fall of 2021. The league’s round-robin format will include home and away games between each of the teams.

Japan Football Association President Kohzo Tashima said the aim of the league is not just to develop women’s soccer in the nation.

DIVERSITY REPORT

A diversity report for racial and gender hiring across college sports found overall improvement yet still reported grades lagging behind the professional ranks.

Wednesday’s report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida assigned an overall C-plus score, a B for racial hiring and a C-plus for gender hiring. The report examined a range of positions including leadership at the NCAA headquarters, conference commissioners and head coaches based on data from the 2018-19 season.

The numeric scores in each category were the highest since researchers revised the grading scale for the 2015-16 report to account for changing national demographics. But lead report author and institute director Richard Lapchick noted in the report that the grades trailed those of professional leagues reviewed in other TIDES studies such as the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and WNBA.

AUTO RACING

NASCAR is set to return to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2021.

Nashville Superspeedway will hold a Cup race for the first time next season. It ends NASCAR’s decade-long absence from the track.

The Nashville track is owned by Dover Motorsports, Inc. Dover has held Cup race weekends each year since 1969.

Dover will give up one of its dates and move it to Nashville for an expected late June 2021 race weekend. Nashville Superspeedway held Xfinity and Truck events from 2001 until 2011.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NHRA drag racing will resume its season in July with back-to-back events at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis with limited spectators allowed.

The events will be run on July 11-12 and July 18-19 and admission offers will be extended to NHRA members and 2020 U.S. Nationals ticket holders.

The revised 2020 schedule will consist of 19 total events . The season will conclude with the championship finale November 13-15 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. The revised schedule announced Wednesday is subject to change due to COVID-19.

HORSE RACING

A racehorse named for Dr. Anthony Fauci reached the finish line at a safe enough distance from others that would have made his namesake proud.

Fauci the 2-year-old colt finished a distant second to a horse named Prisoner and was well ahead of third-place Indoctrinate in his much-anticipated debut Wednesday at Belmont Park.

Co-owner Phillip Antonacci picked the name Fauci in mid-March after the 79-year-old started doing daily coronavirus briefings from the White House. The Antonacci family, like Fauci, is Italian-American and from Brooklyn.

OBITUARY

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Majors, the coach of Pittsburgh’s 1976 national championship team and a former coach and star player at Tennessee, died Wednesday. He was 85.

Majors died at his home in Knoxville, according to his wife, Mary Lynn Majors. “He spent his last hours doing something he dearly loved: looking out over his cherished Tennessee River,” she said in a statement first given to Sports Radio WNML.

Majors compiled a 185-137-10 record in 29 seasons as a head coach at Iowa State (1968-72), Pitt (1973-76, 1993-96) and Tennessee (1977-92). That followed a standout playing career at Tennessee during which he finished second to Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung in the 1956 Heisman Trophy balloting.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Tennessee retired Majors’ No. 45 jersey in 2012.

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has set protocols for reopening team facilities and has told the 32 teams to have them in place by May 15. In a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell and obtained Wednesday night by The Associated Press, several phases of the protocols were laid out. The first phase…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has set protocols for reopening team facilities and has told the 32 teams to have them in place by May 15.

In a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell and obtained Wednesday night by The Associated Press, several phases of the protocols were laid out. The first phase to deal with the coronavirus pandemic would involve a limited number of non-player personnel, initially 50% of the non-player employees (up to a total of 75) on any single day, being approved to be at the facility. But state or local regulations could require a lower number.

The individual clubs would decide which employees could return to the facility and when once facilities reopen. No players would be permitted in the facility except to continue therapy and rehabilitation for injuries that was underway when facilities were ordered closed in late March by Goodell.

—By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre is repaying $1.1 million in welfare money that he received for multiple speeches where he did not show up, the Mississippi state auditor said Wednesday.

Auditor Shad White said his office received $500,000 from Favre on Wednesday, plus a commitment that Favre will repay the other $600,000 in installments over the next few months.

Favre’s effort to repay the money came two days after White released an audit of spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services that showed Favre had been paid by Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit group whose former leader has been indicted in a welfare embezzlement scheme.

The audit released Monday said the center paid Favre Enterprises $500,000 in December 2017 and $600,000 in June 2018, and he was supposed to make speeches for at least three events. The auditor’s report said that “upon a cursory review of those dates, auditors were able to determine that the individual contracted did not speak nor was he present for those events.”

NCAA

The NCAA approved a waiver that will allow schools to spend below the minimum level on athletic scholarships required to compete in Division I.

The Division I Council Coordination Committee approved two other blanket waivers Wednesday that had been requested by several conferences in recent weeks in response to coronavirus pandemic.

Basketball and football players will be allowed to participate in summer athletic activities without being enrolled in school. Also, schools that are in the process of moving to D-I can be counted toward the minimum required Division I opponents.

The coordinator committee also signed off on waiving some recruiting rules to provide more flexibility for coaches and athletes through the extended dead period. The dead period for all sports currently runs through May 31. The committee will decided at its May 13 meeting to extend the dead period through June 30.

The scheduling and scholarship waivers were part of a broad request made by the commissioners of the five non-Power Five FBS conferences two weeks ago on behalf of all Division I.

SOCCER

Germany’s decision that soccer can return this month provided encouragement for players and teams across Europe on Wednesday that the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic could soon be coming to an end.

With COVID-19 infections declining, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the return of the top two leagues could be included in the loosening of lockdown measures.

However, supporters will be locked out of stadiums for some time to come across Europe to contain the coronavirus while there is no vaccine.

The Bundesliga is now set to be the first major men’s soccer competition to resume in Europe on Friday, May 15 after the shutdown of the sport across the continent in March. The Belgian, French and Dutch leagues were all canceled prematurely after governments decided it is not safe for sport to staged yet — even without fans.

NEW YORK (AP) — Four Major League Soccer teams took the first small step toward returning to play Wednesday by allowing players to use team training fields for individual workouts.

Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United, Orlando City and Inter Miami let players in for vigorously controlled voluntary workouts on the first day they were permitted by the league.

Nashville, Real Salt Lake, LAFC, Houston and Portland are among the league’s 26 teams that plan to start Thursday, with more lined up next week.

In Orlando, the entire roster showed up.

INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL

Fans will be allowed to enter baseball stadiums for games in Taiwan for the first time this season as part of a gradual easing of restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The China Professional Baseball League said up to 1,000 people would be permitted to enter ballparks from Friday after an agreement between the league and Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center.

Other baseball leagues around the world were still suspended last month when games began in Taiwan in empty stadiums. South Korea’s league commenced this week, also without fans in the stands.

HORSE RACING

The Preakness Stakes could still be run on one of three dates this summer or fall.

The Maryland Jockey Club and NBC Sports have set aside three possible dates, a person with knowledge of negotiations said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because no decision has been made among the dates.

The NBC affiliate in Baltimore reported the Preakness will be run Oct. 3. The person tells The AP that is one of the three possible dates, along with one each in July and August.

—By AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Trainer Mark Casse, jockey Darrel McHargue, thoroughbred Wise Dan, and owner George D. Widener, Jr. have been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Also elected were racehorse Tom Bowling, owner Alice Headley Chandler, and J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., a trainer who became one of the most respected stewards in the sport.

The induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 7 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The museum is monitoring state and health regulations in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. A decision on the status of the ceremony will be made at a later date.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Golden Gate Fields will resume live horse racing on May 14 after receiving provisional approval Wednesday from public health officials in Northern California.

The track in Berkeley temporarily suspended racing on April 2 at the order of Alameda County public health officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Alamitos in Orange County is the only track in California where live racing has been allowed, albeit without fans.

Racing will resume at Golden Gate without spectators. Protocols are still being finalized with county officials and will be released in the coming days, along with the schedule of races.

AWARDS

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard has won the Cornish Trophy, presented annually to the top Canadian player in NCAA football.

The announcement was made via YouTube on Wednesday.

Hubbard was the AP Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, the third-best finish for a Canadian player. His season total of 2,094 rushing yards was third in Big 12 Conference history. It was the second-best single-season total in school history, trailing only Barry Sanders’ 1988 Heisman season. He plans to return to school next season.

Hubbard was the runner-up for the Cornish Trophy in 2019 after his redshirt freshman season.

COURTS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An NCAA panel on Wednesday rejected an appeal by former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie, who sought to overturn findings that he violated ethical conduct rules while leading the Huskies.

The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee ruled Ollie failed to prove that information he presented alleging witnesses against him lied outweighed the information that supported the violation findings.

In July 2019, the NCAA Committee on Infractions placed the UConn program on two years of probation and sanctioned Ollie individually for numerous violations of NCAA rules during his tenure.

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady entered his final season in New England with a strong inkling that it would be his last with the Patriots. The six-time Super Bowl champion who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last month said Wednesday on SiriusXM’s “The Howard Stern Show” it was “just…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Tom Brady entered his final season in New England with a strong inkling that it would be his last with the Patriots.

The six-time Super Bowl champion who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency last month said Wednesday on SiriusXM’s “The Howard Stern Show” it was “just time” for a change, reiterating he has no hard feelings about coach Bill Belichick not making him a Patriot for life.

“I think he has a lot of loyalty and I think he and I have had a lot of conversations that nobody’s ever been privy to, and nor should they be,” Brady told Stern during a wide-ranging interview lasting more than two hours.

The four-time Super Bowl MVP said many wrong assumptions were made about his relationship with Belichick.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — First-year head coach Matt Rhule said Teddy Bridgewater’s familiarity with the team’s offensive scheme made him the “right fit” at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers and ultimately leading to Cam Newton’s release.

Bridgewater spent the 2018 season working under new Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady with the New Orleans Saints and the two developed a close player-coach relationship.

“His relationship with Joe, knowing the offense, the things that he has done in this offense just made sense to us,” Rhule said. He didn’t directly answer whether Newton’s history of shoulder and foot injuries played a role in the decision.

Rhule called Newton a “great quarterback who can play in any system.”

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons are moving to black pants with black jerseys for their home uniforms in 2020 as part of a redesign the team says respects past fashion choices with updates “to match the modern progression of Atlanta.”

The team’s first redesign in 17 years also include white jerseys and white pants for road uniforms. The Falcons will wear continue to use black helmets.

Each new look features red stripes. The black home jerseys will have white numbers. The all-white road uniforms include black numbers.

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James is mostly spending the spring playing hoops with his teenage sons and enjoying tea time with his young daughter.

And when he isn’t binge-watching “Tiger King” with his wife, he is scanning the news for information on whether the coronavirus pandemic will allow the Los Angeles Lakers to finish their impressive season chasing an NBA championship.

James is still optimistic about the Lakers’ future, but he also knows safety comes first.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to have any closure if we do not have an opportunity to finish this season,” James said from his home Wednesday on a conference call with Lakers beat reporters.

NEW YORK (AP) — Kobe Bryant is back atop the best-seller lists, days after the late Los Angeles Lakers superstar was selected to the Hall of Fame.

The latest release from Bryant’s Granity Studios, “The Wizenard Series: Season One” will debut at No. 1 on The New York Times’ middle-grade hardcover list that will be published April 19. Earlier this week, it had already hit No. 1 on Amazon’s bestseller list for children’s basketball books.

Bryant and daughter Gianna were among nine who died in a helicopter crash in late January

Bryant was the series creator and envisioned the story lines.

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Garnett always found Seattle to be a difficult place for opponents. He played in 27 games there during his NBA career, leaving the court as a winner only eight times.

He remembers those days. And respects them, too.

In a wide-ranging interview this week with The Associated Press, Garnett covered plenty of topics, including the announcement over the weekend that he officially is a member of the Class of 2020 for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, his relationship with fellow inductee Kobe Bryant, the coronavirus pandemic, and his plans for the next five and 10 years.

But there was also a surprise: Garnett revealed a deep affinity for Seattle, to the point where he said he’d like to see the NBA return to that city — and said he would bring a team there if he could.

AUTO RACING

LONDON (AP) — Formula One will furlough half of its staff until the end of May and senior executives will take pay cuts.

F1 called off last month’s Australian Grand Prix and has postponed seven more races so far this season. The Monaco Grand Prix was canceled outright.

More postponements are likely to turn into cancellations, but F1 has said it is still hoping to stage between 15 and 18 races out of the original 22.

F1 said senior leadership figures will take “voluntary pay cuts while still continuing to work and not in furlough,” and that CEO Chase Carey will take a “much deeper” pay cut.

INTERNATIONAL HOCKEY

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Former Swiss women’s goalie Florence Schelling was named general manager of one of the nation’s top men’s professional teams, SC Bern, on Wednesday.

At 31, Schelling becomes the first woman elevated to such a high-profile front-office personnel position of a men’s pro hockey team in Switzerland.

A four-time Olympian, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Games, Schelling’s hiring comes after spending the past year serving as coach of the Switzerland’s Under-18 women’s team. And the move comes after SC Bern failed to defend its title by missing the playoffs and finishing ninth in the standings.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp said Wednesday that officials believe a 13-game college football schedule would be possible even if the start of the season was delayed until October because of the new coronavirus.

The season is scheduled to begin with seven FBS games Aug. 29 before the majority of teams open the following week.

Speaking in a video discussion with the Texas Tribune, Sharp addressed the football season in answering a question about the university system’s lost revenue because of college sporting events which have been canceled because of the COVID-19 virus.

Sharp said he’s gotten many questions about football and whether it will return on time this season, if at all.

Sharp added that there are many unknowns about football season because of the pandemic.

“We don’t know when this thing is going to end,” he said. “We don’t know when this is going to happen. For all we know, we may have football where we have coaches and players and referees on a field with a TV camera and nobody in the stadium. We don’t know.”

TENNIS

The group charged with monitoring gambling and punishing corruption in tennis found a near-doubling in the number of suspect matches during the first three months of 2020 — an increase it tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

The London-based Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) issued its quarterly report Wednesday and said it received a total of 38 alerts from the regulated betting industry about matches on lower-level tours from the start of the year through March 22. That is up from 21 alerts in the same period of 2019.

The 38 match alerts in the year’s first quarter break down this way: six from the ATP Challenger Tour, and 16 apiece from the men’s and women’s International Tennis Federation World Tennis Tours.

An alert means unusual betting patterns were noticed but does not necessarily indicate there was match-fixing. It does trigger an assessment, and possibly a full investigation, by the TIU.

TRACK AND FIELD

The track world championships have been rescheduled for July 15-24, 2022.

It’s the first major sports event to be repositioned in the wake of the 12-month postponement of the Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event draws around 1,800 athletes from more than 200 countries. It will still be held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The event at the expanded and remodeled venue was originally supposed to take place in August 2021. The rescheduling will make for a jam-packed track schedule in 2022.

COURTS

A Florida man has filed a lawsuit against Tiger Woods and his caddie, claiming he suffered injuries from the caddie pushing him out of the way during the Valspar Championship that Woods played two years ago.

The civil complaint, filed Tuesday in Pinellas County, alleges Brian Borruso tried to take a selfie as Woods approached his tee shot left of the 13th green in the third round at Innisbrook, and that Joe LaCava “intentionally shoved” Borruso and caused him to stumble and fall into the crowd.

Josh Drechsel, the lawyer representing Borruso, said the lawsuit was filed two years after the tournament to get a better understanding of the injuries, which were described in the suit as “either permanent or continuing.”

Mark Steinberg, the agent for Woods at Excel Sports Management, did not immediately reply to a text seeking comment. LaCava said he had no comment.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The trial date for a gender discrimination case filed by members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team has been pushed back to June 16.

Players for the team filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer last year under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They allege that they have not been paid equitably when compared to players on the men’s team and have asked for more than $66 million in damages.

The trial date was originally set for May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Additionally, the April 20 pretrial conference was moved to June 1.

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

TENNIS Maria Sharapova is retiring from professional tennis at the age of 32 after five Grand Slam titles and time ranked No. 1. She has been dealing with shoulder problems for years. Sharapova played only two matches this season and lost both. In an essay written for Vanity Fair and Vogue about her decision to…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

TENNIS

Maria Sharapova is retiring from professional tennis at the age of 32 after five Grand Slam titles and time ranked No. 1.

She has been dealing with shoulder problems for years.

Sharapova played only two matches this season and lost both.

In an essay written for Vanity Fair and Vogue about her decision to walk away from the sport, posted online Wednesday, Sharapova asks: “How do you leave behind the only life you’ve ever known?”

She burst onto the tennis scene at 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004 and would go on to complete a career Grand Slam with two titles at the French Open and one each at the U.S. Open and Australian Open.

The Russian, who moved to Florida as a child, served a 15-month ban after failing a doping test in 2016.

MLB

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton will likely miss opening day because of a strained right calf, another significant injury for a team that was beset by health problems last season.

Manager Aaron Boone said Stanton was hurt near the end of defensive drills on Tuesday. An MRI found a Grade 1 strain.

“It will probably put us against it a little bit,” Boone said Wednesday. “I would say it’s time for him to get back, but then getting built up and stuff. We’ll see.”

The announcement came a day after New York said All-Star pitcher Luis Severino needed Tommy John surgery and would miss the entire season. Slugger Aaron Judge and lefty James Paxton already had been slowed this spring by injuries.

The Yankees put a major league-record 30 players on the injured list last year, with Stanton missing most of the season.

NBA

CLEVELAND (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid left Wednesday night’s game against Cleveland with a strained left shoulder.

Embiid appeared to collide with Cavaliers center Ante Zizic while being fouled late in the first quarter. The 7-footer held his shoulder when he went to the foul line and was in obvious pain as he missed two free throws.

Embiid was removed at the next time stoppage and walked to the locker room. He briefly returned to the bench in the second quarter, but went back to the locker room.

Embiid, who scored a career-high 49 points Monday against Atlanta, is averaging 23.8 points and 12 rebounds.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets guard Malik Monk has been suspended without pay for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA anti-drug program.

The suspension begins with Wednesday night’s game against the New York Knicks and will continue until he is determined to be in full compliance with the program.

The third-year reserve from Kentucky is averaging 10.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 21 minutes per game this season. However, he had been playing much better of late, averaging 18.2 points per game in the last seven games.

Monk has played in 191 games during his career with one start.

Hornets coach James Borrego said before the game he hadn’t spoken to Monk since learning of the suspension.

NHL

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester has been ruled out from returning to play in the regular season or in the playoffs.

General manager Doug Armstrong made the announcement on Wednesday.

In a news conference at the Enterprise Center, Bouwmeester spoke to reporters for the first time since he collapsed on the bench in the first period during a game at the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11.

“It was a scary thing, but its been going pretty good lately,” he said. “We’ll continue to evaluate things as it goes. I’m at the point now where I feel pretty good.”

Armstrong discussed Bouwmeester’s status for the remainder of this season.

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“To clarify, Jay and I have both spoken over the last week or so,” Armstrong said. “We both understand that he won’t participate in the regular season or playoffs for us. We’ve talked about longer-term things that may or may not happen but we both feel, it’s February. We don’t have to make long-term decisions at this point.”

The 36-year-old Edmonton native was hospitalized at the UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange County, California, and spent five nights in the hospital. Bouwmeester had a cardioverter defibrillator implanted into his chest. It is a device that monitors heart function. It also can deliver a shock to the heart if an arrhythmia happens to restore a regular heartbeat.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jada Lucas scored 20 points and Hartford — which had been the only winless Division I program this season, women or men — won its first game in its season finale, beating America East champion Stony Brook 73-70 on Wednesday night.

The victory was also the first in Morgan Valley’s head coaching career.

Carmen Villalobos added 16 points — 12 in the second — for the Hawks (1-28, 1-15).

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former Penn coach Jerome Allen was hit a 15-year show-cause penalty after he accepted $300,000 in bribes to get a wealthy Florida businessman’s son into the University of Pennsylvania.

The Quakers, out of the Ivy League, also were slapped by the NCAA with two years of probation, fined $5,000 and given recruiting punishments. Allen’s show-cause penalty is meant to limit a coach’s ability to work in college sports after breaking NCAA rules.

“While Penn Athletics and its men’s basketball program accept the penalties handed down by the NCAA, it is unfortunate that this process did not fully differentiate wrongdoing for personal gain versus wrongdoing for competitive gain in penalizing the institution in addition to the involved individual,” Penn said in a statement.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — The Pac-12 and the Mountain West believe football fans around their conferences will be eager to see what’s inside SoFi Stadium.

The conferences’ commissioners formally announced the new LA Bowl on Wednesday at the under-construction stadium south of downtown Los Angeles. For at least the next six years, the Mountain West’s top team will face the fifth choice from the Pac-12 in December at the home stadium of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers.

LEGISLATION

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho moved closer Wednesday to banning transgender women from competing in women’s sports despite warnings that such a law is unconstitutional and uncertainties about how the NCAA might react.

A measure that overwhelmingly passed in the Republican-led state House of Representatives would apply to all sports teams sponsored by public schools, colleges and universities. A girls’ or women’s team would not be open to a student who was born male, even if they identify as female.

It now goes to the GOP-dominated Senate. Republican Gov. Brad Little’s spokeswoman said he had no comment on whether he would sign it into law.

A similar bill is advancing in the Arizona Legislature, and Idaho Republican Rep. Barbara Ehardt, the bill’s sponsor, said said other states were considering following suit.

OBITUARY

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ray York, who won the 1954 Kentucky Derby aboard Determine at age 20 and rode in a record seven consecutive decades, has died. He was 86.

Michael McKay, his longtime girlfriend, said he died Sunday after a year-long struggle with pneumonia at an extended care facility near Bakersfield, California.

York rode Determine to victory in the 1954 Santa Anita Derby before they teamed to win the Kentucky Derby by 1 1/2 lengths. It was York’s only win in five Derby mounts. He was nearly unseated when Timely Tip made an abrupt left turn coming out of the starting gate and clipped heels with Determine.

York and Determine also won the 1955 Strub Stakes at Santa Anita. Determine went on to a successful stallion career, siring 1962 Kentucky Derby winner Decidedly.

In York’s only appearance in the Preakness Stakes, he finished 10th aboard Armageddon in 1952.

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dick Tamburo, an athletic director at three major schools and an All-American center at Michigan State, has died. He was 90.

Michigan State announced that Tamburo died Monday.

A native of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Tamburo served as the athletic director at Texas Tech, Arizona State and Missouri. He was inducted into the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in 2006.

Tamburo also was an assistant coach at Arizona State and Iowa following two years in the Army.

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Wednesday Sports in Brief

MLB ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Pete Rose again asked Major League Baseball to end his lifetime ban, saying the penalty is unfair compared with discipline for steroids use and electronic sign stealing. Rose’s lawyers submitted the application Wednesday to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who in December 2015 denied the previous request by the career hits…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

MLB

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Pete Rose again asked Major League Baseball to end his lifetime ban, saying the penalty is unfair compared with discipline for steroids use and electronic sign stealing.

Rose’s lawyers submitted the application Wednesday to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, who in December 2015 denied the previous request by the career hits leader.

“The time has come to recognize that Mr. Rose’s penalty has become grossly disproportionate relative to Major League Baseball’s treatment of severe wrongdoing by ownership, management and players,” the petition said.

Rose agreed to the lifetime ban in August 1989 after an investigation for MLB by lawyer John Dowd found that Rose placed numerous bets on the Cincinnati Reds to win from 1985-87 while playing for and managing the team.

“There has never been any allegation that Mr. Rose’s misconduct was intended to gain a competitive advantage over other teams,” stated the petition, which was first reported by ESPN. “When it comes to subsequent violations of Major League Baseball rules — namely steroid use and electronic sign stealing — this is clearly not the case. They have intentionally and dramatically affected the results of plays and games, including the outcomes of two consecutive World Series. These acts manifestly and deliberately violate the spirit and letter of the rules.”

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner understands why his players feel cheated by the Houston Astros.

If Houston had not been using a video camera to steal opposing catcher’s signs in 2017, maybe the Yankees would have won the AL Championship Series instead of losing to the Astros in seven games.

“When the report came out, I was as upset as anyone,” Steinbrenner said Wednesday at the baseball owners meeting. “Clearly, there were direct implications to my organization, our team, our 2017 team. But at some point I think we all for the sake of the game and the good of the game, need to move on.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a report on Jan. 13 that concluded the Astros broke rules against electronic sign stealing in 2017, including during the postseason. Houston won all four home games against the Yankees in the playoffs, when Astros players had the advantage of the sign-stealing system, and lost all three in the Bronx.

Steinbrenner is among the Yankees who wondered: what if?

“I think enough people have brought that to my attention and I’m a reasonably smart guy. I’ve certainly thought that,” Steinbrenner said.

NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees left-hander James Paxton had back surgery Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined until May or June.

New York said Dr. Andrew Dossett in Dallas performed a microscopic lumbar discectomy, in which a herniated disk is repaired, and removed a peridiscal cyst. The Yankees estimated Paxton’s timeline to pitch in a major league game is three to four months.

Paxton left his final regular-season start, at Texas in Sept. 27, after one inning with what the Yankees said was a tight left glute muscle. That ended Paxton’s career-best streak of victories in 10 consecutive starts. He was 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts, allowing five runs in 13 innings.

NBA

Robert Covington is going to the Houston Rockets and Clint Capela is headed to the Atlanta Hawks as the headline moves in a complicated four-team trade that was approved by the NBA late Wednesday night.

All told, it included 12 players and three draft picks.

The Rockets got Covington and Jordan Bell from Minnesota, plus Golden State’s 2024 second-round pick from the Hawks. Atlanta got two centers, Capela and Nenê from Houston.

Denver got Gerald Green from Houston along with the Rockets’ 2020 first-round pick. The Nuggets also landed Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier and Noah Vonleh from Minnesota.

Minnesota got Brooklyn’s 2020 first-round pick and Evan Turner from Atlanta, plus Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Juancho Hernangomez from Denver.

MIAMI (AP) — A person familiar with the negotiations says Andre Iguodala is headed to Miami after the Heat and Memphis Grizzlies agreed Wednesday night on his long-awaited trade.

As part of the deal, Iguodala agreed to a two-year extension, with the second of those years being a team option, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade has not been finalized.

The person also said Miami and Memphis were still working to complete terms of what the Heat are giving up in the deal, and that a third team — Oklahoma City, in a package that would include Danilo Gallinari potentially headed to the Heat — was still in play. Oft-injured forward Justise Winslow said he was part of the deal and was headed to Memphis, the former Heat starter reaching out to fellow former Duke players Tyus Jones and Grayson Allen with a message.

—By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds.

NFL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of Kansas City Chiefs fans braved sub-freezing wind chills on Wednesday to celebrate the team’s first Super Bowl victory in 50 years, and if Coach Andy Reid is to be believed, they’ll be back for an encore next year.

Fans lined the 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) parade route to thank their football heroes for bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Kansas City and ending a Super Bowl drought that began after the Chiefs won Super Bowl IV in 1970.

Reid thanked the fans for their continued support and for attending the parade.

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The event was nearly marred about three hours before the parade began, when an impaired driver broke through a barrier and sped along the parade route. Stop Sticks were thrown and patrol vehicles put the car into a forced spin, stopping it near a crowd of fans. The driver and another person were arrested at gunpoint, according to officials and video footage of the incident.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

McKinnley Jackson, a huge and talented defensive tackle from Mississippi, was one of the few five-star recruits whose college choice was a mystery coming into signing day.

The five-star prospect picked Texas A&M over Alabama and LSU, allowing one more school to break into a small group that landed the majority of the top available players. Signing day is typically about the rich getting richer, and this year the best classes were especially top heavy.

According to 247 Sports’ composite rankings, there were 31 five-star prospects in this year’s class. Six schools signed 22 of those players. Clemson led the way with five as part of the highest-rated class coach Dabo Swinney has ever signed. Alabama and Georgia each landed four five-star players. National champion LSU, Ohio State and Oregon each had three.

For the second time in three seasons, 247 Sports crowned Georgia the recruiting champion, with Alabama and Clemson close behind.

Looking at the top 100 players rated by 247 and again a handful of schools cleaned up. Georgia (11), Alabama (10), Clemson (10), LSU (9) and Ohio State (7) signed 47 of them.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Howard University has hired Larry Scott as its new head coach.

Scott’s hiring was announced Wednesday, less than two months after Ron Prince stepped down after less than a season on the job.. Prince resigned on Dec. 7, about a month after he was placed on administrative leave amid an ongoing investigation into allegations about his conduct, including verbal abuse of players.

Scott had been tight ends coach at Florida under Dan Mullen the last two seasons.

GOLF

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson is still not exempt for the U.S. Open and says he won’t accept a special invitation.

The U.S. Open is the one major keeping Mickelson from the career Grand Slam and no other major has given him more grief. His six runner-up finishes, most recently at Merion in 2013, is a U.S. Open record.

The U.S. Open occasionally awards a special exemption to the game’s best players when they are not eligible. Ernie Els has received such an exemption each of the last two years. Jack Nicklaus received eight of them.

Mickelson, who has won five majors, is certain to receive at least one if he needs it.

But he made clear Tuesday he doesn’t want one.

“I won’t accept it,” Mickelson said at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where he won last year for his 44th career PGA Tour victory. “So I am either going to get in the field on my own or I’ll have to try to qualify. I’m not going to take a special exemption.”

SOCCER

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande will be sidelined for several weeks with a broken bone in his right foot.

LAFC coach Bob Bradley revealed the injury to his third-leading goal-scorer Wednesday after preseason training. He says Diomande will not be ready when the regular season begins next month.

Diomande was a valuable alternative to MLS MVP Carlos Vela last season at the top of the attack while LAFC won the Presidents’ Trophy with the league’s best regular-season record.

The Norwegian forward appeared in 25 games and made 15 starts, scoring eight goals and adding seven assists.

COLLEGES

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Candice Storey Lee won’t talk about how long she might be in charge of Vanderbilt’s athletic department, having already made history as the first black woman to hold that job in the Southeastern Conference.

However long this role lasts, Lee is very aware of how much this means.

“It’s not lost on me the responsibility that I have that people who, both those who look like me and those who don’t, know that they can have opportunities to excel really in any space that they want,” Lee said Wednesday night before Vanderbilt hosted No. 18 LSU in men’s basketball.”

Vanderbilt named the former basketball player who has spent her professional career with the Commodores as their first female athletic director Tuesday when the university announced it had accepted Malcolm Turner’s resignation after a year on the job. Lee said she’s been busy for the past 24 hours keeping her head down and working with Vanderbilt’s coaches and staff, not thinking much on what this means overall.

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Wednesday Sports in Brief

MLB BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox insist they won the 2018 World Series fairly, even as they begin their search for a new manager after Alex Cora was let go for his role in a sign-stealing scandal. Cora left the team on Tuesday after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred identified him as the ringleader…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

MLB

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox insist they won the 2018 World Series fairly, even as they begin their search for a new manager after Alex Cora was let go for his role in a sign-stealing scandal.

Cora left the team on Tuesday after baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred identified him as the ringleader in a cheating scheme with the 2017 Houston Astros. Cora took over in Boston the next year, leading the team to a franchise-record 108 victories and the World Series title.

Major League Baseball is investigating whether Cora set up a similar cheating system in Boston. No conclusions have been reached, the team said.

“We would ask that everyone to reserve judgment until MLB completes its investigation and determines whether rules were violated,” owner John Henry said. “I can tell you that we are working with baseball to the fullest extent possible.”

Henry said Cora agreed to step down because the two sides agreed that he could not continue to lead the team.

NFL

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his fifth attempt.

Tagliabue and former New York Giants general manager George Young made it to the hall in Canton, Ohio, as contributors. Ex-Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris and former Cleveland receiver Mac Speedie completed the centennial class announced Wednesday. The class of 10 senior candidates, three contributors and two coaches are part of the hall’s celebration of the NFL’s 100th season.

Safety Donnie Shell made it, as did fellow safety Bobby Dillon and defensive tackle Alex Karras. Also, Duke Slater, one of the NFL’s first black players, defensive standout Ed Sprinkle and NFL Films pioneer Steve Sabol were announced. So were wide receiver Harold Carmichael and offensive tackles Winston Hill and Jim Covert.

Over the weekend, the election of coaches Bill Cowher and Jimmy Johnson as part of the special class celebrating the NFL’s 100th season was revealed. Four more 2020 members are upcoming.

TEMPE, Arizona (AP) — Star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is returning to the Arizona Cardinals for the 2020 season.

The team announced Wednesday the 36-year-old Fitzgerald signed a one-year contract.

In 16 seasons with Arizona, Fitzgerald is the Cardinals’ franchise leader in games played (250), receptions (1,378), receiving yards (17,083), receiving touchdowns (120), total touchdowns (120) and 100-yard games (49). His 1,378 career receptions are the most by any player in NFL history with a single team.

He ranks second all time behind Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,549). Fitzgerald’s 17,083 career receiving yards also rank second in NFL history, while his 120 career touchdown receptions are sixth.

NHL

Gerard Gallant was abruptly fired by the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday less than two years after leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in their first season of existence and winning NHL coach of the year honors along the way.

Peter DeBoer, fired last month by the San Jose Sharks, takes over immediately and will be the Vegas coach the rest of the season.

General manager Kelly McCrimmon announced the change in the aftermath of a 4-2 loss to Buffalo on Tuesday night that dropped Vegas out of a playoff position in the Western Conference. The Golden Knights have lost four in a row, matching the longest point drought in their brief franchise history.

Gallant won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year for his role in helping the Golden Knights reach the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost in five games to Washington. They also made the playoffs last season before losing in seven games in the first round to DeBoer’s Sharks.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Kira Lewis Jr. scored 25 points and Alabama handed No. 4 Auburn its first loss of the season with an 83-64 rout on Wednesday night.

The Crimson Tide (9-7, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) led wire-to-wire over their in-state rival. The Tigers (15-1, 3-1) had a miserable shooting night and left No. 7 San Diego State (18-0) as the nation’s last unbeaten team.

It was the Tide’s first win over a Top 5 team since a 79-57 home defeat of then-No. 5 Texas A&M on Dec. 30, 2017. This one was largely one-sided, too.

It was a season low in points for Auburn, which had won 27 of 28 games dating back to last season’s Final Four run.

NBA

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Zion Williamson, the top choice in last summer’s NBA draft, is scheduled to make his regular season debut for the Pelicans on Jan. 22 when New Orleans hosts the the San Antonio Spurs, Pelicans basketball operations chief David Griffin said Wednesday.

The former Duke star has missed New Orleans’ first 41 games this season while rehabilitating from arthroscopic surgery to repair the lateral meniscus in his right knee. The timeline set for his return calls for him to miss three more games, starting with Thursday night’s home game against Utah.

New Orleans also hosts the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday and visit Memphis on Monday.

Griffin also indicated that Williamson’s minutes will be closely monitored and likely limited for the time being.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Dynamic running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, receiver Justin Jefferson and safety Grant Delpit are among seven players from LSU’s national championship team who’ve stated their intention to enter the NFL draft.

Offensive linemen Saahdiq Charles and Lloyd Cushnberry, and linebackers Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips also announced their intention to turn pro Wednesday.

AUTO RACING

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske announced Wednesday that this year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race will be run on the track’s road course for the first time.

The Cup Series race, scheduled for July 5, will remain on the track’s 2 1/2-mile oval.

The decision was approved by series officials and welcomed by NBC, which will broadcast both races on its primary network.

Penske purchased the track late last year and closed the deal earlier this month. This is the first major change the longtime IndyCar and NASCAR team owner has made.

Race organizers said the plan is to hold the Xfinity race July 4, then convert the track back to its original oval format. Cup drivers will then hold one or two practices that day, which will have concerts and a holiday fireworks display after the cars head to Gasoline Alley.

Qualifying for the Cup race will be held July 5 with the race scheduled later that day.

TENNIS

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Serena Williams will be part of the U.S. team for its Fed Cup qualifier against Latvia, the U.S. Tennis Association said Wednesday.

It will be the first time Williams has participated in the Fed Cup since 2018. Williams has played in 10 previous Fed Cup competitions, and is 13-0 in singles and 3-2 in doubles since her first appearance in 1999.

The U.S. will face Latvia on Feb. 7-8 in Everett, Washington. The winner will advance to the Fed Cup finals in April in Budapest, Hungary. The U.S. must finalize the rest of its roster by Jan. 28.

SOCCER

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dutch goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer has agreed to join Los Angeles FC.

The MLS club announced the deal Wednesday to acquire the 34-year-old Vermeer, who has spent nearly all of his professional career in the domestic Eredivisie.

LAFC used targeted allocation money to sign Vermeer, who spent the past six seasons with Feyenoord.

He spent the previous decade with Ajax, winning four consecutive league titles and appearing in 13 Champions League matches. Vermeer also made five international appearances for the Netherlands from 2012-15.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Alex de Minaur withdrew on Thursday from the Australian Open due to an abdominal strain.

The same injury also forced the 20-year-old Australian to pull out of the Adelaide International on Monday. He was the top-seeded player in that tournament.

De Minaur had been playing well heading into the Australian Open, winning two singles for Australia at the ATP Cup tournament last week and taking Rafael Nadal to three sets.

De Minaur was to have been seeded No. 20 at the Australian Open that begins Monday at Melbourne Park.

OBITUARY

Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, a WWE Hall of Fame wrestler who became better known as the father of actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has died. He was 75.

WWE issued a statement on Johnson’s death Wednesday night. Johnson and Tony Atlas became the first black world tag team champions in WWE history when they defeated The Wild Samoans on Dec. 10, 1983.

The statement didn’t provide details on the cause or location of Johnson’s death.

Johnson later helped train his son, who adopted the Rocky moniker from his father. Johnson came to his son’s aid after a match at WrestleMania in 1997. The Rock inducted his father into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2008.

Former professional wrestler Brian Blair, another 1980s WWE star, was friends with Johnson for decades and they still went to church together in the Tampa, Florida area. Blair told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Johnson had complained of an unspecified illness of late

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NHL ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jay Bouwmeester remains in Southern California, but the veteran St. Louis Blues defenseman was alert and talking with teammates one day after collapsing on the bench during a game. “He was in good spirits with us, typical Jay, so I think it certainly made us all feel a lot better…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NHL

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jay Bouwmeester remains in Southern California, but the veteran St. Louis Blues defenseman was alert and talking with teammates one day after collapsing on the bench during a game.

“He was in good spirits with us, typical Jay, so I think it certainly made us all feel a lot better knowing that we had the opportunity to talk to him. Typical Jay is a very good Jay,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said.

The 36-year old Bouwmeester suffered a cardiac episode during the first period of Tuesday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. General manager Doug Armstrong said during a news conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday that Bouwmeester was unresponsive after collapsing on the bench. A defibrillator was used and he regained consciousness immediately before being taken to an Anaheim hospital.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — ” Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice has signed a multi-year extension with the Jets.

In his seventh season as Jets coach, Maurice has guided Winnipeg to the playoffs three times, including a run to the Western Conference final in 2018.

The Jets are in a tight race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Maurice came to the Jets in 2013 after one season in Russia’s KHL as coach of Magnitogorsk Metallurg.

Maurice became a head coach in 1995 with the Hartford Whalers. He stayed with that franchise when it moved to Carolina in 1997, continuing as Hurricanes coach until he was dismissed in the 2003-04 season.

MLB

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels plan to delay the return of Shohei Ohtani to the mound so they can preserve his pitching arm for later in the season.

Ohtani reacted positively Wednesday to the Angels’ announcement of their plan to delay his return to the mound until mid-May.

The Angels are exercising caution with the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year, who hasn’t pitched since undergoing Tommy John surgery after his rookie season stateside.

The team is also apparently planning to keep Ohtani to an innings limit over the season, and delaying his return to the mound allows the Angels to concentrate his innings later in the regular season, when the Halos hope to be in a pennant race.

NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) — Atlanta Braves left-hander Cole Hamels won’t be ready for the start of the season after hurting his pitching shoulder during an offseason workout.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos says Hamels will be shut down for at least three weeks. Anthopoulos said Wednesday the 36-year-old Hamels hurt his shoulder while throwing a weighted ball in an attempt to build strength for spring training.

Hamels signed an $18 million, one-year deal with Atlanta on Dec. 4 to add experience to a young rotation that also includes Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz. Hamels was not present when pitchers and catchers reported to the team’s new spring facility for Thursday’s first workout.

Anthopoulos says Hamels will be evaluated in three weeks.

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays catcher catcher Reese McGuire is facing an indecent exposure charge in Florida.

Deputies were dispatched to a shopping center parking lot in Dunedin on Friday afternoon following reports that a man sitting inside an SUV was exposing himself, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office news release.

Deputies said they spoke with McGuire, 24, who was cooperative and did not deny the allegations. The release didn’t say what exactly McGuire was doing.

McGuire was charged with a misdemeanor count of exposure of sexual organs and given a notice to appear in court on March 16. He was not taken to jail.

The Blue Jays released a statement Wednesday saying that they’re aware of McGuire’s arrest.

NFL

CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett has been reinstated by the NFL after he was suspended indefinitely for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet.

Garrett missed Cleveland’s final six games last season after his disturbing attack on Rudolph in the closing seconds of a Nov. 14 game that was nationally televised. Garrett has been remorseful since the incident and Monday he met with Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials in New York.

Garrett is cleared to return to all activities with the Browns.

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were buried Friday in a cemetery near the family’s Southern California home, according to death certificates.

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Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar features meticulous landscaping, open courtyards and fountains that “express the joy of living,” according to its website. Actor John Wayne, who died in 1979, also is buried there.

The Bryants and seven others were killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash. The retired basketball superstar, his daughter and the other victims will be honored at a Feb. 24 public memorial at Staples Center, where Bryant starred for most of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

It’s not yet known what caused the crash of the helicopter that was taking the Bryants and the others to a youth basketball tournament.

SOCCER

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. men’s national team urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to sharply increase pay of the American women and accused the governing body of making low-ball offers in negotiations with the men.

The union for the women’s team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF that is scheduled for trial starting May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The women agreed to a collective bargaining agreement in April 2017 that extends through 2021. The men’s labor contract expired at the end of 2018.

The men claimed the federation wants their pay to stay at the same level as in their expired contract.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State hired Mel Tucker as its football coach Wednesday, rallying to land a veteran leader with ties to the school who decided to leave Colorado after a single season.

The Spartans lured Tucker away from Colorado with a six-year contract worth about $30 million after appearing to be interested in coaches including Luke Fickell, Robert Saleh and Pat Shurmur. Tucker replaces Mark Dantonio, who retired two weeks ago after 13 mostly successful seasons.

Michigan State’s board formally approved Tucker’s contract.

Colorado hired Tucker in December 2018, and gave him an opportunity to run the Pac-12 program after he was Georgia’s defensive coordinator. He was given a five-year, $14.75 million contract to lead the Buffaloes, and they were 5-7 last season to match the program’s record from each of the previous two years.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two Ohio State University football players were kicked off the team Wednesday after being charged with rape and kidnapping.

Defensive backs Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint, both 21, were booked into jail earlier in the day after they were charged with sexually assaulting a woman on Feb. 4 at the players’ shared apartment.

“I am not making any statement on the criminal charges, but it is clear they did not live up to our standards and my expectations,” coach Ryan Day said in a statement.

Day said he would not comment further on the case.

The men were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday morning. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys.

AUTO RACING

LONDON (AP) — Formula One organizers on Wednesday postponed the Chinese Grand Prix that was due to be staged in Shanghai in April, the latest sporting event impacted by the fast-spreading viral infection in the country.

More than 1,100 people have died in China from the virus, which has been named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization.

One of 22 races on the F1 calendar for 2020 that opens in Melbourne next month, the Chinese Grand Prix was due to be staged on April 19.

The decision to postpone the race was taken after a request from the Shanghai promoter to “ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans,” F1 said in a statement.

SPORTS TELEVISION

Jeremy Roenick will not be returning to NBC Sports after his suspension for making inappropriate comments about coworkers.

A network spokesman confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that Roenick will not be back on the air. The spokesman said NBC Sports would have no further comment.

Roenick announced the end of his tenure at NBC Sports in a video posted on Twitter.

NBC Sports suspended Roenick indefinitely without pay in late December after he made series of questionable remarks about fellow hockey broadcasters Kathryn Tappen, Patrick Sharp and Anson Carter during a recent appearance on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast.

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NBA NEW YORK (AP) — Vanessa Bryant spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant, one of their daughters and seven others, taking to Instagram to thank people for the global outpouring of support since the tragedy. She also announced the formation of a fund to…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NBA

NEW YORK (AP) — Vanessa Bryant spoke publicly Wednesday for the first time since the helicopter crash that killed her husband Kobe Bryant, one of their daughters and seven others, taking to Instagram to thank people for the global outpouring of support since the tragedy.

She also announced the formation of a fund to help support the other families that were affected by the crash.

“Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them,” Vanessa Bryant wrote. “We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately.”

The Bryants would have celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary this April. They had four daughters including Gianna, the 13-year-old who died in the crash.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The crash that killed nine people including Kobe Bryant has led to calls for crash-warning systems to be installed in more helicopters, but regulators and pilots worry that the instrument can trigger too many alarms and prove distracting.

“Another warning system screaming at you isn’t going to help,” said Brian Alexander, a helicopter pilot and aviation lawyer. “You don’t want to inundate the pilot.”

The death of the basketball star on Sunday has highlighted the debate over the merits of what’s known as the Terrain Awareness and Warning System, or TAWS, which would have sounded a voice alarm if the aircraft was in danger of hitting the ground or some object, such as a tower or a wire.

It is required in medical helicopters but not in commercial ones like the one used by Bryant.

National Transportation Safety Board officials say it is too early to tell whether a TAWS on Bryant’s Sikorsky helicopter could have prevented the crash. But they think it should have been installed on the aircraft, and they criticized federal regulators for not carrying out the NTSB’s recommendation over a decade ago to mandate such equipment on helicopters with six or more passenger seats.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers ended practice with a few somber, almost plaintive laughs. As they left the court, they all passed under the oversized 8 and 24 outlined in white on the black wall above the door to their locker room.

Anthony Davis and several other Lakers paused and looked up at Kobe Bryant’s two retired numbers for a moment before they moved forward.

The Lakers are still grieving and mourning Bryant’s death Sunday in a helicopter crash along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others. Los Angeles’ players and coaches returned to work Wednesday at their training complex with a determination to keep Bryant and the victims in their thoughts while getting on with the business of basketball and life.

“We want to represent what Kobe was about, more than anything,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We’ve always wanted to make him proud, and that’s not going to be any different now.”

NFL

MIAMI (AP) — Stopping short of saying the Rooney Rule is not working, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell noted Wednesday the league needs change to its minority hiring policy.

Though the league requires teams to interview minority candidates, only two African-Americans have been hired for 19 open head coaching spots over the past three years. The league has only two minority general managers among the 32 teams.

“Clearly we are not where we want to be on this level,” Goodell said at his annual Super Bowl news conference.

“We will have a series of meetings which we’ve already scheduled over the next month to get that kind of dialogue going, to continue the dialogue to try to determine what are the solutions so we can have those better outcomes,” he added.

The Rooney Rule, which has been adopted by other leagues and businesses, calls for a minority candidate to be interviewed for head coaching and executive openings such as general managers. Critics have said those interviews are often simply token responses to the rule and that the minority candidates are not seriously considered for those positions.

Goodell also addressed negotiations between the NFL Players Association and the league on a new labor deal. The current 10-year contract runs out in March 2021 and there is optimism on both fronts that a new deal would be finalized before this March when the 2020 league year begins.

CLEVELAND (AP) — Andrew Berry has quickly gotten to work on restructuring the Browns.

A day after Berry was officially hired as Cleveland’s new general manager, the team parted ways with assistant general manager Eliot Wolf and vice president of player personnel Alonzo Highsmith, a person familiar with the Browns’ latest front office shakeup told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

College scouting director Steve Malin also has left the team, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the moves have not been made public.

And while the Browns change their front-office makeup, new coach Kevin Stefanski has been assembling his staff. He’s hiring former NFL quarterback and coach Alex Van Pelt as his offensive coordinator, the person said. Van Pelt spent the past two seasons as Cincinnati’s quarterbacks coach.

— By AP Sports Writer Tom Withers.

MLB

HOUSTON (AP) — Dusty Baker has been hired to replace AJ Hinch as the manager of the Houston Astros.

The team announced the hiring on Wednesday and said Baker will be introduced in Houston on Thursday.

The 70-year-old became the oldest manager in the big leagues. Hinch was fired Jan. 13 just an hour after he was suspended for the season by Major League Baseball for his role in Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.

Baker’s hiring was a sign the AL champions wanted to add a veteran presence to a franchise reeling from the dismissal of Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow. Baker has 22 years of managerial experience, starting in 1993 with the San Francisco Giants.

A three-time National League Manager of the Year, Baker last managed the Washington Nationals, who let him go after a 97-65 season in 2017.

NEW YORK (AP) — Bickering over Major League Baseball’s proposal to cut 42 farm teams escalated Wednesday with the exchange of acrimonious letters by the commissioner’s office and the governing body of the minor leagues.

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MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem wrote some minor league owners view their affiliation with a big league franchise “as a commodity with a fixed value that is bought and sold for a profit similar to a taxi medallion.”

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the governing body of the minors, said in a letter to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that the motivation for MLB’s proposals was “related to the staggering difference in payrolls among MLB teams.”

In negotiations to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after the 2020 season, MLB proposed cutting the minimum guaranteed affiliation agreements from 160 to 120 and said it would drop Double-A teams in Binghamton, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania, along with Chattanooga and Jackson, Tennessee. The plan would eliminate the 28 teams from four Class A Short Season and Rookie Advanced leagues that do not play at spring training complexes and would replace them with teams in a “Dream League” of unaffiliated players that would operate under the auspices of MLB. The amateur draft would be pushed back from June until later in the summer.

Talks are set to resume on Feb. 20.

CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant has lost his service-time grievance against the Chicago Cubs, providing some clarity for the team and the All-Star third baseman with spring training on the horizon.

Two people with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed the decision on Wednesday. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because arbitrator Mark Irvings had not announced his ruling.

The grievance had hovered over Chicago throughout its quiet offseason. The decision means the 28-year-old Bryant has two years left before he is eligible for free agency, instead of becoming a free agent after the 2020 season.

Now that Bryant’s status is settled, the Cubs might decide to trade the 2016 National League MVP for financial flexibility and an injection of talent for their sagging minor league system. They also could keep the talented slugger in hopes of winning the wide-open NL Central for the third time in five years.

— By AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen.

WNBA

WASHINGTON (AP) — The WNBA champion Washington Mystics say reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne is expected to be ready for the start of the season after undergoing back surgery.

The Mystics said Wednesday that Delle Donne had minor surgery Friday in Dallas to repair an injury she suffered during the playoffs.

The team says an update will be provided at the start of training camp this spring. The 2020 regular season starts in May. The Mystics open the season May 16 against Los Angeles.

Delle Donne averaged just under 20 points a game for the Mystics last season. She played through the back injury to compete in all nine playoff games and help Washington win its first WNBA title in franchise history.

TRACK AND FIELD

LONDON (AP) — The indoor world athletics championships in Nanjing, China, have been postponed by a year because of the dangerous virus outbreak in the country, the sport’s governing body announced Wednesday.

World Athletics said in a statement that the event will now be held in March 2021 instead of March 13-15 this year.

The governing body said it made the decision “with regret” because of the spreading virus that has killed more than 130 people.

OLYMPICS

TOKYO (AP) — The city of Sapporo is the first to officially bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics and becomes the early favorite after the Japanese Olympic Committee approved its candidate file late Wednesday.

Sapporo was host to the 1972 Winter Olympics and could face competition from Salt Lake City in the United States, which is also being mentioned as a possible bidder, along with Barcelona and a bid tied to the Pyrenees.

Salt Lake held the 2002 Winter Olympics and Barcelona held the 1992 Summer Olympics.

OBITUARY

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Wright, a former University of Minnesota football star who led grocery wholesaler Supervalu Inc. for 20 years, has died. He was 81.

Wright died Monday at his home in Wayzata of complications from pneumonia, Wright’s son, Adam Wright, told the Star Tribune.

A Minneapolis native, Wright excelled in both football and basketball in high school at St. Thomas Military Academy and became captain of the Gophers football team in 1959. Wright was drafted in the 1960s by teams in the National Football League, Australian Football League and the Canadian Football League. He took the highest offer, an $11,000 salary from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, coached by another Gopher alum, Bud Grant.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Hall of Fame defensive end Chris Doleman, who became one of the NFL’s most feared pass rushers during 15 seasons in the league, has died. He was 58.

The Minnesota Vikings and Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker offered their condolences in separate statements late Tuesday night. There was no word on the cause or timing of Doleman’s death, but he had surgery in January 2018 to remove a brain tumor.

Doleman played college ball for Pittsburgh before he was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 1985 NFL draft. He spent his first nine seasons with the Vikings, collecting a league-high 21 sacks in 1989.

The 6-foot-5 Doleman also played for Atlanta and San Francisco before finishing his career with Minnesota in 1999. He collected 150 1/2 sacks in 232 games. He was a first-team All-Pro selection on two occasions, and also made eight Pro Bowls.

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Sports

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars fired top executive Tom Coughlin on Wednesday, parting ways with the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach a little more than a day after the NFL Players Union took a sledgehammer to his reputation. Coughlin served as executive vice president of football operations since 2017. It was his second…

Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars fired top executive Tom Coughlin on Wednesday, parting ways with the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach a little more than a day after the NFL Players Union took a sledgehammer to his reputation.

Coughlin served as executive vice president of football operations since 2017. It was his second stint with Jacksonville, the expansion franchise he helped build from the ground up in the mid-1990s.

The unbending taskmaster had been in trouble for weeks because of the team’s sagging record and several questionable roster moves. The NFLPA seemingly forced Khan’s hand after an arbitrator’s decision to undo millions in fines imposed by Coughlin himself.

The NFLPA said Monday that more than 25% of player grievances filed in the last two years have been against the Jaguars. The union’s take: “You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.”

Owner Shad Khan said general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone will each report directly to him on an interim basis.

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has a shoulder injury that is limiting him in practice but shouldn’t keep him out Sunday when the Cowboys try to qualify for the playoffs at Philadelphia.

The Cowboys and Eagles are tied for the NFC East lead at 7-7, and Dallas advances to the postseason with a victory.

Prescott didn’t throw during the portion of practice that was open to reporters Wednesday. Coach Jason Garrett said Prescott had an MRI and “everything seems to be OK.” Prescott was already dealing with injuries to his right index finger and left wrist.

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Tired about speculation over his future, Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said Wednesday he doesn’t want to leave Cleveland after one frustrating season.

Beckham dismissed reports that he’s unhappy with the Browns and said he’s committed to helping the team win.

“It’s done. It’s over with,” he said of the speculation. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll be here. We’re going to figure this thing out. It’s just too special to leave.”

Beckham’s first season with the Browns (6-8) hasn’t gone as expected, but the three-time Pro Bowler remains convinced the team has the pieces to be a Super Bowl contender.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have made yet another move at kicker, placing veteran Ryan Succop back on injured reserve and signing Greg Joseph off Carolina’s practice squad.

The Titans announced the moves Wednesday, a day after waiving kicker Ryan Santoso after he struggled on kickoffs.

Joseph will be the fifth kicker the Titans (8-6) have had on the roster this season, and Tennessee ranks last in the NFL in field goal percentage at 44 percent. The Titans’ kicking issues have cost them in at least two games this season as they chase a playoff berth.

Succop had a 45-yard field goal blocked in Sunday’s 24-21 loss to Houston as Tennessee missed a chance to take the lead in the AFC South with two games to play. Succop was 1 of 6 on field goals since returning from injured reserve. He spent the first eight weeks on injured reserve trying to heal from offseason surgery on his right kicking leg.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — The Oakland Raiders placed Trent Brown on season-ending injured reserve, one day after the big right tackle was named to his first Pro Bowl.

Brown, who this past offseason signed a contract making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history, has missed the past two games because of a pectoral injury after sitting out one game earlier in the season with an ankle injury.

“His pec is just not getting any better,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday. “It’s disappointing. Obviously what he did put on tape was very impressive.”

The news came a day after Brown was named to the Pro Bowl despite playing 11 of 14 games. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown allowed one sack in 326 snaps this season.

MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees finalized a record $324 million, nine-year contract.

The 29-year-old right-hander was introduced during a news conference at Yankee Stadium, where his face appeared on the large video boards outside the ballpark on Wednesday morning.

Cole’s deal is the largest for a pitcher in both its total and its average annual value of $36 million.

It appears to be the longest contract for a pitcher since Wayne Garland’s $2.3 million, 10-year deal with Cleveland before the 1976 season.

Cole was 20-5 with an AL-leading 2.50 ERA and a major league-leading 326 strikeouts for Houston last season.

To clear a roster spot, the Yankees designated right-hander Chance Adams for assignment.

NEW YORK (AP) — Boston will pay a Red Sox record $13.4 million luxury tax after failing to make the playoffs and the New York Yankees finished with a $6.7 million bill, likely a fraction of what they will pay next year.

Three teams owe tax, according to end-of-year figures sent to clubs Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press. The Chicago Cubs must pay $7.6 million following a season that ended with a September fade and no postseason berth.

New York has run up a total of $348 million in tax since the payroll restraint system began in 2003, owing money in each year except 2018. The Los Angeles Dodgers are second at $150 million, followed by the Red Sox at $50 million and the Cubs at $11 million.

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This year’s initial tax threshold was $206 million, counting payrolls by average annual values and including earned bonuses, adjustments for cash transactions, option buyouts and just over $14 million per team in benefits.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Timmy Allen hit a tiebreaking floater with 1:14 left and Utah dodged a comeback try by No. 6 Kentucky for a 69-66 victory Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (8-2) used a 27-10 run to tie it at 68 on Ashton Hagans’ dunk with 1:43 remaining, but Allen put the Utes (9-2) back ahead with his basket.

Kentucky got off three more shots, including two in the final 11 seconds, but none connected.

WACO, Texas (AP) — Juicy Landrum set an NCAA record by making 14 3-pointers for all of her career-high 42 points, leading the No. 7 Baylor women to a 111-43 victory over Arkansas State on Wednesday.

Landrum attempted all but one of her 24 shots from 3-point range as the Lady Bears (9-1) shot 46% from beyond the arc (15 of 33) and 59% overall. The senior guard also had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Trinity Oliver had the other 3 in Baylor’s 56th consecutive home nonconference win since a loss to UConn in January 2014.

Landrum, whose previous career high was 23 points, missed her only two-point attempt. The previous record for 3s was 13 by Lamar’s Moe Kinard in 2018. Landrum shattered the Baylor mark of nine 3-pointers held by Odyssey Sims and Mandy Hayworth.

SOCCER

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Riot police clashed with protesters in the streets Wednesday night outside a soccer match between Barcelona and Real Madrid, as authorities sought to keep Catalonia’s separatist movement from disrupting the game viewed by 650 million people worldwide.

The match in Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium began without incident and was halted only briefly when some fans threw balls onto the field bearing a message for the Spanish government to open a dialogue with the separatists.

The game, which drew nearly 100,000 spectators, ended in a scoreless draw.

Thousands of police and private security guards were deployed in and around stadium.

In the street clashes, riot police used batons to force the crowd back, some threw objects at officers lined up behind shields and other protesters fought among themselves. Authorities said nine people had been arrested, and Spain’s national news agency Efe reported that 12 were injured.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Brazilian soccer player was arrested Wednesday on charges of domestic violence while vacationing in Florida, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Sao Paulo FC goalkeeper Jean Fernandes, 24, was charged with battery after sheriff’s deputies were called to an Orlando hotel where Fernandes was staying.

According to a heavily redacted arrest report, he and the woman had been arguing in their room when Fernandes punched her in the face. The sheriff’s deputy wrote that the woman’s face was swollen and she had bruises under both eyes.

The report said Fernandes also had a small bruise on his face. The woman, whose name was redacted in the report, told investigators she hit him with a “hair iron” in self defense.

The woman told investigators she did not want to press charges, the report said.

OBITUARY

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Herman Boone, the Virginia high school football coach who inspired the movie “Remember the Titans,” has died. He was 84.

Boone guided T.C. Williams High School to a state championship while navigating the early days of desegregation.

Aly Khan Johnson, an assistant coach for Boone beginning in 1972, said the coach died Wednesday at his home In Alexandria, Virginia. Johnson said a funeral home operated by his wife is handling the arrangements, which are not complete. He said Boone had been battling cancer. Johnson said he had visited the coach regularly and had planned to see him Wednesday when he learned of his death.

The North Carolina-born Boone led undefeated T.C. Williams High School to the state championship in 1971. His team and its initial success was also recognized as a galvanizing factor in helping bring the city through school consolidation.

Much of “Remember the Titans” covers the team’s uphill battle to win the state championship over 15 all-white teams. They have to overcome vindictive opponents, racist coaches and crooked referees.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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