Update on the latest sports
Big Ten to limit fall sports to conference games
UNDATED (AP) — The Big Ten Conference says it will not play nonconference games in football or several other sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league cited medical advice in reaching its decision, the biggest yet by a power conference.
In a statement, the Big Ten said that limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions will give the conference the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions “based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”
Besides football, the sports affected include men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.
The announcement came a day after the Ivy League Conference canceled sporting events until at least January.
In other developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
— The Atlantic Coast Conference is putting fall competitions on hold until at least Sept. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a move that won’t affect football as of now. The league announced the decision Thursday impacting non-revenue sports such as soccer, volleyball, field hockey and cross country. North Carolina State and Louisville meet on Sept. 2 in the first football game involving any league teams. Schools won’t be able to hold exhibitions or regular-season competition before that date, and it will be up to the schools to determine whether to reschedule any affected events. But the ACC isn’t barring teams from holding workouts and preseason practices “in anticipation of a fall season.”
— North Carolina State says five people tied to Wolfpack sports have tested positive for COVID-19. Athletics spokesman Fred Demarest says those positives came after the school tested 315 athletes, coaches and staff starting May 29. That’s a positive rate of roughly 1.6%. N.C. State athletic director Boo Corrigan had announced in early June that the school had begun a schedule of allowing athletes to return in phases to campus.
— NFL teams will be prohibited from post-game interactions within 6 feet of each other so players won’t be allowed to exchange jerseys after games as part of the guidelines to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions are outlined in the game-day protocols finalized by the league and NFL Players Association on Wednesday. The 11-page document obtained by The Associated Press includes several changes for the upcoming season. Players and coaches are not required to wear masks, but everyone else on the sideline is. The league and the players’ union still haven’t agreed on testing and screening protocols.
— Nashville SC has withdrawn from Major League Soccer’s MLS is Back tournament in Florida after nine players tested positive for the coronavirus. Nashville is the second team to withdraw from the tournament. FC Dallas had to pull out after 10 players and a coach tested positive for COVID-19. The league is revising its schedule to reflect Nashville’s withdrawal. The tournament started Wednesday.
— Cleveland Indians outfielder Franmil Reyes (FRAHN’-meel RAY’-uhs) has apologized for putting himself and his teammates at risk by not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing at a weekend holiday party. Reyes says he’s “learned from it and it won’t happen again.” The club kept Reyes away from its training camp after he was spotted on social media attending a Fourth of July get-together. Reyes had to be re-tested for the new coronavirus and cleared by Indians medical personnel before he was allowed to practice. He was acquired last year in a trade with the San Diego Padres.
— The plan to have fans at the World Golf Championships event in Memphis has been scrapped. Officials announced Thursday that the FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind will not have any spectators due to what they call “an abundance of caution.” Tournament officials have been talking extensively with both the PGA Tour and local and state health officials. Executive director Darrell Smith says they had a safety plan for limited spectators but ultimately felt it was best to host without any fans. Ticket purchases will be refunded automatically.
— China says it won’t stage any international sports for the rest of the year, apart from trials for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and a neighboring city. The order from the General Administration of Sports affects at least six WTA tennis events, including the WTA Finals in Shenzhen in November. China also has four ATP tournaments lined up. Shanghai was also due to host two big golf events, the men’s HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship event two weeks after the LPGA Shanghai.
— The spokesman for the Tokyo Olympics expects the postponed games to go ahead in 2021 despite a recent poll in Japan in which 77% of respondents said they did not believe the games could be held next year. The poll by the Japan News Network said only 17% thought it could be held next year in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
— CBS will get an early start on its Champions League deal by showing games next month when the pandemic-delayed competition resumes. The rights to the rest of this Champions League season and all of next season became available last month when Turner opted out of its 2018-21 deal for exclusive English language rights in the United States. CBS says it has acquired the rights and will get two Champions League finals in less than 10 months. This season’s competition resumes on Aug. 7 and ends with an eight-team knockout tournament in Lisbon, Portugal. The final is on Aug. 23.
— A horse named for Dr. Anthony Fauci has won his first race at Keeneland. The 2-year-old colt won by a length Thursday as the heavy favorite against 11 rivals in the $70,000 race at the Lexington, Kentucky, track. Fauci ran 5 1/2 furlongs on turf in 58.65 seconds under jockey Tyler Gaffalione and paid $4.20 to win. Fauci finished second in his career debut at New York’s Belmont Park last month. He is named for the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who is advising the White House on the coronavirus pandemic.
Tiger Woods to return next week at Muirfield Village
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — The PGA Tour returned five weeks ago with some of its strongest fields. Now it gets its biggest star.
Tiger Woods announced Thursday on Twitter he will play next week at the Memorial, a tournament he has won a record five times, as he goes after his record 83rd career victory on the PGA Tour.
It will end a five-month break from competition for Woods. He last played on Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational, where he shot 76-77 at chilly Riviera to finish alone in last place.
Woods said he felt stiffness in the cold weather. He chose not to go to Mexico City for a World Golf Championship, then skipped three straight tournaments in Florida before golf was halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
His only competition was an exhibition match on May 24 at his home course in Florida, with Peyton Manning as his partner against Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady.
The tour resumed June 11 at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.
Ruff to become Devils coach, Fitzgerald stays GM
UNDATED (AP) — The New Jersey Devils have hired veteran coach Lindy Ruff to take over one of the NHL’s youngest teams. Ruff replaces interim coach Alain Nasreddine (ah-LAYN’ NAZ’-reh-deen), who guided the Devils to a 19-16-8 record after replacing John Hynes.
The 60-year-old Ruff had been an assistant coach with the New York Rangers. He previously coached the Dallas Stars and the Buffalo Sabres, leading the Sabres to the Stanley Cup Final in 1999.
New Jersey also removed the interim tag from Tom Fitzgerald’s title as general manager. Fitzgerald had served as interim general manager since January.
MLB releases 2021 schedule; all 30 teams to open on April 1
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball will open the 2021 season on April 1 and hopes to have every team play its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968.
The league released the full schedule Thursday, two weeks before it plans to begin a 2020 season that’s been delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic. MLB intended to start this season on March 26, its earliest opening date ever except for international games.
The league also hoped to have all 30 clubs play on the same opening day this season, but that was spoiled when Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended spring training in March.
Instead, a 60-game regular season schedule is scheduled to begin July 23, with clubs set to play only division foes and regional interleague opponents — AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central, AL West vs. NL West — to limit travel.
Clubs will resume full intraleague schedules in 2021, and interleague play will again align regionally.
The New York Mets will host the cross-town Yankees at Citi Field on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the first time the Subway Series will take place on Sept. 11. The Yankees will host the Mets during Fourth of July weekend.
Atlanta will host the 91st All-Star Game on July 13 at Truist Park. It’s Atlanta’s first All-Star Game since hosting in 2000 at Turner Field.
The last day of the season will be Oct. 3.