Update on the latest sports
Court filing alleges $400K paid to Williamson family in ’18
UNDATED (AP) — The legal fight over NBA rookie Zion Williamson’s endorsement potential now includes an allegation his family received $400,000 from a marketing agency before playing at Duke. Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford filed a lawsuit last summer in Florida, accusing Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Williamson had filed a lawsuit in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports.
In court filings Thursday in North Carolina, Ford’s attorneys included a sworn affidavit from a California man who said the head of a Canadian-based firm called Maximum Management Group (MMG) told him he paid Williamson’s family for his commitment to sign with MMG once he left Duke for the NBA.
Williamson’s attorney says those documents are “fraudulent.”
The documents include a marketing agreement signed by Williamson with MMG from May 2019, a December 2019 “letter of declaration” signed by Williamson and his stepfather agreeing to pay $500,000 to MMG president Slavko Duric for “repayment of a loan” from October 2018, and a copy of Williamson’s South Carolina driver’s license.
In other NBA news:
— Full-scale practices inside the NBA bubble at the Disney complex have started. The Orlando Magic became the first team to formally return to the floor. By the close of business, all 22 teams participating in the restart were to be checked into their hotel and beginning their isolation from the rest of the world for what will be several weeks at least. And by Saturday, all teams should have practiced at least once.
— The Brooklyn Nets filled one of the openings on their roster by signing veteran Michael Beasley as a substitute player for the remainder of the season. The Nets will resume play without Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan after they tested positive for the coronavirus. They are also without Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Wilson Chandler. Beasley was the No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft and has averaged 12.4 points over 11 seasons. He hasn’t played in the NBA since appearing for the Lakers in February 2019.
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 with this year’s 60-game regular season schedule scheduled to begin July 23 as 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.
In other MLB news:
— Baseball has its answer to World Cup soccer’s penalty kicks, NFL overtimes or NHL shootouts. And it figures to stir just as much debate as all those other forms of tiebreakers. Major League Baseball will start each extra inning this season by putting a runner on second base. The minor leagues have used this extra-inning format since 2018. MLB is experimenting with the rule this year in part to prevent marathon games from causing long-term damage to pitching staffs in a pandemic-shortened season.
— Anthony Rendon mostly spent the first few months of his seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels changing his daughters’ diapers and throwing a tennis ball at a wall. The $245 million third baseman is more than ready to get to work earning his riches, and the World Series winner doesn’t think it will take long to get back into championship form. Rendon is getting to know his teammates again after his first spring with the Angels was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic before he even got a chance to play in Anaheim. The most coveted hitter on the free agent market even got his World Series ring this week.
— Cody Bellinger is ready for whatever baseball’s shortened 60-game season brings. The All-Star slugger is looking to pick up where he left off after a stellar performance for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019. The reigning NL MVP batted .305 with 47 homers and 115 RBIs for the NL West champions last year. He says the season figures to be “a once-in-a-lifetime thing” because of the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
— 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.
— J.T. Realmuto isn’t worried about his contract situation. The All-Star catcher and the Philadelphia Phillies had preliminary discussions about a long-term deal before the coronavirus pandemic but talks between the two sides haven’t progressed since baseball returned last week. Realmuto is eligible for free agency after the season unless the Phillies sign him before he can test the market. He’s expected to seek at least $20 million per season. Last week, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said the pandemic has changed the landscape of baseball. Lost revenue could affect salaries around the majors going forward.
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.
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%.
— 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. 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.
— 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.” 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. 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.
— World champion sprinter Noah Lyles was the star attraction in a rare track meet in 2020 held on Thursday that didn’t go quite to plan. Lyles lined up in the 200 meters on a Florida track while two opponents started simultaneously in Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was the marquee race of storied Swiss meet Weltklasse which synchronized athletes competing in seven different stadiums across Europe and the United States. Turned out 200 meters for the others was only a 185-meter race for Lyles. And the clock that stopped at 18.90 seconds wasn’t a world record for Lyles ahead of Usain Bolt’s iconic 19.19. Lyles later tweeted his starting block was placed in the wrong lane.
— The imagery evoked by Dana White’s crazy idea for holding mixed martial arts fights on a tropical island was undeniably intoxicating. A few months later, the project that came to be known as Fight Island is real and ready for competition. And while Fight Island is not exactly the idyllic scene evoked by its name, the octagon inside an air-conditioned arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island also sits inside a bubble that seems highly unlikely to burst. Fight Island will host four UFC events in 14 days, starting with three championship fights at UFC 251 this weekend.
Bou scores lone goal and Revolution down Impact 1-0
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Gustavo Bou scored in the 56th minute to give the New England Revolution a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Impact in the MLS is Back tournament Thursday night. Bou maneuvered atop the penalty area before a blast that goalkeeper Clement Diop couldn’t stop in the match played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner preserved the victory in stoppage time with a big save on Ballou Tabla’s curling shot from distance.
In other MLS news:
— 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.
Tiger Woods to return next week at Muirfield Village
DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — 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.
In other PGA news:
— Collin Morikawa had his first forced weekend off when he missed the cut two weeks ago for the first time in his pro career. He bounced back in a big way. Morikawa made a strong debut at Muirfield Village with a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead over Adam Hadwin. It was a quiet day of work with no fans at the course Jack Nicklaus built. Phil Mickelson made noise early until a 41 on the back nine left him in danger of missing another cut. This is the first of two straight events at Muirfield Village.
– Dylan Frittelli says it was hard not to feel like an outcast at the Workday Charity Open. But at least he was playing. He was part of the COVID-19 grouping with Nick Watney and Denny McCarthy. All three tested positive for the coronavirus. They all self-isolated for 10 days or more. And then they all tested positive again. Under CDC guidelines the PGA Tour is following, they were cleared to play even with a positive test. Tour medical advisers says nasal tests can pick up the virus, but after 10 days it’s no longer believed to be contagious.
Austin Cindric wins NASCAR Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway
SPARTA, Ky. (AP) — Austin Cindric won the first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Kentucky Speedway, charging past Chase Briscoe on an overtime restart Thursday night for his first victory of the season and first on an oval. Cindric spent most of the first two stages chasing Noah Gragson, the pole-sitter who seemed poised to dominate all three segments. Cindric then took charge on a series of restarts in Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang. On the last one, he went around Briscoe on the outside and pulled away before a last-lap wreck ended the race. The 21-year-old Cindric had eight top-10s on ovals before breaking through on the 1.5-mile Kentucky layout. His only other series victories came last year on road courses at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio.
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.
WTA revises rankings system, adds 2 events as return nears
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The WTA Tour will allow players to count results from March 2019 through December 2020 under a revised rankings system when tennis resumes next month. Players will count their best 16 results in singles and best 11 in doubles during that window to determine their rankings points. Results usually count over 52 weeks. Players cannot use the same event twice if it was played in both 2019 and 2020. The WTA also added two events to its provisional schedule Thursday. The Prague Open in the Czech Republic and the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky will be played the week of Aug. 10.
Texas Tech signs 7-foot-1 Russian center as 8th addition
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Texas Tech has signed 7-foot-1 Russian center Vladislav Goldin. Coach Chris Beard announced Goldin’s signing Thursday. Goldin is from Nalchik, Russia. Goldin played last season at Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut. He also played for Russia’s U18 and U19 national teams, and for three seasons with CSKA Moscow’s Junior Team. The center is the eighth player that has signed with the Red Raiders, including Division I transfers Mac McClung (Georgetown), Jamarius Burton (Wichita State), Marcus Santos-Silva (Virginia Commonwealth). There was also a junior college transfer and three high school signees.
OHIO STATE-TEAM DOCTOR
Student health boss cited for not reporting doc’s misconduct
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio State student health director faces potential discipline from the state medical board for failing to report several sexual misconduct complaints in the mid-1990s about a doctor now accused of abusing young men for two decades. The citation makes former director Ted Grace the first individual to face such action in the wake of allegations that Ohio State officials long turned a blind eye to misconduct by now-deceased doctor Richard Strauss. He now leads student health services at Southern Illinois University.
Syracuse University appoints diversity director for sports
UNDATED (AP) — Syracuse University has added an athletic director of diversity, culture and climate in a new position within the department of athletics.
Salatha Willis is charged with developing and implementing new ways to create an equitable culture for the university’s student-athletes, administrators, coaches and staff in the athletic department.
The move is a response to the racial tension that has wracked the country, including a period of social unrest on campus last fall. There were more than a dozen reports last November of racist graffiti and vandalism targeting Blacks, Jews, Asians and Native Americans.
Athletic director John Wildhack says the death of George Floyd in police custody also was a factor.