Update on the latest sports
MLB-ALL-STAR GAME MOVED
MLB moving All-Star Game in response to Georgia voting law
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta amid controversy surrounding Georgia’s new voting law.
MLB’s announcement came eight days after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state elections that includes new restrictions on voting by mail and greater legislative control over how elections are run. Critics say the law unfairly limits access to the ballot box, especially for people of color.
MLB had awarded the game to Atlanta in 2019. It was scheduled for July 13 at Truist Park as part of baseball’s midsummer break that includes the Futures Game on July 11 and Home Run Derby the following night.
But Commissioner Rob Manfred made the decision to move the All-Star events as well as the amateur draft, which had been scheduled to be held in Atlanta for the first time. There was no word on a new location for the events.
Manfred made the decision after discussions with the Major League Baseball Players Association, individual players and the Players Alliance, an organization of Black players formed after the death of George Floyd last year.
3-game Mets-Nationals series off after positive COVID tests
UNDATED (AP) — The Washington Nationals say their season-opening three-game series against the New York Mets has been postponed after the 2019 World Series champions had a coronavirus outbreak.
Four players on the Nationals have tested positive for COVID-19. Five other players and one staff member are under quarantine after contact tracing determined they might have been exposed, too.
The Mets-Nationals series was supposed to include games Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at Nationals Park. Washington GM Mike Rizzo says his team is planning to begin its season at home Monday against the NL East rival Atlanta Braves.
In other pandemic-related news:
— The NHL has moved Winnipeg’s home game against Ottawa that was originally scheduled for the first week in May to Monday. The league says the change is the result of recently postponed games affecting the Jets and Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks have had their games postponed through Tuesday after two players and a member of the coaching staff entered the league’s COVID protocol. The postponed contests include games originally scheduled for Sunday and Tuesday in Winnipeg.
— The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee says no decision has been made about rerouting the torch relay later this month around the city of Osaka. The mayor of Osaka and the governor of the prefecture want relay legs on April 14 through the city of Osaka to be canceled because of rising cases of COVID-19. The relay started from northeastern Japan a week ago and is crisscrossing the country with 10,000 runners. The relay is a test to see if organizers can pull off a large-scale event during the pandemic.
— The World University Games that were due to open in China in just over four months have been postponed until next year. The Switzerland-based FISU governing body said COVID-19 and travel restrictions prompted the postponement. The event was to have opened in Chengdu in western China on Aug. 18 just days after the closing of the Tokyo Olympics. A new date wasn’t announced.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-WOMEN’S FINAL FOUR
South Carolina plays Stanford, UConn meets Arizona
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Adia Barnes will be part of a couple of firsts Friday in the women’s NCAA Final Four. She has taken her alma mater Arizona there for the first time in program history. And this will be first Final Four with two teams coached by Black women, with Barnes and South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
Arizona plays its first national semifinal game against 11-time national champion UConn. The Huskies are making their 13th consecutive Final Four appearance and record 21st overall. The game features two of the most dynamic scorers in the country in UConn’s Paige Bueckers (BEH’-kurz) and Arizona’s Aari McDonald. Bueckers this week became the first freshman to win The Associated Press national player of the year award.
The Gamecocks, the 2017 national champions, play No. 1 overall seed Stanford in the other semifinal game Friday night in the Alamodome in San Antonio. That game matches two coaches who are longtime friends, South Carolina’s Staley and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer. It’s not the first meeting between the two on the big stage. They played in the 2017 Final Four when South Carolina rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to win en route to the NCAA championship.
Auburn’s Sharife Cooper to enter NBA draft, hire agent
UNDATED (AP) — Auburn freshman point guard Sharife Cooper says he plans to enter the NBA draft and give up his remaining eligibility.
Cooper announced his decision to enter the draft and hire an agent Friday after putting up big numbers as a freshman despite playing in only 12 games. Cooper averaged 20.2 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds after being declared eligible by the NCAA. Cooper is one of just seven players nationally to average 20 points and eight assists per game in the last 25 years.
Fellow Auburn freshman JT Thor also has entered the draft but left the door open for a return.
In other college basketball news:
— Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has agreed to a new contract that will keep him with the Jayhawks until he retires. The five-year contract automatically adds one additional year after the conclusion of each season. That effectively makes it a lifetime contract. The deal guarantees him $5.41 million per year with a base salary of $225,000, professional services contract of $2.75 million and an annual $2.435 million retention bonus. The deal was struck even as the school awaits the decision from an independent panel investigating five serious infractions charges alleged by the NCAA
AP Sources: NCAA has not tested for drugs at championships
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA has not tested players for performance-enhancing drugs at March Madness and other recent college championships, The Associated Press has learned. Three people with direct knowledge of NCAA testing protocols said full-scale testing has not resumed since the coronavirus pandemic shut down college sports a year ago.
Although athletes may have been tested on campus, either through the NCAA program or those run by schools, the NCAA has not ramped up its usual testing program at national championships such as the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. The tournaments wrap up with Final Four games starting with the women’s semifinals Friday.
The NCAA has tested for drugs since 1986, and has changed and enhanced its policy over the years. Unlike some leagues and anti-doping organizations, it does not reveal the number of tests it conducts. Players who test positive can be kicked out of championships and can lose a year or more of eligibility.
But the three people familiar with testing protocols told AP that the number of tests received from NCAA events went to zero after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down sports last spring. They said testing has recently resumed sporadically, but only via on-campus collections.
Veteran LB Damien Wilson signs with Jaguars, provides depth
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Veteran linebacker Damien Wilson has signed with Jacksonville and gives the Jaguars an experienced option as they transition to a 3-4 defensive scheme. Wilson visited Jacksonville on Wednesday. He spent the last two years with Kansas City and started 13 games in 2020, missing three contests late in the season because of a knee injury. He returned in the postseason and started all three games, including the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.