Warning from NFL medical officer
UNDATED (AP) — Days after the NFL revealed its hopes of conducting a normal regular season and playoffs, its chief medical officer is warning that nothing is a certainty during the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Allen Sills, a neurosurgeon who has been with the NFL since 2017, says he and other league and team medical personnel have been in constant communication with health officials throughout the country, looking at the same data they are using to make public recommendations. The NFL also has consulted with the other major sports leagues and the players’ union.
In other developments related to the pandemic:
— The Preakness is looking for a new date for the Triple Crown race normally held on the third Saturday in May. The owners of Pimlico Race Course and the Maryland Jockey Club have also decided to cancel the infield party on race day. The Preakness usually draws more than 100,000 fans, most of whom gather on the infield. The Kentucky Derby was previously postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5.
—The U.S. Tennis Association says it’s best not to play the sport right now because of the coronavirus pandemic. The USTA called it “in the best interest of society to take a collective pause” from tennis. The statement from the organization that runs the U.S. Open Grand Slam tournament said there is “the possibility” that the virus could be transferred among people via sharing and touching of tennis balls, net posts, court surfaces, benches or gate handles.
— The U.S. Women’s Open is moving from the end of spring to the middle of December. The USGA says the Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston is moving from June 4-7 to Dec. 10-13. The LPGA has also postponed or canceled the next five events on its schedule. All but the Pure Silk Championship are getting new dates later in the year.
— The WNBA has postponed the start of its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. The league was set to open training camps on April 26 and the regular season was to begin on May 15. The WNBA will still hold a “virtual” draft on April 17. Two WNBA cities are major hot spots for the virus: New York and Seattle. The WNBA, which was set to begin its 24th season, is the longest running professional women’s sports league.
— The Ottawa Senators are making temporary layoffs and salary reductions because of COVID-19. The team’s parent company says the full-time workforce will be reduced starting Sunday, when the NHL club’s season was originally scheduled to end. Those not laid off could be placed on furlough. Others could have their salaries reduced. Health benefits will continue uninterrupted.
— Anaheim Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli say they will pay their 2,100 part-time employees across all of their sports and event management companies through June 30 for work that was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. The Samuelis’ Anaheim Arena Management company operates Honda Center, the Ducks’ home rink. They also own two lice hockey complexes in Orange County.
— Major League Soccer has extended its training moratorium through April 24 because of the coronavirus outbreak. Team facilities are closed to players and staff — except for players requiring treatment that cannot be administered at their homes. Players are expected to remain in market with their teams during the moratorium to avoid the spread of the virus.
— The under-construction Athletes Village for the Tokyo Olympics could be used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients. Tokyo’s governor has been talking about the possibility of occupying the massive development on Tokyo Bay, which is to house up to 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and staff during the games.
— Former marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang was among 20 people arrested in Kenya for locking themselves in a bar and drinking alcohol in breach of a curfew imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Police say the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist was among those detained at a police station in Iten, one of Kenya’s famous high-altitude towns where distance runners train.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State’s NCAA case involving recruiting violations tied to former Wolfpack one-and-done star Dennis Smith Jr. has been recommended to go through an independent investigation process created for complex cases.
The process includes independent investigators and decision-makers with no direct ties to NCAA member schools, and rulings cannot be appealed.
The NCAA has alleged ex-assistant Orlando Early provided Smith and his associates approximately $46,700 in impermissible benefits – including $40,000 that a government witness testified he delivered to Early intended for Smith’s family in 2015.
Basketball Hall of Fame set to announce 2020 class
UNDATED (AP) — A unique Hall of Fame class will be announced Saturday in a unique way.
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are all expected to be officially announced as part of the 2020 class of enshrinees by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The selections are typically revealed at college basketball’s Final Four. But with sports shut down because of the global coronavirus pandemic, the announcement will be televised from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut.
Bryant, Duncan and Garnett, with a combined 11 championships and 48 All-Star seasons between them, are all first-time finalists and locks to be in this class. There are five additional finalists alongside Bryant, Duncan and Garnett: Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Eddie Sutton, Barbara Stevens and Kim Mulkey.
Lions agree to deal with CB Darryl Roberts
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have agreed to terms with free agent cornerback Darryl Roberts. Roberts spent the past four seasons with the New York Jets.
Roberts has started 10 games in each of the past two seasons. The Lions also acquired cornerback Desmond Trufant this offseason.
In other NFL news:
—The lawyer representing retired NFL players alleges the players’ union stonewalled his clients when confronted with questions whether their Social Security disability payments would be affected before the labor agreement was narrowly ratified last month. Attorney Ben Meiselas told the AP that email exchanges between his clients and the NFLPA show the union refusing to provide responses to direct questions regarding the status of their disability benefits before and after the CBA was presented to its players for a vote on March 5.
—The NFC champion San Francisco 49ers have signed two ninth-year pros to one-year deals in free agency. One of them is Travis Benjamin. He’s a wide receiver and punt returner who played the last four seasons with the Chargers. The Niners also signed offensive lineman Tom Compton, who was with the Jets last season.
The Chicago Bears declared the quarterback competition between Mitchell Trubisky and newcomer Nick Foles. General manager Ryan Pace says both players are “embracing” the battle that will play out whenever offseason workouts begin.
Hacker posts racial slur on fan chat with black NHL player
NEW YORK (AP) — A hacker posted a racial slur 45 times in an online fan video chat Friday with a black New York Rangers prospect.
The NHL team scrambled to disable the hacker it called “a vile individual” on the Zoom chat with K’Andre Miller, the 20-year-old former Wisconsin defenseman drafted No. 22 overall in 2018. Miller recently signed with the Rangers after completing his sophomore season at Wisconsin. The 6-foot-5 defender is from St. Paul, Minnesota.
Federal judge tosses fan lawsuit vs. MLB, Astros, Red Sox
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by fantasy sports contestants who claimed they were damaged by sign stealing in Major League Baseball.
Five men had sued MLB, MLB Advanced Media, the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox in federal court in Manhattan, claiming fraud, violation of consumer-protection laws, negligence, unjust enrichment and deceptive trade practices by teams that violated MLB’s rules against the use of electronics to steal catchers’ signs. The five participated in fantasy contests hosted by DraftKings from 2017-19.
Judge Jed S. Rakoff wrote that the lawsuit had no legal basis.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs and wide receiver Sammy Watkins have agreed on a restructured one-year contract that gives the franchise much-needed salary cap relief. That’s according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke with The Associated Press on Friday. The person said Watkins will make $9 million in base salary but that incentives could drive the total package to $16 million. More important for the club, the deal will give the Chiefs about $5 million in salary cap savings ahead of the NFL draft.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Cordell Pemsl is leaving Iowa to play his final season at another school as a graduate transfer. The 6-foot-8, 248-pound forward from Dubuque averaged six points and just over four rebounds per game in 96 games. Pemsl had three major surgeries over the last six years and was a reserve exclusively after starting 14 games as a freshman. He thanked his teammates, coaches, school and fans for a memorable four years.