NFL owners table onside kick alternative proposal
UNDATED (AP) — NFL owners approved several rules on Thursday without accepting an alternative to the onside kick.
Owners have tabled a proposal that would have offered a fourth-and-15 play as an alternative to the onside kick. Atlanta Falcons President Rich McKay said there were more clubs receptive to the onside kick alternative than in the past and it will be further explored and likely brought up again.
Owners approved testing expanded use of video replay in the preseason to aid in officiating, and they also increased the number of players who may be designated for return from the injured list during a season from two to three.
The owners voted to make permanent the expansion of automatic replay reviews to include scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul, and any successful or unsuccessful extra points.
Also approved was the competition committee's recommendation to expand defenseless player protection to a kickoff or punt returner who is in possession of the ball but has not had time to avoid or ward off contact of an opponent.
Another approved recommendation stops teams from manipulating the game clock by committing multiple dead-ball fouls while the clock is running. That’s an issue that came up several times in 2019, including during the postseason.
Using video replay for pass interference calls was dropped after a one-year experiment that led to more uncertainty than clarity.
A proposal to have a booth judge serve as an eighth official on each crew was tabled.
Boston marathon canceled
UNDATED (AP) — Organizers have canceled the Boston Marathon for the first time in its 124-year history due to social distancing requirements of the coronavirus outbreak.
The race had endured through two World Wars, a volcanic eruption and a previous pandemic. The race draws a field of 30,000 and already had been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14. It will be replaced by a virtual event in which participants who verify that they ran 26.2 miles on their own will receive their finisher's medal.
The Boston Marathon began in 1897 and has been the longest-running annual marathon in the world.
In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is hopeful that coaches will be able to return to their team facilities by next week. Goodell also said during today’s owners conference call that the virtual offseason is being extended for two more weeks. NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy Jeff Miller said the league’s first consideration is of course the health and safety of the public and the players and the employees and the people who will be participating.
— Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says racing will be allowed to resume in the state without spectators. The governor says NASCAR will race at Martinsville Speedway on June 10, and that other forms of auto racing and horse racing also are cleared to resume. NASCAR was originally scheduled to make its first of two stops at Martinsville in early May, but the event was postponed because of the outbreak.
— The John Deere Classic is canceling what would have been its 50th straight anniversary as a PGA Tour event. Tournament director Clair Peterson says there were too many hurdles to overcome from the pandemic. The John Deere would have been the fifth PGA Tour event on the revised schedule. The tour had said the first month would be played without fans, leaving it possible for the Deere to have them.
— Sports agent Scott Boras is recommending that his clients refuse Major League Baseball’s attempt to cut salaries during negotiations with the players’ association. He is claiming that team financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have their origin in management debt financing. Boras wrote in an email obtained by The Associated Press that players should not alter terms of the March 26 agreement between MLB and the union that called for players to reduce their salaries to a prorated rate based on a shortened season. MLB on Tuesday proposed a series of tiered reductions that would cause top stars to receive the biggest cuts.
— At least eight major league franchises have informed minor leaguers they will continue to provide allowances after the May 31 expiration of Major League Baseball’s policy guaranteeing those players $400 per week. The San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners are promising payments through August, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers have pledged to do so through at least June. The White Sox are even providing those stipends to 25 minor league players recently released.
— Live horse racing is slated to resume in Maryland this weekend with a three-day session at Laurel Park, which will remain closed to the general public. The Maryland Jockey Club says it has received approval from the Maryland Racing Commission to launch its Summer 2020 meet with live racing on Saturday, but fans are forbidden from entering the track until clearance is received from the state. All races on Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be streamed live on the Laurel Park website.
— Texas will soon allow outdoor pro sports events to have spectators, but their numbers will be strictly limited. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has revised a decision to let pro sports leagues host events without fans starting in June as part of the states’ move to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. Abbott’s new order allows outdoor stadiums to host fans up to 25 percent of their normal capacity. Leagues will have to apply to state health officials to be allowed to have fans. Indoor events will still be without spectators.
— Major League Soccer gave its teams the go-ahead to begin small voluntary group training sessions outdoors, the next step in the league’s effort to return to action. The group sessions must comply with local public health and government restrictions. Teams must submit club-specific plans to the league for the sessions. A maximum of six players may be assigned to a single group. All other health and safety measures required when MLS teams began individual training must still be maintained. A league-wide moratorium on full team training remains in effect through next Monday.
— The English Premier League plans to restart on June 17 after a 100-day shutdown with new staggered kickoffs to maximize broadcast slots as fans are prevented from attending games. The clubs agreed Thursday that the competition should resume with a Wednesday night doubleheader featuring Manchester City playing Arsenal and Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United. After those makeup games are played, the 30th round will start on Friday, June 19 provided authorities approve safety plans.
— Three players from English soccer clubs Blackburn and Fulham have tested positive for the coronavirus. Blackburn says captain Elliott Bennett was found to be infected with COVID-19 after testing negative last Friday. Bennett says he doesn’t “feel unwell” and doesn’t have any symptoms. Fulham says two players tested positive but did not name them
— Italy's top soccer league will resume on June 20. Italy’s sports minister gave Serie A the green light to resume after a meeting with Italian soccer authorities on Thursday. A medical protocol for matches was approved by a technical scientific committee earlier.
— The Hungarian soccer federation says matches in the country can once again be held with spectators in the stadiums. The announcement comes on the back of a government decree allowing the option. Organizers are obliged to keep three seats empty between each occupied seat and no fan may sit directly behind or in front of another.
— Elite sports made a comeback in Australia for the first time since March 22 as the Parramatta Eels beat the Brisbane Broncos 34-6 in the National Rugby League Thursday. No fans were allowed into the 52,500-seat stadium in Brisbane because of strict social distancing rules but the game was broadcast across Australia.
— The European Tour is planning to resume its season close to home. The tour says it has targeted the British Masters in England on July 22 as the restart. That would be followed by five new tournaments in England and Wales that will be called the “U.K. Swing.” The new events will have a prize fund of 1 million euros. European Tour chief Keith Pelley says the plans depend on the U.K. lifting quarantine restrictions, but he's confident that will happen.
— The Dutch Grand Prix has become the fourth Formula One race canceled this season because of the pandemic. Organizers of the first Dutch GP since 1985 chose not to host it without spectators. F1 wants to start the season in July with no spectators at races.
Hyde signs with Seahawks, Apple goes to Panthers
UNDATED (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks have added another option at running back by signing veteran Carlos Hyde to a one-year.
Hyde is coming off the best season of his career after rushing for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns with Houston. It was his first 1,000-yard NFL campaign.
Hyde’s addition is a significant move after leading rusher Chris Carson suffered a significant hip injury late last season. Coach Pete Carroll has indicated Carson should be healthy for the season.
In other NFL news:
— The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with free agent cornerback Eli Apple after losing free agent James Bradberry to the Giants. Apple has started 48 games during four NFL seasons but has never lived up to the billing of being the 10th overall selection in the 2016 draft out of Ohio State. He recorded 58 tackles and one forced fumble while starting 15 games for the Saints last season.
Georgia gets USC transfer Daniels
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia has picked up another high-profile transfer to compete for its starting quarterback job, landing former Southern California starter JT Daniels.
Daniels started for the Trojans in 2018 but lost his job to Kedon Slovis last season after going down with a knee injury. Daniels will battle for playing time with graduate transfer Jamie Newman, who left Wake Forest to play his final college season with a program that has been a consistent national contender under coach Kirby Smart.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-TEXAS TECH-McCLUNG
McClung transferring to Texas Tech
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Former Georgetown guard Mac McClung will play at Texas Tech after Davide Moretti's departure from the Red Raiders to play professionally at home in Italy.
Coach Chris Beard said McClung had officially signed with the Red Raiders.
The junior had put his name in the transfer portal after removing it from consideration from the NBA draft. McClung led the Hoyas with 15.7 points a game last season, while also averaging 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Williamson attorneys looking to block suit
MIAMI (AP) — Attorneys for NBA rookie Zion Williamson are seeking to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils.
In a Florida court filing last week, Williamson’s attorneys say those questions are “nothing more than a fishing expedition aimed at tarnishing Williamson’s reputation." They added the accusations are designed to “maximize potential embarrassment and media coverage in an attempt to improperly gain settlement leverage.”
TRANSGENDER ATHLETES-HIGH SCHOOL
Connecticut transgender policy found to violate Title Nine
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has found a Connecticut policy that allows transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports is illegal. The office says the policy violates Title IX, the federal civil rights law guarantees equal education opportunities for women, including in athletics.
The ruling comes in response to a complaint filed last year by several female track athletes, who argued that two transgender runners who were identified as male at birth had an unfair physical advantage. The dispute also is the subject of a federal lawsuit.