AP source: NBA owners approve 22-team season restart plan
UNDATED (AP) — The NBA continues to take positive steps toward resuming a season that was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The league Board of Governors has approved a 22-team format for restarting the season in late July at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida. The format calls for each team playing eight games to determine playoff seeding plus the possible utilization of a play-in tournament for the final spot in each conference postseason field.
The 22-team plan includes all teams that were holding playoff spots when the season was stopped, plus all other clubs within six games of a postseason berth. That means 13 teams from the Western Conference and nine from the East.
The players association has a call on Friday to approve the plan as well, the final step as the league attempts a reboot.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NBA DRAFT
NCAA sets deadline for withdrawal from NBA draft
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA has set a new schedule for early entrants to the NBA draft to withdraw and return to school.
Players will now have until 10 days after the NBA scouting combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes earlier.
The original June 3 deadline was set to come 10 days after the completion of the combine, but the NBA postponed the combine amid the coronavirus pandemic and has yet to announce a new date.
NHL OK’s opening of team facilities, finalizes playoff format as Pens player tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — The National Hockey League is allowing team facilities to reopen and players to take part in voluntary on- and off-ice workouts beginning Monday.
Players can skate or work out in groups of up to six at a time. Unlike training camps scheduled to begin sometime in July, these workouts are not mandatory for players.
The league also has nailed down the final details of a playoff format if the season can resume.
Every playoff series will be a best of seven after the qualifying round and teams will be re-seeded along the way instead of bracketing.
The announcement came on the heels of the Pittsburgh Penguins revealing one of their players tested positive for the coronavirus. The team said the unidentified player was not in Pittsburgh, was isolated after experiencing symptoms and has recovered.
The NHL has not yet announced the start of voluntary workouts or a firm timeline for training camps and the resumption of games.
Each conference will play its postseason games in a separate hub city to be announced. The top four teams in each conference will compete in a round-robin to determine seeding, while the next eight teams in each conference will battle for a spot in the opening round. The seven other teams have received spots in the draft lottery.
Players holding firm on stance for prorated pay
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is no closer to framing an agreement to starting the season.
Players have reaffirmed their stance for full prorated pay, leaving a huge gap with teams that could scuttle plans to start the coronavirus-delayed season around the Fourth of July and may leave owners focusing on a schedule as short as 50 games.
More than 100 players, including the union's executive board, held a two-hour digital meeting with officials of the Major League Baseball Players Association on Thursday, a day after the union's offer was rejected by Major League Baseball.
Management on Sunday pitched an 82-game schedule that included a sliding scale for prorated salaries, with the richer players receiving a reduced share. The union countered on Tuesday with a 114-game schedule with prorated salaries and no adjusted scale.
NFL coaches allowed to return to team facilities on Friday
UNDATED (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has told the 32 clubs in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that coaching staffs may work from team complexes starting Friday.
Previously, only up to 75 people per day could be at the facilities, with coaches and players not seeking treatment for injuries barred. The maximum number of club employees in each facility will be increased to 100, subject to governmental regulations and implementation of health protocols developed by the NFL's medical staff.
NASCAR makes final alterations to schedule
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR is set to run its All-Star race on a Wednesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway and added one more weeknight Cup Series race as part of its latest revised schedule through July.
The All-Star race is now slated for July 15, two months after it was scheduled to be run before being postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
NASCAR will keep its scheduled twin-bill weekend later this month at Pocono Raceway. Kansas Speedway will host the Cup Series for a Thursday night race July 23.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway slams door on fans at Brickyard
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Motor Speedway will hold the July 4 IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader without fans.
Track officials had been optimistic it could be the first major sporting venue to have fans back in the stands this summer. Instead, the stands will be empty much like the rest of the tracks since major racing resumed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic last month.
IMS officials made the decision after consulting with local and state officials.
MLS: training can resume; 7 Arkansas St athletes positive; Tottenham borrows $220M
UNDATED (AP) — A day after announcing a deal with its players’ association to resume the season with a tournament in Florida, Major League Soccer says teams may resume training.
MLS says each player and staff member must complete two tests for the coronavirus 24 hours apart, 72 hours ahead of the start of training.
Every player also must have a test for antibodies and a physical. Testing for antibodies will take place every three months.
Testing providers must be authorized by the FDA or Health Canada.
In other sports developments related to the coronavirus outbreak:
— Seven Arkansas State athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 and are self-isolating for 14 days. Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said the seven athletes are from three sports, and all were asymptomatic so far. Damphousse said contact tracing has begun, and anyone who has been exposed to any of the seven athletes will be required to quarantine for 14 days.
— Premier League club Tottenham is borrowing $220 million by using the Bank of England’s emergency pandemic loan scheme to cope with the absence of spectators from its stadium and the cancellation of two NFL games it was to stage this year. The north London club revealed the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic as the Premier League advanced plans for the competition to end its 100-day shutdown in two weeks.
— Premier League clubs have agreed to allow five substitutions per match but allowing for only three pauses to bring on substitutes. They will adopt the temporary change when the league resumes on June 17 amid the pandemic. Premier League clubs have also agreed to temporarily increase the number of substitute players from seven to nine.
— All referees in Italy’s top soccer league have tested negative for the coronavirus. The Serie A referees and some from the second division were tested at the Italian federation’s training headquarters on the outskirts of Florence. They will remain there until June 10 to have further tests and continue training and preparing for the resumption of Serie A on June 20.
— The International Olympic Committee is in talks with insurers over compensation for the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games. The IOC pays for insurance against the cancellation of an Olympics, but it is unclear if its policy covers a one-year postponement. The IOC said last month it set aside $650 million to cover potential extra costs for the postponement. Costs for organizers in Japan are expected to run to billions of dollars.
— Rafael Nadal says if he had to decide right now he wouldn't play in the U.S. Open, but he wants to wait and see what happens with the coronavirus pandemic. The 19-time Grand Slam champion thinks it’s important that there be two requirements for tennis to return: assuring everyone’s health and making sure players from all countries can travel. All sanctioned tennis has been on hold since March.
Brees says he 'completely missed the mark' in flag comments
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees is apologizing for comments that he now says were “insensitive and completely missed the mark” when he reiterated his opposition to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling during the national anthem in 2016
Those remarks, in an interview with Yahoo, drew sharp criticism from fellow high-profile athletes and others in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
Los Angeles Lakers great LeBron James, New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins and former NFL player Martellus Bennett were just some of the high-profile athletes to criticize Brees on their Twitter feeds.
James says he couldn’t believe Brees was still confused about what Kaepernick was trying to do. The Lakers’ star says kneeling was not about showing disrespect to the flag or the military but instead about police brutality.
In an Instagram post Thursday, Brees said he was apologizing to his friends, teammates, New Orleans, the black community, the NFL community and "anyone I hurt with my comments.” He says his words “lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy” and had become “divisive and hurtful.”
UNDATED (AP) — Federal legislation setting guidelines for college athletes to pursue money-making opportunities could be proposed within a month.
Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez plans to introduce the bill and says there will be no blanket antitrust exemption for the NCAA. The Republican congressman says it's imperative for Congress to act in time to render moot the array of state laws that are being considered or already have passed and are slated to go into effect as soon as next year.
The NCAA announced five weeks ago that it would move forward with a plan to allow athletes to earn money for endorsements, personal appearances and social media content, among other things.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith has said there will be no caps on how much an athlete can earn. Smith led the Knight Commission that produced the recommendations approved by the Board of Governors.
Still, the issue of a possible antitrust exemption for the NCAA has been raised because some states suspect the NCAA will use “guardrails” to put limits on athletes and their ability to maximize their earning potential in a free market.
NABC-RACIAL RECONCILIATION COMMITTEE
South Carolina's Martin to chair hoops committee on race
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — South Carolina coach Frank Martin will chair a new committee formed by the National Association of Basketball Coaches to address issues of race and discrimination not only within intercollegiate athletics but society at large.
The NABC’s board of directors announced the new committee Thursday, saying in a statement that “coaches can and should lend their voices to making a difference on the national, regional and local levels.” But the college coaching association also wants to ensure that the concerns of student-athletes also are being addressed.
The board also released a set of recommendations for coaches, including holding in-person or virtual meetings to discuss current events and racial injustice; stressing a team's commitment to diversity and inclusion; establish Election Day as an annual team day off; and encourage meetings with law enforcement leaders and others outside the department.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-FLORIDA STATE-NORVELL
Coach apologizes for misstatement
UNDATED (AP) — Florida State football coach Mike Norvell has apologized after a star player accused him of lying about personally connecting with each player to discuss the police killing of George Floyd and ensuing protests against racial injustice.
Defensive tackle Marvin Wilson said last night on Twitter that he and his teammates were “outraged” by Norvell's characterization of the contact the white, first-year coach had with the players. Wilson, who is black, went back to social media on Thursday to say the matter was settled.
Berry 'disappointed' with USOPC in aftermath of Floyd death
UNDATED (AP) — Olympic hammer thrower Gwen Berry wants an apology from the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee for shaming her last summer.
She captured headlines when she used her turn on the gold-medal podium at the Pan-Am Games to raise her fist as a show of her frustration with America’s treatment of blacks. The USOPC put Berry on a 12-month probation for her gesture.
It’s a gesture that has taken on new meaning in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death and the protests that have followed. Berry found it galling the USOPC recently issued a statement saying the organization “stands with those who demand equality.”
COLLEGE SPORTS-CENTRAL MICHIGAN-NCAA WAIVER
Central Michigan gets NCAA waiver to reduce men’s athletic programs
UNDATED (AP) — Central Michigan says it has received a two-year waiver from the NCAA regarding the minimum Division I sports sponsorship requirements.
Division I schools are not supposed to have fewer than six sports for male athletes. CMU announced last month it was dropping men’s track and field, citing university-wide budget cuts. That leaves the school with five men’s teams: baseball, basketball, cross country, football and wrestling.
Central Michigan requested the waiver after losing revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.