Patchwork decisions throw wrinkle in college football plans
UNDATED (AP) — The sound of basketball is about to return to a few NBA practice facilities.
The league says some players can voluntarily work out at their team practice facilities starting on Friday, with some very specific conditions and only in places where local and state governments have signed off on such openings. But it’s unclear how many — if any — players will be back on the floor when the league ban gets lifted. Some teams aren’t ready to welcome players back immediately, and many teams aren't allowed to open yet to because of local rules.
Getting players back into facilities is not a precursor to games being played. It’s aimed at keeping them out of public gyms and playgrounds that are starting to reopen. Positive tests during individual training or practices could delay or destroy any plans for the resumption of games.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— All but one of the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference have indicated they plan to reopen their campuses for the fall semester, a step widely believed to be needed to resume football and other sports. South Carolina and Tennessee today became the latest schools in the nation's top football conference to announce their plans, joining Alabama, LSU and others. Vanderbilt hasn’t announced its plans for the fall.
— The Big 12 has become the first Power Five conference to say it will hold its football media days virtually. About 500 media members are usually credentialed to attend Big 12 media days, which were scheduled to be held July 21-22 at AT&T Stadium near Dallas.
— Four MLS teams allowed players to use team training fields for individual workouts on Wednesday. Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United, Orlando City and Inter Miami let players in for vigorously controlled voluntary workouts on the first day they were permitted by the league. Nashville, Real Salt Lake, LAFC and Houston are among the league's 26 teams that plan to start Thursday, with more lined up next week.
— The NCAA has approved a waiver that will allow schools to spend below the minimum level on athletic scholarships required to compete in Division I. The Division I Council Coordination Committee approved two other blanket waivers Wednesday that had been requested by several conferences in recent weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Basketball and football players will be allowed to participate in summer athletic activities without being enrolled in school.
— Fans will be allowed to enter baseball stadiums Friday for games in Taiwan for the first time this season. It’s part of a gradual easing of restrictions amid the pandemic. The China Professional Baseball League said up to 1,000 people would be permitted to enter ballparks after an agreement between the league and Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center.
— A person with knowledge of negotiations tells The Associated Press the Maryland Jockey Club and NBC Sports have set aside three possible dates for the running of the Preakness. The NBC affiliate in Baltimore reported the Preakness will be run Oct. 3. The person tells the AP that is one of the three possible dates, along with one each in July and August. The Preakness was originally set for May 16 as the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The uncertain timeline allows for the possibility of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont being run out of order.
— The head of the Australian Open says various contingency plans are being considered for the Grand Slam tournament scheduled for January 2021. They include scrapping it altogether because of the pandemic or allowing just spectators from the host country. Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley tells the Australian Associated Press that tournament organizers have “modeled everything.” He says the “worst-case scenario” is no tournament at all next year. He says the “best-case scenario at this point” is having an Australian Open with only Australian fans. Wimbledon has been canceled for the first time in 75 years, the French Open has been moved from May to September, and a decision on this year’s U.S. Open is expected next month.
— Germany’s Bundesliga (BOON’-dehsh-lee-guh) has been given the go-ahead to resume its top two soccer divisions this month. German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) announced a loosening of a range of containment measures Wednesday after meeting with the country’s 16 state governors. Pressure to relax the rules had been growing as the rate of daily infections in the country has dropped. Matches in the two divisions will be able to resume without spectators and with a range of other conditions designed to prevent another outbreak. Players will be tested and teams will also have to spend time in quarantine before games can restart. The earliest the league can resume is May 16.
— Soccer players in Spain have returned to their team’s training camps for the first time since the country entered a lockdown nearly two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. Players for Barcelona, Real (ray-AL’) Madrid, Atlético Madrid and other clubs started preparing for the return to training this week. They are all expected to be tested for COVID-19 and should be cleared to practice once the results are back. Most clubs are expected to resume practicing by the end of the week.
— The Spanish soccer federation is proposing an end to this season’s women’s league because of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal is expected to be approved by the federation’s board on Thursday.
— Belgium’s prime minister says all sporting competitions in the country will remain suspended until July 31 because of the pandemic. The Belgian soccer league says it will respect the decision by the national security council. The league recommended last month ending its season with the current standings declared final.
— The Turkish soccer league plans to resume on June 12, a month and a half after it was suspended because of the outbreak. The president of the Turkish soccer federation says he hopes to finish the season by the end of July and host the Champions League final in Istanbul in August. The games will be played without spectators and the Turkish health ministry and its scientific advisory council will determine the conditions and guidelines under which the games will go ahead.
Titans agree to terms with veteran CB Johnathan Joseph
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph as they continue to revamp their secondary.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection spent the last nine seasons with the Houston Texans after beginning his career with a five-year stint in Cincinnati.
The 2006 first-round draft pick from South Carolina has 750 tackles and 31 interceptions in his 14-year career.
Ex-Wake Forest center Olivier Sarr transferring to Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Former Wake Forest center Olivier Sarr says he's transferring to Kentucky.
The move gives the Wildcats a veteran 7-footer after the team's entire starting lineup declared for the NBA draft.
Sarr is a 255-pounder from France who was the Demon Deacons' leading rebounder and second-leading scorer last season. He announced his decision to play for the Wildcats on social media. He also called former Demon Deacons coach Danny Manning and his staff “family.” Manning was fired last month and replaced by Steve Forbes.
NCAA rejects former UConn coach's appeal over violations
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An NCAA panel has rejected an appeal by former UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie, who sought to overturn findings that he violated ethical conduct rules while leading the Huskies.
The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee ruled Ollie failed to prove that information he presented alleging witnesses against him lied outweighed the information that supported the violation findings.
In July 2019, the NCAA Committee on Infractions placed the UConn program on two years of probation and sanctioned Ollie individually for numerous violations of NCAA rules during his tenure.
MISSISSIPPI WELFARE MISSPENDING
Auditor: Favre received welfare money for no-show speeches
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre (fahrv) is repaying $1.1 million in welfare money that he received for multiple speeches where he did not show up.
Auditor Shad White said his office received $500,000 from Favre on Wednesday, plus a commitment that Favre will repay the other $600,000 in installments over the next few months. Favre's effort to repay the money came two days after White released an audit of spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. The audit showed Favre had been paid by Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit group whose former leader has been indicted in a welfare embezzlement scheme.
The audit was released months after a former Human Services director and five other people were indicted on state charges of embezzling about $4 million. They have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in what White has called one of Mississippi's largest public corruption cases in decades.
HORSE RACING-HALL OF FAME
Trainer Mark Casse among 7 elected to Racing Hall of Fame
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Trainer Mark Casse, jockey Darrel McHargue, thoroughbred Wise Dan, and owner George D. Widener, Jr. have been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Also elected were racehorse Tom Bowling, owner Alice Headley Chandler, and J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., a trainer who became one of the most respected stewards in the sport.
The induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 7 in Saratoga Springs, New York. The museum is monitoring state and health regulations in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.