NASCAR cancels 3 races
UNDATED (AP) — NASCAR’s revised 2020 Cup schedule eliminates three major races as the circuit attempts to restart its season.
NASCAR has canceled races at Richmond Raceway, Chicagoland Speedway and Sonoma Speedway. Richmond was originally scheduled for April 19 and Chicagoland was slated for June 21. Speedway Motorsports traded its road course race in Sonoma scheduled for June 14 for a Cup race at Charlotte on May 27.
NASCAR plans to race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on May 17 and May 20. Since those races weren’t originally scheduled, NASCAR forfeited events at its Richmond and Chicago tracks.
NASCAR is attempting to race at tracks within driving distance of its North Carolina-based teams.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took part in a teleconference with members of the National Basketball Players Association for an update on the league’s plans amid the pandemic. A person familiar with the call's details says Silver told players that the league is still aiming to hold full best-of-seven playoff series should the season resume and that playing without fans is an obvious possibility. Silver also spoke about the well-known notion of having the season resume in a centralized location, though cautioned that no decisions may be made for another several weeks.
— A small number of NBA practice facilities reopened for workouts Friday, and at least one team received permission from the league to test players and staff for the coronavirus. Cleveland and Portland were open for players who wanted to get back into game shape. The Orlando Magic revealed that they have been authorized by local health officials to test players and staff.
— NCAA President Mark Emmert says the coronavirus is making it unlikely all schools will be ready to begin competing in college sports at the same time. He says the goal is for every team to have an equal amount of preparation time before its season starts. Emmert acknowledges there could be some competitive inequities caused by schools having varied timelines for re-opening campuses.
— The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have announced the postponement of its 2020 international games, adding they look forward to taking teams overseas again next year. The Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers were previously scheduled to open this season in Prague as part of the NHL’s Global Series. The Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning had been slated to play two games in Stockholm.
— The presidents of the 11 Big East Conference schools are leaning toward not allowing sports to be played at schools this season unless their campuses are open. While no deadlines have been set, Commissioner Val Ackerman said the presidents indicated a late June/early July deadline for fall sports, and possibly a Sept. 1 deadline for winter sports. It is conceivable the league would play with some members not participating. Ackerman said there are hybrid scenarios that could change things, such as a campus opening late.
— Fans returned to the stands Friday for baseball in Taiwan, even though they are spaced far apart as a safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus. Up to 1,000 spectators are now allowed at ballparks in Taiwan, but they must sit apart and are barred from bringing in food despite shuttered concession stands.
— Soccer is back in South Korea for the first time since the pandemic shut down sports around the world, and its success or failure will be closely watched by leagues everywhere. The K-League season kicked off Friday in Jeonju with defending champion Jeonbuk Motors playing in an empty stadium but with chants piped in from supporters. Instead of fans, banners with messages of support were draped around the stands.
— German politicians have been persuaded to allow soccer to resume in the country despite the coronavirus pandemic, but it seems the public still needs to be convinced. Three new polls from German broadcasters show at least half of respondents saying they are against the plan to restart the season. The top two divisions will resume on May 16 following a two-month suspension, playing in empty stadiums
— Soccer teams are going to get some extra help from the bench during a backlog of games caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The International Football Association Board has agreed to let teams use two extra substitutes per match when soccer resumes. Leagues which typically end in May are preparing to restart and face a congested schedule into July and August to complete their season.
— At least six of the 20 English Premier League clubs are concerned about the plan to use neutral stadiums to finish the season. Ahead of Monday’s crunch meeting of topflight clubs, the Hornets have joined Brighton and Aston Villa in making clear their opposition to the current “Project Restart” plans. Watford is 17th in the league with nine rounds left and looking to fight off relegation amid a challenging backdrop brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
— At least 70 percent of U.S. Olympic sports organizations have applied for government funds during the pandemic. The Associated Press surveyed 44 of the country's national governing bodies. All but four of the 36 bodies that responded said they had applied for assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program.
MLB reduces draft to 5 rounds
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball will cut its amateur draft from 40 rounds to five this year, a move that figures to save teams about $30 million.
A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press that clubs gained the ability to reduce the draft as part of their March 26 agreement with the players’ association and MLB plans to finalize a decision next week to go with the minimum.
The 160 players drafted would be by far the fewest since the annual selection started in 1965. The amount of signing bonus pool money eliminated is over $29 million.
One law firm gets lion's share of $112M in NFL concussion fees
UNDATED (AP) — After years of infighting over $112 million in legal fees in the NFL concussion case, a federal appeals court has approved a plan that gives nearly half the money to a single law firm.
The decision Thursday grants New York-based Seeger Weiss over $51 million, more than 10 times the amount of any other firm, including the lawyers who filed the first cases in 2012.
It was lawyer Christopher Seeger who steered the negotiations that led to a surprise settlement in 2013 and who managed the case through several appeals. Some firms represented more than 1,000 players, while Seeger directly represented only about 20.
The settlement, expected to cost the NFL more than $1 billion over time, spared the league a trial over claims that it long hid what it knew about the link between concussions and brain injuries.
In other NFL news:
— The Los Angeles Rams finally have a date and an opponent for the long-awaited opening of SoFi Stadium. The Rams still don’t know for sure whether they’ll actually be able to have their big Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 13. Even if it happens, they don’t know whether there will be fans in the stands of their palatial new home for its first football game. The coronavirus pandemic is occurring during a historic year for this NFL franchise. The unprecedented circumstances are dismaying to coach Sean McVay, but he hasn’t given up hope of a proper homecoming for the Rams.
— The Jaguars have agreed to terms with journeyman quarterback Mike Glennon to serve as a veteran backup to Gardner Minshew. Glennon began his NFL career with Tampa Bay in 2013 and spent four seasons with the team before playing for Chicago, Arizona and Oakland over the last three years. The 30-year-old Glennon has completed 61% of his passes for 5,163 yards, with 36 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 29 games.
— The Saints have cut three-time Pro Bowl right guard Larry Warford following the selection of interior lineman Cesar Ruiz in the first round of the NFL draft. Warford started all 44 games in which he played for New Orleans after signing a four-year, $34 million package in 2017. He was a Pro Bowl selection last season.
— The Bills have signed defensive end and second-round selection A.J. Epenesa and two other players taken in the NFL draft last month. Epenesa played at Iowa and led the Big Ten with 10 1/2 sacks last season. Also signed were receiver and fourth-round pick Gabriel Davis of Central Florida and quarterback and fifth-round choice Jake Fromm of Georgia. All three got four-year contracts.
— The Patriots have signed four more draft picks: linebacker Anfernee Jennings, tight end Devin Asiasi and offensive linemen Mike Onwenu and Dustin Woodard. New England has signed each of its April draft picks except second-round selection Kyle Dugger and third-rounder Dalton Keene.
— Rashard Higgins is back on the Browns’ roster after signing a one-year, $910,000 contract. Higgins was limited by a knee injury last season and fell from favor with former coach Freddie Kitchens, finishing with just four receptions for 55 yards.
— Brett Favre (fahrv) is disputing a Mississippi state auditor’s report that said the Hall of Fame quarterback received $1.1 million in welfare money for multiple speaking engagements that he didn’t actually attend. The former Green Bay Packers quarterback told ESPN Wisconsin’s “Wilde & Tausch” radio show he instead was being paid for his role in radio public service announcements and advertisements that ran for a few years in Mississippi. Favre reiterated that he is returning the money paid to him by a nonprofit group whose former leader has been indicted in a welfare embezzlement scheme.
— The mother of Jets owners Christopher Johnson and Woody Johnson has died at 99. Betty Wold Johnson was often referred to as “The First Lady of the Jets” by players and called them her “grandchildren.” She was renowned for her philanthropic efforts and was a long-time contributor to arts, education and healthcare initiatives in the New York and New Jersey areas.
PLAYERS COALITION-GEORGIA SHOOTING
Players Coalition wants federal inquiry in Arbery death
UNDATED (AP) — The Players Coalition and dozens of professional athletes have sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting an immediate federal investigation into the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
The letter was signed by such sports stars as Tom Brady, Steve Kerr and Players Coalition co-founders Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins. It requested that the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division lead the investigation into the shooting of Aubrey, a black man, on Feb. 23.
The coalition was formed in 2017 to raise awareness about police and community relations, criminal justice reform and education and economic advancement. It developed out of the dispute between NFL team owners and the players who were kneeling during the national anthem to bring a focus to social injustice.
US women’s team wants trial to be delayed.
UNDATED (AP) — American women’s soccer players want to delay their trial against the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The request comes after an appellate court reviews last week's decision to throw out their claim of unequal pay while allowing allegations of discriminatory work conditions to move forward.
Lawyers for the women filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles to enter a final judgment on his decision to dismiss their pay claim, which would allow them to take the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Players asked Klausner to stay the trial, currently set to start June 16. The U.S. Soccer Federation agreed not to oppose the requests but did not agree with some of the characterizations made by the players' lawyers.
OHIO STATE-TEAM DOCTOR
$41M settlement by Ohio State covers 162 of doc's accusers
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University will pay about $41 million to settle a dozen lawsuits by 162 men alleging decades-old sexual abuse and mistreatment by a team doctor, Richard Strauss.
About 350 former athletes and other men had sued the school for failing to stop the late doctor despite concerns raised during his tenure. The university first announced a settlement with some of them in March, but the cost wasn't made public until Friday.
A special overseer independent of the university is expected to help allocate varying payments to the men based on their experiences and the harm done, aided by a three-person panel of experts evaluating claims.
NBA-FORMER PLAYER ARRRESTED
Ex-NBA player accused of shooting at 2 people
TYRONE, Ga. (AP) — Former NBA player Shannon Brown faces charges in suburban Atlanta after he was accused of firing a rifle at two people who were looking at homes for sale.
Police say Brown was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault stemming from an incident May 2 at his home in Tyrone, Georgia. He is free after posting bond on Monday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the former Los Angeles Lakers guard and two-time NBA champion told police he thought the couple was trying to break into his home.
Capitals cut ties with Leipsic after disparaging comments
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — The Washington Capitals have placed Brendan Leipsic (LIP'-sihk) on unconditional waivers to terminate his contract after he made disparaging comments about women and teammates in a private social media chat.
In a conversation involving his brother and Florida Panthers minor leaguer Jack Rodewald, Leipsic commented on the physical appearances of Vancouver forward Tanner Pearson’s wife and Edmonton captain Connor McDavid’s girlfriend. He also called Capitals linemates Garnet Hathaway and Nick Dowd losers. Leipsic apologized, saying a friend's Instagram account was hacked and taking responsibility for his comments.
The NHL called it “inexcusable conduct” and said it would address the matter with the Capitals and Panthers.
Relocated UFC 249 could 'bring sense of normalcy to people'
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — UFC President Dana White still wants “Fight Island.” He’s temporarily settling for a peninsula. UFC 249 will serve as the first major sporting event to take place since the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the country nearly two months ago. The bouts Saturday night in Jacksonville, Florida, are expected to draw a large television audience considering the sports-craved nation has seemingly grown tired of replays and video game events. Lightweight contenders Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje headline the fan-free card. One bout was called off after a fighter tested positive for the coronavirus.