Trump lauds UFC for resuming matches
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — President Trump has congratulated UFC for restarting the sports world Saturday night after a nearly two-month hiatus.
Trump’s taped message was played during ESPN’s broadcast of the UFC 249 undercard from a fan-free arena Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida. He congratulated UFC President Dana White, who is a Trump business associate and a major contributor to his re-election campaign.
UFC 249 served as the first major sporting event to take place since the global pandemic shut down much of the country nearly eight weeks ago. It was supposed to be held in New York April 18 but was postponed in hopes of helping slow the spread of COVID-19. White tried to stage the event on tribal land in California and still hopes to create a “Fight Island” for future cards.
One of the fighters scheduled to take part in UFC249 has tested positive for the COVID-19. UFC says Jacaré Souza’s middleweight bout against Uriah Hall was called off after Souza tested positive along with his two cornermen. UFC says all three men have left the host hotel and will be self-isolating off premises, where UFC’s medical team will monitor their conditions remotely.
NHL considers early draft
UNDATED (AP) — The NHL is considering the prospect of holding its amateur draft before the Stanley Cup final.
The draft had been scheduled for June 26-27, but it was postponed with the season in an indefinite suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the NHL is deciding whether to hold it earlier in June following the NFL’s success with its virtual draft last month.
Such a move means teams would not be able to trade players before or during the draft, there would be a lack of clarity over next year's salary cap and the draft order could be determined before all games are played. There are mixed feelings about the idea among executives.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— The end of this virus-disrupted school year has produced a bleak financial outlook for major college sports. Budget projections are landing in the red. West Virginia has announced a $5 million projected shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30. The athletic director will take a 10% salary reduction for the next budget cycle along with other high earners in the department. Minnesota has forecast a $4 million deficit for the current fiscal period. The month before the pandemic hit, a $1 million surplus was projected. Now, the school says all cost-savings measures are on the table.
— Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, football coach Paul Chryst (krihst) and men’s basketball coach Greg Gard are being asked to take a 15% pay cut over the next six months as part of the school’s response to the pandemic. School officials say Alvarez, Chryst and Gard are among 25 of the athletic department’s highest-earning employees who are being asked to take that voluntary cut. There will be no reduction in that group’s work hours.
— Former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming, who is now president of the Chinese Basketball Association, says the league has three options for resuming the season that has been on hold since February 1 over the coronavirus pandemic. Yao says the league might play out the full schedule; play a shortened season with some games dropped; or end the regular season and go straight to the playoffs based on teams’ current rankings. Yao tells state broadcaster CCTV that he hopes as much as the season can be played as possible, but that public health and fairness are the key considerations.
— Two players at German second division side Dynamo Dresden have tested positive for the coronavirus, putting on hold the club’s planned return to soccer next weekend. Dresden was to play Hannover away on May 17 when the league resumes after a two-month suspension. Now, the entire squad, coaching and supervisory staff must go into 14 days of quarantine at home.
— The president of French soccer club Lyon (lee-OHN’) says all members of its men’s and women’s teams have tested negative for the coronavirus. They were tested by team doctors.
— A soccer player in England has tested positive for the coronavirus as Premier League clubs prepare for talks on Monday about how to resume the competition during the pandemic. The southern England club Brighton told The Associated Press there is no need for other members of the squad or coaches to self-isolate because players have only worked in isolation when at the training base. The Premier League has government support for “Project Restart” and it will be trying to secure agreement among the 20 clubs on the plans during a conference call with them on Monday.
— The president of the French Tennis Federation says holding the French Open without fans later this year is an option. The clay-court tournament at Roland Garros was initially slated to be held May 24-June 7, but was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic and rescheduled for Sept. 20-Oct. 4. Bernard Giudicelli tells a French newspaper (Le Journal du Dimanche) that organizing it without fans would allow a part of the economy to keep turning.
Hamlin takes virtual finale
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin closed NASCAR's iRacing Series with a victory at a simulation of throwback North Wilkesboro Speedway.
This year’s Daytona 500 champion had four fresh tires as he chased down leader Ross Chastain and nudged him out of the way. Chastain retaliated by hitting Hamlin's car after the checkered flag.
Timmy Hill finished second, followed by Tyler Reddick, Chastain and Austin Dillon.
Hamlin was instrumental in organizing his fellow Cup drivers for the invitational series that started after the series was suspended. He also won the opening iRacing event on March 22.
Hamlin races barefoot on a top-of-the-line simulator. He also gained national attention three races ago at virtual Talladega Superspeedway when his daughter, Taylor, tried to ask him a question during the race and accidentally turned off the screen on his simulator with a remote control she was holding.
WOMEN’S BASEBALL-PRATT OBIT
Original Rockford Peach dies
BRAINTREE, Mass. (AP) — Former Rockford Peaches and Kenosha Comets pitcher Mary Pratt has died at 101.
Pratt was believed to be the last surviving member of the original 1943 Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which inspired the 1992 movie, “A League of Their Own.” She pitched in the league until 1947 and taught physical education for 46 years.
The league said in a tweet that Pratt's “stories, her energy will be missed for a long time.”
Her nephew, Walter Pratt, told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, Mass. she died peacefully at a nursing home.
US bobsledder dies
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Former U.S. Olympic bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic has died at 43.
The Toms River, New Jersey, native took up the sport in 1997. A push athlete for driver Todd Hays, he won a bronze medal at the 2004 world championships and finished seventh in both the two- and four-man events at the 2006 Winter Olympics
USA Bobsled/Skeleton said in a release Saturday that Jovanovic took his own life May 3.