VIRUS OUTBREAK-MLB TEAM STAFF CUTS
MLB wants to cut player salaries if games are played without fans
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball players are bracing for a battle with owners over the possibility of reduced salaries caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Players are upset over the prospect teams may seek additional pay cuts if games are played in empty ballparks. Their anger was stoked last week when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he was told by Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon that the union would have to agree to lower salaries if games are played without fans.
A March 26 deal between the sides states “the Office of the Commissioner and Players Association will discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators or at appropriate substitute neutral sites." The union points to another passage covering salaries in which players agree to give up 1/162nd of base pay for each regular season game lost.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Rob Manfred has made a move that allows teams to lay off or cut the pay of major and minor league managers, coaches, trainers and full-time scouts starting May 1.
Manfred has suspended uniform employee contracts that cover about 9,000 people, including general managers on some teams. Manfred cited the inability to play games due to the national emergency caused by the pandemic.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS POLL
Poll shows fans leery of returning to stadiums, arenas without vaccine
UNDATED (AP) — The possibility of professional sports resuming without fans is growing. And a recent poll suggests a majority of fans wouldn't feel safe attending games anyway without a vaccine for the new coronavirus.
One sports business expert says losses of fan-related revenue will be substantial even if clubs begin cashing in on lucrative media rights deals again. Losses could reach $3 billion among the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.
The Seton Hall Sports Poll found that 72% of Americans wouldn't feel safe attending games without a vaccine. The number drops to 61% among respondents who identify as sports fans.
Seventy percent said the NFL shouldn’t start in the fall to ensure the safety of players, even if some form of social distancing is still in place.
Just over three-quarters said they would have the same interest watching a broadcast of live sports played without fans.
Djokovic says he won’t take vaccine
UNDATED (AP) — Novak Djokovic (JOH’-koh-vihch) says he won’t take any anti-coronavirus vaccination if it becomes compulsory for tennis players to return to the world tours.
The world’s top-ranked men’s tennis player said in a live Facebook chat he wouldn’t “be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.” Djokovic and his wife have two children and have spoken previously against vaccinations.
Djokovic won the Australian Open in January for his 17th grand slam singles title.
In other virus-related sports developments:
— Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Monday that NASCAR was working with Texas Motor Speedway on a plan to race there in the near future. Speedway President Eddie Gossage said after Abbott’s tweet that his track was working on the rescheduling of its Cup Series event, one of eight races NASCAR has postponed because of the pandemic. Abbott said the race would be held without fans.
— A person familiar with the discussions says Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has told team employees in a conference call he is forgoing his salary during the coronavirus pandemic. The person said other members of the Marlins’ executive team agreed to take pay cuts, while baseball operations personnel will continue to receive their full salaries through at least May 31.
— Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim and football coach Dino Babers are taking voluntary pay cuts to help the university cope with the drain of financial resources due to the new coronavirus pandemic. Also taking the voluntary 10% pay cuts are women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman, men's lacrosse coach John Desko, and women's lacrosse coach Gary Gait.
— New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says there is a chance for large public gatherings later in the summer, which could lead to games at Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ Citi Field. De Blasio announced Monday that parades and city-permitted events had been canceled through June because of the novel coronavirus but said progress in fighting the pandemic will determine what’s allowed after that.
— A Japanese professor of infectious disease says he is “very pessimistic” the Tokyo Olympics can be held next year. Kobe University professor Kentaro Iwata says the Olympics could only be held if Japan can control the COVID-19 infection and if all other countries control it.
— The soccer team based in the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China has returned home. Wuhan Zall is back nearly four months after it left for a preseason tour and got stuck in Spain. It returned home over the weekend after the government lifted the last restrictions on movement in Wuhan.
— The president of the German soccer federation says resuming league play will not mean taking resources away from healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The German league has been more bullish than other major European competitions about the chances of resuming in May or June with widespread coronavirus tests for players.
— The company that makes Louisville Slugger wood baseball bats has closed its factory, furloughed 90 percent of its employees and shut its popular museum. Hillerich & Bradsby Co. says it has continued to cover all health care benefits for its 171 furloughed workers. The remaining 10% of employees have taken 25 percent pay cuts.
— An open conflict has broken out between Tokyo Olympic organizers and the IOC over who will be paying for the unprecedented year-long postponement. A Tokyo spokesman says the organizing committee has asked the Switzerland-based IOC to remove a comment from its website suggesting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed that Japan would pay most of the postponement costs. Media reports in Japan estimate the year-long delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic will cost $2 billion to $6 billion.
— Six Super Bowl rings may get you special treatment in a lot of places but former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady learned Monday that it won’t get you anything when you’re caught working out in a park that is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said during a news briefing that the new Buccaneers quarterback was spotted working out by himself at a park downtown by staff patrol. The staffer went over to tell him he had to leave and she recognized the man to be the 42-year-old Brady.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NBA DRAFT
Butler ready to bolt Baylor
UNDATED (AP) — Baylor's top two scorers are entering their names in the NBA draft while keeping open their options to return to the Bears.
All-Big 12 sophomore guard Jared Butler announced his intentions Monday on Twitter. Junior guard MaCio Teague said last month that he was exploring the NBA draft. Butler was third in the Big 12 with 16 points a game, while Teague scored 13.9 points a game.
And Washington State star CJ Elleby plans to go through the NBA draft process. Elleby led the Cougars in scoring and rebounding this past season as a sophomore, delivering 18.4 points and 7.8 boards a game. He can still return to Washington State for his junior season as long as he withdraws his name by 5 p.m. on June 15.
In other college basketball news:
— Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft, but he has not hired an agent in a decision that would allow him to return to school next season. The 6-foot-5 sophomore averaged 16.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this past season and led the SEC in 3-point goals. He missed five games after having surgery on his right knee.
— Memphis says it has added guard-forward Landers Nolley II as a transfer from Virginia Tech. Nolley was on the Atlantic Coast Conference all-freshman team this past season after averaging a team-high 15.5 points and 5.8 rebounds with the Hokies. He started 29 of 32 games with Virginia Tech and ranked 12th nationally among freshmen in scoring.
— Kentucky has signed former Rhode Island forward Jacob Toppin (TAH’-pihn), the brother of consensus national player of the year Obi (OH’-bee) Toppin of Dayton. Toppin averaged 5.1 and 3.9 rebounds per game while starting three of 30 contests as a Rams freshman. He must sit out next season per NCAA transfer rules but will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
No major problems as GMs run mock draft
UNDATED (AP)— There were no major snafus as the NFL held a practice draft Monday to test technology and communications for the real thing beginning Thursday night.
Several people involved in the test said there were some technical glitches, including when the Bengals were making the first selection and at various other spots. A few of them spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this month warned team executives not to be critical of the process, nor of the league's decision to go ahead with the draft as scheduled April 23-25. Broncos general manager John Elway and 49ers GM John Lynch said they were satisfied with the proceedings.
Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst remains confident the unusual nature of this year’s event will still allow for plenty of trade talk.
Jags cut Lee, eye deal for Fournette
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars have waived oft-injured receiver Marqise Lee to create nearly $5 million in salary cap space, parting with a player who had just three receptions the last two years combined. The Jaguars were waiting for Lee to get fully healthy before letting him go, giving him the best chance to pass a physical with another team. He missed the entire 2018 season following a major knee injury and injured his shoulder last October, causing him to miss the final eight games.
And the Jaguars are ready to cut ties with running back Leonard Fournette just three years after making him the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft. A person familiar with the situation said Fournette could get moved before or during the draft, which begins Thursday.
Jarry gets 11-month doping ban
UNDATED (AP) — Top 100 tennis player Nicolas Jarry has been given an 11-month doping ban by the International Tennis Federation. The punishment stems from a failed drug test at the Davis Cup Finals in November.
Jarry is a 24-year-old from Chile who is currently ranked 89th in singles. He has been as high as No. 38.
He was provisionally suspended in January, but the ITF is back-dating his ban to December. Jarry can return to action in November.
KOBE BRYANT CRASH-LAWSUIT
Family members of four victims sue over Kobe Bryant crash
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Family members of four of the people killed in a helicopter crash with Kobe Bryant and his daughter are suing the companies that owned and operated the aircraft.
The wrongful death lawsuits were filed electronically Sunday in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of three members of one family and a woman who helped coach Bryant's daughter in basketball.
The group was heading to a basketball tournament Jan. 26 when the chopper crashed in thick fog northwest of Los Angeles.
The suits allege that Island Express Helicopters Inc. was careless and negligent in the crash that killed nine.
Neil Black, British track and field official, dies at 60
LONDON (AP) — A British track and field official who worked closely with Mo Farah and many of the country’s best athletes has died. Neil Black was 60.
British Athletics says Black died suddenly over the weekend.
He was performance director of British Athletics from 2012 until last year. He stepped down after coming under pressure because of the organization’s handling of a controversy involving Alberto Salazar after the coach was banned for four years for doping violations.
Black has worked with Britain’s top athletes since the 1990s. He was the chief physiotherapist and head of sports science at British Athletics before becoming performance director.