Virtual NFL draft close to kickoff
UNDATED (AP) — The virtual NFL draft is about to begin, albeit a streamlined version of the usual festivities.
Not since the NFL draft became a televised event in 1980 has it been stripped to the basics like this one. Scouts and general managers are working from their homes as a safeguard against the coronavirus. Prospects are homebound as well, giving Commissioner Roger Goodell no one to hug after each of the 32 first-round selections are made. Goodell will oversee the festivities from his basement.
The Bengals current own the No. 1 selection, followed by Washington, Lions, Giants and Dolphins. Miami has three choices in the first round, while six teams don’t have any.
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young are expected to be the top picks.
The draft wraps up Saturday.
Incentive deal to move Panthers to S.C. approved
UNDATED (AP) — A county in South Carolina has approved a deal loaded with tax breaks for the Carolina Panthers to move their headquarters and practice site.
News outlets report that the York County Council approved the deal in a 4-3 vote after listening to public comments during their virtual meeting on Monday. It follows a series of moves the state has made to attract the team’s headquarters. They'll continue to play their games in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The approved deal will give the Panthers relief from all property taxes in the City of Rock Hill for 20 to 25 years, according to the York County Council.
The Panthers first announced the move to Rock Hill last June during a celebration with Panthers owner David Tepper and several South Carolina politicians including Gov. Henry McMaster.
In other NFL news:
— The Bills have picked up the fifth-year contract option on cornerback Tre’Davious White, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. White's salary will bump up to about $10 million, based on an average of the top 32 salaries at his position. White was taken in the first round of the 2017 draft and tied for the league lead with six interceptions.
— Kicker Zane Gonzalez has signed a one-year contract to stay with the Cardinals. The 24-year-old Gonzalez was a restricted free agent and was offered a one-year tender in March. He was 31 of 35 on field goals last season and 34 of 35 on extra points.
NCAA moves toward allowing athletes to be paid sponsors
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA is moving closer to allowing Division I college athletes to earn money from endorsements and sponsorship deals they can strike on their own.
Recommendations that would permit athletes to earn money for their names, images and likeness are being reviewed this week. A decision could come as soon as next week. The issue has dominated college sports for several years. California recently passed a law clearing the way for athlete compensation, prompting the NCAA to take a fresh look at its regulations.
Gonzaga junior Kispert makes himself available for NBA draft
UNDATED (AP) — Gonzaga star Corey Kispert has entered his name in the NBA draft but has left open the possibility of returning for his senior season. Kispert announced Thursday on Twitter that he doesn’t plan on hiring an agent, which would allow him to return to the Bulldogs.
Kispert was a finalist for the Julius Erving small forward of the year award last season. He averaged nearly 14 points per game last season and led t
In other college basketball news:
— Michigan guard Franz Wagner says he is returning for his sophomore season. Wagner started 27 games last season, averaging 11.6 points and leading the team in steals. The 6-foot-9 German missed the first four games because of a fractured wrist. Isaiah Livers is testing the NBA draft waters, but Wagner decided not to go that route. Michigan also announced that forward Austin Davis had surgery on Monday on his right shoulder and is expected to recover fully. He could be ready to return in early October.
— Purdue graduate transfer Matt Haarms has chosen Brigham Young over Kentucky and Texas Tech. He will be eligible to play basketball immediately. Haarms was one of the top transfers after announcing he was leaving the Boilermakers after his junior season. He narrowed his choices to BYU, Kentucky and Texas Tech earlier this week. The 7-foot-3 center from Amsterdam averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots per game while shooting 63% last season.
92-year-old Vin Scully hospitalized after fall at home
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Retired Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has been hospitalized after falling at his Los Angeles-area home.
The team says the 92-year-old fell Tuesday and was taken to the hospital for observation. Scully is resting comfortably and is expected to be released soon.
Scully jokes that he won't be doing anymore “head-first sliding,” which he never liked.
He retired after the 2016 season, ending a 67-year run in the Dodgers’ broadcast booths.
NASCAR teams can restart car preparations
UNDATED (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says NASCAR teams can work in their race shops if they maintain social distancing guidelines, clearing a potential hurdle to resuming the season in coming weeks.
Cooper extended the state’s stay-at-home order through May 8 Thursday and said he would gradually open it in three phases, adding he is still considering NASCAR's request to run the Coca-Cola 600 as scheduled on May 24 without spectators.
For any racing to be done, the North Carolina-based teams need access to their shops to prep the cars.
The governors of both Florida and Texas have already said NASCAR is welcome to race in their states without fans. South Carolina and Georgia are gradually easing restrictions.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck is taking an unpaid week, along with about 200 other leaders in the university system in response to the budget crunch caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. President Joan Gabel announced the furloughs earlier this month.Fleck confirmed Thursday on a video conference call with reporters he’s taking part. Fleck’s 2020 salary is $4.6 million.
— Colorado athletic director Rick George said he and 11 head coaches will take pay cuts for the upcoming fiscal year in light of the budget impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The salaries for George along with football coach Karl Dorrell, men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle and women’s basketball coach JR Payne will be reduced by 10%. The other eight varsity head coaches will have their salaries reduced by 5%.
— The European track and field championships in Paris have been canceled. Local organizers and the French track federation say the biennial event scheduled for late August could not be postponed for one year. They cited uncertainty about the sport’s 2021 calendar and the French economy.
— German soccer could resume on May 9 if regional politicians sign off on the league’s plan. The state governors of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia have said the date would be acceptable, but other state officials have signaled they would prefer the middle or end of May. League CEO Christian Seifert says “if the state governors and the federal government decide that this day is May 9, then we would be ready on May 9.” Seifert says games could be held with a limit of 213 people in the stadium and up to 109 in the surrounding area.
— Churchill Downs will recognize the first Saturday in May with a “Kentucky Derby at Home” online party and will be broadcast on NBC. The day will be highlighted by a virtual Derby featuring 13 former Triple Crown winners in an effort to raise $2 million for COVID-19 relief. The 146th Kentucky Derby was postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5 because of public health concerns about pandemic, the first time horse racing’s marquee event won’t run on its traditional day since 1945.
Jackets extend netminder
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (murz-LEE’-kihnz) to a two-year contract extension through the 2021-22 season.
Merzlikins has been solid for the Jackets this season, recording five shutouts, a 2.48 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He is tied for second in the league in shutouts and fifth in both save percentage and goals-against average.
OLYMPICS-COLLECTIVE BARGAINING SURVEY
Study: Olympians should push for collective bargaining
UNDATED (AP) — A study of Olympic spending patterns concludes that athletes who compete at the games are woefully underpaid. It says they would be best served by banding together to create the sort of collective-bargaining arrangement commonly found in the pros.
The study of the worldwide Olympic bureaucracy's finances concludes there's far more money available for athletes than what they receive. It says the IOC averages $1.4 billion a year in revenues and spends only about 4% of it on athletes. Leagues such as the NFL and the Premier League spend between 40% and 60% of their revenue on players.
The study was a collaboration between the Global Athlete advocacy group and the Ryerson University Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto.