NASCAR to resume season May 17 without spectators
UNDATED (AP) — NASCAR has set a date to green flag its Cup season.
The circuit says it will resume its season without fans present starting May 17 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The premier Cup Series will then race three more times in a 10-day span, beginning with one more at Darlington before two outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
NASCAR's revised schedule goes only through May and has a pair of Wednesday Cup races, fulfilling fans’ longtime plea for midweek events.
The first race is scheduled for Darlington, NASCAR's oldest superspeedway, followed by a second race at the 70-year-old, egg-shaped oval track three days later. Charlotte Motor Speedway will then host the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 to mark 60 consecutive years the longest race on the NASCAR schedule will be held on Memorial Day weekend. The track in Concord, outside NASCAR's home base of Charlotte, will then host a Wednesday race three days later. There will also be lower-tier Xfinity and Trucks series races at the two tracks.
The North Carolina governor has said the Charlotte races can be held as long as health conditions in the area do not deteriorate.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— The three biggest names in men’s pole vault will compete against each other in a rare sporting event during the coronavirus pandemic. And they’ll do it from their own backyards. Video links will connect world record holder Armand Duplantis, world champion Sam Kendricks and former Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie in what’s being called “The Ultimate Garden Clash.” Duplantis will be in Louisiana, Kendricks in Mississippi and Lavillenie in France, and the event will be streamed on social media. Their challenge is to clear the most 5-meter jumps within 30 minutes.
— This year’s Little League World Series and the championship tournaments in six other Little League divisions have been canceled. Little League President Stephen Keener said it would be “impossible” to hold the events amid ongoing restrictions on large gatherings and travel. The Little League World Series has been held every August since 1947 and has never been canceled. The annual major league game in Williamsport, which this year was to feature the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 23, has also been canceled.
— The Dodgers will soon give fans an account credit for home games scheduled in March and April. The team hasn’t announced any plans for fans who have tickets to games later in the season. Dodger Stadium is set to host the All-Star Game in July. Officially, it has not been canceled, which the team noted in its information for fans.
— Paris St. Germain has been officially crowned Ligue 1 champion of French soccer, two days after the government ruled that the league had to be canceled because of the pandemic. Handing PSG its seventh title in eight years was basically a formality, with the team 12 points ahead of second-place Marseille with 10 rounds of matches left to play. Other teams objected to the decision to finalize the league standings based on a points-per-game formula, with Lyon threatening to take legal action after missing a chance to qualify for the lucrative Champions League.
— German chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) says a decision on whether the country’s soccer league can resume has been pushed back to next Wednesday. Soccer authorities had been hoping to receive the go-ahead to resume league games without fans as early as May 9. Merkel met with the country’s 16 state governors and warned there is still a danger that numbers of COVID-19 infections could rise if strict containment measures are relaxed too soon.
— The New York Racing Association is seeking to resume live racing at Belmont Park without fans, and it wants to do the same thing this summer at Saratoga. NYRA says returning to racing would “provide a small sense of normalcy for fans across the country who can watch on television and online.” There has been no live racing in New York since March 15, although training has continued at Belmont Park. NYRA says thoroughbred racing provides $3 billion in annual economic impact and over 19,000 jobs in the state.
— British boxing’s governing body says it hopes fights can be staged from July. The British Boxing Board of Control says events would likely be held without fans initially and with an emphasis on “minimal numbers” of officials and broadcast personnel. Anyone at the events will have to have been in pre-fight quarantine and had tests for COVID-19. There will initially be a maximum of five contests in a show.
Chiefs pick up Mahomes option, work on long-term deal
UNDATED (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have exercised their fifth-year option on Patrick Mahomes (mah-HOHMZ’), ensuring their star quarterback will be under contract for at least two more seasons.
But general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid are hoping to reach a long-term deal with the reigning Super Bowl MVP by the start of training camp. The contract could last four or five years and make Mahomes the first player in NFL history to make at least $40 million per season.
Mahomes has completed almost 66% of his passes for 9,412 yards, 76 touchdowns and just 18 interceptions since being taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft.
If the Chiefs are unable to sign Mahomes to a long-term deal, he would be due a base salary of $25 million for the 2021 season.
In other NFL news:
— The Bengals have released quarterback Andy Dalton, clearing the way for reigning Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow to lead a team that remade itself in the draft. Dalton set several Bengals passing records in his nine seasons and led the team to a club-record five straight playoff berths without winning a postseason game. Coach Zac Taylor benched Dalton for three games last season, an indication his time in Cincinnati was finished. Burrow was taken first overall in the draft last week.
— The Giants have picked up the fifth-year options for tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers, thus extending their rookie contracts through the 2021 season. Engram has made 25 starts and 34 appearances overall in three seasons, catching 153 passes for 1,766 yards and 12 touchdowns. Peppers was acquired in March of last year in the trade that sent Odell Beckham Jr. to the Browns.
— Seahawks general manager John Schneider said starting linebacker K.J. Wright underwent offseason shoulder surgery and is unsure of the timeline of when he'll be healthy. Wright finished the 2019 regular season with a career-high 132 total tackles and didn’t miss a game.
— NFL Players Association President JC Tretter is calling for a re-examination of a portion of the labor agreement with the league affecting disability coverage for former players. Tretter, a center with the Cleveland Browns, succeeded Eric Winston as union president earlier this year. Tretter wants the NFLPA’s executive board and the leadership of former players to come together to discuss some offsets in the collective bargaining agreement narrowly approved by the players in March. The language the overall union membership voted on is not the same as what wound up in the deal that runs through the 2030 season.
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Wake Forest turns to ETSU's Forbes as men's basketball coach
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest has hired East Tennessee State’s Steve Forbes as its men’s basketball coach.
The hiring comes less than a week after the school fired Danny Manning.
Forbes is coming off a five-year run at ETSU that ended with a 30-win season and the Southern Conference Tournament championship before the NCAA Tournament was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic. He went 130-43 in his time with the Buccaneers, winning at least 24 games each year while also winning the league tournament in 2017 to reach the NCAA Tournament.
PGA players to retain exemptions
UNDATED (AP) — The PGA Tour has issued a memo to its members saying players exempt for this season will keep the same status for the 2020-21 season that is scheduled to start in September. However, players can earn a higher ranking after this shortened season.
The memo to outline the changes was another step in the tour trying to figure out what's equitable in a season that will be without 13 previously scheduled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision will prevent anyone competing in the Korn Ferry Tour to graduate to the PGA Tour.
NCAA board recommends delaying change to transfer waiver
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA Board of Governors has recommended delaying a change to the transfer waiver process that would permit all athletes to switch schools once without sitting out a season.
The NCAA announced the board’s recommendation Thursday after several days of meetings but added the Division I council could still a vote on making the waiver change in May and having it take effect immediately.
Currently, NCAA rules require football, baseball, men's hockey and men's and women's basketball players to sit out a season after transferring. Athletes in all other sports are allowed by rule a one-time exception so they can play right away after switching schools.
A change to the waiver was recommended by a working group in February that would mirror the one-time exception and go into effect this year. That was before college sports were shut down and thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic.
NCAA sued for gender-based violence
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA is facing a federal lawsuit accusing the organization of failing to address gender-based violence by male athletes against female students at colleges and universities.
The suit was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Michigan. Plaintiffs in the suit include women who have been athletes at Michigan State, Nebraska and an unidentified America East school. Other plaintiffs have been students at Michigan State or Nebraska.
Two financial institutions settle in FIFA scandal
NEW YORK (AP) — An Israeli bank and its Swiss subsidiary have agreed to pay over $30 million for their role in conspiring to launder more than $20 million in kickbacks to soccer officials.
They are the first financial institutions implicated in the FIFA scandal to reach a resolution with U.S. prosecutors. According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, the institutions will forfeit $20.73 million and pay a fine of $9.33 as part of a non-prosecution agreement.
The scheme took place through the banks’ Miami branch from 2010-15, with many of the payments tied to marketing rights for the Copa America.