VIRUS OUTBREAK-MLB TEAM STAFF CUTS
NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball 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.
Manfred has suspended uniform employee contacts that cover about 9,000 people, including general managers on some teams. The layoffs and pay cuts can start May 1.
Manfred cited the inability to play games due to the national emergency caused by the new coronavirus pandemic. Several teams have said they will pay their employees through May.
UECs must be signed by all managers, coaches, trainers and salaried scouts, and some teams include additional baseball operations staff.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SPORTS POLL
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
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Novak Djokovic says if an anti-coronavirus vaccination is compulsory for players to return to the tennis tours, he won't take it.
The world No. 1 said in a live Facebook chat that he won’t “be forced by someone to take a vaccine in order to be able to travel.” Djokovic said when the tours are open again he knows he has a big decision to make. A vaccination against COVID-19 has yet to be made.
He and his wife have previously spoken against vaccinations.
In other virus-related sports developments:
— 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 is 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.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NBA DRAFT
Butler enters NBA draft
WACO, Texas (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 season as a sophomore. He says he has nothing to lose by putting his name in the draft pool. Elleby can still return to Washington State for his junior season as long as he withdraws his name by 5 p.m. on June 15. The 6-foot-6, 200-pound forward earned All-Pac-12 honors after averaging 18.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game this season.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars have waived injury-plagued receiver Marqise Lee to create nearly $5 million in salary cap space.
The move had been expected for weeks. The Jaguars were waiting for Lee to get fully healthy before letting him go.
The 28-year-old Lee had been due to make $6.25 million this season and would have counted $8.75 million against Jacksonville’s salary cap. That’s a huge payout for a 28-year-old wideout who has three receptions for 18 yards the last two years combined.
The team also waived running back Taj McGowan.
And the Jaguars are ready to move on from running back Leonard Fournette. A person familiar with the decision says the Jaguars are looking to trade the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. The person 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.
Professional tennis is currently on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. All sanctioned tournaments are on hold until at least mid-July.
GOLF-HALL OF FAME
Finchem elected to World Golf Hall of Fame
UNDATED (AP) — Tim Finchem has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
He expanded the PGA Tour's footprint around the world and prize money more than tripled during his 22 years as commissioner.
Finchem was elected through the contributor's category. He's the ninth administrator to go into the Hall of Fame.
And it's only fitting Finchem is part of the 2021 class of inductees that includes Tiger Woods. He seized on Woods' popularity by negotiating TV contracts and creating the World Golf Championships series.
Finchem also launched The First Tee youth program.
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.