Marlins to open training complex
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — A person familiar with the decision says the Miami Marlins will allow players on their 40-man roster access to their spring training complex to pitch off a mound or hit in batting cages beginning Tuesday.
The person confirmed the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Marlins made no announcement.
The person says the rest of the complex in Jupiter, Florida, will remain closed.
According to the source, the optional workouts will be individual, with a staff member present, and those involved will abide by social distancing guidelines.
AP Sources: Rooney Rule to require for more interviews
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL is amending the Rooney Rule to require more interviews of minority candidates for head coaching and coordinator positions, two people familiar with the decision tell The Associated Press. Reacting to a lack of diversity progress in hiring for those jobs, the league will require teams to interview at least two minority candidates from outside the organization for head coach openings.
At least one minority candidate must be interviewed for a coordinator’s spot, the people said Monday on condition of anonymity because the NFL has not announced the additions.
The rule, named after the late Dan Rooney, who owned the Pittsburgh Steelers, was adopted in 2003. It has had some impact, but in the recent spate of coach hiring, few have gone to minority candidates.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-WORLD TEAM TENNIS
World Team Tennis plans three-week season
UNDATED (AP) — World TeamTennis CEO Carlos Silva says the league is “still on track for July 12” to open its three-week season and is hoping to select a site this week.
Silva said in a telephone interview Monday with the AP that four cities are “in the mix.” He mentioned Texas and Florida as possible host states.
The International Tennis Federation and the ATP and WTA tours said Friday they were extending their suspensions of play into late July because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But World TeamTennis is not sanctioned by those three groups and doesn’t need to follow their guidelines.
In other coronavirus-related sports news:
— California Gov. Gavin Newsom has given the go ahead for professional sports teams in the state to play without spectators soon. The Democratic governor said Monday that sports could return in the “first week or so of June without spectators and modifications and very prescriptive conditions.” That is extremely welcome news for teams, who were wondering if they would have to make contingency plans to play elsewhere. Los Angeles County officials said last week there was the possibility that their stay-at-home order could be extended through the summer.
—LeBron James reiterated Monday that he is hopeful the NBA season can resume, with the caveat that the health and well-being of players won’t be jeopardized by a return to play. The Los Angeles Lakers star said it remains his wish that the season comes back “sooner than later.” The NBA suspended the season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and two unidentified members of the Lakers were among the league’s players who subsequently tested positive for the virus.
— Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says pro sports leagues and entities in baseball, basketball, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, football, and car racing can apply to the state to hold events without spectators starting May 31. Abbott also says Little League baseball can resume play with parents watching under social distancing guidelines. Youth sports camps may also open in June.
—USA Baseball has tentatively scheduled July 24 as the start date for its 2020 schedule of summer events. The nation’s sport governing body says the first event would be the 14U Cup from July 24-26 at the national training complex in Cary, North Carolina. Eight other age-group competitions will be held from late July through August.
— The odds were against NASCAR flawlessly executing its reopening. But the stock car series successfully got back on track Sunday at Darlington Raceway without a slip. Participants all passed a health screening to enter the facility, no one was scolded for not socially distancing and everyone wore a mask. It was all NASCAR could hope for as it desperately tries to recover from a 10-week shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.
— Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says NASCAR can hold its races at Pocono Raceway in late June if the coronavirus situation improves in the area, though the races might have to go off without fans. Pocono Raceway is in Monroe County, which currently is under Wolf’s strictest pandemic orders, or a red designation. But Wolf said Monday that if the county moves to yellow, then NASCAR may hold the two races as long as there are no spectators present and guidelines are followed to keep competitors safe.
— Notre Dame is planning to allow students back on campus for the fall semester beginning in early August. University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins made the announcement in letters to the campus community. There was no mention of sports. The school’s reopening plan includes comprehensive testing for COVID-19, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces. The Irish are scheduled to open the football season against Navy in Ireland on Aug. 29. Students were sent home in mid-March to complete the spring semester remotely because of the new coronavirus pandemic.
—Premier League soccer teams have agreed on the measures that will allow non-contact training sessions to resume this week amid the coronavirus pandemic. The protocols for socially distanced training in small groups were signed off by the clubs during a conference call following a government decision to ease lockdown restrictions in England. The Premier League has been told by government experts that coronavirus restrictions could endure for at least a year in English soccer, with players allowed to resume only non-contact training from Tuesday.
—The Spanish soccer player who threatened to quit his team rather than risk being infected by the coronavirus has returned to training. Cádiz defender Fali Giménez rejoined his teammates at the second-division club about a month after saying he wouldn’t play again unless there was a vaccine for COVID-19 or if he was assured 100% that he wouldn’t get infected after being back on the field.
— A soccer player in Germany for third-division club Chemnitz has tested positive for the coronavirus. Chemnitz did not name the player, but the club says he is “completely symptom-free.” That player and two other players who had contact with him will spend 14 days in isolation.
No qualifying for US Open
UNDATED (AP) — The U.S. Open won't have qualifying for the first time since 1924. Chalk that up to the COVID-19 pandemic that already has postponed the U.S. Open from June to Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot in New York.
Qualifying is the hallmark of the U.S. Open. The USGA likes to point out that roughly half of the 156-man field has to go through some form of qualifying. But not this year.
Still to be determined is how the exemptions are created for the rest of the players. Among those not already exempt is Phil Mickelson, who has said he won't ask for an invitation.
In other golfing news,
—The return of live golf to television had a total audience delivery of 2.35 million viewers. Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson defeated Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief. The exhibition has raised at least $5.5 million for COVID-19 relief funds. NBC Sports says the total audience delivery was 16% higher than the final of the Dell Match Play last year in Texas. It used that as a comparison because only four players were on the course. It was roughly the same as network coverage of PGA Tour events from the second quarter of 2019.
ESPN to show film about Game 6 of 1998 NBA Finals
UNDATED (AP) — The final episodes of “The Last Dance” have aired, yet ESPN has one more program to show about the Chicago Bulls’ sixth championship. ESPN will show “Game 6: The Movie” on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. EDT, following a rebroadcast of episodes nine and 10 of “The Last Dance.” The game will feature game footage captured by five NBA Entertainment cameras. It marks the first time that the game has been available to watch in high definition. The Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 87–86 as Michael Jordan hit the game-winning basket with 5.2 seconds remaining to cap their sixth championship in eight seasons.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-INDIANA RECRUIT
Hoosiers sign Lander
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana Hoosiers have signed Khristian Lander, who was expected to be one of the nation's top-rated point guards in next season's recruiting class. But coach Archie Miller says the 6-foot-2, point guard will reclassify so he can play basketball this fall.
Lander is from Evansville and joins Anthony Leal and Trey Galloway as the third major in-state recruit in the 2020 recruiting class. Leal was named the IndyStar Mr. Basketball last month. Galloway and Lander were both second-team selections on The Associated Press all-state team.
Indiana also has signed Jordan Geronimo of New Hampshire.
Elsewhere in college hoops news:
— San Diego State has signed forward Joshua Tomaić as a grad transfer from Maryland and will be eligible to play next season. Coach Brian Dutcher said 6-foot-10, 235-pound Tomaić can play multiple positions but is most comfortable at the stretch four, preferring to play facing the basket.
— The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower-court ruling prohibiting the NCAA from limiting compensation for education-related expenses for student-athletes. The decision upholds an injunction approved by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken on behalf of a nationwide class of student-athletes. The appeals court ruling clears the way for Division I conferences to independently set rules for education-related compensation provided to student-athletes.
Bills, Ole Miss lineman "Gentle Ben" Williams, 65, dies
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Robert Jerry “Ben” Williams Jr., former Buffalo Bills defensive end and the first African American player to appear in a game at Mississippi, has died. He was 65. Ole Miss announced in a release that Williams died Monday from natural causes at a Jackson, Mississippi, hospital. Affectionately known as “Gentle Ben,” he was the Rebels’ first black player to earn All-America honors as a first-team selection in 1975 and was a three-time first team All-Southeastern Conference selection.
Williams was drafted by Buffalo in the third round in 1976 and spent his entire 10-year career with the Bills during which he had 140 starts in 147 games.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, Williams earned his nickname because of his friendly off-field personality.
DREAM TEAM-SNEAKER AUCTION
Jordan, Magic, Pippen Dream Team sneakers being auctioned
NEW YORK (AP) — Sneakers worn by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen while they played for the Dream Team are being auctioned.
The sneakers, each signed by the Hall of Fame wearer, are part of the Lelands 2020 Spring Classic Auction that runs through June 19. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the sneakers will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts.
Jordan, Johnson and Pippen wore the sneakers during the Tournament of Americas, which the U.S. team won to qualify for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The Americans won gold there in the first Olympics to feature NBA players.
The sneakers were given to a team staff member in the locker room after the tournament championship game in Portland, Oregon.