Update on the latest sports
WNBA approves Montgomery’s role in new Dream ownership group
ATLANTA (AP) — Real estate investor Larry Gottesdiener has been approved as the lead owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream following pressure on former Sen. Kelly Loeffler to sell her share of the team.
Co-owner Mary Brock also sold her share of the club, which will remain in Atlanta. The three-member investor group includes former Dream guard Renee Montgomery and Suzanne Abair, president of Gottesdiener’s firm. Players around the league had called for Loeffler, a Republican, to sell her 49% stake in the Dream after she objected to the league’s initiatives to advocate for racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Virus sidelines 6 Raptors coaches for Rockets game
UNDATED (AP) — The Toronto Raptors say six members of their coaching staff, including head coach Nick Nurse, will miss Friday’s game against Houston. The team says the decision is in keeping with the league’s health and safety protocols regarding the coronavirus.
Coaches, like players, are tested daily for coronavirus. There are a number of reasons why someone would enter the NBA protocols, including a positive test, a presumed positive test or contact tracing data suggesting that they may have been exposed to a person who is positive for COVID-19.
The NBA has postponed 29 games this season already because of virus-related issues, though this is the first time that a team has said its coaching staff would be unable to be at a game because of the protocols.
The Raptors say they will continue to work remotely and did not immediately specify who would be handling in-game coaching duties.
In other NBA news:
— Kevin Durant will be out through the All-Star break because of a hamstring injury. That means the Brooklyn Nets star won’t play in the All-Star game, for which he was chosen to serve as a team captain. The Nets said Friday that after a routine follow-up MRI on Durant’s left hamstring, it was determined that he needed additional recovery time. Durant has missed Brooklyn’s last six games. The Nets, who have won eight straight, have three more games before the break. Durant was the leading vote-getter in the Eastern Conference.
Sharks back at practice, play Sat night vs Blues
UNDATED (AP) — The San Jose Sharks have returned to practice and are set to play the St. Louis Blues as scheduled on Saturday night after having one game postponed because a player tested positive for the coronavirus.
Tomas Hertl was placed on the COVID-19 list on Wednesday, leading to the team canceling practice that day and postponing Thursday’s game against Vegas. With no other players or staff testing positive since then, the Sharks were allowed to return to practice Friday and will host St. Louis the next night.
Coach Bob Boughner (BOOG’-nur) says Hertl is feeling well and has reported no symptoms but he will miss at least two weeks because of protocols.
In other NHL news:
— The Buffalo Sabres enter the weekend dealing with injuries to two key players and uncertainty as to whether coach Ralph Krueger is going to end the benching of high-priced forward Jeff Skinner. Starting goalie Linus Ullmark will miss at least both games of Buffalo’s weekend series against the Philadelphia Flyers due to a lower body injury. Captain Jack Eichel (EYE’-kul) is considered day to day after a lower-body injury made him a last-minute scratch before Buffalo’s 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey on Thursday. And Krueger still wasn’t ready to say whether Skinner will resume playing after a three-game benching, while noting the reasoning behind his decision was related to team culture.
Braves extend manager Brian Snitker through at least 2023
UNDATED (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have extended the contract of manager Brian Snitker through the 2023 season. The extension announced Friday includes a club option for 2024.
The 65-year-old Snitker took over the Braves on an interim basis in 2016 when the club was in the midst of a massive rebuilding job.
After going 72-90 in his first full season, Atlanta won the first of its three straight division titles in 2018. Last season, the Braves won a postseason series for the first time since 2001, beating Cincinnati in the wild-card round and Miami in the divisional series before losing to the eventual World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers in an NL Championship Series that went the seven-game limit.
Snitker has been with the Braves organization for 45 years as a player, coach and manager — mostly in the minor leagues — after signing with the club as an undrafted free agent in 1977. He was voted NL Manager of the Year in 2018.
In other MLB news:
—The Chicago White Sox and Cuban pitching prospect Norge Vera have agreed to a minor league contract that includes a $1.5 million signing bonus. The 20-year-old right-hander played one season for Santiago in Cuba’s top league. He was 2-3 with a 3.79 ERA, one complete game, one shutout and 37 strikeouts in 11 starts. The White Sox also announced minor league deals with outfielder/first baseman Darío Borrero, right-handers Adrián Gil and Carlos Hinestroza, catcher Manuel Guarimán, outfielder Carlos Jiménez and third baseman Víctor Quezada on Friday.
— Veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez has re-signed with the Los Angeles Angels on a minor league deal. Chavez will join the Angels’ spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, after he clears their intake protocols. Chavez appeared in 38 games for the Angels in 2017, including 21 starts. He left for Texas as a free agent after one season, and he excelled after being traded in July 2018 to the Chicago Cubs, where he was managed by current Angels skipper Joe Maddon.
— Three players were positive for COVID-19 among 900 samples during the second week of spring training testing. Major League Baseball says there had been 15 positives overall among more than 5,200 tests thus far during spring training, a positive rate of 0.3%. Positive tests included 12 players and three staff. All players on 40-man rosters and players with minor league contracts invited to big league training camp are screened.
— The Colorado Rockies say they’ve been approved to allow 12,500 fans per game at Coors Field this season. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment agreed to the club’s request to allow fans back into the stands. The 12,500 figure amounts to 25% of the stadium seating capacity.
— Marla Miller is stepping down after 21 years as Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of special events. Miller, MLB’s first female senior vice president, has been in charge of planning for the All-Star Game and World Series, arranging ceremonies and entertainment, including national anthem singers. She helped launch the All-Star FanFest.
NCAA lifts Ga Tech hoop scholarship, recruiting sanctions
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA has overturned scholarship and recruiting limitations placed on Georgia Tech’s men’s basketball team in 2019.
The announced Friday by the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee overturns the reduction of one scholarship per year for four years. It also restores Georgia Tech’s freedom to schedule official recruiting trips in conjunction with home games. The Committee on Infractions will reconsider the sanctions at a date which has not been announced.
The penalties were the result of the NCAA finding major recruiting violations were committed by former Georgia Tech assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie as well as coach Josh Pastner’s former friend, Ron Bell. Pastner was not directly named in the findings.
Last year, Georgia Tech agreed to miss the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament after withdrawing its appeal of a postseason ban for 2020. The Yellow Jackets are eligible for postseason play this season.
In other college basketball news:
— Indianapolis will relax coronavirus restrictions on the city’s bars and restaurants starting next week ahead of the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA men’s basketball tournaments. The changes will allow bars to operate at 50% capacity instead of 25% starting Monday, while restaurants will see their indoor restaurant capacity increase from 50% to 75%. Bars, restaurants and music venues will also be able to close two hours later, at 2 a.m., instead of at midnight. Mayor Joe Hogsett says the changes were prompted by drops in the city’s COVID-19 cases and its coronavirus positivity rate, and not due to the upcoming tournaments.
— The Atlantic Coast Conference will expand use of KINEXON SafeTag contact tracing devices by equipping players, coaches and Tier 1 personnel for its upcoming men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. SafeTags measure proximity between users to provide school medical officials with contact tracing data when an individual tests positive for COVID-19. All 15 ACC schools used the devices inside team facilities during the regular season to mitigate the spread of the virus. Athletes also had the tags sewn into jerseys or tucked into socks during games.
Former British gymnasts allege physical, psychological abuse
UNDATED (AP) —Three Olympians and several other former gymnasts are taking legal action against British Gymnastics, saying Friday they have been the victims of decades of physical and psychological abuse by coaches.
The litany of allegations by 17 female claimants includes bullying, controlling behavior and inappropriate use of physical force against athletes as young as 6 years old in a “winning at all costs” mentality.
Their notice told British Gymnastics that they are seeking financial compensation and an acknowledgement of negligence. The law firm representing the group of women — now ranging from 15 to 43 years old — expects the number of gymnasts to increase and possibly include men. British athletes have come forward over the past year following allegations of abuse in gymnastics in the United States.
Larry Nassar, who served as USA Gymnastics women’s team doctor for years, used medical treatment as a guise for molesting hundreds of young athletes. He was sentenced to 40 to 125 years in prison in 2018. On Thursday, former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert killed himself hours after being charged with turning his Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train and then abusing them.
PGA-PUERTO RICAN OPEN
Brandon Wu leads PGA Tour’s windy Puerto Rico Open
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico (AP) — Brandon Wu birdied the final two holes for a 5-under 67 and the second-round lead Friday in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open.
Wu played the back nine in 4 under at windy Grand Reserve. He birdied the par-4 12th, par-5 15th, par-4 17th and par-5 18th to reach 11-under 133. Greg Chalmers was a stroke back after a 68. The 47-year-old Australian also birdied his final two holes, the par-3 eighth and par-4 ninth. He had a hole-in-one on No. 8 in the opening round. Home star Rafael Campos and South Africa’s Branden Grace were 9 under. Campos rebounded from a bogey on 17 with a birdie on 18 for a 69. Grace shot 68.