Thursday’s Sports in Brief
Washington State football coach Mike Leach met with Tennessee athletic director John Currie to discuss the Volunteers’ coaching vacancy, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side intended to make the meeting public. The meeting was in Los Angeles, and Leach was scheduled to fly back to Pullman.
Leach, 56, has been at Washington State for six years and is 38-37, but 26-12 the last three seasons, including 19-8 in the Pac-12. Previously, he coached 10 seasons at Texas Tech and went 84-43.
Tennessee fired Butch Jones earlier this month and was close to hiring Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but the deal fell through due to backlash from fans and supporters stemming from an unproven claim in court documents that Schiano might have known about Jerry Sandusky’s abuse of boys while Schiano was an assistant at Penn State. Schiano has denied the claim.
The Volunteers’ search has since stumbled forward rather publicly. There were reports of contact with Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm. Earlier Thursday, North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren agreed to a contract extension after he had discussions with Tennessee.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Rick Pitino has sued the University of Louisville Athletic Association for $38.7 million, saying it breached his contract by placing him on unpaid administrative leave without notice and firing him last month with no legally justified ”cause.”
The ULAA fired the Hall of Fame coach on Oct. 16, weeks after he was placed on leave when Louisville acknowledged it was being investigated in a federal bribery probe of college basketball. Pitino is not named in the federal complaint and has denied participation in and knowledge of alleged payments to a recruit’s family.
Pitino’s lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks liquidated contract damages of $4.307 million through 2026. It says the ULAA did not give him 10 days advance notice before it ”effectively fired” him and insists that he followed suggestions to improve oversight following a sex scandal that has resulted in NCAA sanctions.
DETROIT (AP) – Federal prosecutors asked for a 60-year prison sentence for a Michigan sports doctor who was caught with child pornography while under investigation for sexually assaulting female gymnasts.
Larry Nassar, 54, who worked at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, will be sentenced for child porn crimes on Dec. 7. In the last week, he has pleaded guilty to molesting teens and younger girls with his hands in two other cases in state court.
Nassar ”has led a double life,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Lewis said in a court filing. ”On the surface, he was a respected, world-renowned expert for elite athletes. He was a medical doctor, a husband and a father. But underneath this veneer lurked a predator.”
Lewis said Nassar ”poses an immense risk to the community.”
In July, he pleaded guilty to three charges in federal court in western Michigan, each carrying up to 20 years in prison. Sentences typically run at the same time, but U.S. District Judge Janet Neff can order separate, consecutive punishments.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – Just when South Korea thought it was finally creating a buzz for February’s Winter Olympics, North Korea fired its most powerful missile yet and re-ignited safety worries about the small mountain town that will host the games not far from the rivals’ anxious border.
The Pyeongchang Olympics probably aren’t in jeopardy because of Wednesday’s launch for a number of reasons, including that the North is unlikely to attack the more powerful, U.S.-backed South. Despite its belligerent neighbor, South Korea is also one of the safest places in the world with a wealth of experience hosting international sporting events.
Still, the launch, which followed a 10-week lull, was a frustrating development for Pyeongchang’s organizers, who have only recently got on track after facing construction delays, controversies over cost overruns and wary sponsors. They can also do little to calm international fears created by North Korea’s accelerating nuclear weapons and missile tests.
Shortly after North Korea fired the Hwasong-15 into the sea Wednesday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened a national security meeting where he ordered government officials to closely review whether the launch could hurt South Korea’s efforts to successfully host the Olympics, which begin on Feb. 9.
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) – Tiger Woods looked a lot better in his return to golf than he did when he left.
Playing for the first time since his fourth back surgery, Woods returned from a 10-month layoff with a 3-under 69 on a breezy day in the Bahamas that left him three shots behind Tommy Fleetwood after the opening round of the Hero World Challenge.
”For me, I thought I did great,” Woods said with a smile.
And in a sign that he was ready to get back into the mix, he was far from satisfied.
Unlike a year ago, when Woods ended a 15-month hiatus from his ailing back, he didn’t show any fatigue at the end of his round or make any big numbers. His only regret was playing the par 5s at Albany Golf Club in 1-over par with two bogeys that stalled his momentum.
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
DETROIT (AP) – UFC President Dana White is unsure how long Conor McGregor can keep his lightweight title without defending it.
”That’s what we have to figure out,” White told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, three days before UFC 218 in Detroit.
McGregor hasn’t fought in the UFC since he knocked out Eddie Alvarez on Nov. 4, 2016.
White said he talks weekly with McGregor, adding he’s under contract to fight four more times for UFC.
McGregor made about $100 million for boxing Floyd Mayweather in August. White said McGregor doesn’t have a sense of urgency to fight because of the money he made for stepping in the ring with Mayweather.