Friday’s Sports In Brief
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) In a historic vote, Northwestern University football players cast secret ballots on whether to form the nation’s first union for college athletes – a decision that could change the landscape of American amateur sports.
The results of the closely watched vote will not be known for some time. After two rounds of voting on this 19,000-student campus, the ballot boxes were sealed and will remain so for weeks, months, perhaps even years as the university challenges the effort to unionize the team.
Still, some of those behind the push were already celebrating, saying that even if a union is voted down, the campaign has the power to change things.
MESA, Ariz. (AP) – Michael Phelps’ comeback meet was cut short when he failed to advance to the 50-meter freestyle final.
The 18-time Olympic gold medalist used the morning preliminaries at the Arena Grand Prix to fine-tune his butterfly stroke instead of doing freestyle like everyone else. He finished seventh in a time of 24.06 seconds, missing out on the eight-man evening final.
Phelps didn’t even make any of the three consolation finals because he was 42nd overall; only the top 32 qualify for those, so his first competition since retiring after the 2012 London Olympics ended early.
NEW YORK (AP) – After further review, the play stands as called. Not because it was right, but because referees weren’t allowed to determine it was wrong.
NBA officials were already considering expanding referees’ instant replay options before two key plays in this postseason couldn’t be changed even after refs saw them on the monitor.
For now, the rules are clear about what referees can look at. But Commissioner Adam Silver said the league will ”inevitably” reach a point where they can do more.
”My sense is where we’ll end up is giving the referees more discretion over what they can look at once we go to replay,” Silver said.
MIAMI (AP) – Earl Morrall, an NFL quarterback for 21 years who started nine games during the Miami Dolphins’ perfect season in 1972, has died at age 79.
The Dolphins confirmed Morrall’s death. Former teammate Charlie Babb said Morrall had been in failing health for some time.
When Bob Griese broke his ankle in 1972, Morrall came off the bench and started the final nine games of the regular season for the Dolphins. Morrall won praise from coach Don Shula for his willingness to step aside when Griese returned for the AFC championship game. Griese also started in the Super Bowl to help Miami finish 17-0. That remains the only perfect season in NFL history. Morrall also played for the 49ers, Steelers, Lions, Giants and Colts.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Cam Newton is now under contract with the Carolina Panthers for the next two seasons.
The Panthers exercised the fifth-year option on Newton’s contract, meaning the former No. 1 draft pick will be with the team at least through the end of the 2015 season. The team made the announcement after previously indicating it hoped to sign Newton to a long-term deal.
Newton is slated to make $3.37 million this season and would receive $14.67 million in 2015 if he doesn’t sign a contract extension before then.
NEW YORK (AP) – Baseball clarified the meaning of possession for infielders trying to turn double plays on forceouts, saying they must have complete control of the ball but may drop it after intentionally opening their gloves for transfers to their throwing hands.
In the first season of expanded instant replay, when infielders have possession while trying to turn double plays has become controversial. Major League Baseball said the interpretation of the Playing Rules Committee was agreed to by MLB, the players’ association and the umpires’ union.
NEW YORK (AP) – Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig says the sport will wait until after the season to study whether the rule preventing pitchers from using pine tar should be changed.
New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was suspended for 10 games Thursday, a day after umpires found pine tar on his neck during a game against Boston. Pineda said he was trying to get a better grip on balls on a cool night, and pitchers say they suspect pine tar use may be routine – although usually discreet. Baseball rules prohibit pitchers from using foreign substances.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) – Top-ranked Rafael Nadal’s clay-court struggles worsened as his 41-match winning streak at the Barcelona Open ended with a three-set loss to Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals.
Nadal was looking for his ninth title in Barcelona but lost 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, a week after going out in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters to David Ferrer. Nadal, widely considered the greatest clay-court player of all time, hadn’t lost in Barcelona since his debut as a 15-year-old in 2003, although he missed the tournament in 2010. He had not dropped a set here since the 2008 final.
AVONDALE, La. (AP) – Ben Martin shot a 5-under 67 to maintain a course-record pace at TPC Louisiana, keeping him atop the leaderboard through two rounds of the Zurich Classic.
After breaking the course record with a 62 on Thursday, Martin opened the second round with two birdies and an eagle on his first four holes. He shook off a bogey and double bogey on successive holes in the middle of the round and birdied four of his last nine to move to 15 under – the best 36-hole total at the course. No one has had a four-round score better than 20 under.
Andrew Svoboda shot a 68 to remain second at 12 under.
DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) – Stacy Lewis overcame rain and hail to take the second-round lead in the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, shooting her second straight 3-under 69 at Lake Merced.
Winless since the Women’s British Open in August, the third-ranked Lewis had a one-stroke lead over 17-year-old playing partner Lydia Ko and first-round leader Karine Icher.
Lewis has five runner-up finishes since her victory last summer at St. Andrews.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Richard Petty returned to the race track for the first time since his wife died. Lynda Petty died after a long battle with cancer on March 25.
Petty says he needed time on his own after losing his partner of 57 years. He says, ”I’m back in the saddle again now. I am just learning to live all over again.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Kevin Harvick pulled away on a restart with 47 laps to go and ended Chase Elliott’s two-race winning streak in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series with a dominating victory at Richmond International Raceway.
Harvick led 202 of the 250 laps in a race delayed nearly 3 1/2 hours at the start by rain. The victory was the 41st of his career in the series, and his record-extending seventh at 0.75-mile Richmond.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky twin freshman guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison will return for a second season to a stocked Wildcats squad coming off an NCAA championship game appearance.
Both had been mentioned as possible NBA first-round draft picks after leading Kentucky’s remarkable march through the NCAA tournament. Aaron Harrison’s clutch 3-pointers that beat Michigan and Wisconsin and put the Wildcats in the final were set up on feeds from Andrew, the point guard.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Michigan sophomore Mitch McGary is entering the NBA draft, saying he had little choice after testing positive for marijuana during an NCAA tournament he couldn’t play in because of an injured back and because he was facing a one-year ban.
McGary was terrific in the 2013 tournament as a freshman, helping Michigan reach the national title game, where the Wolverines lost to Louisville. He considered jumping to the NBA then, but instead came back for his sophomore year and was a preseason All-American. But McGary played only eight games this season. He was bothered from the start by a back problem and eventually had surgery. He was shut down shortly after a Dec. 14 matchup with Arizona.