Thursday’s Sports in Brief

AARON HERNANDEZ DEATH

BOSTON (AP) Former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, researchers said, and his lawyer announced a lawsuit against the NFL and the team, accusing them of hiding the true dangers of the sport.

Dr. Ann McKee, the director of the CTE Center at Boston University, said Hernandez had Stage 3 (out of 4) of the disease, which can cause violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive disorders .

”We’re told it was the most severe case they had ever seen for someone of Aaron’s age,” attorney Jose Baez said.

Hernandez killed himself in April in the prison cell where he was serving a life-without-parole sentence for murder. Baez said Hernandez had shown signs of memory loss, impulsivity and aggression that could be attributed to CTE.

CTE, which can only be diagnosed in an autopsy, has been found in former members of the military , football players and boxers and others who have been subjected to repeated head trauma. A recent study found signs of the disease in 110 of 111 NFL players whose brains were inspected.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court claimed that the league and Patriots failed to protect their players’ safety, leading to the disease that deprived Hernandez’s 4-year-old daughter, Avielle, of her father’s companionship.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – It might be the shot heard around the baseball world: the rocket-like foul ball that hit a young girl at a New York Yankees game.

In the hours after the girl was struck in the face by the 105-mph screamer, the game’s commissioner vowed to push harder for all teams to extend protective netting to the end of the dugouts, and the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres committed to do just that by next year. A U.S. senator urged the commissioner to ”put the safety of your fans first” and extend nets at all ballparks.

Several legal observers of baseball, which has long been shielded from lawsuits over fan injuries, saw it as a potential game changer.

The line drive off the bat of Yankees slugger Todd Frazier on Wednesday hit the girl in the face in less than a second, and the game came to a halt as she was treated in the stands. Frazier and other players from the Yankees and Minnesota Twins kneeled in prayer, and many fans were in stunned silence or in tears.

The toddler remained hospitalized. Her father said soon after she was hit, ”She’s doing all right. Just keep her in your thoughts.”

In a statement Thursday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred called the events ”extremely upsetting.”

COLLEGE SPORTS

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – For the second time in 10 years, Nebraska has ousted an athletic director during a football season that was failing to meet expectations.

The school’s top administrators said the Cornhuskers’ embarrassing loss to Northern Illinois last weekend wasn’t the sole reason for firing of Shawn Eichorst. But the loss that dropped the Cornhuskers to 1-2 for the second time in three years under coach Mike Riley certainly was the tipping point.

Eichorst was hired to replace retiring athletic director Tom Osborne in October 2012, and has about $1.7 million remaining on a contract that runs through June 2019.

Bounds and Chancellor Ronnie Green said Eichorst was a champion of student-athlete welfare and had done a good job keeping the athletic department fiscally sound.

Nebraska – which spent $101 million on athletics in 2015-16, the most recent year for which data is available – has not won a Big Ten championship in football or basketball (men’s or women’s) since joining the conference in 2011.

The administrators said they want to be competitive in every sport because the school has the resources to accomplish that.

BASEBALL

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) – Former Los Angeles Dodgers star Raul Mondesi has been sentenced to eight years in prison after being convicted of embezzlement during his term as mayor of his hometown in the Dominican Republic.

The district court of San Cristobal, a town west of the capital Santo Domingo, also ordered this week that Mondesi pay a $1.3 million fine.

The Attorney General’s office charged Mondesi of embezzling $6.3 million while he was mayor of San Cristobal from 2010-16, according to the court.

Mondesi, 46, debuted with the Dodgers in 1993 and won the NL Rookie of the Year award in 1994. The one-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove outfielder played seven seasons with Los Angeles, and also played with Toronto, the New York Yankees, Atlanta, Arizona and Pittsburgh.

He retired from the majors in 2005 with .273 average and 271 home runs in 13 seasons.

OTHER

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Just because drought-ravaged California has spent years urging residents to conserve water doesn’t mean it wants people to actually stop drinking the stuff.

When a Gatorade cellphone game suggested doing just that, state Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a complaint accusing the popular thirst-quenching drink’s maker of false advertising.

By Thursday – less than a day after Becerra’s complaint – the issue was water under the bridge: Gatorade quickly reached a settlement in which it agreed to pay $300,000 and promised not to badmouth water. The company admitted no wrongdoing.

At issue was Gatorade’s free mobile game ”Bolt!,” in which players help ”refuel” Olympic runner Usain Bolt’s race to a finish line. The sprinter picks up speed when he hits Gatorade icons and slows when he runs into water. Players are encouraged to ”keep your performance high and avoid water.”

The game, downloaded 30,000 times in California and 2.3 million times worldwide, is no longer available.