Thursday’s Sports In Brief


DENVER (AP) The U.S. Olympic Committee chose Boston to bid for the 2024 Games in an attempt to bring the Summer Olympics to America after a 28-year gap.

During a daylong meeting at the Denver airport, USOC board members chose Boston over Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, all of which have been lobbying to become the American choice for more than a year.

Boston joins Rome as the only other city that has officially decided to bid. Germany will submit either Hamburg or Berlin, with France and Hungary among those also considering bids. The International Olympic Committee will award the Games in 2017.

America’s last two attempts to land the Games resulted in embarrassments – fourth-place finishes for New York (2012) and Chicago (2016).


NEW YORK (AP) – The long-awaited Mueller report was released with no unexpected findings: the NFL initially botched the Ray Rice case and had a weak domestic abuse policy, but investigators found no evidence league officials saw tape of Rice hitting his fiancee before it was released.

Owners and executives were quick to say the league had learned from its mistakes and is solidly behind Commissioner Roger Goodell and changes he has made.

The report from a former FBI director hired to investigate said the league’s investigative system relied too much on information from law enforcement after the Ravens running back knocked out his fiancee in an elevator at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City.

The 96-page report by Robert S. Mueller III said Goodell and his investigators might have seen the video of Rice hitting Janay Palmer before handing down the suspension had they tried harder.

The report said a review of phone records and emails of NFL employees showed no evidence that anyone in the league had seen the graphic video before it hit the Internet in September.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The woman who accused Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston of sexual assault is suing the school’s board of trustees.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Orlando. It requests a jury trial on claims the board had an unreasonable response to her accusations and created a hostile educational environment for her.

At a student code of conduct hearing last month, Winston was cleared of charges that he violated any or all of four sections of the code of conduct – two for sexual misconduct and two for endangerment. A criminal investigation concluded last year without charges being filed.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the university to be established at trial.


ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – The NHL’s motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit brought by former players over concussion-related injuries was heard in court Thursday, and the federal judge assigned to the case said she saw legal strength in the arguments from both sides.

”I think it’s a very close call, to be honest,” U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said, near the end of the five-hour hearing.

Nelson didn’t make a ruling. She gave no timetable for her decision.

The former players have been seeking unspecified financial damages and NHL-funded medical monitoring for neurological disorders, alleging the league had the knowledge and resources to better prevent head trauma, failed to properly warn players of such risks and promoted violent play that led to their injuries.

The case is similar to that of the former NFL players who received at least $765 million through a tentative settlement to cover nearly 20,000 players over 65 years.

This combination of several lawsuits by more than 200 former NHL players was formally filed in October. As a class-action complaint, the litigation effectively covers the estimated 5,000 living former NHL players. Dan LaCouture, Michael Peluso, Gary Leeman, Bernie Nicholls, David Christian and Reed Larson are the former players serving as six class representatives.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – J.P. Parise, a Minnesota North Stars standout who helped Canada beat the Soviet Union in the landmark Summit Series in 1972, has died. He was 73.

Parise died Wednesday night at his home in suburban Prior Lake, the Parise family said Thursday in a statement. He was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and was in hospice care.

The Wild showed a tribute video to the crowd before their game Thursday night against Chicago, showing some of J.P. Parise’s game highlights as well as pictures of him off the ice with his then-young son. Then a moment of silence was held in his honor.

Parise was a major figure in Minnesota hockey, spending most of his career with the North Stars. He had 238 goals and 356 assists in 890 regular-season games from 1965-79 with the North Stars, Boston, Toronto, the New York Islanders and the Cleveland Barons. He made two All-Star teams while with the North Stars.


JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Jbe Kruger and Andy Sullivan both shot a 6-under 66 to share the first-round lead at the European Tour’s South African Open on Thursday.

Ernie Els was a shot behind as he searches for his first win in 19 months.

Els opened 2015 with a 67 in his home town of Johannesburg, picking up three birdies in his first nine after starting on No. 10 and making his only bogey on No. 12.

Els’ South African compatriot Kruger was bogey-free around Glendower Golf Club, while England’s Sullivan recovered from a double-bogey to ultimately card six birdies and an eagle.

Els was without a top-three finish on the European Tour last year for the first time since 1992, but his crisp iron play on a course he knows well put him in early contention for a sixth South African Open title.

Defending champion Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark was 1 over after a 73 that included three bogeys and a double-bogey.


FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) – Jury selection was set to begin in the murder trial of former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, accused of killing a man in June 2013, when Hernandez had a $40 million contract as a tight end with the New England Patriots.

Hernandez, 25, is accused of killing Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semiprofessional football player from Boston who was dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancee. Prosecutors say Hernandez and two other men, Carlos Ortiz and Ernest Wallace, picked Lloyd up at his home in Boston’s Dorchester section and took him to an industrial park near Hernandez’s home in North Attleborough, where he was shot to death.

More than 1,000 potential jurors are expected to report to Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River on Friday, Monday and Tuesday for the first phase of jury selection, filling out written questionnaires.


NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Liberty rehired Bill Laimbeer as their head coach on Thursday, minus the general manager title.

The Liberty didn’t renew his contract in October after New York missed the playoffs for the second straight season. The team chose not to exercise his option year.

In two seasons in New York, Laimbeer posted a 26-42 record. The former Detroit Pistons star led the Detroit Shock to three WNBA titles as the general manager and coach from 2002-09.

Laimbeer held both the general manager and head coach title in his previous stint with the Liberty.

It’s not the first time a New York team has brought back a former coach. Billy Martin had five stints managing the Yankees. Al Arbour had two stints coaching the Islanders.

Both won championships with those teams.


BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Maria Sharapova moved into the Brisbane International semifinals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Carla Suarez Navarro on Thursday.

The top-seeded Sharapova dropped her opening service game and then needed eight break points before converting for a 2-1 lead. From there, it was straight-forward progress.

Sharapova next faces Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who came from a set and a break down to beat third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Second-seeded Ana Ivanovic struggled early in her 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, losing the first five games before settling into the match.

Ivanovic’s semifinal match will be against Varvara Lepchenko of the United States, who had a 7-5, 7-5 win over Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia.

Third-seeded Milos Raonic had 17 aces and didn’t face a break point in a 6-3, 6-4 win over Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan to set up a quarterfinal match against Sam Groth of Australia, who beat Lukasz Kubot of Poland 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-6, (3). Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth advanced with a 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Jarkko Nieminen and could meet top-seeded Roger Federer in the next round.

In quarterfinals at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki beat Julia Goerges of Germany 6-4, 6-4, and third-seeded Venus Williams had a 6-2, 6-4 win over Elena Vesnina.

Wozniacki’s semifinal opponent will be fourth-seeded Barbora Zhalavova Strycova of the Czech Republic, a 6-4, 7-5 winner over seventh-seeded Coco Vandeweghe.

Williams, the losing finalist in Auckland last year, will next meet unseeded Lauren Davis of the United States, who beat Polish qualifier Urzsula Radwanska 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

SHENZHEN, China (AP) – Top-seeded Simona Halep eased into the semifinals of Shenzhen Open with a convincing 6-3, 6-3 victory over qualifier Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia on Thursday.

The third-ranked Romanian wrapped up the win in 1 hour, 2 minutes and will next play China’s Zheng Saisai.

Saisai was the only unseeded player to book a semifinal berth with a 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 win against No. 4 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Vera Zvonareva’s comeback to the WTA circuit was cut short due to injury after the Russian had to retire when trailing 3-2 against eighth-seeded Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland. No. 2 Petra Kvitova defeated Tereza Smitkova 7-5, 6-4 in an all-Czech quarterfinal.

DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Top-ranked Novak Djokovic was upset by Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-4 while playing through a sandstorm in the Qatar Open quarterfinals on Thursday.

Karlovic beat Djokovic when they last met in 2008, also the year of his only previous win over a world No. 1, Roger Federer in Cincinnati.

Karlovic added 21 aces to his resume for a career total of 9,062. This week, he joined Goran Ivanisevic (10,183) and Andy Roddick (9,074) as the only players since 1991 to serve more than 9,000 aces

The day didn’t improve for Djokovic, who with Serbian partner Filip Krajinovic fell in doubles 7-6 (3), 6-1 to Rafael Nadal and Juan Monaco of Argentina.

Djokovic and Krajinovic blew a 5-2 lead in the first set.

In the semifinals, Karlovic will play David Ferrer, who beat Dustin Brown of Germany 6-2, 6-2. Brown gifted 61 unforced errors.

In the other semifinal, third-seeded Tomas Berdych will meet Andreas Seppi of Italy. Berdych put down sixth-seeded Richard Gasquet of France 6-2, 6-1. Seppi undid Ivan Dodig of Croatia 7-5, 6-4 for the sixth time in seven matchups.

CHENNAI, India (AP) – Slovenian qualifier Aljaz Bedene knocked out second-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in the second round of the Chennai Open.

Bedene will next play fifth-seeded Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who rallied to beat Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-0.

But third-seeded Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut needed only 69 minutes for a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win over unseeded Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

Agut will next play Lu Yen-Hsun after the sixth-seeded Taiwanese beat Pablo Carreno Batusta of Spain 6-4, 6-4.