Thursday’s Sports In Brief


Muhammad Ali was back in the hospital for follow-up care related to a severe urinary tract infection, his second stint in the hospital in the last four weeks.

The three-time former heavyweight champion was admitted to an undisclosed hospital earlier this week, Ali family spokesman Bob Gunnell said Thursday. Ali was in stable condition.

Ali was hospitalized on Dec. 20 with what was initially believed to be a mild case of pneumonia. Doctors later determined Ali was suffering from a urinary tract infection, not pneumonia, Gunnell said.


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Quarterback Cardale Jones shocked the college football world in three late-season starts leading Ohio State to the national championship. He surprised a packed crowd again on Thursday, declaring at his old high school in Cleveland that he would return to the Buckeyes rather than jump into the NFL draft.

Jones, who spent a year at a military school and also had a redshirt season with the Buckeyes, could have turned pro. In his only college starts he led Ohio State to wins in the Big Ten title game, the Sugar Bowl and Monday night’s national championship.


LOS ANGELES (AP) – Austin Rivers joined the Los Angeles Clippers to play for Doc Rivers in the first father-son, player-coach combination in NBA history.

The Clippers acquired Austin Rivers from the Boston Celtics in a deal that included the Phoenix Suns.

Coby Karl was briefly a member of the Denver Nuggets in 2010 under father-coach George Karl, but didn’t play during a stint that coincided with his father being on leave for treatment of throat cancer.

In the deal, guard Reggie Bullock went from Los Angeles to Phoenix, forward Shavlik Randolph from Phoenix to Boston, and guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and a 2017 second-round pick from Los Angeles to Boston. The Celtics acquired Rivers on Monday from New Orleans as part of the three-way deal with Memphis that sent Jeff Green to the Grizzlies.


NFL combines will take on an ”older” look when the league adds one for veteran players to go with the massive event it holds for potential draftees.

The veterans’ combine will take place March 22 at the Arizona Cardinals’ training facility in Phoenix. That is about one month after the regular combine in Indianapolis for rookies.

”This is the natural evolution of our combine series,” NFL director of football development Matt Birk told The Associated Press. Birk sent a memo to the 32 teams earlier in the day about the new combine.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Raiders officially hired Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio as their new head coach.

The team announced the hiring a day after finalizing the deal to have Del Rio replace interim coach Tony Sparano. A news conference was expected Friday.

Del Rio becomes Oakland’s ninth head coach since the start of the 2003 season. The Raiders have the NFL’s worst record in that span, having failed to produce a single winning season or playoff berth.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indianapolis Colts put backup linebacker Josh McNary on the commissioner’s exempt list less than 24 hours after prosecutors filed criminal charges against the 26-year-old.

McNary faces charges of rape, criminal confinement with bodily injury and battery resulting in bodily injury – another off-the-field problem for a league that has been plagued by them this season.

McNary will not be permitted to practice with the team or attend games, including Sunday’s AFC championship game at New England. He will, however, continue to be paid.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown, Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden and Dallas running back DeMarco Murray will serve as Pro Bowl captains.

The NFL said that Watt and Brown will be paired and Murray and Haden will work together for the Sunday, Jan. 25 game at University of Phoenix Stadium.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – The New York Giants are bringing back Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator.

Spagnuolo returns to the team he helped win the 2007 NFL championship.

New York also hired Tim Walton as secondary/cornerbacks coach.

The 55-year-old Spagnuolo, a 34-year coaching veteran who had a failed stint as head coach of the Rams, was a defensive assistant in Baltimore the past two seasons. He replaces Perry Fewell on coach Tom Coughlin’s staff.


NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AP) – NCAA President Mark Emmert says giving the five wealthiest conferences in Division I the ability to make some of their own rules will allow revenue sports such as football and men’s basketball to co-exist with the many nonrevenue programs that make up college sports.

Emmert addressed the NCAA convention and held a news conference after with several university presidents, two days ahead of the first meeting of the so-called autonomy group, the 65 schools that make up the Big Ten, Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference.

STORRS, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s national champion men’s basketball team has submitted its second consecutive perfect academic progress rate score to the NCAA since being forced to sit out the 2013 postseason under academic sanctions.

The score of 1,000, which covers the 2013-14 school year, won’t be official until the NCAA comes out with its national academic progress report in the spring. It was submitted by the school to the NCAA in October and obtained this week by The Associated Press under a state open records request.


NEW YORK (AP) – St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn was among 21 players who avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to contracts, reaching a $22 million, three-year deal with the Cardinals.

Milwaukee catcher Martin Maldonado agreed to a $1.95 million, two-year contract, and 19 players struck one-year agreements.

Among the 175 players who filed for arbitration Tuesday, 149 were on track to swap proposed arbitration figures with their teams Friday. A majority of those were expected to settle before the exchange.

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) – San Diego’s Petco Park will host baseball’s All-Star game in 2016, marking the second straight year the game will be played at a National League site.

This summer’s game will be played in Cincinnati on July 14. The same league hasn’t hosted the game in consecutive years since 2006 at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and 2007 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.