Friday’s Sports in Brief
The NCAA was able to claim victory after a judge ruled against the governing body for college sports in a federal antitrust lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, said college football and men’s and women’s basketball players competing at the NCAA’s highest level should be permitted to receive compensation from schools beyond the current athletic scholarship, but only if the benefits are tied to education.
The NCAA cannot “limit compensation or benefits related to education,” Wilken wrote. That opens the door to athletes receiving more scholarship money to pursue postgraduate degrees, finish undergraduate degrees or study abroad. The NCAA could not, under the court’s injunction, limit schools if they choose to provide athletes items that could be considered school supplies such as computers, science equipment or musical instruments.
“Technically the plaintiffs won the case and the NCAA will not be happy that they were found to be in violation of antitrust law, but ultimately this allows the NCAA to keep the bulk of their amateurism rules in place,” said Gabe Feldman director of the Tulane University sports law program.
The plaintiffs in the so-called Alston cases were seeking much more.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Assistant coaches Preston Murphy of Creighton and Corey Barker of TCU have been placed on administrative leave by their schools after each was accused of taking a $6,000 bribe from an aspiring sports agent to send prospective clients his way.
Athletic directors Bruce Rasmussen of Creighton and Jeremiah Donati of TCU announced their decisions. The teams finish the regular season Saturday, with Creighton playing Georgetown at home and TCU visiting Texas.
Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that, in a federal court filing in the Southern District of New York, Christopher Dawkins allegedly paid $6,000 to an assistant from schools in Nebraska and Texas in July 2017. Yahoo, citing anonymous sources, identified the assistants as Murphy and Barker.
Murphy and Barker are not expected to be charged, Yahoo reported.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — What could go down as LSU’s most successful basketball season in about four decades has been tarnished by the suspension of coach Will Wade amid concerns about whether his recruiting tactics violated NCAA rules.
LSU Chancellor F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva announced Friday that they suspended Wade indefinitely and appointed assistant Tony Benford interim head coach. Benford’s first game in his new role comes Saturday, when No. 10 LSU (25-5, 15-2 Southeastern Conference) hosts Vanderbilt (9-21, 0-17) with an opportunity to win at least a share of the SEC regular-season championship.
The suspension came a day after reports that an FBI wire-tap captured Wade’s telephone conversations with a person convicted last year of funneling money to the families of basketball recruits. In a joint statement, Alexander and Alleva said the suspension will continue until LSU can ensure that Wade’s recruiting tactics have been in full compliance with NCAA and university policies.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke’s Zion Williamson is doubtful to play Saturday against third-ranked North Carolina, though Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said the 6-foot-7, 285-pound freshman is coming off his “first really good workout” as he continues his recovery from a sprained right knee.
Krzyzewski said Friday that Williamson would have another workout later in the day without contact barring any setbacks following his activity Thursday. And while it sounds like Williamson is on his way to missing a fifth straight game, the Hall of Fame coach expressed optimism that he could be ready for next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The way it’s going, he’s not going to be doubtful for the tournament,” Krzyzewski said. Thursday’s workout “was pretty exciting really, to see him move and have confidence in his movements. Now we’ve got to get him into condition and have him do some work” against contact.
Williamson was hurt in the opening minute of last month’s loss to the Tar Heels, complete with the far-reaching bizarre image of his left foot tearing through his shoe as he fell to the court. He has missed four games since.
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn All-American Katie Lou Samuelson will not play in the American Athletic Conference tournament this weekend because of a back injury suffered last Saturday against Houston.
The 6-foot-3 senior, who was voted to the conference’s first team, is averaging 18.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.
Samuelson was hurt in the first half of the 83-61 home victory over Houston in a collision while diving for a loose ball. She also missed UConn’s 57-47 win at South Florida on Monday night.
Coach Geno Auriemma said Samuelson is still suffering back spasms and the medical staff determined it would be best for her to rest before the NCAA Tournament.
Three months before beginning their defense of their Women’s World Cup title, American players escalated their legal dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation over equal treatment and pay.
Players filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the federation, alleging ongoing “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men’s national team.
The women’s team has often championed equal rights issues and sought more equitable pay during collective bargaining two years ago.
“I think a lot of people look to us and our team and the collective voice that we have and what we’ve stood for, for inspiration and for power, and as an ally in this broader fight for equality and human rights, really,” said winger Megan Rapinoe, a co-captain and veteran of 149 international appearances.
The 28 members of the current women’s player pool filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, was filed on International Women’s Day.
Players seek damages that include back pay.
NEW YORK (AP) — Get ready for strikes by robots. No, overworked machines aren’t walking out in a labor protest.
Computers will be used for ball/strike calls starting April 25 in the independent Atlantic League, where the distance between home and first will be shortened by 3 inches. The ground between the mound and home plate will lengthen by 2 feet for the second half of the season beginning July 12.
The 60-foot-6-inch distance between the front of the pitching rubber and the back point of home plate has been standard since 1893, but Major League Baseball reached a three-year deal to experiment in the Atlantic League, an eight-team circuit that occasionally produces big leaguers. Infield defensive shifts will be limited. Pitchers there will have to get used to 62 feet, 2 inches this summer.
Plate umpires will wear earpieces and be informed of ball/strike calls by a TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar. Umps will have the ability to override the computer, which considers a pitch a strike when the ball bounces and then crosses the zone. TrackMan also does not evaluate check swings.
The teams are also swapping draft picks, with the Browns getting No. 132 for pick No. 155, said the person who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the trade.
Zeitler just completed his second season with the Browns, who signed him as a free agent in 2017. He was one of Cleveland’s best linemen last season, helping anchor the group following Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas’ retirement.
The 28-year-old Vernon started 39 games over three seasons with the Giants. He’ll give the Browns needed depth up front. Vernon spent his first four NFL seasons with Miami.
The Rams also released starting linebacker Mark Barron, continuing a shuffle of veteran personnel after going 13-3 in the regular season and reaching the Super Bowl last month.
Weddle joins the Rams after a 12-year pro career with San Diego and Baltimore, where he spent the past three seasons. The six-time Pro Bowl selection was released Tuesday after starting all 16 games last year for the Ravens, who elected to get younger. The 34-year-old Weddle is a year older than Rams coach Sean McVay, but he could be exactly what Los Angeles’ secondary needs. He is nearly certain to take the starting job held by Lamarcus Joyner, who is expected to leave as a free agent.
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Daniel Suarez threw Michael McDowell to the ground and both drivers had to be forcibly restrained after they were eliminated while jockeying for position in the first round of qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway.
Just about everybody waited until the last couple minutes of the 10-minute qualifying session before exiting pit road, creating chaos on the mile-long track. Suarez and McDowell kept getting in the way of each other, and they ultimately ruined each other’s qualifying attempts.
After they got out of their cars, Suarez hopped a concrete wall and exchanged words with McDowell before spinning him to the ground — McDowell never even removed his helmet. It took several crew members to finally pull them apart.