Friday Sports in Brief
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball is raising the minimum salary for minor league players in 2021, according to a memo sent Friday from the commissioner’s office to all 30 teams and obtained by The Associated Press.
Two years after successfully lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from federal minimum wage laws, MLB opted to give those players a wage increase between 38% and 72%. The bump was discussed at last week’s owners meetings and confirmed in the memo from Morgan Sword, executive vice president of baseball economics and operations.
Players at rookie and short-season levels will see their minimum weekly pay raised from $290 to $400, and players at Class A will go from $290 to $500. Double-A will jump from $350 to $600, and Triple-A from $502 to $700.
Minor leaguers are paid only during the season and don’t receive wages during the offseason or spring training. That means Triple-A players can earn $14,000 during their five-month season, and short-season players at the lowest levels can make $4,800 during the three-month season.
CHICAGO (AP) — The list of finalists for the Basketball Hall of Fame is considerably shorter than usual.
The voters really didn’t need more this year.
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett — 48 All-Star nods between them — headlined the class of eight finalists announced Friday by the Hall of Fame. Each will still need to collect 18 votes from a 24-person panel before officially becoming Hall of Famers, which is certainly no more than a formality at this point.
In recent years, finalist classes have been around 13 people. But the star power at the top forced the Hall to change its thinking this year, a decision that was made before Bryant died unexpectedly in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Jan. 26.
Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and 10-time WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings are all first-time finalists. The other finalists have all been to this point previously: Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey, former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich, five-time Division II women’s coach of the year Barbara Stevens of Bentley, and four-time national men’s college coach of the year Eddie Sutton.
The Minnesota Wild fired coach Bruce Boudreau on Friday with the goal of correcting some inconsistencies and making a late-season push for a playoff spot.
First-year general manager Bill Guerin said he felt the timing was right to move on from Boudreau and replace him with interim coach Dean Evason despite the Wild having won seven of their past 11 games. Boudreau was fired in the aftermath of a shootout loss to the New York Rangers.
“It’s not just one loss. It’s not one week. It’s a series of things,” Guerin said.
This is the eighth coaching change in the NHL this season, and Boudreau is the sixth fired for team performance reasons. That matches the most for one season in NHL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Minnesota is 27-23-7 and three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 25 games left.
NEW YORK (AP) — Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian was suspended seven games by the NHL on Friday for kicking an opponent in the chest.
Kassian swung his right leg and kicked Tampa Bay forward Erik Cernak in the chest during a game Thursday night. He was offered an in-person hearing that allowed the department of player safety to suspend him more than seven games and waived that chance.
Late in the first period, Kassian and Cernak were tangled up on the ice after being knocked over by Edmonton’s Josh Archibald. Kassian looked directly at Cernak before kicking him and getting up.
The league said it agreed with Kassian that he was trying to disentangle himself but said the kick was in no way justified.
LONDON (AP) — English Premier League champion Manchester City was banned from the Champions League for two seasons by UEFA on Friday for “serious breaches” of spending rules and failing to cooperate with investigators in a seismic ruling against one of world football’s wealthiest clubs.
The Abu Dhabi-owned team was also fined 30 million euros ($33 million) after an investigation that was sparked by leaked internal correspondence showing City overstated sponsorship revenue and masked the source of revenue from deals to tied to the Gulf nation in a bid to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations.
The punishment prevents City from playing in any European competition, including the Europa League, until the 2022-23 season. It could have a significant impact on the club’s ability to sign players and retain manager Pep Guardiola, whose contract expires after next season.
The verdict was delivered on Friday to City following a hearing of UEFA’s club financial control body on Jan. 22.
In a statement claiming UEFA’s investigation was “flawed” and “left little doubt in the result,” City announced plans to appeal.
INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Moments after Tori Franklin saw her women’s U.S. indoor triple jump record fall Friday in the USA Track and Field Indoor Championships, she took it back.
Franklin went 48-feet, 1/2-inch on her final jump to surpass Keturah Orji’s jump of 47-10¾ from her second attempt and win the event.
It came down to the final jump.
While Franklin was dancing, Orji had trouble containing her disappointment.
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach of lying to police when she denied that two teen athletes told her of sexual abuse by sports doctor Larry Nassar in 1997, nearly 20 years before he was charged.
Kathie Klages, 65, was found guilty of a felony and a misdemeanor in a Lansing courthouse where Nassar was sentenced more than two years ago. Klages faces up to four years in prison at her April 15 sentencing.
She is the second person other than Nassar to be convicted of charges related to his serial molestation of young women and girls under the guise of medical treatment.
Klages, of Mason, resigned in 2017 after she was suspended for defending Nassar when the scandal first became public.
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — The sponsor of a halftime basketball shooting promotion at Northern Iowa games has reversed course in the face of growing criticism and will now pay out the full $10,000 to a contestant who competed earlier this week.
A public outcry had been swelling since the Wednesday night contest, when Northern Iowa student Dalton Hinsch made a layup, a free throw and two long shots as part of the timed contest. Hinsch made the last shot from half-court just as an announcer counted down the last seconds, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Officials later declared Hinsch hadn’t gotten the last shot off in 24 seconds, as required by contest rules. By Thursday, UNI announced via Twitter that the sponsor would give Hinsch a consolation prize of $2,000, a free trip to the Arch Madness basketball tournament and apparel, drawing increasing criticism online.
On Friday, the university’s athletic department announced Hinsch would receive the full $10,000 prize, along with the package.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tiger Woods is among four players from the top 10 who are skipping the Mexico Championship next week, a World Golf Championships event with no cut and a $10.5 million purse.
Woods, who tied for 10th last year at Chapultepec Golf Club but was never in serious contention, did not offer a reason and was vague when asked about his schedule this week. He shot 73 in the morning at the Genesis Invitational, where he is the tournament host.
“I’ve been so busy with this event and trying to deal with all the little things that I haven’t really focused on next week,” Woods said.
Brooks Koepka is skipping for the second time in three years, the first time by choice. He had a wrist injury in 2018, and Koepka will be playing his hometown Honda Classic the following week.
Also skipping Mexico City from the top 10 are Justin Rose for the second straight year and Patrick Cantlay, who is having elective surgery on his septum next week to be ready for The Players Championship and the weeks leading to the Masters.
VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) — Two men’s golf tournaments co-sanctioned by the European and Asian tours in Malaysia and China were postponed Friday because of the deadly new virus from China.
The tournaments are the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur on April 16-19 and the China Open in Shenzhen on April 23-26.
Rescheduling is being discussed, the European Tour said in a statement.
Country House, the horse who won the Kentucky Derby in 2019 after the first horse over the finish line was disqualified, has been retired because of a foot ailment.
Blackwood Stables on Friday said Country House won’t race again after being treated for laminitis in his right front foot. He finished second in the Derby as a 65-1 shot and was placed first when Maximum Security was disqualified.
Significant steps were taken to save Country House.
“I’m glad that he survived,” trainer Bill Mott said. “Naturally, it’s unfortunate something like that happens in the first place, but they worked hard and did the best they could to keep him alive and hopefully he’ll be able to go on to a stud career.
“We’ll miss him at the racetrack because he was a horse that seemed like he was just in the development stages and getting better and better and would’ve been a good horse for some of those good, older stakes races.”
Instead, medical issues plagued Country House in the weeks and months after the race of his life. An illness knocked him out of the Preakness, and he developed a condition in his left front leg in June that required re-admittance to a renowned equine hospital.
Country House developed issues in his right front leg, and work was done to keep him alive and well.
Conway, also the first soccer coach at Oregon State, was diagnosed with dementia in 2009 and was hospitalized in recent years. He passed away Thursday night.
The Dublin native made 20 appearances for the Irish national team between 1966-77 and scored three goals.