Sports in Brief
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Don Newcombe, the hard-throwing Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who was one of the first black players in the major leagues and who went on to win the rookie of the year, Most Valuable Player and Cy Young awards, has died. He was 92.
The team confirmed that Newcombe died Tuesday morning after a lengthy illness.
Newcombe, like Dodgers teammate Jackie Robinson, was signed by Branch Rickey from the Negro Leagues and went on to make a huge mark in the major leagues.
“Newk” was a fierce presence on the mound, a 6-foot-4 and 225-pound bear of a man who stared down hitters and backed up anyone foolish enough to crowd the plate.
He was a four-time All-Star and won 20 games three different times.
His greatest year was 1956 when he went 27-7 and won both the Cy Young Award, then only given to one pitcher for both leagues, and the National League MVP award.
Newcombe, Robinson and catcher Roy Campanella were a trio of black stars for the Dodgers who often supported each other.
An advocacy group has published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive list of coaches banned from Olympic sports, creating a database of nearly 1,000 people no longer allowed to work in the U.S. Olympic system because of sex-abuse allegations, doping positives and other criminal activities involving minors.
The staff at greatcoach.com compiled the list using information from the U.S. Center for SafeSport, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the more than 50 national governing bodies that oversee individual sports, most of which feed into the U.S. Olympic team.
The website, designed by former pro moguls skier Bill Kerig, was originally started to help families find certified coaches who are best qualified to work with their kids.
The SafeSport center and U.S. Olympic Committee have struggled to publish this sort of comprehensive list, even as the fallout from the Larry Nassar sex-abuse scandal has left both organizations vulnerable to lawsuits over allegations they didn’t do enough to protect athletes under their purview.
For years, the USOC let the NGBs operate under their own rules about who landed on the lists and whether those lists were made public, and those rules varied widely between organizations.
Li Li Leung spent two years watching USA Gymnastics struggle through the aftermath of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. A former college gymnast at the University of Michigan who still considered herself “embedded” in the sport while serving as a vice president with the NBA, Leung kept waiting for things to get better.
Only they didn’t. Leadership changed. More and more survivors stepped forward to detail their experiences at the hands of Nassar, a former national team doctor. The United States Olympic Committee began the process of stripping USA Gymnastics of its status as the national governing body. One of the U.S. Olympic movement’s marquee programs was rudderless and fighting for its survival.
So disappointed that she felt compelled to come home.
USA Gymnastics hired Leung as its new president and chief executive officer on Tuesday, a job she accepted in an effort to help the organization and the sport find a way forward.
The 45-year-old Leung, who will begin her new position on March 8, competed as a member of a U.S. junior national training team and represented the U.S. in the 1988 Junior Pan American Games. She helped Michigan win four Big Ten titles during her college career and served as a volunteer assistant gymnastics coach while earning two master’s degrees at the University of Massachusetts. Her professional stops include stints at USA Basketball and the NBA.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two leading advocates for retired NFL players have teamed up in pushing for increased pension benefits for pre-1993 retirees.
The Pro Football Retired Players Association, a nonprofit chaired by Hall of Famer Jim Brown, donated $100,000 to “Fairness for Athletes in Retirement, a nonprofit advocating for pension parity in the upcoming negotiations over the league’s next collective bargaining agreement.
The donation follows a pledge of NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith to prioritize retiree benefits in the next labor accord in 2021.
Brown called pension disparity “the most pressing issue facing retirees,” and FAIR said it will use the money to continue raising awareness about the plight of some 4,000 pre-1993 retirees.BASKETBALL
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama and Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry told a roomful of minority boys on Tuesday that they matter and urged them to make the world a better place.
Obama was in Oakland, California, to mark the fifth anniversary of My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative he started after the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The death of the African-American teen sparked protests over racial profiling.
The initiative was a call to communities to close opportunity gaps for minority boys, especially African-American, Latino and Native American boys, Obama said to roughly 100 boys attending the alliance’s first national gathering. The My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is part of the Obama Foundation.
Obama, who left office in 2017, was joined by basketball star Curry. The men spoke for about an hour, answering questions from the audience and joking around. They talked about lacking confidence or being aimless as teens.
Obama praised single mothers, including his own. He advised the boys to look for a mentor, and to find opportunities to guide others.
Curry joined the former president in praising the value of team-work.