Wednesday Sports in Brief
Hurts made the announcement Wednesday in a story in the Players’ Tribune . He will be available immediately as a graduate transfer.
Hurts was a two-year starter who led Alabama to a pair of national championship games and was Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman.
Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at halftime against Georgia in the national title game after the 2017 season, then beat him out for the starting job heading into this past season and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting.
PARIS (AP) — Four tennis players are in French custody on suspicion of helping an organized gambling syndicate believed to have fixed hundreds of low-tier matches.
They are suspected of working for an Armenian who police call the “Maestro. Police believe the Belgium-based kingpin may have paid more than 100 players from at least half a dozen countries.
The detentions are part of months of digging by police working across Europe to unravel a massive match-fixing scheme.
Sources close to the investigation told The Associated Press that four French players were in custody on Wednesday. They said at least one suspect told investigators that he fixed around two dozen matches for the Maestro.
—By AP Sports Writer John Leicester.
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tiger Woods is starting another year at Torrey Pines, this time with higher expectations.
Woods announced Wednesday that he will play in the Farmers Insurance Open next week. He has won the tournament seven times, and Torrey Pines is where he won the U.S. Open in 2008.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — LeBron James has been cleared to practice with the Los Angeles Lakers after they return from their upcoming two-game road trip.
The Lakers gave the latest update on James’ groin injury Wednesday.
James strained his groin on Christmas. He will have missed 13 consecutive games by the time Los Angeles returns from the road this weekend, matching the most games ever missed in one season by the four-time NBA MVP.
The Lakers only say James will “progress toward a return to game play” after he rejoins practice next week.
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for New York Knicks player Enes Kanter, accusing him of membership in a terror organization.
Sabah newspaper says the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office had also prepared an extradition request for the NBA player. Officials at the prosecutor’s office could not be reached by The Associated Press for comment.
Kanter, who didn’t go with the Knicks this week for their game in London because he feared he could be killed over his opposition to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responded on Twitter that the Turkish government could not present “any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing.”
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made it official: Byron Leftwich is the team’s new offensive coordinator.
The Bucs announced the hiring Wednesday, a week after incoming coach Bruce Arians said the ex-NFL quarterback would call plays next season and Clyde Christensen would serve as quarterbacks coach.
Christensen’s hiring also was announced Wednesday, when the Bucs said former player Antwaan Randle El is joining Arians’ staff as an offensive assistant.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars have hired former Minnesota offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to the same position.
Coach Doug Marrone announced the addition Wednesday along with five other assistant coaches. DeFilippo replaces Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired in late November and landed in Green Bay.
The Vikings parted way with the 40-year-old DeFilippo in mid-December, reportedly for failing to commit to the run ground game.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Gregg Williams was hired Wednesday as the New York Jets‘ defensive coordinator, the first major staff addition by Adam Gase since he became coach.
The team also announced it has retained special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, whose unit had a standout season.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — The Detroit Lions have hired Darrell Bevell as their new offensive coordinator.
Bevell spent seven seasons as Seattle’s offensive coordinator from 2011-17 and was part of a Super Bowl winner with the Seahawks. Prior to joining the Seahawks, he was Minnesota’s offensive coordinator for five seasons and a quarterbacks coach for Green Bay.
The signing Wednesday comes as no surprise after both sides ended the season openly discussing the likelihood of the 35-year-old returning for a third season in Buffalo.
Alexander is a 12-year NFL veteran who said he wanted to play one more season and preferred it being in Buffalo.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers hired former Jacksonville assistant Nathaniel Hackett as their new offensive coordinator Wednesday.
Hackett spent most of the last four seasons with the Jaguars as quarterbacks coach (2015-16) and then as offensive coordinator before he was fired in November after Jacksonville lost its seventh consecutive game.
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a one-year, $3.75 million contract with former New York Mets infielder Wilmer Flores, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced. The deal includes a $6 million club option for 2020 with a $500,000 buyout.
The 27-year-old Flores spent his entire six-year career playing a variety of infield positions with the Mets. He played 83 of 126 games at first base last season, hitting .267 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs.
—By AP Sports Writer John Marshall.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers right-hander Shawn Tolleson has retired after a setback in the former closer’s attempted comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Tolleson made the announcement Wednesday, three days before his 31st birthday. He strained his right flexor tendon during a throwing session last week.
He made the last of his 215 major league appearances with the Rangers on July 27, 2016. He missed the rest of that season with back issues before signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent.
NEW YORK (AP) — Kansas City Royals pitcher Eric Skoglund was suspended Monday for the season’s first 80 games after testing positive for two performance-enhancing substances.
The commissioner’s office said the positive tests were for selective androgen receptor modulators S-22 (Ostarine) and LGD-4033 (Ligandrol).
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement Skoglund “unknowingly made a mistake” and “we remain proud of who Eric is as a person and will support him as an organization.”
CINCINNATI (AP) — Reds play-by-play broadcaster Marty Brennaman will retire after the 2019 season, his 46th in Cincinnati.
The team made the announcement Wednesday.
The 76-year-old Brennaman joined the Reds’ radio team in 1974 and soon became known for his sign-off line after each win: “And this one belongs to the Reds.” He and former Reds pitcher Joe Nuxhall shared the booth for 31 seasons from 1974-2004.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bob Costas, who stepped down as NBC’s prime-time Olympics host two years ago, has left the network’s sports division altogether.
NBC Sports said Wednesday that Costas parted ways with his longtime employer, providing no further details.
A representative for Costas didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Costas, 66, served as the emcee for NBC’s Olympics 11 times starting in 1992. In early 2017, he stepped aside for network newcomer Mike Tirico, formerly with ESPN.
When the switch was announced in early 2017, Costas said he had decided on his own that the time was right for a change.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have given up on the possibility of staging the next World Cup of Hockey in September 2020 but will continue collective bargaining talks.
The league and PA announced the conclusion in separate statements Wednesday that there’s not enough time to put together a World Cup in roughly 20 months. The sides met earlier in the day in Toronto to discuss the World Cup as part of collective bargaining talks after holding an informal meeting in Las Vegas on Jan. 10 that lasted more than two hours.
Not holding the World Cup in September 2020 is consequential because it was so closely linked to the potential of labor peace in hockey. But the NHL and NHLPA plan to meet again soon with the goal of avoiding a potential work stoppage.
ATLANTA (AP) — Major League Soccer MVP Josef Martinez kept insisting he was happy with Atlanta United.
He backed it up Wednesday by signing a five-year contract extension with the MLS Cup champion, ending any questions about whether might be looking for another shot in Europe after a record season.
No terms were released on a deal that runs through the 2023 season, but Martinez figured to get a hefty increase over the $1.4 million in guaranteed salary he received last season.
DETROIT (AP) — The former governor brought in to help Michigan State recover from the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal resigned Wednesday as the school’s interim president amid backlash over his comments about some of the ex-sports doctor’s victims.
John Engler, who had resisted earlier pressure to resign, announced his plans in an 11-page letter to Dianne Byrum, chairwoman of Michigan State’s Board of Trustees. It makes no mention of recent criticism of his remarks and instead lists what he considers to be his accomplishments in his one year of service, saying the university is a “dramatically better, stronger institution.”
His resignation, which he said he was making at the trustees’ request, is effective on Jan. 23.
DENVER (AP) — A professional bull rider died after a bull stomped on his chest during a competition at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
The Professional Bull Riders say Mason Lowe died Tuesday evening after being taken to a hospital. Group spokesman Andrew Giangola said he was wearing a mandated protective vest.
The 25-year-old from Exeter, Missouri, was ranked 18th in the world.