Wednesday Sports in Brief

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has set protocols for reopening team facilities and has told the 32 teams to have them in place by May 15.

In a memo sent by Commissioner Roger Goodell and obtained Wednesday night by The Associated Press, several phases of the protocols were laid out. The first phase to deal with the coronavirus pandemic would involve a limited number of non-player personnel, initially 50% of the non-player employees (up to a total of 75) on any single day, being approved to be at the facility. But state or local regulations could require a lower number.

The individual clubs would decide which employees could return to the facility and when once facilities reopen. No players would be permitted in the facility except to continue therapy and rehabilitation for injuries that was underway when facilities were ordered closed in late March by Goodell.

—By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre is repaying $1.1 million in welfare money that he received for multiple speeches where he did not show up, the Mississippi state auditor said Wednesday.

Auditor Shad White said his office received $500,000 from Favre on Wednesday, plus a commitment that Favre will repay the other $600,000 in installments over the next few months.

Favre’s effort to repay the money came two days after White released an audit of spending by the Mississippi Department of Human Services that showed Favre had been paid by Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit group whose former leader has been indicted in a welfare embezzlement scheme.

The audit released Monday said the center paid Favre Enterprises $500,000 in December 2017 and $600,000 in June 2018, and he was supposed to make speeches for at least three events. The auditor’s report said that “upon a cursory review of those dates, auditors were able to determine that the individual contracted did not speak nor was he present for those events.”

NCAA

The NCAA approved a waiver that will allow schools to spend below the minimum level on athletic scholarships required to compete in Division I.

The Division I Council Coordination Committee approved two other blanket waivers Wednesday that had been requested by several conferences in recent weeks in response to coronavirus pandemic.

Basketball and football players will be allowed to participate in summer athletic activities without being enrolled in school. Also, schools that are in the process of moving to D-I can be counted toward the minimum required Division I opponents.

The coordinator committee also signed off on waiving some recruiting rules to provide more flexibility for coaches and athletes through the extended dead period. The dead period for all sports currently runs through May 31. The committee will decided at its May 13 meeting to extend the dead period through June 30.

The scheduling and scholarship waivers were part of a broad request made by the commissioners of the five non-Power Five FBS conferences two weeks ago on behalf of all Division I.

SOCCER

Germany’s decision that soccer can return this month provided encouragement for players and teams across Europe on Wednesday that the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic could soon be coming to an end.

With COVID-19 infections declining, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the return of the top two leagues could be included in the loosening of lockdown measures.

However, supporters will be locked out of stadiums for some time to come across Europe to contain the coronavirus while there is no vaccine.

The Bundesliga is now set to be the first major men’s soccer competition to resume in Europe on Friday, May 15 after the shutdown of the sport across the continent in March. The Belgian, French and Dutch leagues were all canceled prematurely after governments decided it is not safe for sport to staged yet — even without fans.

NEW YORK (AP) — Four Major League Soccer teams took the first small step toward returning to play Wednesday by allowing players to use team training fields for individual workouts.

Sporting Kansas City, Atlanta United, Orlando City and Inter Miami let players in for vigorously controlled voluntary workouts on the first day they were permitted by the league.

Nashville, Real Salt Lake, LAFC, Houston and Portland are among the league’s 26 teams that plan to start Thursday, with more lined up next week.

In Orlando, the entire roster showed up.

INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL

Fans will be allowed to enter baseball stadiums for games in Taiwan for the first time this season as part of a gradual easing of restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The China Professional Baseball League said up to 1,000 people would be permitted to enter ballparks from Friday after an agreement between the league and Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center.

Other baseball leagues around the world were still suspended last month when games began in Taiwan in empty stadiums. South Korea’s league commenced this week, also without fans in the stands.

HORSE RACING

The Preakness Stakes could still be run on one of three dates this summer or fall.

The Maryland Jockey Club and NBC Sports have set aside three possible dates, a person with knowledge of negotiations said. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because no decision has been made among the dates.

The NBC affiliate in Baltimore reported the Preakness will be run Oct. 3. The person tells The AP that is one of the three possible dates, along with one each in July and August.

—By AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Trainer Mark Casse, jockey Darrel McHargue, thoroughbred Wise Dan, and owner George D. Widener, Jr. have been elected to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.

Also elected were racehorse Tom Bowling, owner Alice Headley Chandler, and J. Keene Daingerfield, Jr., a trainer who became one of the most respected stewards in the sport.

The induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 7 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The museum is monitoring state and health regulations in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. A decision on the status of the ceremony will be made at a later date.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Golden Gate Fields will resume live horse racing on May 14 after receiving provisional approval Wednesday from public health officials in Northern California.

The track in Berkeley temporarily suspended racing on April 2 at the order of Alameda County public health officials in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Los Alamitos in Orange County is the only track in California where live racing has been allowed, albeit without fans.

Racing will resume at Golden Gate without spectators. Protocols are still being finalized with county officials and will be released in the coming days, along with the schedule of races.

AWARDS

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard has won the Cornish Trophy, presented annually to the top Canadian player in NCAA football.

The announcement was made via YouTube on Wednesday.

Hubbard was the AP Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, the third-best finish for a Canadian player. His season total of 2,094 rushing yards was third in Big 12 Conference history. It was the second-best single-season total in school history, trailing only Barry Sanders’ 1988 Heisman season. He plans to return to school next season.

Hubbard was the runner-up for the Cornish Trophy in 2019 after his redshirt freshman season.

COURTS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — An NCAA panel on Wednesday rejected an appeal by former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie, who sought to overturn findings that he violated ethical conduct rules while leading the Huskies.

The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee ruled Ollie failed to prove that information he presented alleging witnesses against him lied outweighed the information that supported the violation findings.

In July 2019, the NCAA Committee on Infractions placed the UConn program on two years of probation and sanctioned Ollie individually for numerous violations of NCAA rules during his tenure.