Tuesday’s Sports in Brief

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The College Football Championship rematch between Clemson and Alabama drew 680,000 fewer viewers on TV and online than last year’s game, though combined viewership for all the New Year’s Six bowls and title game was up 15 percent, ESPN said Tuesday.

Clemson’s 35-31 victory against Alabama on Monday night got a 14.7 overnight rating for ESPN and a 15.3 rating for ESPN’s MegaCast, which combines viewers for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. Last year’s title game, won 45-40 by Alabama, drew a 15.8 overnight rating for ESPN and a 16.0 for the MegaCast.

The online streaming audience for Tigers-Tide II was up 21 percent, with an average audience of 710,000 viewers.

Overall, last year’s game drew 26,709,000 viewers, while this year’s got 26,029,000, ESPN said.

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – About 6,000 Clemson fans turned out to welcome their national champion Tigers, capping a giddy day of celebration after their team toppled Alabama.

People screamed as the buses pulled up, calling out ”DE-SHAUN” over and over as Tigers’ star quarterback Deshaun Watson walked with his luggage and national championship hat into Clemson’s football building.

”This means a lot,” said receiver Mike Williams, who like Watson will forego his final year in college and enter the NFL draft.

And what a way to leave. Watson accounted for 463 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the top-ranked and seemingly unbeatable Crimson Tide. Watson’s final college pass was a 2-yard throw to Hunter Renfrow for the game-winning score with a second left.

SOCCER

ZURICH (AP) – FIFA will expand the World Cup to 48 teams, adding 16 extra nations to the 2026 tournament that is likely to be held in North America.

President Gianni Infantino’s favored plan – for 16 three-team groups with the top two advancing to a round of 32 – was unanimously approved by the FIFA Council.

It meets Infantino’s election pledge of a bigger and more inclusive World Cup going beyond European and South American teams, which have won all 20 titles.

”We have to shape the football World Cup of the 21st century,” said Infantino, who also promised funding increases for FIFA’s 211 member federations at his election last February.

With 80 matches instead of 64, FIFA forecasts the equivalent of $1 billion extra income at current rates from broadcasting and sponsor deals, plus ticket sales, compared to $5.5 billion revenue forecast for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) – The Cook County medical examiner says Northwestern women’s basketball player Jordan Hankins killed herself in her dorm room earlier this week.

The office released the results of an autopsy a day after the body of the 19-year-old Hankins was found.

Hankins was recruited out of Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis. She averaged 3.6 points in 11 games this season.

Coach Joe McKeown called the 5-foot-8 sophomore a ”remarkably dynamic young woman.” Because of the tragedy, Northwestern’s game against Minnesota on Wednesday has been canceled.

OLYMPICS

A global group of anti-doping leaders is calling for Russian teams to be excluded from international competitions while establishing a process to allow individuals from the country to compete if they can prove they have taken part in effective anti-doping programs elsewhere.

Leaders from 19 national anti-doping organizations, including those in the United States, Britain and Sweden, held a summit this week and released their recommendations Tuesday.

They also call for removal of major international competitions from Russia, a process that already has begun in the wake of Part 2 of the McLaren doping report, which was released last month.

GYMNASTICS

DETROIT (AP) – A Michigan doctor accused of sexually abusing gymnasts was sued by 18 women and girls, the latest legal action over alleged assaults, mostly at his clinic at Michigan State University.

The lawsuit against Dr. Larry Nassar, Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and a Lansing-area gymnastics club was filed in federal court in western Michigan. It makes claims of civil rights violations, discrimination and negligence.

The Associated Press usually doesn’t name people who allege sexual abuse, but one of the plaintiffs, Rachael Denhollander, 32, of Louisville, Kentucky, talked publicly about the lawsuit. She said she was assaulted by Nassar while seeing him for wrist and back injuries at age 15 in 2000.

Denhollander, who was a gymnast, said she didn’t file a complaint at the time because she believed her ”voice would not be heard.” She said Nassar was held in high esteem at Michigan State and was also affiliated with USA Gymnastics.