Big South cancels spring activities
UNDATED (AP) — The Big South Conference became the latest to announce it is canceling all spring athletic activities due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conference said its chief executive officers and athletic directors made the decision to protect the health and well-being of student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans.
AP sources: Free agent deals can’t be official even as NFL year begins
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UNDATED (AP) — The new NFL year has begun, but free agent contracts and trades agreed upon in recent days or weeks won’t become official just yet.
Although information on dozens of contract agreements and a slew of trades has been leaked, teams were not allowed to complete the deals until the 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday start of the 2020 NFL business year. However, all of those transactions now come with the caveat that the signings and physicals need to occur. Free agents involved won’t be getting paid until those deals are signed and physicals are taken.
The NFL has barred travel to team facilities by free agents and also has banned team personnel from traveling to meet with players as a safeguard against the new coronavirus.
In free agency news:
— The Miami Dolphins have added up to seven starters with a spending spree at the start of free agency. The latest addition to the starting lineup: center Ted Karras. A person familiar with the deal says Karras agreed to a $4 million one-year contract. Earlier the Dolphins made Byron Jones the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback and bolstered their pass rush by reaching agreements with linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah. On offense they upgraded by acquiring running back Jordan Howard and guard Ereck Flowers. The seven deals were for a total of more than $222 million.
-The Bengals released right guard John Miller. The move came five days after the Bengals released left tackle Cordy Glenn, who missed 10 games last season with a concussion and a team suspension. The Bengals also released B.W. Webb as part of a cornerback shuffle. They’re expected to sign former Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes.
—The Atlanta Falcons and Dante Fowler have agreed to a $48 million, three-year contract, reuniting the outside linebacker with one of his coaches in college according to a person familiar with the deal. The 25-year-old Fowler played college ball at the University of Florida. When he was a freshman in 2012, Falcons coach Dan Quinn was the Gators’ defensive coordinator.
— The Baltimore Ravens bolstered their defense and improved their draft position at the outset of free agency with the addition of 6-foot-8 defensive end Calais Campbell and the acquisition of 6-5 free agent defensive tackle Michael Brockers. The Ravens also sent tight end Hayden Hurst and a 2020 fourth-round draft choice to the Falcons for Atlanta’s second- and fifth-round selections in the draft.
— A person familiar with the trade says the Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to send quarterback Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears for a compensatory fourth-round draft pick. The Jaguars are dumping Foles a little more than a year after giving the former Super Bowl MVP a four-year, $88 million contract that included a whopping $50.125 million guaranteed. Foles is due to make $15.125 million in 2020 and would have counted $21.837 million against Jacksonville’s salary cap. The Bears are getting a veteran starter to compete with Mitchell Trubisky, who struggled in his third season.
— The Carolina Panthers have released Eric Reid, just 13 months after giving the veteran safety a three-year, $22 million contract extension. The decision to release Reid means the Panthers will be on the hook for $5 million in dead money. Reid started 29 games over the past two seasons for the Panthers and had 201 tackles, five sacks and one interception. Reid was the first player to join former teammate Colin Kaepernick’s protest against social injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. He has also been an outspoken voice in the players’ union.
— The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter free agency with expectations of signing six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady. There’s been no official announcement on Brady joining the Bucs after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots. But there’s already an increased demand for tickets. Within hours of reports of the team closing in on a deal with Brady, the website selling season passes for 2020 showed more than 2,400 people waiting for a chance to make purchases. Tampa Bay ranked 30th among 32 teams in home attendance, averaging under 52,000 per game last season.
— The Patriots have agreed to trade safety Duron Harmon to the Detroit Lions, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Harmon played all seven of his previous NFL seasons with New England. He started a career-high eight games last season.
— The Buffalo Bills have signed cornerback Josh Norman to a one-year contract in hopes the eighth-year player can secure a starting job opposite Tre’Davious White. Norman was available after struggling to meet expectations before being cut by Washington last month with one year left on his five-year, $75 million contract.
-The Philadelphia Eagles added former Steelers defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, released standout safety Malcolm Jenkins and retained starting safety Rodney McLeod, starting cornerback Jalen Mills, defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway and backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld so far in free agency. The Eagles previously announced they wouldn’t keep nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters and aren’t going to tender restricted free agent running back Corey Clement.
— Defensive tackle Linval Joseph has agreed to a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. Two people familiar with the deal tell The Associated Press that Joseph’s contract is for $17 million but could go as high as $19 million with additional incentives. Joseph will be entering his 11th season.
— The New York Jets are re-signing cornerback Brian Poole to a one-year, $5 million fully guaranteed contract, according to agent Drew Rosenhaus. Poole was the Jets’ best cornerback last season in Gregg Williams’ defense, playing in the nickel spot.
—Trumaine Johnson’s stint with the New York Jets is over after two disappointing and injury-plagued seasons. The move saves New York $11 million in salary cap space this year. The Jets are bringing back cornerback Brian Poole by re-signing him to a one-year, $5 million fully guaranteed contract.
—The Washington Redskins are signing safety Sean Davis as part of their makeover under new coach Ron Rivera. Agent Drew Rosenhaus told The Associated Press that Davis is signing a one-year deal that can be worth up to $5 million. Davis is a Washington native who played at Maryland before the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the second round in 2016. The Redskins also agreed to terms with linebackers Thomas Davis and Kevin Pierre-Louis and re-signed Jon Bostic. They augmented their defensive additions by agreeing to sign guard Wes Schweitzer for help on the offensive line.
— The Detroit Lions have agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal with defensive tackle Danny Shelton. Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the deal Wednesday. Shelton started 14 games last season for the New England Patriots. Shelton has played five NFL seasons — three with Cleveland and two with the Patriots.
— The Denver Broncos have acquired five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey from the Tennessee Titans. Two people familiar with the trade tell The Associated Press that the Titans swapped Casey to Denver for a seventh-round draft pick. Casey is due $11.2 million this season and is under contract through 2022 with a price tag that only rises in the final two years.
— Versatile Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Austin Blythe has agreed to a one-year deal to return. Blythe has started all but one game over the past two seasons with the Rams after serving as a backup in 2017
— A person familiar with the deal says free agent cornerback Eli Apple has agreed to a contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. Apple is the latest free agent addition to agree to the Raiders this week as part of a defensive overhaul.
— The Washington Redskins are signing safety Sean Davis to a one-year contract that can be worth up to $5 million. The 26-year-old missed the vast majority of last season with a shoulder injury.
— A person with knowledge of the deal says the Los Angeles Rams have agreed to a one-year contract worth $10 million with pass-rushing linebacker Leonard Floyd. Floyd spent his first four NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears.
— Seattle Seahawks are reuniting with an old friend, bringing back former first-round pick Bruce Irvin, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Irvin will be a boost to Seattle’s pass rush that needed attention. He had a career-high 8½ sacks and 16 quarterback hits last season in just 13 games during his one year with Carolina.
Longtime 49ers assistant Bill McPherson dies at age 88
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Longtime San Francisco 49ers coach and executive Bill McPherson has died at the age of 88. The 49ers said McPherson died Tuesday. McPherson spent 20 seasons as a defensive assistant for the 49ers from 1979-98, helping the franchise win five Super Bowl titles. McPherson later worked as the team’s director of pro personnel from 1999-2002 and a personnel consultant from 2003-05, and also coached one season with the Philadelphia Eagles and in ollege for his alma mater Santa Clara and UCLA.
Clippers’ Terance Mann has ligament surgery on right hand
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann has had surgery to repair a ligament in his right hand, the team said Wednesday. The surgery was performed Tuesday. Mann was injured during a game on March 8 while on assignment with the team’s G League affiliate in Ontario, California. No timetable for his return has been set.
Mann has averaged 1.6 points and 1.1 assists in 35 games for the Clippers this season. The first-year guard out of Florida State played 20 games in the G League, averaging 15.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
Kansas finishes No. 1 in final AP poll; Gonzaga, Dayton next
UNDATED (AP) — Kansas can start celebrating their finish atop the final Top 25 from The Associated Press.The regular-season Big 12 champions, who were 28-3 when the season abruptly ended after the first day of the conference tournament last week, received 63 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in balloting released Wednesday.
That easily outdistanced No. 2 Gonzaga and No. 3 Dayton, each of which received a first-place vote.
Florida State was fourth, easily the best finish ever for the Seminoles, while Baylor rounded out the top five after spending a longer stretch at No. 1 than any other team during a topsy-turvy season.
The final rankings were based on play through March 11, when the outbreak of the coronavirus brought the sport to a halt.
Ottawa NHL player tests positive
UNDATED (AP) — The NHL has its first player who has tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The Ottawa Senators say an unidentified player tested positive for COVID-19. The player was experiencing mild symptoms and was in isolation. Ottawa’s final three games of the suspended season were all in California.
The team is in the process of notifying anyone who had close contact with the player. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly says the current medical advice is that people not be tested unless they have symptoms.
In other virus-related developments:
— The Cincinnati Reds say an employee who worked at Cincinnati’s spring training complex in Goodyear, Arizona has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The team says the employee lives in Arizona and has been self-quarantined, along with other members of the Reds staff who were in close contact. The employee worked at the complex from Feb. 29 through March 14. While players in the NBA and the NHL have tested positive for COVID-19, no Major League Baseball player is known to have been infected. Two New York Yankees minor leaguers have tested positive for the virus.
— The IndyCar race in Long Beach, California, won’t be held this year. Officials with the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach said Wednesday they pursued the possibility of rescheduling the popular race to a later date, but “trying to reassemble all the elements that have made the Long Beach event such a success does not appear feasible for 2020.” The race had been scheduled for April 19. Ticket holders can either receive a credit that will apply to the same level of admission for next year or receive a full refund.
— Formula One has moved its midseason break from August to March and April because of the coronavirus pandemic. The break has also been extended from 14 days to 21. Motorsport’s governing body FIA said in a statement Wednesday that the change was unanimously approved by all teams. Four of the season’s 22 races have already been postponed, and the FIA is hoping that moving the annual break forward could make it easier to find new dates later for events.
— The Green Bay Packers are extending the deadline for season ticket holders to pay for their 2020 tickets to June 1 to allow them more time to deal with any potential impact from the coronavirus. The previous deadline for season ticket holders was March 31. If a game is canceled and can’t be rescheduled, season ticket holders would receive a refund for the impacted games or could credit that amount to future playoff or regular-season tickets for 2021.
— Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and pop star wife Ciara have announced they are donating 1 million meals through Seattle’s Food Lifeline to help provide meals for those in need during the coronavirus outbreak in the region. According to Food Lifeline’s website, the organization provides the equivalent of 134,000 meals daily and had 58 million pounds of food sourced last year.
— All men’s and women’s professional tennis tournaments through June 7 are being called off because of the pandemic. The ATP and WTA announced that the entire clay-court circuit “will not be held as scheduled.” Both tours also said that their rankings will be frozen until further notices. This news comes a day after the start of the French Open was postponed from May to September — a week after the end of the U.S. Open. The tournaments affected by Wednesday’s suspensions include events in France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
__ Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey hasn’t ruled out the prospect of holding some spring football practices, but he’s not all that optimistic. Sankey says on a conference call with reporters that “practically that window’s pretty narrow.” The SEC and other conferences have canceled championships for spring sports and spring football games, and suspended athletic activities until at least April 15.
— The Western Athletic Conference has canceled all competition and championships for the remainder of the academic year. The WAC had previously suspended all competition, but the conference’s board of directors voted Tuesday to cancel all spring sports. The decision falls in line with the NCAA’s cancellation of its winter and spring championships. The WAC’s decision affects men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and baseball.
Norwegian musher wins Alaska’s Iditarod sled dog race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A Norwegian musher is once again the winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Thomas Waener of Norway easily won this year’s race, running his sled dog under the famed burled arch in downtown Nome early Wednesday after driving his team off the Bering Sea ice. It took him 9 days, 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds to travel nearly 1,000 miles across Alaska.
Waerner’s closest competitor was three-time champion Mitch Seavey, who was about five hours behind.
This is the second time the 47-year-old Waerner has run the Iditarod. He earned Rookie of the Year honors for his 17th place finish in 2015. Two other Norwegian mushers have won the Iditarod.
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