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Sports

    Curt Flood's widow has a simple explanation for why her late husband, who is revered by players for sacrificing his career to advocate for free agency, has not been enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame. “I think the holdup is that he got on a lot of people's nerves,” Judy Pace Flood said. Flood has some powerful advocates on his side. Members of Congress sent a letter to the Hall of Fame on Thursday asking that Flood be elected in December by the next golden era committee. The recognition would coincide with the 50-year anniversary of Flood's defiant letter to baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in which he wrote, 'I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes.' “What Curt Flood did and championed is resonating throughout professional sports for the past 50 years,” Rep. David Trone, a Maryland Democrat who is leading the push for Flood's enshrinement, said at a news conference. Flood was 31 when he sent that letter on Dec. 24, 1969. He had spent most of the past decade as the starting center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. A three-time All-Star, Flood won seven consecutive Gold Gloves and helped lead the Cardinals to three National League pennants and two World Series titles. “What a great ballplayer,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican. “When the great Stan Musial was finishing up his career in right field, Curt Flood would play all of center and about half of right so that Stan the Man could still be on the team.” After the 1969 season, Flood asked the Cardinals for a pay raise. Instead, they traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. Under baseball's reserve clause, players were fully under the control of their teams. Flood refused the trade and, with the backing of players' union executive director Marvin Miller, filed a federal lawsuitin January 1970 challenging the reserve clause. The Supreme Court ruled against him in a 5-3 decision in 1972, but the justices agreed Flood's arguments had merit. They said they could not intervene because it was up to Congress to alter the antitrust exemption created in 1922 when the Supreme Court ruled baseball was not interstate commerce. The union kept fighting, and the reserve clause was struck down in December 1975 by arbitrator Peter Seitz in a case involving pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally. The following July, owners and the union agreed to a labor contract that included free agency. “I will tell people to this day: Curt did not lose that case,” Pace Flood said. Flood's efforts essentially ended his career. He only played in 13 more games in the majors after his letter to Kuhn. With 1,861 hits, a .293 batting average and his defensive prowess, Flood could have retired with Hall of Fame-worthy numbers had he spent several more seasons as a regular player. Flood battled alcoholism before rebuilding his life with the help of Pace Flood, an actress ('Peyton Place,' “Cotton Comes to Harlem”) who broke down barriers for black women in Hollywood. The couple dated in the ’60s and married in 1986. Flood died of throat cancer in 1997. He was 59. The significance of his contributions is not lost on today's players. Pitcher Gerrit Cole mentioned Flood when he signed his $324 million contract with the New York Yankees in December. 'It's so important that players know the other sacrifices that players made in order to keep the integrity of the game where it is,' Cole said. Players' unions from the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLS had representatives at Thursday's news conference, and 102 members of Congress signed the letter to the Hall of Fame. Miller was elected to the Hall last year by the modern era committee, an encouraging development for Flood's advocates. Flood's letter to Kuhn is on display in Cooperstown, too. “He had a clearly building Hall of Fame career cut short,” said Donald Fehr, the former MLBPA executive director who now leads the NHL players' union. “It was cut short because he said, ‘Thus far and no farther. This is wrong. It has to change.’' ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Sponsor exemptions are basically free-play gifts handed out by the people in charge of golf tournaments, a handful of invitations available most weeks to those who wouldn’t have otherwise qualified for an event. Tom Lewis and Harris English were among the recipients for The Honda Classic. They made the most of those chances Thursday. Lewis and English each shot 4-under 66 at PGA National, sharing the lead after the opening round. Lee Westwood — also in the field thanks to a sponsor exemption — was a shot back with Zach Johnson, J.T. Poston, Brian Stuard and Cameron Tringale. “I didn't hit it my best, but I knew it was going to be one of those rounds you're going to have to grind it out,” said English, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2013, but winless since. “It's windy out there, you're going to have a lot of cross-winds, and it played really tough. My short game was on point, and I made some really good putts.” Sometimes, no putt was required: English holed out from about 25 yards on the par-4 11th, catching a great lie after a drop because his second shot came to rest on a sprinkler head. “That was as good as I can do,” English said. It was a rare easy-looking shot at PGA National. The average score was just a smidge below 2 over, on a day where wind gusts often topped 20 mph. “It’s just live and survive, basically,” said Matthew NeSmith, who had a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth. Westwood hit 11 of 14 fairways and was thoroughly pleased with how the day went. “Everybody should play like that,' Westwood said. “Everybody who's out here is in a privileged position with nothing to lose. We should all be having fun. But at the age of nearly 47 it seems even easier. I don't play anywhere I don't want to play. I just play great tournaments and the ones I want to play in, and I set my own schedule, and it's just great fun.' Lewis made his splashy entrance into golf headlines in 2011, when the then-amateur Englishman was a surprise co-leader after the opening round of the British Open. He played that opening round with Tom Watson, the five-time British Open winner who happens to be Lewis’ namesake and his father’s favorite player. He wound up as the European Tour’s rookie of the year that season. Not much has gone right since. “I struggled for a while, and then I think really things got so low that you couldn’t get any lower,” Lewis said. “So it was like, ‘Well, only good things can happen now.’” Good things happened in bunches Thursday, when Lewis had a bogey-free round. “It can just happen,” Lewis said, a few minutes before he sat in relative anonymity inside the resort’s hotel lobby and had lunch while fans walked by mostly oblivious to the fact that they were passing a co-leader. “Just one shot, one putt at the right time or good break and then all of a sudden it can snowball. I need to take a lot of belief from today.” Plenty of others weren’t as chipper as Lewis and English were when their days at PGA National was over. Third-ranked Brooks Koepka, in his hometown tournament, made a triple bogey and a double bogey in a four-hole span on the front side on his way to a 74. “Didn't feel like I played that bad,' Koepka said. Defending champion Keith Mitchell finished birdie-birdie and still shot 75. Rickie Fowler, who won the Honda in 2017 and tied for second with Koepka last year, made one birdie all day and shot 76. “It’s a fine line,” Fowler said. “Just got it going in the wrong direction.” That happens at PGA National. Only 22 of the 144 players broke par. DIVOTS: U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland (70) made a great birdie on the par-5 18th, chunking his third-shot chip from about 15 yards off the green and then rolling in a putt from the fringe anyway. ... Viktor Hovland, the winner last week in Puerto Rico, shot 77 and beat only two players — Jim Furyk (78) and Satoshi Kodaira (80). ... Koepka’s triple bogey on the par-4 sixth was his first in his last 447 competitive holes. ... English likes to have breakfast two hours before early rounds, but a 6:45 a.m. tee time Friday could complicate matters. “Not sure it’s open at 4:45,” he said. Another issue: Forecasters say it’ll only be around 47 degrees when play starts Friday.
  • Once again, the Americans will head to the Olympics as the gold-medal favorite in the women's team pursuit. The question now is whether they can finish the job. The quartet of Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente, Emma White and Lily Williams roared to the world championship at the Berlin Velodrome on Thursday, easily beating back the reigning Olympic champions from Britain. Their winning time of 4 minutes, 11.235 seconds stamped them as the team to beat at the Tokyo Games later this summer. “We've had quite the journey in the last couple of years,” White said. “This is good but it's not over with the Olympics this summer, but we're excited.” In other events on Day 2 of the track cycling world championships, Dutch rider Harrie Lavreysen added to his team sprint gold from Wednesday by capturing the keirin title. And the Danish men's pursuit team of Rasmus Pedersen, Frederik Rodenberg Madsen, Lasse Norman Hansen and Julius Johnson broke their own world record in winning gold. Dygert and Valente are back from the American team that won gold at the 2016 world championships ahead of the Rio Games. But along with Sarah Hammer and the late Kelly Catlin, the team fell to their longtime rivals in the Olympic finals, relegated to a silver medal that was both rewarding and disappointing. The U.S. went out hot on Thursday, putting 1.75 seconds into the British team of Elinor Barker, Katie Archibald, Eleanor Dickinson and Neah Evans by the first 1,000 meters. The advantage increased to more than 2 1/2 seconds by the midway point of the race, when the British squad dropped one of its riders and pressed on with just three. The Americans lost a few tenths of a second down the stretch, but wound up winning by 1.894 seconds. “It's always special to win,” said Dygert, the road time trial world champion who will be favored to win gold in individual pursuit later in the week. “You try not to look at who the competition is. We run our race and that's what we did.” The bronze medal went to Germany, which hung together to the finish as the Canadians broke apart in the final laps. The keirin was shaken up in the semifinals, when reigning Olympic champion Jason Kenny failed to advance. That made the path easier for Lavreysen, who has been part of three straight world champion sprint teams. He went three-wide entering the final lap and held off silver medalist Yuta Wakimoto of Japan and Azizulhasni Awang of Malaysia. “I can't really believe it. Yesterday a world title, today a world title. It's insane,” Lavreysen said. “I really didn't do a lot in the beginning, but in the semifinal I really picked up my pace and I had a big plan for the final and it worked out perfectly.” There was little drama in the men's pursuit final after the Danish team twice broke the world record in previous rounds, sending it into the finals against New Zealand a heavy favorite. Denmark had reached the same straight as the Kiwis with about 500 meters to go, and the team crossed the finish line in 3:44.672. Italy beat reigning world champion Australia in the bronze-medal race. “I just think we have an amazing team with the four of us, and our support team. They make it all possible,” Madsen said before accepting his gold medal. “I think they have even more belief in us than we have in ourselves.”
  • Chase Young wants to follow in fellow Ohio State star Nick Bosa's NFL footsteps, and he probably won't have to wait all that long to start. The freakishly athletic defensive end who's widely viewed as the best player coming out of college — just as Bosa was — figures to start off his pro career just as the 2019 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year did: as the second selection in the draft behind a hot-shot, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Bosa helped lead the 49ers to the Super Bowl after he watched Arizona make Kyler Murray of Oklahoma the top overall pick in last year's draft. 'Nick, he's always setting the standard. That's just motivation for me to achieve a lot of real good things,' Young said Thursday during his media session at the NFL scouting combine. 'It's definitely been a blessing to watch him grow into the player that he is. He's definitely helped me along this passage. He hasn't stopped. I'm just grateful to be able to see him grow.' And to follow suit. “It's going to be exciting,” Young said. “I'm definitely excited to play with the big dogs and excited to show the world what I can do.' Like Bosa 11 months ago, Young is the consensus cream of this year's crop, an All-Pro in waiting, said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, who compares Young to Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. 'I definitely think I'm the best player in the draft,' Young declared. 'I think I showed it on my tape. You can go to every game. I think I showed it. I definitely think I'll put my best foot forward this year. I grinded hard. Two of my biggest things are my hard work and dedication and I'm going to bring those two to the NFL with me.' Young is considered a generational talent, but Joe Burrow, who led LSU to the national title, is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in April. That selection is owned by the Cincinnati Bengals, and Burrow said this week he wouldn't have any qualms playing for them despite their lack of Super Bowl success. Burrow grew up in Athens, Ohio, about 2½ hours away, and he cracked this week that he'd be able to head out for some home cooking now and again if Cincinnati indeed selects him. Young would be even closer to his hometown if the Washington Redskins grab him at No. 2. He was raised in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, about 10 miles from FedExField, where the Redskins play. 'Yeah, I always watch the Redskins, the hometown team,' said Young, who insisted he wasn't a fan of the team as much as he was of certain players such as Clinton Portis or the late Sean Taylor. 'It'd mean a lot, playing in front of my hometown people, it'd definitely be a blessing,' Young said. 'Everybody who has known me since I was younger could come to a game and things like that. But right now, I'm not focused on who could draft me. I'm focused on being the best player, the best person, I could be and impress the coaches at the combine.' New Redskins coach Ron Rivera demurred this week when asked about selecting a generational talent such as Young with the second selection. 'Well, before we can do anything with the No. 2 pick, we got to see what happens with the No. 1 pick,' Rivera said. 'So once that pick goes 1, we'll go from there. But again, as I said, everything's an option.' Young is scheduled to meet with the Redskins on Friday, and Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins, the Redskins' first-round pick out of Ohio State a year ago, definitely hopes things go so well that the 'Skins don't even consider trading the pick. “Yeah, me and Dwayne talk all the time. I've known Dwayne since high school. He definitely loves the organization and obviously wants me to come play with him,” Young said. “We'll see how this whole thing turns out.” Like many of the top players at their positions who don't need to impress teams physically at the combine this week, Young isn't going to showcase his skills during on-field drills at Lucas Oil Field with the rest of the defensive linemen Friday night. 'I chose — me and my team — we decided that because that first day of camp when I step on the field, I want to be the best player I can be. I don't want to waste time trying to be a combine athlete,' Young said. 'When I step on the field, I know, I need to know that I put my best foot forward as far as being the best player I can be.' Young said he'll do position drills at Ohio State's pro day instead, but he won't run the 40-yard dash there, either. Bosa, who also avoided the combine workouts a year ago when he was coming off an injury, did impart some advice to Young. “He just told me to be myself,” Young said. 'That's what I have been trying to do the whole time I've been here.' ___ Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown bet big on himself last winter and is about to see the payoff. Alabama defensive tackle Raekwon Davis may have run out of luck. After two of the nation's top defensive tackles turned down a chance to enter last year's NFL draft, opting instead to pursue a national championship and a college degree, Brown and Davis arrived at the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis in vastly different circumstances. Brown is trying to solidify his position as the top-rated interior lineman in this year's draft while Davis needs to rebuild his reputation. “I'm here to work, I'm here to put on the best show possible,' Brown said Thursday in Indianapolis. “I like to impose my will.” He certainly did in this comparison. The two college rivals, whose campuses are separated by 160 miles, couldn't find themselves further apart in the eyes of league scouts. At 6-foot-5, 326 pounds, Brown masterfully takes on blockers, pushes the pocket and stuffs the run. In 53 college games, he had 170 tackles, 13 sacks and 33 1/2 tackles for loss, setting a program record with a 590-pound squat and earning All-American honors as a senior. “It's easy playing next to him because he takes all the attention away from you,' said Marlon Davidson, a college teammate. “It makes my job easy because I set the edge and he just destroys the double teams.' Brown also understands there's more to life than football. At home, he's helping to raise a 14-month-old son, Kai Asher, with his longtime girlfriend. On campus, he serves as the president of Auburn's Student-Athlete Advisory Council. And the teammates who chose Brown as team captain also nicknamed him “Baby Barack,' for his diplomatic skills. The reward for his endeavors came in 2019 when Brown won the Lott IMPACT Award, which goes to the defensive player whose personal character matches his high athletic achievements, and the Senior CLASS Award, which goes to the nation's top senior student-athlete in each sport. It's the kind of resume that gets NFL decision-makers talking. Davis, on the other hand, must prove himself all over again. Coming out of high school, he was considered one of the nation's top prep defensive players and delivered with a breakout season in the Crimson Tide's 2017 national championship-winning season. With 69 tackles and a team-high 8 1/2 sacks, scouts salivated at the thought of getting the next Aaron Donald. But after attracting more attention in 2018 and failing to replicate his performance, Davis acknowledged he became a victim of his own success. So he returned to school, hoping for a rebound. Instead, his stats declined again, dropping from 55 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in 2018 to 47 tackles and a half-sack in 2019. “There were a lot of things I wasn't doing just to improve my game, but you know I wasn't really focused enough sometimes and there was just a lot of stuff I wasn't doing,' he said. “It went to my head, you know, the hype.” Other questions are almost certain to come up this week, too. League executives will want to know why Davis punched a Missouri offensive lineman in 2018, which resulted in coach Nick Saban holding him out for the first half the following week. Then there was the 2017 incident in which he was hit by a stray bullet in the parking lot of a bar in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He didn't miss any games and says it was just a matter of wrong place, wrong time. The combination makes it unclear exactly where the 6-foot-6, 311-pound Davis fits in the draft. Current draft projections have indicated he is sliding. CBS Sports now ranks him as the No. 6 defensive tackle, while ESPN has him at No. 9. Davis' best opportunity to change directions may be during the interviews with coaches and general managers in Indy. “I'm just a special kid,' he said. “I've got a high work ethic. I work hard, love the game, love what I do.' It could help him move up. But he's a long shot to catch Brown. “My coach always told me don't ever lose,' Brown said. “It's been beneficial for a long time.' ___ More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • Forward Giuseppe Rossi signed Thursday with Major League Soccer's Real Salt Lake, 21 months after his last competitive match. The 33-year-old from Clifton, New Jersey, had spent his entire professional career in Europe after moving when he was 12 to join Parma's youth academy. He has been derailed by five major knee injuries. Rossi played for Manchester United (2004-06), Newcastle (2006), Parma (2007), Villarreal (2007-12), Fiorentina (2013-17), Levante (2016), Celta Vigo (2016-17) and Genoa (2017-18). His career was interrupted when he tore his right ACL against Real Madrid on Oct. 26, 2011, then re-tore the ligament during training on April 13, 2012. He returned with Fiorentina in May 2013 on the final day of the season and led Serie A with 14 goals in 17 matches when he sprained the medial collateral ligament in the knee against Livorno on Feb. 5, 2014. Rossi was sidelined until the Italian Cup final in May, then damaged knee cartilage in August and was out for another year. While playing for Celta Vigo, he tore his left ACL against Eibar on April 9, 2017, and was sidelined until December, when he made his debut for Genoa. He tested positive in May 2018 for an eye-pressure medication that is on the banned list. In October, he drew a warning rather than a one-year suspension because his use was found to be unintentional, according to his lawyer. Rossi took more than a year before signing with MLS. Of Italian heritage, Rossi chose to play for the Azzurri rather than the United States and scored seven goals in 30 appearances. He also won the golden boot with four goals at the 2008 Olympics, a tournament limited mostly to players under 23. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport
  • The marketing executive who branded the U.S. Olympic squad “Team USA” will now try to turn American women’s soccer players into household names more than once every four years. Lisa Baird, the longtime marketing chief at the U.S. Olympic Committee, was named commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League on Thursday. Baird most recently spent more than a year at New York Public Radio after nine years at the USOC. She will now be charged with running a league that is positioned to capture more cash and eyeballs after America’s stirring World Cup victory last summer. The nine-team league, founded in 2013, got its first official beer sponsor last year when it signed a deal with Budweiser. Attendance rose to an average of 7,337 in 2019 — a nearly 22% increase over the previous year, much of which could have been attributed to a post-World Cup boost. Baird said commercial partnerships in the Olympics can have 'deeper, more profound platforms” in part because there are Summer or Winter Games every two years. “I'm confident I can bring that same kind of dynamic to the NWSL. We want to shine a spotlight on the terrific players in this league,' she told The Associated Press. NWSL is trying to complete an agreement for an improved TV deal. A&E cut its contract short by a year at the start of 2019, and ESPN stepped in to televise 14 games to close out last season. “We know that having the right coverage, the games, the clubs, is important going forward,” Baird said. “I’m confident the owners have done an incredible search and had the right conversations with the right partners.” Baird joins a sport that has been dealing with pay equity issues that were underscored during the World Cup. Players on the U.S. women’s team are seeking more than $66 million in damages as part of a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer that alleges they are unfairly paid compared to the men. Some of those players, including Megan Rapinoe, also play in the NWSL. Though the league has a management agreement with the U.S. federation, it is not involved in that lawsuit. Separately, the league increased its salary cap by nearly 20% for 2020, to $650,000 a team, and increased its minimum salary to $20,000. It also introduced “allocation money,” which allows teams to pay more than the league maximum of $50,000 as a way of competing with European teams for top players. Before going to the USOC, Baird was senior vice president of marketing and licensing for the NFL, where she helped the league land first-time deals with Nike, Under Armour and Fanatics. Before that, she held the same position at IBM. At the USOC, Baird cut about $1 billion worth of deals over nearly a decade and also rebranded the team to Team USA. Though the NWSL won't generate as much sponsorship, she's confident there are fundamentals she can bring from the Olympic world to women's soccer. “This league has an incredible ability to have players stand for a purpose and passion because of who they are and who they represent, and how exciting women’s sports are in the U.S. right now,” Baird said.
  • The whistleblower whose letter to University of Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel alleging sexual assault sparked an investigation into a former school doctor says he was inspired by the women who testified against convicted Michigan State physician Larry Nassar. An attorney for Tad DeLuca said Thursday that his client complained to his wrestling coach in 1975 that Dr. Robert E. Anderson molested him during medical exams. In response, then-coach Bill Johannesen humiliated DeLuca, kicked him off the team and effectively removed his financial assistance, the attorney said. “I spoke up again by letter in 2018 after hearing an NPR story about the MSU gymnasts, women who I am in awe of,' DeLuca said at a news conference in suburban Detroit. “Once again, the University of Michigan ignored me. “I’m here today to speak up again, to let the University of Michigan know that I will not be ignored.” DeLuca's 2018 letter of complaint about Anderson, now deceased, led to a university police investigation that became public last week. Two other former Michigan wrestlers who allege they were abused by Anderson also spoke to reporters Thursday: Tom Evashevski and Andy Hrovat, the first athlete to publicly say Anderson molested him. Evashevski was in school with DeLuca at Michigan in the mid-1970s. Hrovat was a star wrestler in the late 1990s for the Wolverines and went on to compete for the U.S. at the 2008 Olympics. “These were and are physically and mentally tough men,' said attorney Parker Stinar, who represents the trio. “But they were all victims of sexual abuse and victims of an institution that ignored warning after warning after warning about a predator preying on young individuals.” DeLuca put his complaints about Anderson in writing in 1975 in a letter to Johannesen. Subsequently, Johannesen read DeLuca's letter to his teammates in an effort to humiliate him, kicked him off the team and took away his scholarship, according to Stinar. Johannesen denied in interviews this week with The Associated Press that any of his student-athletes ever told him Anderson touched them inappropriately. “You can't call him a coach,” said DeLuca, a retired teacher in northern Michigan. “'Coach' is a term of endearment.” Stinar, who met with the school's general counsel Thursday afternoon, predicts “hundreds of more victims” will emerge, and that his firm already represents more than a dozen. Several other law firms have spent the past week talking to potential accusers about legal action. Among them are attorneys Michelle Simpson Tuegel and H. James White, who represented more than 60 people who were abused by Nassar at Michigan State. White said Thursday that the number of potential Anderson victims is 'extremely troubling,' adding that “the University of Michigan and the community at large should brace itself.” Stinar, who is based in Denver, said the university must explain its years of inaction. “For nearly four decades, the University of Michigan allowed Dr. Anderson to prey on vulnerable young individuals away from home for the first time,' he said. “I ask the University of Michigan this: Why didn’t you act in 1975 or earlier to prevent the sexual abuse of possibly hundreds of other victims?' Hours after the news conference, the University of Michigan released a statement. “The three brave men who came forward today to share their stories delivered a powerful message,' the statement read. “We want to encourage everyone harmed by Robert E. Anderson or who has evidence of his misconduct to come forward. At the University of Michigan, we want to hear your voices.' School officials have acknowledged some school employees were aware of accusations against Anderson prior to DeLuca's 2018 complaint. Last week, the university’s president apologized to “anyone who was harmed” by Anderson and offered counseling services. The school launched an investigation into the doctor’s behavior following abuse allegations from five people and also established a hotline for those who came into contact with Anderson. DeLuca hopes more people follow his lead. “Everybody who was abused by this doctor, the doctor everyone knew was doing this, was abusing athletes and students, should speak up and let everyone know they will not be ignored,' DeLuca said. “It just, it has to stop. Period.” Separately, the Ann Arbor school district said it’s investigating whether Anderson had a role with local schools. A police report suggested he performed sports physicals years ago. “This is the first time we have heard this information,” Superintendent Jeanice Swift said. The Flint district said it confirmed that someone with Anderson’s name was an employee at some point, but “we do not have information about his employment history.” “We encourage anyone with information regarding this matter to contact local law enforcement,” the district said. ___ Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report. ___ Click here for more stories on the allegations against Anderson.
  • A female wrestler has made history by winning a state high school wrestling championship in North Carolina. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association said on its website that junior Heaven Fitch of Uwharrie Charter became the first female to win one of the association's individual state wrestling championships. She won the 106 pound (48 kg) weight class at the 1A division on Saturday. A photo released on the association's official Twitter account shows her beaming, standing next to three boys who finished behind her in the tournament. She had a 54-4 record for the season and won Most Outstanding Wrestler for the 1A division. 'I'm just really overwhelmed ... It's like insane what I've done, it's not fully sunken in yet,' she told WRAL-TV. Fitch beat Robbinsville's Luke Wilson to win an eight-person bracket that included seven male wrestlers, said James Alverson, assistant commissioner for the high school association. Overall, she was one of only three female wrestlers in the tournament, he said. Last year she became the first female wrestler to place, coming in fourth in her division. She said that when she started high school, she would have never expected to have this much success. 'I thought as a freshman I wouldn't even have a winning record, and to do this now, I would have never thought of it,' Fitch said.
  • Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte won't have to sit through a torrent of boos when he returns to Turin for the first time to face former club Juventus. That’s because there won't be any fans there to see it. The Derby d'Italia, one of the season’s biggest matches, will be played in an empty stadium on Sunday because of the virus outbreak in northern Italy. The epicenter of the outbreak is in the Lombardy region, and Milan is its capital. Serie A’s governing body released a statement on Thursday night announcing that the match and four others would be played without any fans allowed in. Four Serie A matches scheduled for last weekend were postponed, including Inter’s match against Sampdoria. Italy has the most cases of the virus in Europe. Serie A president Paolo Dal Pinto sent a letter to the government on Monday asking that games no longer be postponed in the affected areas but played without fans in attendance, something which Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said they were in agreement with. Italy has reported a total of 650 cases of the new coronavirus, up from 400 on Wednesday evening and three a week ago. Three more people with the virus died in 24 hours, bringing Italy's toll to 15. Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two hardest hit regions and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo'Euganeo. Inter’s Europa League match against Ludogorets went ahead in an empty stadium on Thursday. On Sunday, Conte will return to Juventus as opposition coach for the first time since he left the club in 2014. Conte led Juventus to the first three of its eight straight league titles and also spent most of his playing career with the Bianconeri. “Soccer needs the crowd, to hear the atmosphere around it,” Conte said. “That’s the best thing about the game, the atmosphere around the soccer being played. These decisions have been taken with public health in mind but I hope that everything returns to normal as soon as possible.” Inter trails the Serie A leaders by six points, although it has played a match less. Juventus, meanwhile, will have to bounce back from Wednesday’s surprise 1-0 loss at Lyon in the Champions League. “We didn't play the match we wanted. We have a lot of work to do,” Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey said. “Let's focus on ourselves and do better than we did today, starting on Sunday with Inter.' ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sport