By The Associated Press
The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:
Alabama-Huntsville is dropping men’s hockey and men’s and women’s tennis as part of budget cuts in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
School officials said athletes in those sports who want to join another team’s roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. If they choose to stay, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of their academic careers.
Alabama-Huntsville was one of the only southern schools to have a men’s hockey varsity program. The Chargers won Division II national titles in 1996 and 1998 and were Division II runners-up in 1994 and 1997 before making the move to the Division I level for the 1998-99 season.
Men’s hockey had been the lone Division I sport for Alabama-Huntsville. It competes at the Division II level in all other sports.
The NCAA is permitting athletes in all sports to participate in voluntary athletic activities on campus beginning June 1.
NCAA’s Division I Council announced Wednesday that it was lifting its moratorium on voluntary workouts in football and men’s and women’s basketball at the end of the month. The NCAA applied it to all sports Friday.
The current waiver allowing teams to require eight hours of virtual non-physical activities in all sports also has been extended.
Football Bowl Subdivision members of the Council also have decided FBS schools can’t host football camps and clinics this summer. FBS coaches, including graduate assistants, are prohibited from working at football camps and clinics being held at other four-year NCAA schools.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have started individual workouts as baseball begins a measured return to play from the coronavirus pandemic.
A small number of players worked out at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix and Salt River Fields, their spring training facility about 20 miles away in Scottsdale. The players were separated as much as possible to follow league-mandated guidelines, and the workouts were cleared by Major League Baseball.
The baseball season was put on hold in early March due to COVID-19, two weeks before Opening Day.
The governing body for Texas public high school sports says it will allow on-campus summer strength and conditioning programs as the state gradually eases rules put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The University Interscholastic League canceled its spring sports championships, which were interrupted just as the boys’ basketball tournament was getting started in March. Schools have been closed for about two months.
Rules for summer conditioning programs require workouts be voluntary and students should be allowed to participate virtually from home if they want to. No showers or locker rooms can be used and there should be at least one staff member per 20 students to ensure proper social distancing, hygiene and safety measures.
Schools must provide hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations. All equipment must be disinfected throughout the day.
Schools are also encouraged to pre-screen any students or staff prior to workouts for any signs of illness.
Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton raised over $200,000 for COVID-19 relief during an 11-hour radiothon.
Connaughton was on the air on 94.5 ESPN Milwaukee and 100.5 ESPN Madison throughout the day Thursday. He was joined on air at various times by Bucks teammates Giannis Antetokounmpo, Donte DiVincenzo and Kyle Korver as well as coach Mike Budenholzer, general manager Jon Horst and co-owner Marc Lasry.
His guests on the radio show included Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Packers coach Matt LaFleur, Milwaukee Brewers players Christian Yelich and Josh Hader, Brewers manager Craig Counsell, and Wisconsin men’s basketball coach Greg Gard.
Connaughton’s show raised $205,859 for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, and Connaughton’s With Us Foundation. The $205,859 total included a match of all donations by Herb Kohl Philanthropies.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he thinks college football will return on schedule with some level of fans in the stands.
Abbott has already issued new rules to allow youth sports leagues to resume in June and for some professional leagues to hold events without spectators. But the state rules have so far not touched college sports.
“Once we get to college football season, our goal right now is to have college football season start as planned, with fans in stands,” the Republican governor told Austin television station KXAN. “What we don’t know is what the capacity level would be.”
The University of Texas announced this week it would open campus to students for the regularly scheduled Aug. 26 start of the fall semester. But officials have not detailed social distancing plans or how the school will handle residence halls and athletics.
A group of Power Five coaches led by Michigan’s Erik Bakich is proposing a later start to the 2022 college baseball season.
Under the proposal, there would be nine weeks of preseason practice instead of five, the regular season would run from the third week of March to the third week of June and the College World Series would wrap up the last week of July.
Currently, regular season begins the third week of February and the CWS ends the last week of June.
Past efforts to move back the season were rooted in cold-weather schools’ concerns about competitive equity because they had to travel to the South or West to play games the first month of the season.
The impetus this time is finances. In the last two weeks, Bowling Green and Furman have dropped baseball to trim costs. Moving the bulk of the season into warmer months would reduce travel costs for northern teams, help increase attendance and revenue from concessions and merchandise for most schools and allow players to miss less class time.
Bakich says Division I coaches have given widespread approval to the proposal. He says the next step is to recruit athletic directors who will take up the cause, bring it to faculty athletic representatives and presidents and get it entered into the NCAA legislative process.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are holding back a portion of their ticket inventory for the 2020 season to be ready in case social distancing measures are required in stadiums this fall.
Individual single game tickets went on sale Friday. Team spokesman Burt Lauten says the club withheld 50% of the allotment as a “proactive” measure should the NFL use social distancing guidelines.
The NFL released its 2020 schedule last month. The Steelers will play 10 games at Heinz Field, beginning with a preseason meeting with Tampa Bay on Aug. 14.
The Steelers will make full refunds available “if the NFL or the team cancels a game and it cannot be replayed, or if it is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending.” If games are postponed or rescheduled, the tickets will be valid for the new date.
The Southeastern Conference is allowing voluntary athletic activities to occur on each of its campuses starting June 8, at the discretion of each university.
SEC officials noted the workouts would take place “under strict supervision of designated university personnel and safety guidelines developed by each institution.”
The SEC had suspended all athletic activities through May 31 due to the pandemic. SEC officials consider June 8 the start of a transition period allowing student-athletes to adapt gradually to full training.
The SEC decided to resume athletic activities June 8 with the guidance of the league’s task force on medical guidance and return to activity. That task force includes public health, infectious disease and sports medicine professionals from each of the league’s 14 member schools. The task force prepared a series of best practices for screening, testing, monitoring, tracing, social distancing and maintaining clean environments to serve as a guide for each school.
Permitted actions are limited by the NCAA to voluntary activities supervised by strength and conditioning personnel.
Badminton is aiming to begin its revamped schedule in mid-August at the Hyderabad Open in India.
The world tour would resume at the Taipei Open from Sept. 1-6 in an updated calendar released by the Badminton World Federation.
The Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Denmark are confirmed on the new dates of Oct. 3-11 and the World Tour Finals have been pushed back a week to Dec. 16-20.
The season-ending Finals in Guangzhou is one of five tournaments in China at the end of the year. That is not including the Hong Kong Open in November.
The Asia championships scheduled for April in Wuhan have been canceled and the European championships remain without a new date after being suspended since April.
The BWF says it is still working on how to unfreeze the rankings and make necessary changes to Olympic qualifying.
Washington Wizards point guard John Wall is starting the “202 Assist” program to help with paying rent for people in the nation’s capital affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The John Wall Family Foundation set a goal of over the next month.
The program is named for Washington’s area code and will work with the city to find those in need and disperse funds.
Wall is a five-time NBA All-Star who was drafted No. 1 overall by the Wizards in the 2010 draft. He sat out all of the 2019-20 season after tearing his left Achilles tendon.
His foundation donated 2,300 masks and hundreds of meals to front-line workers in Washington and in his home state of North Carolina in April.
Novak Djokovic is planning to set up a series of tennis tournaments in the Balkan region while the sport is suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The top-ranked player’s media team says the Adria Tour will start in Belgrade on June 13 and end on July 5 with Djokovic’s exhibition match against Bosnian player Damir Dzumhur in Sarajevo. The other events are scheduled for the Croatian Adriatic resort of Zadar, Montenegro and Banja Luka in northern Bosnia.
Djokovic will play in all of the round robin tournaments. The other participants are to include Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov.
Organizers left open the possibility that the “humanitarian” tour could be played in front of spectators.
No professional tennis tournaments have been played since March. The French Open has been postponed and Wimbledon has been canceled because of the coronavirus.
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