MSNBC.com - Sports
Date PostedArticle
8 hours ago Oregon is Pac-12 favorite after Mariota's return

LOS ANGELES (AP) Although Marcus Mariota knew he would be under a spotlight when he stepped onto the famed Paramount Studios lot Wednesday, the Oregon quarterback is getting quite comfortable in his starring role.

"I've had to get used to it and come out of my shell a little bit, but I'm trying to enjoy it," Mariota said at the Pac-12's media day. "I take it as an honor and a privilege, and hopefully an opportunity to provide a good influence."

Coach Mark Helfrich and Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott both used the league's first session of its two-day Hollywood kickoff event to praise Mariota for staying in school. The rest of the Pac-12 isn't quite as excited about the Heisman Trophy candidate's return after two dynamite seasons for the Ducks, but he's just one reason why they're favored to win their highly competitive league again.

Mariota and Oregon were picked to claim the Pac-12 title in the preseason media poll, topping that chart for the fourth time in five years. The verdict was an unsurprising vote of confidence in the mobile passer and the perennially powerful Ducks, who highlight an impressive list of contenders in the West Coast's power conference.

Mariota is the biggest reason for excitement around the Ducks, and the quarterback is working to raise his leadership skills to the level of his play after turning down untold NFL millions for another shot at a national title.

"A lot of guys talk a good game, but everything that guy does is gospel," Helfrich said. "If I'm the backup guard and I see that guy forgo what he could have made - it's not some lip-service dream, this is a reality of a ton of money. Like, `That guy turned down how much? OK, I'll watch him.' That's huge. I think it speaks to the type of guy he is, and hopefully to the type of program that we have."

Mariota said he returned to enjoy university life in Eugene. Since he's only taking golf and yoga this fall to finish up his degree, he'll have pl

8 hours ago NCAA infractions chair responds to 'cheating pays'

IRVING, Texas (AP) The chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee says a number of factors could be the cause for the lack of activity by the group that prompted Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to call the enforcement program "broken."

Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions, on Wednesday listed reforms and restructuring in the enforcement system and expansion of the committee as possible reasons.

He also noted the NCAA enforcement director changed in the aftermath of two investigators and two key leaders leaving in less than a year after an internal investigation uncovered problems with the NCAA's investigation of the University of Miami.

At Big 12 media days Monday, Bowlsby said "cheating pays" and that anyone who conspired to bend the rules could do so successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.

"They're in a battle with a BB gun in their hand. They're fighting howitzers," Bowlsby said of NCAA enforcement officials, while also saying he didn't believe cheating was rampant.

Banowsky said the last NCAA infractions hearing was in the Miami case in June 2013.

"I have to say that a lot of what (Bowlsby) says is true relative to the inactivity," Banowsky said at his league's media day. "I've been assured and encouraged that there's a lot in the pipeline and the thing is kind of ramping back up again and the new system is going to get engaged and functioning.

"I do appreciate what Bob is saying. I have a lot of respect for him and I think he's smart and honest and accurate in the way that he sees these things," Banowsky said. "I'm a little more measured because I live in it. ... I think this next year is a really important year for that process and for that system, and for the NCAA as an organization really."

8 hours ago Jerry Jones: Garrett not coaching for job

OXNARD, Calif. (AP) Jerry Jones doesn't like to repeat his good sound bites, so he found a new way to say Jason Garrett isn't coaching for his job.

The Dallas Cowboys owner said Wednesday it wasn't a "make or break" season for Garrett, a year after opening training camp by declaring that last season wouldn't be "Armageddon" for his coach if the once-proud franchise missed the playoffs again.

The Cowboys have identical endings to all three full seasons under Garrett, losing to NFC East rivals to finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs.

This time, Garrett is in the final year of his contract. While he's not talking extension, Jones also isn't talking change.

"Did the record of 8-8, 8-8, 8-8 ... was that the factor? No," Jones said on the eve of the team's first camp practices. "In my mind he is more of an asset after this last 8-8 season than he was before the first 8-8 season we had three years ago."

In Jones' mind, that means Garrett is gaining experience since replacing Wade Phillips in the middle of the 2010 season. And the owner says he likes the continuity with Garrett going into his eighth season after he was hired as offensive coordinator before Phillips came on as coach in 2007.

"There's nobody that has a better feel for me than Jason, in terms of the relationship," Jones said. "We both know where our expectations are and when it's looking good and when it's looking dire. And I don't expect it to be the latter."

In other words, Jones isn't resigning himself to missing the playoffs a fifth straight time. Dallas hasn't done that since 1990, when the Cowboys entered his second year as owner coming off a two-year mark of 4-28.

"I don't want to have to stomach it," Jones said. "Let's put it like that."

Still, Jones was a bit cautious with his optimism, using his opening statement to point out that roughly half of the 90-man camp roster includes players who weren't with the Cowboys a year ago.

He al

8 hours ago Padres OF Maybin tests positive for amphetamine

CHICAGO (AP) San Diego Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin was suspended 25 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for testing positive for an amphetamine.

Maybin said in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Players Association the failed test was the result of a change in the medication he was using to treat Attention Deficit Disorder.

"I have been undergoing treatment for several years for a medical condition, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), for which I previously had a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Unfortunately, in my attempts to switch back to a medicine that had been previously OK'd, I neglected to follow all the rules and as a result I tested positive," Maybin said. "I want to assure everyone that this was a genuine effort to treat my condition and I was not trying in any way to gain an advantage in my baseball career."

Under the drug agreement between MLB and its players' union, 25 games is the penalty for a second positive amphetamine test. A first positive results only in six unannounced follow-up tests over the next year.

The 27-year-old Maybin was batting .247 with one home run and nine RBIs in 62 games this season.

"I understand that I must accept responsibility for this mistake and I will take my punishment and will not challenge my suspension. I apologize to my family, friends, fans, teammates, and the entire Padres organization. I look forward to returning to the field and contributing to the success of my Club."

Padres President and CEO Mike Dee and manager Bud Black responded in statements.

"I'm disappointed in Cameron's violation of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program, but I am pleased that he's taking responsibility for his mistake," Dee said. "The joint agreement was put into place to protect both the player and the game, and the Padres fully support it."

"Our club fully supports Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program," Blac

8 hours ago Johnny Be Good: Browns expect Manziel to behave

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Johnny will be good.

That's what the Browns expect from Johnny Manziel now that training camp is about to start.

Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said he's not worried about the popular rookie's wild off-field behavior carrying into the season, and he's determined not to let any outside influences affect his decision in picking either Manziel or veteran Brian Hoyer to be his starting quarterback.

Pettine, who will open his first training camp on Saturday, discussed Manziel, Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon's clouded situation and several other topics during an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Manziel, the former Texas A&M star nicknamed "Johnny Football" for his dazzling skills, made headlines throughout the offseason with his weekend partying. And while most of it was seemingly innocent, a recent photo of him appearing to roll up a dollar bill brought him even more scrutiny.

Pettine said he's aware of the photo, and during his recent vacation, he called Manziel to discuss the young QB's conduct.

"I picked up the phone and called him," Pettine said. "It was a good conversation, positive and I'm confident going forward, especially now that it's all about football, I think some of this will and should quiet down because football season is different. The offseason is one thing, but it's all about preparation and I think he knows that in order for him to compete well, he's going to have to probably be more dedicated than he has ever been."

Manziel has insisted he will not change his ways and that he's entitled to have fun away from football.

Pettine said Manziel has been dedicated to learning his playbook, and has given the Browns no reason to think he's going to be a distraction. Pettine believes Manziel is beginning to understand the responsibility that comes along with being a high-profile athlete and social media sensation.

"I think that's a process for him and I t

8 hours ago Mavericks' Felton pleads guilty in NYC gun case

NEW YORK (AP) Dallas Mavericks point guard Raymond Felton pleaded guilty Wednesday in a New York gun case, taking a plea deal that involved admitting a felony but spares him jail.

Felton pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of a firearm. He admitted he knowingly had a large-capacity ammunition magazine and a semi-automatic pistol without a license.

"Are those charges true?" Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Larry Stephen asked.

"Yes, sir," Felton said, later adding in a soft voice: "I apologize. I realize what I did was wrong."

He was immediately sentenced to 500 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Rebold said Felton will be allowed to do the service outside New York.

If he complies, the case will be closed without jail time or probation.

"At this point, Raymond is looking forward to starting the next chapter of his life and focusing on success in Dallas," his lawyer, James Walden, said after court.

The criminal case arose last winter, as Felton grappled with the breakup of his marriage and navigated a struggling season with the New York Knicks. He was traded to Dallas last month, two days after his plea plan was announced.

The team declined to comment Wednesday.

About a week after Felton's law student wife filed for divorce, her attorney brought a loaded semi-automatic handgun to a police precinct and said it was Felton's and she wanted it out of the house, authorities said. Walden has said Felton never threatened anyone with the gun.

After police contacted Felton, he turned himself in shortly after a Mavericks-Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.

Felton was charged under a state law that bans many large-capacity ammunition magazines. Prosecutors said Felton's could hold about 20 rounds.

The NBA, which has said it is monitoring the case, had no immediate co

8 hours ago Chiefs, running back Jamaal Charles reach deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles has agreed to a contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs announced the deal Wednesday night.

The two-year extension runs through the 2017 season, a person familiar with the contract said on condition of anonymity because the team didn't disclose terms of the contract.

The six-year NFL veteran ran for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last year to help the Chiefs reach the playoffs. He also had 70 catches for 693 yards and seven more TDs as Kansas City went 11-5 before losing to Indianapolis in an AFC wild-card game.

"Jamaal is an elite player in the National Football League," Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey said in a statement released by the team. "It was important for us to keep him here in Kansas City long-term."

Charles was expected to take part in the first practice scheduled for Thursday.

"I had no intention on holding out," Charles tweeted. "I just ran out of gas on the way to camp and my cellphone battery died. It was a long walk I tell ya."

Charles comes off a season with career highs in yards from scrimmage (1,980), rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

Charles' earned a base salary of $1.75 million in 2013, according to NFLPA records. He was set to earn a base salary of $2.65 million, which ranked 11th among NFL running backs, before the contract extension. Various media reports, including from NFL.com and ESPN, put Charles' two-year extension at $18 million.

With Charles secured through 2017, the Chiefs can shift focus to quarterback Alex Smith and outside linebacker Justin Houston, both of whom enter the final years of respective contracts.

Smith, 30, comes off a season where he completed 308-of-508 passes for 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He established career highs in rushing attempts (70) and yards (431), and became the seco

8 hours ago Broncos owner giving up control due to Alzheimer's

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Even as dementia began to rob him of some of his fondest memories over the past few years, Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen reported to work every day to oversee multimillion-dollar upgrades to the team's training facilities and roster.

So his absence from Dove Valley headquarters on Wednesday as players reported for physicals on the eve of training camp was as jarring as the announcement that the 70-year-old Bowlen was giving up control of the team because of Alzheimer's disease.

"This place will never be the same," a choked-up general manager John Elway said. "... It's going to be very hard to not see him walk through the front doors every day."

Yet, Elway and team president Joe Ellis pledged to continue Bowlen's legacy and winning culture he fostered during his long stewardship of the franchise.

Ellis is adding the title of chief executive officer and will have final say on all matters.

"Mr. Bowlen has entrusted Joe to take his spot and he couldn't have appointed a better guy to step in for Pat," Elway said. "Joe's a guy that bleeds orange and blue."

Ownership of the franchise is held in a trust Bowlen set up more than a decade ago in hopes that one of his seven children will one day run the team, Ellis said Bowlen asked him to run that trust.

Elway, who brought Bowlen two Super Bowl rings during his Hall of Fame playing career, demurred when asked if he aspired to one day own the team.

"That family owns the Broncos. Pat Bowlen still owns the Broncos. We have total respect for that," Elway said. "They've hired me to run the football operations and I'm thrilled to do that. I work for Pat still, as well as the Bowlen family, and I'm going to continue to do that."

Ellis said that with Bowlen no longer able to run the team, the community and fan base deserved to know what was going on, so the family agreed to make public the condition he's dealt with privately for several years.

8 hours ago Testimony ends in trial over $2B Clippers sale

LOS ANGELES (AP) Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Shelly Sterling, who had testified early in the trial, was expected to be the final witness, but her husband's lawyers decided not to call her back to the stand.

Instead, they called Dr. Jeffrey Cummings to discuss the protocol of examinations such as the ones given to Donald Sterling to determine his mental competency and ability to act as owner.

Most of his testimony drew objections from Shelly Sterling's attorneys, and the judge said he didn't see how it would help him reach a decision.

The trial will not be in session for the rest of the week. The two sides are scheduled to return for closing arguments on Monday.

Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas reminded Sterling's lawyers that both sides had agreed not to make Donald Sterling's mental capacity an issue in the trial.

Levanas said he was surprised when the lawyers made that move, and that he would have been interested in hearing about Donald Sterling's mental competency.

Given that decision by lawyers, the judge rejected most of Cummings' testimony and refused to receive the psychiatrist's report submitted by the Sterling lawyers.

Outside court, attorneys for Shelly Sterling and Ballmer said that if they win, they will ask the judge to allow the sale to go through immediately in spite of any appeals that might be filed.

Sterling's lawyers said they intend to seek an injunction to stop the sale if the judge rules against them. They have filed their own lawsuit in state court against Shelly Sterling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league.

Shelly Sterling's potentially record-breaking deal with Ballmer was struck after Donald Sterling's racist remarks to a girlfriend were recorded and publicized. The NBA moved to oust him

Yesterday Report: Cavs to sign Wiggins amid Love rumors

CLEVELAND (AP) Andrew Wiggins will sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers. It's still not clear if he'll play for them.

A person familiar with the negotiations says the Cavs will sign the No. 1 overall pick to his deal, an agreement that would prevent any potential trade involving the small forward from being completed for 30 days.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers have been discussing a potential deal that would send All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cavaliers for Wigging, Anthony Bennett and other pieces. The person familiar with the talks says Wiggins will sign with Cleveland as early as Wednesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on its plans.

The Cavs and Timberwolves have had ongoing discussions about a trade for Love since before Cleveland selected Wiggins first in May. The Timberwolves have always insisted that Wiggins be involved in any package, a stipulation the Cavaliers initially resisted.

To help in their pursuit of Love, the Cavs traded guard Carrick Felix to Utah on Tuesday for three players with non-guaranteed contracts.

Cleveland acquired guard John Lucas III and forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy from the Jazz in exchange for Felix, a second-round draft pick and cash considerations.

The trade will allow the Cavs to clear $3.3 million in salary cap space, room to potentially sign Love or other players.

Wiggins' inclusion in any deal has been a sticking point for the Cavs.

Last week, two people familiar with the discussions said the team was not willing to include Wiggins in a deal. But as talks continued this week, the Cavaliers have softened their stance on including Wiggins, who played well during the team's summer league in Las Vegas, to try and get superstar LeBron James another veteran All-Star teammate.

The Cavs have considered acquiring Love and teaming him with James, who recently

Yesterday Andre Johnson's holdout could cloud Texans camp

HOUSTON (AP) As the Houston Texans prepare for the start of training camp on Saturday, their biggest question mark involves a player who probably won't be there when they take the field.

Disgruntled receiver Andre Johnson skipped offseason workouts and mandatory minicamp after wondering in May if Houston was "still the place for me."

A holdout by the face of the franchise and the team's longest-tenured player could cast a pall on the beginning of coach Bill O'Brien's first season.

O'Brien has tried to downplay the situation so far, but that tact will be much more difficult if Johnson's holdout stretches much longer.

Johnson joined the franchise in its second season and has said that playing on just three teams with winning records in 11 seasons "can become very frustrating."

The Texans were among the favorites to reach the Super Bowl entering last season after reaching the playoffs the previous two years.

But things quickly fell apart due in large part to poor play by quarterback Matt Schaub, coach Gary Kubiak was fired in December and they finished 2-14 to tie the worst record in franchise history.

The 33-year-old Johnson, whose 1,407 yards receiving in 2013 ranked second in the AFC, is unhappy at the prospect of enduring another rebuilding project after seeing the moves the Texans made in the offseason.

If they can't get him back on the field it will leave a big hole in O'Brien's new offense and put much more pressure on last year's first-round pick DeAndre Hopkins.

Here are some things to know about the Texans as camp begins.

CLOWNEY'S HEALTH: Jadeveon Clowney, the top overall pick in this year's draft, may not be ready to practice on the first day of training camp after having sports hernia surgery in June.

O'Brien said that he expected Clowney to be ready for training camp when he disclosed the procedure on June 13. But the former South Carolina standout told reporters recently that

Yesterday Headley wins it in 14th inning of Yankees debut

NEW YORK (AP) Chase Headley came through with a storybook swing at the stroke of midnight in his Yankees debut, hitting a game-winning single in the 14th inning to give New York a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

Derek Jeter broke Lou Gehrig's franchise record for doubles, and the Yankees won an unlikely pitching duel after both rookie starters entered with a 5.10 ERA.

J.P. Arencibia snapped a scoreless tie with a leadoff homer in the 13th against New York reliever David Huff, but the Yankees responded with Brett Gardner's leadoff double and Jacoby Ellsbury's tying single off closer Joakim Soria in the bottom half.

It was the second blown save in 19 chances for Soria, who kept Texas in it by getting Brian McCann to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at the corners.

Yesterday Woods dealing with end of dominant days

Yes, I was surprised when Tiger Woods made his “Very similar to what Phil does,” comments about Rory McIlroy over the weekend at the British Open. I was not at all surprised that Woods feels that McIlroy’s game so far might resemble Phil Mickelson’s more than his own. That’s a fair observation. I was not surprised by the points he made about McIlroy’s inconsistency – the points seemed pretty sensible.

No, the shocking part was this: Tiger Woods said it.

In case you missed it, Woods was asked a little bit about Rory McIlroy as he blitzed the field and won the British Open. McIlroy became the third-youngest player to win three out of the four grand slam events behind Jack Nicklaus and, of course, Woods. There was a lot of history in the air.

The actual question to Woods was: “What is it like to see Rory dominate in a way that only you have in a major like this?” The question was, as we say in the business, a bit loaded. I suspect it was just a kinder way of asking, “How does it feel to see, as the old king of golf, the new king?”

Woods, I suspect, knew exactly what was being asked.

And his answer was plain: “Well, as you can see, the way he plays is pretty aggressively. When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad. It’s one or the other. If you look at his results, he’s kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil does. He has his hot weeks, and he has his weeks where he's off. And that’s just the nature of how he plays the game – it’s no right way or wrong way.”

The answer was, as we say in the business, a bit loaded. It sure seems like what Woods was saying was: Look, Rory can get hot. Good for him. But don’t go comparing him to me now. My game at its best was pure consistency. I won four major championships in a row. I won nine majors out of 30. His game is like Mickelson’s – brilliant some weeks, dreadful other weeks. That’s all well and good for him. But that’s NOT how I played

Yesterday CEO: Clippers coach Rivers to quit if Sterling stays

LOS ANGELES (AP) The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers testified Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers told him he will quit if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the team.

CEO Richard Parsons testified at a trial to determine whether Sterling's wife, Shelly, can sell the team for $2 billion to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer as the NBA looks to force Donald Sterling from the league over racist statements.

"Doc is troubled by this maybe more so than anybody else," Parsons said about Rivers, who is black. "If Mr. Sterling continues as owner, he does not want to continue as coach."

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who heads the NBA players union.

The judge stopped Parsons from giving an account of his conversations with Paul when an NBA lawyer objected over privacy issues.

Parsons is a former chief executive at Time Warner and Citigroup who took over leadership of the Clippers in May during the media blitz surrounding the banishment of Sterling.

Under questioning by Ballmer's lawyer, Parsons said the departure of Rivers would "accelerate the death spiral" of the Clippers.

"If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster," Parsons said. "Doc is the father figure, the one who leads."

The discussion of Clippers players and coaches is new territory for the trial that has mostly explored the dealings between the Sterlings.

It wasn't immediately clear what effect the new information might have on the narrow question under consideration - whether Shelly Sterling can sell the team under the family trust.

Messages left for team officials seeking comment from Rivers weren't immediately returned.

Parsons, who is considered an expert in the management of major corporations, said he was certain that big corporate sponsors would pull out and season ticket holders would demand their money back if Donald Sterling remains the owner.

Jul 22, 2014 Ryu helps Dodgers become 1st with 3 11-game winners

PITTSBURGH (AP) Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.

Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

Justin Turner had two RBIs and scored twice for the Dodgers, who snapped Pittsburgh's six-game home winning streak. Pirates starter Edinson Volquez (8-7) had won four straight starts, tying his career high.

Los Angeles played without right fielder Yasiel Puig (left hand) and shortstop Hanley Ramirez (left wrist) after both were injured when they were hit by pitches last weekend in St. Louis.

Puig and Ramirez had X-rays in Pittsburgh that came back negative Monday.

Jul 22, 2014 Big 12 commish's dire warning about pending change

DALLAS (AP) Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.

"You're going to hate it going forward," Bowlsby said. "There's a lot of change coming."

During his opening address at Big 12 football media days, Bowlsby talked about growing financial constraints athletic programs face going forward and the "strange environment" that exists with class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and its member schools.

Bowlsby said he's doesn't think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits - which he numbered as seven and "growing all the time" - could radically alter things.

"I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike," he said. "I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources."

While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go college in the future.

"I fear that we will get past the change and then we'll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents on campus all the time negotiating playing time for student athletes," he said. "There's all kind of Armageddon scenarios you could come up with. ... You wouldn't have to be a very good fiction writer to come up with some scenarios that would be pretty scary."

A year ago, Bowlsby's opening address was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences - the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC - in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA.

The NCAA board of directors is set to vote Aug. 7 on a proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over college rules. The proposal also wou

Jul 22, 2014 Witness: Sterling needs Clippers sale to pay debts

LOS ANGELES (AP) The chief financial officer of Donald Sterling's properties said Monday that the billionaire may be forced to sell a large portion of his real estate empire to cover $500 million in loans if he persists in refusing to sell the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.

Darren Schield, who oversees the finances of The Sterling Family Trust, testified Monday that three banks are ready to recall their loans to Sterling because of his decision to dissolve the trust. His move was designed to rescind his signed agreement for the sale of the Clippers, a team he bought for $12 million.

Schield said if Sterling has to dump $500 million worth of apartment buildings he could destabilize the Los Angeles real estate market.

Sterling attorney Maxwell Blecher suggested that Sterling could take the company public in order to raise funds.

But Shelly Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell asked if it would be easy to go public "with Donald Sterling's reputation."

Schield responded: "There's huge reputation issues. I don't know if anyone would want to go into partnership with him."

The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life for making racist statements after the release of recorded conversations. Sterling has denied he is a racist from the witness stand.

Schield testified in the probate trial that if Sterling's loans go into default and he needs to refinance, banks would be reluctant to give him that much money at the low rate he has now.

"I know the bank looks at this as a higher credit risk with all this going on," he said. "The rate would go up considerably."

Sterling, the volatile owner of the team, agreed to the sale but then dissolved the family trust in an effort to stop it.

Schield, testifying at the trial that will decide the future of a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said he warned Sterling not to revoke the trust last month.

"I told him a revocat

Jul 21, 2014 Kirilenko ends engagement to NHL star Ovechkin

MOSCOW (AP) Another sports power couple's engagement is off.

Two months after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko says she has called off her planned wedding to three-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

The two had been together since 2011 and became engaged in December 2012.

Kirilenko says in comments distributed by the Russian Tennis Federation that there were "a lot of reasons" behind her decision.

She says "our relationship is over, but I respect Sasha (Ovechkin) as a person and as an athlete and I respectfully wish him further sporting success."

Ovechkin had faced questions from Russian media about the relationship when he did not accompany Kirilenko to Wimbledon last month.

Jul 21, 2014 Dream coach, Laker great Cooper has tongue cancer

ATLANTA (AP) Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper has early stage tongue cancer and has taken a leave from the WNBA team.

He will have surgery this week at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta and a full recovery is expected, the Dream said Monday.

The 58-year-old coach is expected to miss about two weeks, with assistant coach Karleen Thompson filling in. Atlanta plays at Minnesota on Tuesday.

"I'm fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection," Cooper said. "I know the team will be in good hands with coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon."

Cooper is in his first season with Atlanta. His team leads the Eastern Conference with a 15-6 record. He coached the East to a 125-124 overtime victory at the WNBA All-Star game Saturday.

Cooper won five NBA titles as a shooting guard with the Los Angeles Lakers during the "Showtime" era from 1978-90. As a coach, he won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks and one NBA Development League championships with Albuquerque.

After his second run with the Sparks, Cooper was hired as the women's coach at Southern California. He resigned in March following an 11-20 season, his first losing mark in four seasons.

Jul 21, 2014 Big 12 commish issues dire warning about pending change

DALLAS (AP) Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby had a dire warning Monday for anyone who likes intercollegiate athletics the way they are now.

"You're going to hate it going forward," Bowlsby said. "There's a lot of change coming."

During his opening address at Big 12 football media days, Bowlsby talked about growing financial constraints athletic programs face going forward and the "strange environment" that exists with class-action lawsuits against the NCAA and its member schools.

Bowlsby said he's doesn't think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits - which he numbered as seven and "growing all the time" - could radically alter things.

"I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike," he said. "I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources."

While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go college in the future.

"I fear that we will get past the change and then we'll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents on campus all the time negotiating playing time for student athletes," he said. "There's all kind of Armageddon scenarios you could come up with. ... You wouldn't have to be a very good fiction writer to come up with some scenarios that would be pretty scary."

A year ago, Bowlsby's opening address was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences - the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC - in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA.

The NCAA board of directors is set to vote Aug. 7 on a proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over college rules. The proposal also woul

Jul 21, 2014 Who is the face of baseball once Derek Jeter retires?

Before we ask who, if anyone, can replace Derek Jeter as the face of baseball, there’s another question to ask: Why has Derek Jeter been the face of baseball? Why did he, more than anyone else, become the game’s singular player, the player people talked about most, the player people argued about most, the player non-baseball fans knew?

See, the face of baseball is something of an honorary title. I like to think of this way: Imagine a movie that is not at all about baseball. Let’s say it’s about some sort of Marvel superhero or about Scarlett Johansson having absurd powers or … no, those are pretty much the only two kinds of movies that come out now. OK, in this movie there is a character (probably played by John Krasinski) who is a baseball fan. He happens to mention how much he likes one baseball player.

That player he mentions? He is the face of baseball.

For years now, Derek Jeter would be the player mentioned. Why Jeter? Let’s look at the dozen or so best players since 1990 as ranked by Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR):

1) Barry Bonds, 139.0
2) Alex Rodriguez, 116.0
3) Albert Pujols, 95.5
4) Chipper Jones, 85.0
5) Ken Griffey, 80.3
6) Jeff Bagwell, 79.6
7) Adrian Beltre, 74.3
8) Frank Thomas, 73.7
9) Jim Thome, 72.9
10) Larry Walker, 72.7
11) Derek Jeter, 72.1
12) Scott Rolen, 70.0

Now, it’s true that many people do not like WAR as a tool to measure players -- it’s not unfair to argue that Beltre gets too much credit for defense or that Jeter gets too little, and some would that Bonds and A-Rod are frauds who should not even count on a list like this -- but the point remains. Jeter was not the best player in baseball. In many years, he was not even the best player on his own team. Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano not to mention pitchers like CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera all had years when they

Jul 21, 2014 Bourdais and Conway win in IndyCar doubleheader

TORONTO -- IndyCar ran two races in Toronto on Sunday, where rain wreaked havoc on both the schedule and driver strategy.

The series had planned to run one race Saturday and one on Sunday until rain washed out the first event. It instead began Sunday morning, roughly five hours before the start of the second race, and won by Sebastien Bourdais. He broke a 52-race losing streak dating to 2007 in claiming a dominating win on the dry street course at Exhibition Place.

But the rain returned for the second race, and IndyCar officials moved the start up 10 minutes in an attempt to run as much as possible in dry conditions. The sky eventually did open, the track became slick and drivers darted to pit road for rain tires.

When the track began to dry, Mike Conway gambled and made an early stop to remove his rain tires. A caution minutes later sent the bulk of the field to pit road to change their tires, and Conway shot up the leaderboard.

Conway was fifth on the restart, but his dry tires were far superior to the drivers still racing on rain tires, and he quickly moved through the field and into the lead. The race, which had been scheduled to run 65 laps or 80 minutes, whichever came first, then became a timed race.

A multicar accident stopped the clock for a cleanup with 4 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, and set up one final restart. Conway pulled away on the restart and easily held off Tony Kanaan.

It was the second win of the season for Conway, who walked away from IndyCar at the end of 2012 season because he no longer wanted to race on ovals. He was hired this year to split the seat with driver/owner Ed Carpenter, who was willing to give up his car on road and street courses.

Kanaan, third in the first race of the day, was the only IndyCar driver to finish on the podium in both events.

Will Power finished third as Chevrolet swept the podium in both races. Bourdais led points leader Helio Castroneves and Kanaan in

Jul 21, 2014 Jameis Winston: 'I learned from my mistakes'

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) Jameis Winston wants to look to the season ahead as the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for reigning national champion Florida State. He also knows he has to answer questions about his off-field conduct.

"I understand the spotlight," Winston said Sunday on the first of the Atlantic Coast Conference's two-day preseason kickoff event. "I understand what it is to be a leader and I'm bettering myself every single day to hold myself to that standard that everyone views me as, you know? Because I'm on a pedestal. Other players don't get the privilege of being on that pedestal."

Winston was investigated for sexual assault during last season. A prosecutor in Tallahassee, Florida, decided in December not to charge him due to a lack of evidence and gaps in the accuser's story.

Then in April, he was cited for walking out of a supermarket without paying for crab legs and crawfish.

He did not address specifics of the incident Sunday during an hour-long interview session that had about 60 reporters crowded around his table. Instead, he focused on working to become a better leader and player with the support of family, teammates and coaches.

"I have a certain standard that I've got to hold myself up to, and if I go even an inch below that standard, it's going to be chaos."

Asked if it was a difficult lesson to learn, Winston said, "It wasn't difficult at all because you learn from your mistakes in this world. I learned from my mistakes, I fixed it and I moved on into preparing for this season."

Miami running back Duke Johnson described Winston as "a kid still" and said Winston does not seem bothered by outside criticism.

"He likes to have fun, he likes to play around, and a lot of people take that out of (context) and make it bigger than what it really is," Johnson said. "But I don't believe Jameis means any harm in what he does or anything he may have done in the past."

Winston seemed at e

Jul 21, 2014 Rory McIlroy wins British Open for 3rd major

HOYLAKE, England -- Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf's oldest trophy.

On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

In the record book, he is listed behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the youngest to get three legs of the career Grand Slam.

And over four days at Royal Liverpool, he had no equal.

"I'm immensely proud of myself," McIlroy said after his two-shot victory Sunday that was never really in doubt. "To sit here, 25 years of age, and win my third major championship and be three-quarters of the way to a career Grand Slam ... yeah, I never dreamed of being at this point in my career so quickly."

He had to work a little harder than he wanted for this one.

Staked to a six-shot lead going into the final round, McIlroy turned back every challenge. He made two key birdies around the turn, and delivered a majestic drive at just the right moment to close with a 1-under 71 and complete his wire-to-wire victory.

In another major lacking tension over the final hour, what brought The Open to life was the potential of its champion.

After nearly two years of turmoil, McIlroy looked like the kid who shattered scoring records to win the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, and who won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots a year later.

Boy Wonder is back. Or maybe he's just getting started again.

McIlroy won by two shots over Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler to become the first start-to-finish winner since Woods at St. Andrews in 2005. Even with one major left this year, the Northern Irishman already is looking ahead to Augusta National next April for a shot at the slam.

"I've really found my passion again for golf," McIlroy said. "Not that it ever dwindled, but it's what I think about when I get up in the morning. It's what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the

Jul 20, 2014 Vikings suspend Priefer for 3 games

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings will suspend special teams coordinator Mike Priefer without pay for three games this season and donate $100,000 to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights groups, in response to former punter Chris Kluwe's allegations of anti-gay slurs and taunts made by Priefer.

The Vikings announced the punishment Friday as part of a summary of findings by outside lawyers hired in January to investigate Kluwe's accusations, which included a claim he was released because of his gay-rights advocacy.

The Vikings said Priefer's ban could be reduced to two games at their discretion, provided he attends individualized anti-harassment, diversity and sexual-orientation sensitivity training.

Such education has been required for all Vikings employees, coaches and players on an annual basis for the past several years, the team said, and the improvements for the programs will be considered.

Chris Madel, a former Justice Department attorney, and Eric Magnuson, a former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, from the Minneapolis-based law firm Robins, Kaplan, Ciresi and Miller recently presented their report to the Vikings after interviewing 31 people and examining 121 gigabytes of data.

Priefer was questioned three times. According to a 29-page analysis of the investigation by employment law consultants Littler Mendelson and Donald Prophete, commissioned by the Vikings and released Friday, Priefer initially denied making a remark Kluwe alleged about "putting all the gays on an island and nuking it" but later acknowledged he might have.

Long snapper Cullen Loeffler told the investigators he heard the same comment Kluwe did, but that he assumed Priefer was joking.

Also in the analysis of the investigation released by Mendelson and Prophete:

- Vikings officials were nearly unanimous in deciding Kluwe's 2012 season was substandard, and the report said Priefer actually gave Kluwe a higher

Jul 20, 2014 Rockies SS Tulowitzki leaves game with leg cramp

PITTSBURGH (AP) Colorado Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was forced out of Saturday night's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates by a cramp in his left thigh.

Tulowitzki was running out a ground ball to shortstop in the top of the fourth inning when he grabbed his left leg halfway down the first base line. He was thrown out easily and gingerly made his way to the dugout before being replaced by Josh Rutledge.

The 29-year-old Tulowitzki is in the middle of a career season. He began play Saturday leading the major leagues with a .342 batting average. His 71 runs scored are also tops in the majors.

Jul 20, 2014 Seattle gives Make-A-Wish recipient chance to play

SEATTLE (AP) Xander Bailey stood at midfield with Seattle star Clint Dempsey at his side Saturday, waiting for kickoff against Tottenham.

When the whistle blew, the 18-year-old Bailey - a Make-A-Wish recipient from Greater Pennsylvania and West Virginia - took the pass from Dempsey, dribbled down the field and took a shot on former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel. He was then subbed off in front of 55,349 to a massive ovation while being mobbed by Seattle teammates.

"To give him this opportunity is just fantastic. I saw the look in his eyes and you could just tell he was overwhelmed and he was so appreciative," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "It makes for a day I know he will never forget. Our guys wont' forget it either because it impacts us. We see what it means to him and being able to help in that regard and be part of that sort of situation is unique and special for us as well."

Bailey took part in training with the Sounders on Friday, and the club made sure his experience was special. Bailey walked out with the team during pregame ceremonies and was introduced as part of the starting lineup. Seattle's largest fans group - the Emerald City Supporters - created a small tifo in honor of Bailey and green cards were handed out through the stadium with Bailey's name and his No. 45.

Bailey is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia and has been playing as a midfielder for the King's Warriors PDL Reserve team. ESPN announcers said during Saturday's broadcast that Bailey suffers from cystic fibrosis.

Jul 20, 2014 AP sources: Bon Jovi part of group eyeing Bills

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group that has retained a banking firm and submitted paperwork expressing interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, three people who have reviewed documents regarding the sale process told The Associated Press on Friday.

It is unclear if the group would eventually want to move the NFL team to Toronto. The club is on the market after Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson died in March.

The three people spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Friday because the process is private and the Toronto group has not revealed its intentions.

The group includes Larry Tanenbaum and the Rogers family. Tanenbaum is chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which controls the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors. The Rogers family includes Edward Rogers, who is deputy chairman of Rogers, the Toronto communications giant.

The group is on a list of prospective buyers who have submitted a nondisclosure agreement form to Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the Bills sale. The Toronto group has retained the Goldman Sachs banking firm to assist in the bid.

Bon Jovi previously expressed interest in owning an NFL franchise but never specifically mentioned the Bills. This is the first real indication linking him to Tanenbaum and Rogers.

One of the people confirmed that Bon Jovi discussed his interests involving the Bills during a restaurant meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York City last month.

The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million. They are projected to be sold for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.

The team is essentially locked into playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium through the 2019 season because of a strict nonrelocation clause included in a 10-year lease agreement reached with the state and county in December 2012.

The Bills would incur a $400 million penalty b

Jul 20, 2014 Yankees' Sabathia (knee) expects to pitch in 2015

NEW YORK (AP) CC Sabathia is disappointed and relieved all at the same time.

Sidelined with a right knee injury, the New York Yankees' pitcher spoke to reporters Saturday morning for the first time since the team announced he will have season-ending surgery Wednesday.

Sabathia said the news was difficult to absorb and his situation is "not fun." But he's glad doctors recommended an arthroscopic cleanup rather than microfracture surgery, which would have required perhaps an 18-month recovery.

"It's tough. It's unfortunate," Sabathia said. "But I feel, I guess, relieved that I have some answers, and kind of a plan in place to kind of move forward."

The big left-hander, who turns 34 on Monday, said he's confident he will be back on the mound in spring training. And with a blueprint now in place for his return, he said he was able to get "some real sleep" Friday night for the first time in weeks.

General manager Brian Cashman, however, cautioned Friday that there's no guarantee Sabathia will be able to pitch effectively next season.

The operation will be performed by Los Angeles Dodgers head physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Sabathia said he was told he can resume baseball activities six to eight weeks after the procedure.

"He feels good about it, and I do, too," Sabathia said, adding that NBA star Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder had the same surgery and came back fine. "Obviously, you've got to deal with a little bit of swelling here and there, but it's something I have to do. My goal in talking to (Dr. ElAttrache) was to pitch the next five, six years and past this contract and be able to go out and do that. So I'm confident in that idea."

Sabathia also had surgery on his right knee in October 2010 to repair a small meniscus cartilage tear. He said he thinks the latest injury was caused by simple wear and tear.

"It's something that I'm going to have to deal with probably for the rest of my

Jul 20, 2014 IndyCar Series in Toronto rained out

TORONTO (AP) Let's race two.

IndyCar's weekend doubleheader will be crammed into one day because Saturday's race was called because of rain.

IndyCar has scheduled two, 65-lap races for Sunday. The first one will have a rolling start at 10:30 a.m. and the second one is set for a standing start at 4:15 p.m. The order for the second race will be set by points, as of Saturday. Both races will be telecast on NBCSN.

IndyCar officials originally had decided to make Saturday's race a 90-minute or 65-lap race once it started. But with rain falling into the night, officials decided to call the race.

"Obviously, we all wanted to get the race in today, but this was the correct call," series points leader Helio Castroneves said. "We really tried to start the race, but it was clear that we were going to wreck a lot of cars. The PPG Chevy is very fast so whenever we start the race we will be fine."

Castroneves has the pole for the second race.

Will Power's car wrecked during warm-up laps. The pace car also spun before officials decided to pull the cars from the track and red flag the race.

Sebastien Bourdais won his first open-wheel pole since 2007 earlier in the day.

Bourdais' lap of 58.9479 seconds (107.179 mph) on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit at Exhibition Place earned him his 32nd career pole. He won his first pole since Sept. 2, 2007, at Assen, Netherlands, driving for Champ Car.

The course was affected by standing water on the backstretch.

Tony Kanaan called the conditions "completely unsafe," and Ryan Briscoe predicted "carnage" if the race went off during its scheduled green flag time.

The last IndyCar Series race to be postponed by rain was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2011. That race ran its first 15 laps on Sunday, May 1 and concluded with 40 laps on May 2. The last race to be postponed in full was at St. Petersburg on March 28, 2010. The race was run on March 29, 2010.