AP NEWS

Thursday Sports in Brief

December 27, 2019 GMT

AWARDS

NEW YORK (AP) — Gymnast Simone Biles is the 2019 AP Female Athlete of the Year.

The reigning world and Olympic champion edged U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe for the honor in a vote among AP member sports editors and AP beat writers. Skiing star Mikaela Schiffrin placed third, with WNBA MVP Elena Della Donne fourth.

The 22-year-old is the first gymnast to win the award twice and the first to do it in a non-Olympic year.

She was named the Athlete of the Year in 2016 after winning four gold medals at the Rio Olympics.

Biles is preparing for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and says she’s eager to finish her career with a flourish.

NFL

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Atlanta Falcons rookie cornerback Jordan Miller was suspended for four games without pay Thursday for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Miller, a fifth-round draft pick out of Washington, will miss the season finale Sunday at Tampa Bay and the first three games of 2020. He was inactive until Week 5 and has played mostly on special teams, logging 23 defensive snaps in 10 games.

Miller was inactive for last week’s win over Jacksonville.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Penn State has hired Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, after he held the same role for Big Ten foe Minnesota for the past three seasons.

Ciarrocca replaces Ricky Rahne, who was named the head coach at OId Dominion earlier this month. Penn State head coach James Franklin, whose team plays Memphis in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, made the announcement on Thursday.

Ciarrocca grew up as a Nittany Lions fan in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, and has deep ties to the state. He has spent the majority of his 30-year coaching career in the Mid-Atlantic region. Ciarrocca came to the Midwest in 2013 to join head coach P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan and followed Fleck to Minnesota in 2017.

NBA

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit Pistons guard Luke Kennard is expected to be out of the lineup for two weeks because of knee tendinitis.

The team made the announcement Thursday, saying Kennard will be evaluated again before returning to play in early January.

The third-year pro is averaging nearly 16 points per game, tied with Blake Griffin and trailing only Andre Drummond in scoring on the team. Kennard is making a team-high 2.6 3-pointers per game and 4.1 assists to rank second on the team.

The former Duke star averaged fewer than 10 points per game during his first two NBA seasons after Detroit drafted him No. 12 overall in 2017.

WNBA

NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA and the players’ union announced Thursday that they have agreed to extend their labor agreement for two weeks as they continue to negotiate a new one.

The current collective bargaining agreement was reached in 2014. It was supposed to run through the 2021 season, but the players decided to opt out of the deal after the 2019 season. In October, the two sides extended the deadline to Dec 31.

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