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BC-Sports Briefs

April 3, 2019
By The Associated Press

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Duke’s Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett are the second freshman teammates to earn first-team All-America honors.

Williamson and Barrett headed The Associated Press All-America team released on Tuesday, joined by Tennessee’s Grant Williams, Murray State’s Ja Morant and Cassius Winston of Michigan State.

The Blue Devils’ duo are the 11th pair of teammates to be named to the AP first team and first freshman teammates since Kentucky’s DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall in 2010.

Williamson electrified college basketball with his array of massive dunks and soaring blocks, earning unanimous selection to the first team from 64 voters. He averaged 22.1 points while Barrett scored 22.9 per game.

Morant, who led the nation with 10 assists per game, is the first Murray State player to be a first-team AP All-American.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Longtime coach Lute Olson and the late Rick Majerus headline the 2019 class of six former players and three influential coaches selected Tuesday for the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

Joining them during the induction ceremony this November are former Indiana star Calbert Cheaney, Duke’s Shane Battier, Purdue’s Terry Dischinger, Ernie DiGregorio of Providence, UNLV’s Larry Johnson, Stanford standout Todd Lichti and longtime Valparaiso coach Homer Drew.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — William & Mary has named George Mason assistant coach Dane Fischer as its new men’s basketball coach.

Athletic director Samantha Huge made the announcement Tuesday. Fischer has coached for 16 years, the last four as the top assistant to Dave Paulsen at George Mason. He has never been a head coach and received a five-year contract with the Tribe.

BASEBALL

ATLANTA (AP) — Outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a $100 million, eight-year contract, the largest deal for a player under club control with less than one year of major league service.

The NL Rookie of the Year, Acuna agreed to a deal with two team options that, if exercised, would raise the value to $124 million over 10 years.

He made his major league debut last April 25 and began Tuesday with 165 days of service. Acuna would have been eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.

HAVANA (AP) — The Cuban Baseball Federation released its first group of players able to sign contracts directly with Major League Baseball organizations, and some could be playing in the United States this year.

The 34 players are 17 to 25, classified as international amateurs under MLB rules and eligible to sign minor league contracts. Minor league salaries start at $850 a month but signing bonuses for top players can exceed $1 million while hundreds of players sign for $10,000 or less.

The deal announced in December by MLB, the CBF and the Major League Baseball Players Association specifies 25 percent of the signing bonus will go to the CBF as a release fee. Cuban players also pay a 4% income tax on foreign earnings.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Tim Tebow began the next step of his quest to make it to the major leagues , working out with the Triple-A Syracuse Mets on Tuesday.

The former Heisman Trophy winner of the Florida Gators and former NFL quarterback says no matter where he’s been people have been supportive. He says it’s been “a real joy.”

Last year, Tebow had a respectable second full season of minor league baseball, batting .273 with six home runs, 14 doubles and 36 RBIs in 84 games for Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League.

Tebow called Syracuse a really good sports town and said he took a drive to look at Syracuse University’s athletic facilities. He also fondly remembered Florida’s 31-10 triumph over Syracuse in the 1999 Orange Bowl, the final game of quarterback Donovan McNabb’s stellar career for the Orange.

FOOTBALL

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Alliance of American Football has ended its first season prematurely and told most employees that they will be terminated as of Wednesday.

Employees were notified of the decision in a letter from the AAF board on Tuesday afternoon. The board essentially is majority owner Tom Dundon, who also owns the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, gave no reason for ending the inaugural season, only that the decision was made “after careful consideration.” It also said a small staff would remain to seek new investment capital and “restructure our business. Should those efforts prove successful, we look forward to working with many of you on season two.”

NBA

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ernie Grunfeld has been fired as president of the Washington Wizards after 16 seasons in charge of the team.

The Wizards announced his dismissal on Tuesday with four games left in a disappointing, no-playoffs season.

Washington is 32-46 and in 11th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference.

The club went 568-724 during Grunfeld’s tenure with eight postseason appearances. But Washington never made it past the second round of the playoffs.

HOCKEY

The National Women’s Hockey League’s board has approved an investment plan to expand into Toronto and Montreal next season.

NWHL spokesman Chris Botta also told The Associated Press on Tuesday the league has received a commitment from the NHL that will make it one of the NWHL’s biggest financial sponsors.

The board decision comes two days after the Canadian National Women’s Hockey League’s ceased operations.

Botta says the NWHL is moving quickly to establish teams in Canada’s two largest cities. Toronto and Montreal would become the NWHL’s first Canadian-based teams and expand the league’s franchises to seven.

DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings announced a two-year contract extension with coach Jeff Blashill on Tuesday, giving their young leader a vote of confidence in a rebuild that will now include a third straight year without a playoff berth after a 25-year postseason run.

The 45-year-old Blashill is in his fourth season as coach of the storied franchise, which has won five straight games but was still just 31-38-10 going into Tuesday night’s home game against Pittsburgh.

General manager Ken Holland praised Blashill for keeping the Red Wings competitive and “hard to play against every night.”

SOCCER

The maker of LUNA Bar brand nutrition bars has pledged to pay $31,250 to each of the players who make the U.S. roster for the Women’s World Cup, an amount the company says makes up the difference between bonuses for the men’s and women’s national teams.

California-based Clif Bar & Company announced the planned payments Tuesday on Equal Pay Day, which highlights the gender wage gap.

The U.S. women’s national team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in federal court last month alleging gender discrimination.

The players have said in court documents that U.S. men’s team players earned a $55,000 bonus apiece for making the World Cup roster in 2014, while the women earned a $15,000 bonus each for making the 2015 World Cup roster.

BERLIN (AP) — German soccer federation president Reinhard Grindel resigned Tuesday, bowing to increasing pressure following allegations of undeclared earnings, the receipt of a luxury watch and general discontent with his leadership.

Grindel, who promised greater transparency after taking over in April 2016, apologized for accepting a watch worth about 6,000 euros ($6,700) from Ukrainian oligarch Grigoriy Surkis - a UEFA vice president and executive committee member at the time.

PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain says Brazil star Neymar will resume training on Wednesday after he was sidelined for more than two months with a foot injury.

PSG said in a statement late Tuesday that Neymar, who was injured playing against Strasbourg in a French Cup game in late January with a recurrence of a fifth metatarsal injury he sustained one year earlier, will return as planned for “on-pitch tests.”

LAW

LINDEN, N.J. (AP) — Former baseball star Lenny Dykstra has pleaded guilty to illegally renting out rooms in a New Jersey house owned by his corporation.

Dykstra admitted in municipal court Tuesday to violating city housing codes in Linden by running a rooming house without permission. NJ.com reports the former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies player pleaded on behalf of his company Titan Equity Group.

NJ.com says as part of the plea deal Dykstra will pay about $3,000 in fines. He paid $100 of the fine Tuesday. Dykstra also agreed to make monthly payments of $100.

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