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Monday Sports in Brief

February 22, 2022 GMT

MEN’S COLLEGE BASKTBALL

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard has been suspended the final five games of the regular season and fined $40,000 for hitting a Wisconsin assistant in the head, triggering a postgame melee.

The Big Ten Conference also on Monday suspended three players one game for the altercation following the 15th-ranked Badgers’ 77-63 win on Sunday: Michigan’s Moussa Diabate and Terrance Williams II, and Jahcobi Neath of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard was fined $10,000 for violating the conference’s sportsmanship policy, but was not suspended. Howard is expected to be back for the Big Ten tournament, which begins March 9 in Indianapolis.

MLB

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Baseball negotiations resumed with new intensity Monday in an effort to salvage opening day, and owners made a pair of slight moves toward locked-out players but put off big-ticket bargaining issues until later.

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With a week or perhaps a little more time left to preserve openers on March 31, union head Tony Clark attended negotiations for the first time since since the work stoppage began on Dec. 2.

New York Mets stars Max Scherzer and Francisco Lindor were among 10 players who were at a pair of sessions during a five-hour span.

MLB increased its offer of a bonus pool for pre-arbitration players by $5 million to $20 million, a fraction of the $115 million the union has asked for.

Clubs also increased their proposal for a lottery for the amateur draft from the top three picks to the top four. Players have asked for the top eight.

HORSE RACING

Medina Spirit was stripped of the victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby and Mandaloun was declared the winner after a ruling by state racing stewards on Monday.

The since-deceased Medina Spirit tested positive after the race last May for a steroid, betamethasone, that is legal in Kentucky but banned on race day. The positive test threw the world’s best-known horse race into turmoil and cast an unflattering spotlight on trainer Bob Baffert, considered the face of horse racing after he guided horses to the Triple Crown in 2015 and 2018.

Medina Spirit finished half a length ahead of Mandaloun in the race, giving Baffert what was then his seventh Kentucky Derby title. Baffert was subsequently banned for two years by Churchill Downs following the positive test.

NFL

Players attending the NFL’s scouting combine won’t have to stay in a “bubble” as originally ordered after organizers loosened regulations Monday night after getting blowback for strict COVID-19 rules issued over the weekend.

In a memo sent to all invitees and obtained by The Associated Press on Monday night, the National Invitational Combine said, “We encourage all players to remain within the secure Combine areas at all times for your safety.

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“However, if you would like to leave the secure areas during free time in your schedule, you are now permitted to do so at your own risk.”

The memo indicated prospects would still be limited to a single support person such as an athletic trainer or massage therapist they can bring to the combine, although players will be free to meet with others off-site.

— By AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton.

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is collaborating with the XFL for player safety and health data.

The XFL, which plans to relaunch in 2023, will be working with the NFL on physical and mental fitness programs for players, the study of playing surfaces and equipment, and the sharing of game trends and data.

Also potentially in the works between the leagues could be international football development and scouting, and officiating, including the testing of game rules for player protection as well as technologies to enhance officiating.

NHL

CHICAGO (AP) — Hall of Fame forward Bobby Hull is no longer serving as a team ambassador for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Hull played for Chicago for 15 years, collecting 604 goals and 549 assists. He was named a Blackhawks ambassador in a ceremony with fellow Hall of Famer Stan Mikita in 2008.

The Blackhawks said Monday they are redefining the role of team ambassador after Mikita died in 2018 and Tony Esposito passed away in August.

SOCCER

SAO PAULO (AP) — Pelé has extended a scheduled hospital stay due to a urinary infection.

The 81-year-old Pelé went in on Feb. 13 to continue treatment for his colon cancer, and days later doctors found the infection, Hospital Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo said in a statement on Monday.

Pelé has had chemotherapy to treat the tumor that was found during routine exams at the end of August. He was briefly put in intensive care shortly after the surgery on his colon, and has since recovered.

SAO PAULO (AP) — Neymar hopes to play in the United States one day, more than he wants to return to his Brazil homeland.

The 30-year-old striker recently extended his contract with Paris Saint-Germain to 2025.

“I don’t know if I will play in Brazil again. I have a lot of will to play in the U.S., that I do want. At least for one season,” Neymar told podcast “Fenômenos” in a video posted late Sunday. “In Brazil ... I don’t know. Sometimes I want it, sometimes I don’t.”

The striker jokingly said he wants to play in the U.S. “because the championship is quick, so there’s four months of vacations. That’s how you can play (there) for many years.”

Asked whether he is planning for his retirement, Neymar said he jokes with his friends about hanging his boots at age 32.

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