Monday Sports in Brief

March 2, 2021 GMT


ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce was fired Monday, less than halfway into a season that began with heightened expectations but was beset by injuries.

The Hawks are 14-20 and 11th in the Eastern Conference, following a 109-99 loss at Miami on Sunday night. It was the Hawks’ 11th loss after holding a fourth-quarter lead. The teams play again in Miami on Tuesday.

The Hawks named Nate McMillan interim coach. McMillan, the former Indiana Pacers coach, was added to Pierce’s staff in the offseason.


HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans released veteran quarterback Josh McCown on Monday, likely ending his 18-year NFL career.


The Texans signed the 41-year-old in November, but he did not appear in a game. McCown joined the Texans after spending the early part of the season on the Eagles practice squad, a job that allowed him to stay at his home in Texas because of the pandemic instead of reporting to Philadelphia.

He last appeared in a game in January 2020 when he took over for an injured Carson Wentz in Philadelphia’s 17-9 playoff loss to Seattle.

He’s played 102 games and thrown for 17,731 yards and 98 touchdowns in his career.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs expect Patrick Mahomes to be ready for offseason workouts following surgery on his toe, and they are optimistic that offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz could be available for the start of training camp.

Mahomes had surgery on Feb. 10, shortly after the Chiefs were walloped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl, to repair a turf toe injury that had hobbled him throughout the playoffs. The recovery time is about three months, which means Mahomes — whose fiancée recently gave birth to their first child — could be ready for summer minicamp.

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears hired former Texas coach Tom Herman in an analyst role on Matt Nagy’s staff Monday, his first NFL job after more than two decades of college coaching.

Herman led Texas to a 32-18 record and four bowl victories the past four seasons. But he failed to deliver a Big 12 title or lead the Longhorns into national championship contention and got fired in January, with Steve Sarkisian replacing him.

Herman had two successful seasons coaching Houston before taking the Texas job.


NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball has cleared the way for the return of in-game video on dugout iPads beginning on opening day, with catcher signals clipped when they are displayed on a computer.


For decades, baseball players retreated to a clubhouse video room to check out their at-bats or take a closer look at a reliever coming into the game. But that practice was prohibited in 2020, contributing to a down year for offense during the pandemic-shortened season.

Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who opted out of last season because of COVID-19 concerns, calls video “a huge part of the game.”


HOUSTON (AP) — The NIT is moving the entire 2021 event to Texas, taking the semifinals and championship game out of New York’s Madison Square Garden for the first time in the 83-year history of college basketball’s oldest postseason tournament.

The pandemic is also reducing the field to 16 teams from the usual 32, and all games are set for the Dallas area. The two venues are the University of North Texas in Denton and an arena in Frisco that is home to a G League team affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks.

VESTAL, N.Y. (AP) — Binghamton University announced Monday that men’s basketball coach Tommy Dempsey is out and assistant Levell Sanders has been named interim coach for next season.

Athletic director Patrick Elliott said in a news release that Dempsey’s contract would not be renewed after his nine years at the helm.

Dempsey finishes with a 71-194 record at Binghamton in nine seasons. He was the second America East Conference coach to find out Monday that his contract would not be renewed, joining Albany’s Will Brown.

DENVER (AP) — The University of Denver is parting ways with basketball coach Rodney Billups after five seasons.

Billups finished 48-94 at the school where he once was a standout player. The Pioneers were 2-19 overall this season and 1-13 in Summit League play. Denver didn’t qualify for the conference tournament in two of the last three seasons.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — University at Albany men’s basketball coach Will Brown is out after two decades.

Brown said in a news release issued Monday that he and the school had agreed “to mutually part ways.” The 2020-21 season was the final year of his contract extension.

Brown, hired in December 2001, took a team that had recently become a Division I member (1999) and built it into a solid mid-major. His teams posted a record of 315-295 and earned five NCAA Tournament berths.


SEATTLE (AP) — Four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird re-signed with the Seattle Storm on Monday for what will be her 20th season with the team.

Bird’s signing has been expected all offseason but seemed to be delayed while the team figured out the rest of its roster. The 11-time All-Star has spent her entire WNBA career with the Storm after the franchise made her the No. 1 pick in 2002.

This season will be her 18th on the court with Seattle after missing the 2013 and 2019 seasons due to injuries.


Roger Federer is withdrawing from this month’s Miami Open so he can spend extra time preparing to “work his way back out on tour,” his agent told The Associated Press on Monday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has not competed in more than a year after having two operations on his right knee during last season.

Federer, who turns 40 in August, is scheduled to make his return to the tour next week in a hard-court tournament at Doha, Qatar.


The British government will provide 2.8 million pounds ($4 million) to pursue a five-nation bid for a World Cup with Ireland.

The English Football Association disclosed the financial assistance for a potential British Isles bid on Monday as it received fresh backing from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

England, which hosted and won the 1966 World Cup, is exploring bidding with Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

MADRID (AP) — Catalan police arrested four people — including former president Josep Maria Bartomeu — after raiding Barcelona’s stadium on Monday in a search and seizure operation, adding to the club’s turmoil less than a week before it holds presidential elections.

The operation was related to last year’s “Barçagate,” in which club officials were accused of launching a smear campaign against current and former players who were critical of the club and then-president Bartomeu.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Jonathan Suárez’s contact was terminated by Major League Soccer’s Orlando City following his arrest last week.

The 24-year-old, whose full name is Jonathan Suárez Cortes, and brother Rafael Suárez were arrested Feb. 23 and accused of sexually assaulting a woman, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Ben Gumpert said Monday he will resign as president and chief operating officer of the United Soccer League’s Republic, a move announced three days after Major League Soccer said Ron Burkle had backed out of plans for an expansion team in Sacramento.

Republic chairman Kevin Nagle said general manager Todd Dunivant will become team president of the second-tier club and will continue to oversee soccer operations.


ATKINSON, Neb. (AP) — Andy Hoffman, father of the young cancer patient who captured the hearts of college football fans when he ran for a touchdown in Nebraska’s 2013 spring game, died after a seven-month battle with brain cancer.

The Team Jack Foundation announced Andy died at home on Monday. He was 42.

Hoffman started the foundation to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research after his son, Jack, was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. More than $8.3 million has been raised.

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Zlatko Kranjcar, a former Croatia national team coach who led his team to the 2006 World Cup and also played internationally for Yugoslavia before the country’s breakup, died Monday. He was 64.

Kranjcar launched his career at Dinamo Zagreb in the 1970s, playing as a center forward. He later moved to Austrian club Rapid Vienna, where his career peaked. Kranjcar also played for the Yugoslav national team and later served as the first captain for an unofficial Croatian national team in 1990.

Kranjcar coached the Croatian team from 2004-06, leading his country to the World Cup in Germany. Croatia finished third in its group behind Brazil and Australia and was eliminated.


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