The Latest: Mahomes to celebrate virtual grads at Texas Tech

Sports

Gold Coast Titans’ players of the National Rugby League train on the Gold Coast, Australia, Friday, May 15, 2020. The National Rugby League will restart its interrupted season on May 28. (Dave Hunt/AAP Image via AP)

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The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is set to be part of the virtual graduation ceremonies for Texas Tech, his alma mater.

The star quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs will address the graduates along with two students receiving their degrees in a ceremony to be livestreamed on May 23. Commencement ceremonies normally held at Texas Tech’s basketball arena were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mahomes was a record-setting passer for the Red Raiders before the Chiefs drafted him 10th overall in 2017. He just finished his second season as Kansas City’s starter by leading a fourth-quarter comeback in a 31-20 victory over San Francisco in the Super Bowl in February.

The 24-year-old Mahomes is the son of former major league pitcher Pat Mahomes. The younger Mahomes was a two-sport standout in high school in East Texas and briefly played baseball at Texas Tech before focusing on his football career.

Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec says, “Patrick’s story and his rise to stardom, both here at Texas Tech and in the NFL, have been a great source of pride for Red Raiders and an inspiration for thousands.”

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The IndyCar race in downtown Toronto has been postponed. The race was scheduled to be held July 12 on a street course at Exhibition Place.

Event organizers said they have been in discussions with city officials about an alternate date later in the year for the popular race.

IndyCar has yet to start its season. It is scheduled to race June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway for its opening event. The Indianapolis 500, held on Memorial Day weekend every year since 1946, has been moved to August.

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A coalition of players is urging Congress to pass a coronavirus relief bill that would provide critical funding for elementary and secondary education.

Among the signers of the letter from the Players Coalition are NFL players Devin McCourty, Kelvin Beachum and Sebastian Joseph-Day. The coalition was formed in 2017 and aims to advance social justice and racial equality.

The letter asks the House and the Senate to pass the HEROES Act, which would secure internet access for millions of economically disadvantaged students during the pandemic.

The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act proposed by the House would provide nearly $60 billion in relief funding to kindergarten through high school districts, as well as funding for schools and libraries to provide internet services for students and families.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the existing digital divide as millions of students struggle to get online, adjusting to distance learning without internet access,” said McCourty, a safety with the New England Patriots.

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NASCAR has yet to receive the green light to race in Pennsylvania.

Gov. Tom Wolf says he spoke to NASCAR officials about the status of the June 27 and 28 races at Pocono Raceway. The stock car series announced this week it will stick to Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and Alabama for June races — all of them without fans.

NASCAR has now set plans for 20 races — including nine in the elite Cup Series — as it returns to the tracks after being shut down for more than two months by concerns about the coronavirus. The revised schedule didn’t address the scheduled doubleheader weekend at Pocono and the rest of season.

“We actually had conversations with NASCAR and I told them Pennsylvania is not ready to make a decision,” Wolf said. “The area that they want to have this gathering in is actually in the red right now, red zone, red phase, so I told them Pennsylvania is not ready to make a decision.”

The Cup Series is scheduled to resume this Sunday at Darlington Raceway and run four times in 11 days at the South Carolina track and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

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Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens said Friday that the entire athletic staff has taken a 10% pay cut.

The Ducks are the latest athletic department to cut costs in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mullens said that Oregon is not planning to cut any sports to save money.

“We’re looking at a lot of other things. But cutting a sport is the last thing we would ever want to do,” Mullens said in a video conference call with reporters.

Oregon is also committed to helping the seniors on scholarship in canceled spring sport return next year.

“It’s about $525,000 that we’ve committed to fund those spring sports seniors to make sure that they get that final year experience,” Mullens said. “And our development team is going to help us try to raise that money to support those student athletes.”

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The National Women’s Hockey League has canceled the Isobel Cup championship game between the Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps.

The game was scheduled March 13 in Boston, before the initial postponement because of the coronavirus pandemic.

NWHL founder and commissioner Dani Rylan calls the decision “disappointing” while adding “this global health crisis transcends sports.”

The league is focused on preparing for next season. Its scheduled to open in mid-November, with a sixth team after the addition of an expansion franchise in Toronto.

Ticket holders can request a refund or choose to apply their payment toward Pride tickets for next season.

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Bowling Green has dropped baseball as part of a move to ease financial stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school says it’s reducing its athletic budget by $2 million.

“This is a very difficult, but necessary, decision,” athletic director Bob Moosbrugger said. “As a baseball alumnus, my heart breaks for the families affected by this decision.”

Moosbrugger added the school will honor scholarship agreements through graduation and will assist student-athletes who want to transfer.

Bowling Green’s move came one day after Akron, another member of the Mid-American Conference, dropped three sports because of fiscal hardship caused by the virus outbreak. Earlier this week, the MAC announced it is eliminating postseason tournaments in eight sports, including baseball and softball, to save money.

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The IMSA sports car series will resume racing on July 4 at Daytona International Speedway.

The track and the series are both owned by NASCAR, which is resuming its season Sunday in South Carolina. The IMSA race will be without spectators and technically fills a void created when NASCAR this season ended its annual holiday race weekend in Florida for Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

IMSA will then go to Sebring International Raceway July 17-18 for another race in Florida without fans.

The sports car series had completed just one event, the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, before the coronavirus pandemic.

IMSA now has nine upcoming events on its revised schedule that is set to conclude at Sebring in mid-November.

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Lionel Messi says the long stoppage of play caused by the coronavirus pandemic could be a boon for Barcelona.

Messi tells Sport on Friday, “maybe this stoppage will end up benefiting us.”

Messi didn’t cite his reason for thinking the stoppage would be good for Barcelona, but the return of strike partner Luis Suárez from injury will surely be a lift.

Barcelona and the rest of Spain’s soccer league hasn’t played since March 12, when La Liga halted action because of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Over 27,000 Spaniards have died from the disease.

Teams have recently returned to practice at club facilities, but they are training individually and undergoing tests to make sure there is no spread of the virus.

The Spanish league says it wants to return to playing matches on June 12, but it will depend on the public health situation.

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Soccer clubs in England’s professional fourth tier league are backing the season being prematurely ended.

The English Football League say that’s the “preferred direction of travel” of League One clubs but the decision requires approval from the footballing authorities.

If the season is abandoned, the final standings would be determined by a points-per-game system. The clubs want to scrap relegation this season, so two sides don’t drop into the semiprofessional fifth tier.

But the top three teams would still be promoted automatically to League One. Playoffs between the next four sides would still be required to determine the final promotion spot.

The EFL says its “board will now consider the implications of the division’s preferred approach at their next meeting.”

In a statement, the EFL says League One clubs had not yet reached an agreement on whether to curtail or not, while the Championship teams were committed to resuming the season.

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An unnamed Werder Bremen player must go into quarantine for two weeks after a close family member tested positive for COVID-19.

Bremen is due to host Bayer Leverkusen on Monday in its first Bundesliga game back since the league was forced to take a two-month break due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The club says the affected player has consistently tested negative for COVID-19, but “the decision to place him under quarantine was made in conjunction with the Bremen health authorities.”

All players and staff members of the club have undergone five rounds of testing with no positive results so far.

Bremen sporting director Frank Baumann says, “As a result, our team and our staff are not under any risk. This shows that the medical protocol is working and that infected individuals can be identified early on.”

The Bundesliga is due to resume on Saturday with six games. All matches are to take place without spectators and with strict hygiene measures in place for the rest of the season.

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The International Gymnastics Federation is creating a fund to financially assist athletes and national federations struggling amid the pandemic.

The fund will give about $400,000 to various groups in hopes of easing what FIG President Morinari Watanabe calls a “grave crisis.”

This fund will be managed by the FIG’s Foundation for Solidarity. The foundation supported hundreds of athletes and federations in need through scholarships, financial aid following an accident and equipment donations since its inception in 2002. The criteria for applying for a grant will be released soon.

The federation also said member organizations will not be required to pay 2020 dues. The FIG takes in about $120,000 from dues.

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Miami Dolphins fans will be given a chance to view Don Shula’s statue at their stadium in the first of a series of events to celebrate the late coach.

Access to the statue by vehicle will be permitted next Friday and Saturday. Fans will be required to practice social distancing and are discouraged from bringing any items with them.

The Dolphins will host a public memorial for Shula at the stadium once coronavirus concerns ease.

Shula led the 1972 and 1973 Dolphins to Super Bowl championships. He died on May 4 at the age of 90.

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The Michigan tournament where the LPGA Tour hoped to resume has been canceled.

The LPGA says the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational will not be played July 15-18 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The tour did not offer any other specifics except for Commissioner Mike Whan emphasizing the long-term health of the tour is paramount.

This is the only team event on the LPGA schedule. Whan says Dow has extended its title sponsor contract and the LPGA will return to the Great Lakes Bay region next year and beyond.

The cancellation means the LPGA now hopes to return July 23-26 with the Marathon LPGA Classic in Ohio.

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The International Tennis Hall of Fame’s 2020 induction ceremony for Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martinez has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. So has the annual men’s grass-court Hall of Fame Open tournament.

The induction was scheduled at the Hall in Newport, Rhode Island, for July 18. That is the same day the tournament was supposed to finish.

But the COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in the suspension of all sanctioned tennis competition since March and at least until the end of July.

Ivanisevic and Martinez now will be honored alongside any Class of 2021 inductees in July 2021.

The Hall of Fame announced the cancellations and says ticket-holders can use their tickets in 2021, convert them into a tax-deductible donation to the Hall or get a refund.

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The professional tennis tours are extending their suspensions caused by the coronavirus pandemic through at least the end of July.

The total number of tournaments scrapped by the ATP and WTA since March now tops 40.

Both tours say they will make further scheduling announcements in June.

The top tours already had been on hold at least until July 13. That was announced on April 1 on the same day that the All England Club said it would be canceling Wimbedon for the first time in 75 years because of the outbreak.

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Atlético Madrid defender Renan Lodi has returned to training after having reportedly been cleared following a previous positive test for the coronavirus.

The Spanish soccer club says Renan trained on his own.

Spanish media reported that Lodi had tested negative after spending several days confined following an initial positive result.

Spanish teams have returned to training at club facilities but players must respect social distancing.

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The Cypriot soccer federation has called off the season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision came after a team of medical experts rejected a set of health protocols drawn up by the federation and insisted that its own guidelines are followed.

The federation said it couldn’t overcome the expert group’s demand that an entire team be quarantined for two weeks if any player tests positive for the virus.

Omonia Nicosia, Anorthosis Famagusta, APOEL Nicosia and Apollon Limassol were the top four teams in the standings when the league was suspended and will represent Cyprus next season in European tournaments.

The federation also decided that the number of teams in the first division next season will increase by two to 14. There will be no relegation this year but two teams from the second division will move up.

The first division will revert to 12 teams the following season with four teams relegated and two teams promoted.

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The Russian soccer league will restart on June 21 after a break of more than three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league intends to pack eight rounds of games into just over one month to finish on July 22. League president Sergei Pryadkin says all games will be held in empty stadiums.

The Russian Cup will also continue with the final on July 25. That means some clubs face up to 11 games to finish the season.

A planned promotion-relegation playoff has been dropped with only the bottom two clubs in the top division relegated automatically as usual.

The league has also adopted a rule change allowing up to five substitutions per match.

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The German soccer federation has delayed the restart of the men’s third-division because it doesn’t have political approval.

The third division was scheduled to resume on May 26 amid the coronavirus pandemic but the federation says that can’t happen without the go-ahead from authorities around the country. Games in the first and second divisions will resume Saturday.

The third division still has 11 rounds of games to play.

The pandemic has put several third-division clubs under strain.

Leader MSV Duisburg has financial problems and second-place Waldhof Mannheim told local newspapers on Thursday that it stopped training because it doesn’t have coronavirus tests.

Two teams are barred from playing until May 27 by the state of Saxony-Anhalt and can train only in small groups.

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World Rugby has postponed July test matches involving southern and northern hemisphere nations because of ongoing restrictions on international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport’s international governing body issued a statement Friday saying the mid-year test window will be rescheduled when cross-border travel and quarantine regulations are relaxed.

New Zealand had been scheduled to play Wales and Scotland, Australia was set to play Ireland and Fiji and South Africa had planned to host Scotland and Georgia. World Rugby said the postponement is due “to ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.”

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Aussie rules football will kick off again on June 11, with the second round of the Australian Football League to be played almost three months after the competition was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Football League chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Friday announced the matches for the next four rounds of the condensed season would be released within 10 days. The AFL, Australia’s most-watched sports league in terms of attendance and TV audience, was suspended on March 22 after one round.

Quarantine requirements and travel restrictions from some states means players and staff from the four AFL clubs from Western Australia and South Australia — the West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide — will be temporarily be relocated to hubs on the Gold Coast, an hour south of Brisbane.

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