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Friday’s Sports in Brief

January 27, 2018

MICHIGAN STATE/SEXUAL ASSAULTS

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State University’s athletic director retired two days after the university president resigned over the school’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against its disgraced former sports doctor, Larry Nassar.

Mark Hollis, who had been in the job for 10 years, disclosed the move during a meeting with a small group of reporters on campus. He was asked why he would not stay on. “Because I care,” Hollis said, holding back tears. “When you look at the scope of everything, that’s the reason I made a choice to retire now. And I hope that has a little bit, a little bit, of helping that healing process.”

Hours later, the university named its vice president to serve as acting president after the departure of President Lou Anna Simon. Bill Beekman is expected to serve briefly in the role until the board of trustees can hire an interim president and then a permanent leader.

Also, USA Gymnastics confirmed that its entire board of directors would resign as requested by the U.S. Olympic Committee. The USOC had threatened to decertify the organization, which besides picking U.S. national teams is the umbrella organization for hundreds of clubs across the country.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — DeMarcus Cousins raced down the lane after his missed free throw, trying to make a hustle play and help the New Orleans Pelicans preserve a signature victory over one of the NBA’s elite teams.

Moments later, Cousins was sitting on the court, pain in his foot and shock on his face. He tried to get up as his teammates pursued the Houston Rockets toward the other end of the court, then went back down on his back and placed both hands on his head.

Anthony Davis scored 27 points, Cousins had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists before seriously injuring his left Achilles tendon with 12 seconds left, and New Orleans survived a furious Houston rally for a 115-113 victory on Friday night.

A person familiar with the situation said an MRI confirmed an Achilles tear, ending Cousins’ season a little more than a week after he was voted an All-Star starter. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not yet announced the imaging results.

GYMNASTICS

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The remaining members of the USA Gymnastics board of directors will resign under pressure from the United States Olympic Committee after the USOC threatened to decertify the organization if it didn’t take more strident steps toward change amid the fallout from the scandal surrounding former team doctor Larry Nassar.

The executive board, including chairman Paul Parilla, resigned Monday. USA Gymnastics announced Friday that the remaining 18 board members, who are unpaid volunteers representing various threads of the sport across the country, will leave their positions. The announcement came two days after an open letter from USOC chief operating officer Scott Blackmun called for a “full turnover of leadership.”

USA Gymnastics said in a statement it will comply with the USOC’s wishes.

PRO FOOTBALL

GRETNA, La. (AP) — The man who killed NFL running back Joe McKnight in a December 2016 road-rage confrontation was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury in suburban New Orleans.

Ronald Gasser, 56, had been charged with second-degree murder, which carries a life sentence. Manslaughter carries a sentence of anywhere from zero to 40 years. State District Judge Ellen Kovach set a March 15 sentencing date.

Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick said in a news release that justice was served. His assistants who tried the case told reporters they respect the verdict and added that the McKnight family was pleased with it.

Defense attorney Matthew Goetz said he would appeal.

McKnight played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent a season in the Canadian Football League, playing two games for the Edmonton Eskimos and three for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL plans to talk to teams about how practices are conducted following a 73 percent increase in concussions during preseason workouts in 2017.

Executive vice president Jeff Miller said that data from the league’s annual preliminary report on injuries will be discussed with coaches and general managers to try to understand how preseason practice concussions jumped to a five-year high of 45 from 26 in 2016.

The overall number of concussions sustained in practice, including the regular season, jumped to 56 from 32 a year earlier.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills center and respected leader Eric Wood is retiring after nine seasons as a result of a debilitating neck injury.

Wood revealed his decision in a statement the Bills posted on their Twitter account. Wood says the injury was discovered during a season-ending physical. Wood adds he has since been informed by doctors that the injury is so severe he would no longer be cleared to play — even with surgery or further treatment.

The 31-year-old Wood was selected with the second of Buffalo’s two first-round picks in the 2009 draft.

PHOENIX (AP) — Former San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy has been hired as offensive coordinator at Arizona and Al Holcomb is following new Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks from Carolina to be defensive coordinator.

The Cardinals also hired Jeff Rodgers as special teams coordinator. The three hires were announced just four days after Wilks was hired to replace Bruce Arians, who retired after a franchise-record 50 victories in his five seasons in the desert.

McCoy was offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos for five seasons (2009-12 and again in 2017). He was head coach of the Chargers from 2013 to 2016.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut is the target of an NCAA investigation into its men’s basketball program.

University President Susan Herbst said in a statement the school will cooperate in a “thorough and transparent manner reflective of the model athletic and academic institution we continually strive to be.”

The university didn’t specify the allegations and said it would have no further comment, but would “address and respond appropriately as the inquiry moves forward.”

Hearst Connecticut Media, which first reported the investigation, cited unidentified sources saying the inquiry was related to recruiting.

BASEBALL

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Free agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain and the Brewers finalized an $80 million, five-year contract, one day after Milwaukee acquired center fielder Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins for four prospects.

Cain is a former Brewers farmhand. The 31-year old spent the past seven seasons in Kansas City, where he was part of the core group that won the World Series in 2015.

He hit .300 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 26 steals last season.

NEW YORK (AP) — Jose Reyes and the New York Mets finalized a $2 million, one-year contract, a deal that allows him to earn an additional $500,000 in bonuses based on plate appearances.

Now 34, Reyes was a four-time All-Star shortstop with the Mets from 2003-11 and left after winning the NL batting title to sign a $106 million, six-year contract with Miami. He was traded in November 2012 to Toronto and in July 2015 to Colorado, which released him in 2016 after Reyes served a 59-day domestic violence suspension.

He returned to New York, came up to the major leagues in July and batted .267 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 279 plate appearances.

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