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Thursday’s Sports in Brief

January 26, 2018

GYMNASTICS SEXUAL ASSAULTS

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Sports doctor Larry Nassar is on his way to prison for the rest of his life for molesting scores of young female athletes, but the scandal is far from over at Michigan State University as victims, lawmakers and a judge demand to know why he wasn’t stopped years ago.

Some are likening Michigan State to Penn State University, where three senior officials, including the school’s president, were sentenced to jail last year for failing to tell authorities about a sexual abuse allegation involving coach Jerry Sandusky.

Nassar, a 54-year-old former member of Michigan State’s sports medicine staff, has admitted penetrating elite gymnasts and other athletes with his fingers while he was supposedly treating them for injuries.

Some of the more than 150 women and girls who have accused him said they complained to the sports medicine staff, a campus counselor and the women’s gymnastics coach as far back as the late 1990s.

In Michigan, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine for certain professionals to fail to report a suspected case of child abuse.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James got Kevin Durant and reunited with Kyrie Irving in the NBA’s first All-Star draft.

Stephen Curry picked James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s top two scorers, and grabbed his other two Golden State teammates.

The draft was not televised, and neither James nor Curry would reveal who they chose first when they were interviewed on TNT when the rosters were unveiled. However, Durant later said that he had been the No. 1 selection.

James was among those who said fans should have watched the proceedings and his decision to draft Irving could have made for a must-see moment. The point guard asked out of Cleveland last summer and the Cavaliers traded him to conference rival Boston.

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tiger Woods brought big crowds back to golf, and he even produced a few big roars on his way to an even-par 72 in the Farmers Insurance Open in his return to the PGA Tour.

He was steady, and at times spectacular. Woods made three birdie putts that traveled a combined 30 inches. The longest of his birdie putts was from just inside 2 feet. He was one rotation away from an eagle, and inches away from a hole-in-one late in his round on the South Course at Torrey Pines.

Woods was seven shots behind Tony Finau, who led after his 65 on the North Course.

It was his first PGA Tour event since fusion surgery on his lower back last April.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California has fired associate head coach Tony Bland in the wake of his arrest in the college basketball bribery and corruption case.

A school spokesman confirmed Bland’s firing on Thursday, but offered no other details. He had been on administrative leave since his arrest in September. He was on USC’s staff for 4 1/2 years.

Bland was one of 10 people arrested in the case. Three other assistants — Chuck Person of Auburn, Book Richardson of Arizona and Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State — were also fired as part of the FBI probe, which revealed a pay-for-play scandal where schools would funnel money through shoe companies to a player in exchange for their commitment.

Bland pleaded not guilty in November to four charges relating to bribery and wire fraud.

PRO FOOTBALL

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — The XFL is no longer an ex-football league.

The sexed-up, second-rate football league formed as the early 2000s brainchild of WWE ringleader Vince McMahon is set for a surprising second life in 2020. The league that spawned “He Hate Me” and placed TV cameras in the bathroom flamed out in 2001 after one wild season. Interest in the league was reignited when ESPN aired the “This Was the XFL” documentary that chronicled the spectacular football failure.

McMahon is back in charge, pumping $100 million into the XFL through his new private entity, Alpha Entertainment.

McMahon, who will continue as chairman and CEO of WWE, offered few other details about the football comeback. The XFL will launch with eight teams, 40-man active rosters and a 10-week regular-season schedule. McMahon said the schedule, designed to fill the seven-month gap without the NFL, could begin as early as the end of January. No cities or TV partners were named.

OLYMPICS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions.

A dozen North Korean hockey players wearing white-and-red winter parkas crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea, as about 30-40 conservative activists shouted anti-Pyongyang slogans at a nearby border area.

The North Koreans traveled on to a national athletes’ village in southern South Korea, where they were welcomed by their South Korean teammates and Canadian coach Sarah Murray, who presented them flower bouquets in an outdoor welcoming ceremony.

“I sincerely welcome your arrival,” Lee Jae-kun, head of the athletes’ village, told the North Koreans after they got off a bus.

MOSCOW (AP) — The International Olympic Committee says Russian fans will be allowed to fly their flag at next month’s Pyeongchang Games, but organized protests could bring further sanctions.

Russia has been banned from the games but some of the country’s athletes will be allowed to compete in neutral uniforms under the Olympic flag.

The IOC says its ban on athletes wearing the Russian tricolor doesn’t apply to fans, saying this “cannot be prohibited.”

However, the IOC adds that “should this appear to be an organized political demonstration the IOC will take this into consideration in its monitoring system.”

That could mean Russia won’t get to march with its flag at the closing ceremony, which the IOC has offered as an incentive for the country to comply with its rulings.

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