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Sports Governance

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The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season. The move takes effect immediately and with no guarantee he will be back with the franchise. The Celtics said Thursday night that Udoka was suspended for “violations of team policies.” Earlier Thursday, two people with knowledge of the matter said Udoka was being sanctioned because of an improper relationship with a member of the organization. Those people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not reveal that detail publicly.

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Robert Sarver says he has started the process of selling the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, a move that comes only eight days after he was suspended by the NBA over workplace misconduct including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees. Sarver made the announcement Wednesday, saying selling “is the best course of action.” He has owned the teams since 2004, when he purchased it for about $400 million. He is not the lone owner, but the primary one. Forbes recently estimated the value of the Suns at $1.8 billion.

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President Joe Biden plans to meet at the White House on Friday with the families of WNBA star Brittney Griner and Michigan corporate security executive Paul Whelan, both of whom remain jailed in Russia. The meetings are to be the first in-person encounter between Biden and the families and come amid sustained but so far unsuccessful efforts by the administration to secure the two Americans' release. The administration said in July that it had made a “substantial proposal” to get them home, but Russia has not yet settled on a deal with the U.S.

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The NBA suspended Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury owner Robert Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million after an investigation found that he had engaged in what the league called “workplace misconduct and organizational deficiencies.” The findings come nearly a year after the NBA asked a law firm to investigate allegations that Sarver had a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents over his nearly two-decade tenure overseeing the franchise. The league said the results of the investigation were based on interviews with 320 individuals and more than 80,000 documents and other materials. Sarver apologized for “words and actions that offended our employees,” though he disagreed with some of the report’s findings.

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Guy Morriss, a 15-year NFL offensive lineman who played in Super Bowls with Philadelphia and New England before coaching collegiately at Baylor and Kentucky, has died. He was 71. Kentucky announced that Morriss died Monday in Danville, Kentucky. No cause of death was specified in a release, though Morriss was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2017. Morriss started Super Bowl XV for the Eagles and played in Super Bowl XX with the Patriots. He was 37-85 as a college coach at Kentucky, Baylor and Texas A&M-Commerce and also coached high school football in Kentucky.

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Paris Saint-Germain must pay $10 million for breaking UEFA financial rules with seven other clubs also punished for overspending since 2018. UEFA says its club finance investigators ordered prize money from European competitions totaling $26.1 million to be withheld from the eight clubs sanctioned under Financial Fair Play rules. Those rules monitor revenue and spending of clubs that qualify to play in European competitions. A further $146.4 million in total punishments could be imposed if the clubs fail to meet financial targets in the coming years.

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A cap designed for Black swimmers’ natural hair that was banned from the Tokyo Olympics has been approved for competitive races. Swimming governing body FINA says the Soul Cap was on its list of approved equipment. FINA executive director Brent Nowicki says it's "very important that all aquatic athletes have access to the appropriate swimwear.” The London-based Soul Cap brand was designed larger to contain and protect dreadlocks, weaves, hair extensions, braids, and thick and curly hair. Last year, FINA refused British swimmer Alice Dearing permission to wear a Soul Cap in the Olympic marathon swim.

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UEFA wants Champions League referees to be tougher with players who exaggerate contact trying to get an opponent shown a yellow card. UEFA says referees should punish attempts to “dupe” them with “acts of simulation or by over-reacting to light-contact fouls.” UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti calls such deception "disrespectful behavior” toward fellow players. The advice was published ahead of European club competition group-stage play starting next week. UEFA also wants referees to crack down on players mobbing match officials to influence decisions and mass confrontations involving players and coaches.

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Quarterback Josh Rosen wasn’t away from the Cleveland Browns for very long, joining the team’s practice squad. Rosen was released earlier in the week. The former first-round draft pick was initially signed on Aug. 5 for protection and another arm in training camp as the Browns navigated the Deshaun Watson situation. Rosen was beaten out by Joshua Dobbs to be the backup behind Jacoby Brissett, slated to start the Browns’ first 11 games while Watson serves his NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct. Rosen’s return gives the Browns five quarterbacks, including Watson. The team claimed Kellen Mond on waivers from Minnesota Wednesday.

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Major League Baseball has suspended free agent pitcher Carlos Martinez for 85 games for violating its joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy. MLB says the punishment is retroactive to June 19. Under the policy, Martinez will participate in a confidential evaluation and treatment program supervised by the league’s joint policy board. The 30-year-old Martinez also was suspended for 80 games in May under baseball’s minor league drug program after he tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Ibutamoren.

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FIFA judges have banned a male soccer official from Zimbabwe for five years for sexually harassing female referees. Obert Zhoya was found guilty of “abusing his position to sexually harass” three women. FIFA announced the verdict of its ethics committee including a fine of $20,300. Zhoya had been secretary general of the Zimbabwe Football Association’s referees committee with influence over training match officials and appointing them to games. FIFA says its evidence included written statements from the women. The latest sexual abuse case for FIFA follows investigations and sanctions against senior soccer officials in Afghanistan and Haiti.

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Chile’s appeal hearing to challenge Ecuador’s place at this year’s World Cup because of an alleged ineligible player has been set for Sept. 15. FIFA says its appeal committee invited Ecuador player Byron Castillo to be available as a witness. No target was given for a verdict. The hearing is barely two months before Ecuador is scheduled to open the World Cup against host Qatar on Nov. 20. Chile claims Castillo is actually Colombian and was not eligible to play for Ecuador in World Cup qualifying games. The case could subsequently go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Major League Baseball says Ángel Hernández was on track to umpire in the 2018 World Series before getting overturned three times at first base on video reviews during Game 3 of that year’s AL Division Series. MLB made that assertion in response to the latest legal filing by Hernández. Hernández, born in Cuba, sued in 2017, alleging he was discriminated against because he had not been assigned to the World Series since 2005 and had been passed over for crew chief. A federal judge granted a summary judgment to MLB in March 2021. Hernández appealed that decision.

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The Cleveland Browns made another shift in their ever-changing quarterback room, claiming Kellen Mond off waivers from the Minnesota Vikings. Cleveland was looking to add a third quarterback after terminating Josh Rosen’s contract. Mond, a third-round draft pick in 2021 from Texas A&M, was released by the Vikings on Tuesday. Mond will serve as the Browns’ No. 3 QB behind starter Jacoby Brissett and backup Joshua Dobbs. Cleveland’s quarterback situation has been in almost constant flux this summer with Deshaun Watson leaving the team Tuesday to begin serving his 11-game NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct.

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The NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved changes to transfer rules and several proposals aimed at enforcement reforms. The proposed changes came from the Transformation Committee as part of the first phase of that group’s work. The changes to transfer rules will go into effect immediately. Sport-specific windows will be set during an academic year when athletes would be required to enter their names in the transfer portal to be eligible immediately to compete the following school year. On the enforcement side, the Independent Accountability Resolution Process will be eliminated. The NCAA's outside enforcement task force to handle complex infractions cases has mostly slowed down the processing of cases.

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Longtime official Chris Rastatter has been chosen to take over as the NCAA’s national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating. Among his immediate plans is a comprehensive training program to help improve call accuracy during the regular season and postseason tournaments. Rastatter’s appointment begins Thursday. He takes over for J.D. Collins, who is retiring after seven years on the job.

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Lawyers for three Black NFL coaches alleging racial bias by the league took aim directly at Commissioner Roger Goodell in their latest arguments against arbitrating a dispute they say belongs before a jury. In papers filed Wednesday in Manhattan federal court, the lawyers wrote that arbitration, which would be led by Goodell, would allow “unconscionably biased one-sided ‘kangaroo courts’" to decide the outcome of the lawsuit filed in February. They say Goodell could not be fair in overseeing and ruling on the dispute as to whether the league engages in systemic discrimination. They cited the hundreds of millions of dollars he earns from teams and his public statement that the suit is without merit.

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Organizers of the 2024 Paris Olympics are looking to cut costs in a tough economy and rising inflation. One plan is for officials to use fewer courtesy cars and take more trips on public transport. So officials who might have used dedicated Olympic traffic lanes at past games may instead be riding Paris Metro subway trains in two years’ time. The goal is to use up to 40% fewer vehicles than at the pandemic-hit Tokyo Olympics last year, officials said Wednesday after an Olympic oversight team visited Paris. Inflation in France is running above 6% and stressing the Olympic budget of more than $8.05 billion.

School is back in session across the United States. That means new textbooks, new clothes and maybe new name, image and licensing deals. College athletes and some high school athletes can make money doing things like social media posts, in-person appearances and hosting sports camps. College students are becoming more and more familiar with so-called NIL compensation. It remains relatively new at the high school level.

The NCAA instituted a policy last summer allowing athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The idea was that it would give established players a chance to profit off their fame but wouldn’t be used as a recruiting weapon. That’s not how it’s worked out. The NCAA emphasizes that rules remain in effect to avoid pay-for-play situations or improper inducements. But there’s nothing stopping colleges from pointing out to recruits how much their athletes on campus have made through NIL compensation deals. It has now become common.

The under-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica was the first youth tournament to use FIFA’s safeguarding program, which is aimed at keeping participants and fans safe from abuse, exploitation and harassment. FIFA announced that all 32 games were staffed by a safeguarding official as well as a representative from Costa Rica’s National Children’s Institute. Participants were also briefed about abuse and how to report it.

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Two minor league players have been suspended by Major League Baseball for drug violations. Pittsburgh infielder Francisco Acuna, on the roster of Single-A Greensboro, was banned 80 games without pay after testing positive for gw501516, a performance-enhancing substance. Arizona pitcher Sebastian Santana, on the roster of the Arizona Complex League D-backs, was suspended 55 games without pay after testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance. There have been 41 players suspended this year under the minor league drug program. Seven players have been suspended this year under the major league drug program.

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Google is becoming the first women's-only basketball global partner with FIBA. The internet company entered a multiyear partnership with the WNBA in 2021 and now is working with basketball’s world governing body, which has nine global partners for both men’s and women’s basketball. The partnership will begin next month at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney, which starts on Sept. 22. Google will be the presenter of the All-Star Five that recognizes the best players of the tournament. While this year’s World Cup is down from 16 teams to 12, FIBA's secretary general says future tournaments would go back to 16 teams starting in 2026 and potentially have even more involved.

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Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Deshaun Watson has begun serving his NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct, a punishment that will keep Watson away from the team until Oct. 10. Watson was placed on the reserve/suspended by commissioner list before practice as the Browns finalized their initial 53-man roster. The 26-year-old was accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by two dozen women during massage therapy sessions in Texas. Watson will miss 11 games, pay a $5 million fine and must undergo mandatory treatment and counseling before he can be reinstated. Watson is not permitted to have contact with team personnel during his suspension.

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