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White Sox wear Boston Strong on 1-year anniversary

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago White Sox have paid tribute to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing before their game against the Red Sox.

The White Sox played a video montage and held a moment of silence as both teams lined up outside their dugouts Tuesday night to mark the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. White Sox players and coaches wore T-shirts with the Boston Strong logo that the Red Sox often donned last year.

Red Sox manager John Farrell says hopefully this is "another day of healing for everyone involved, particularly the family of the victims."

"I think it's critical that we never forget the victims that have fallen," Farrell said before the game. "I think we're all proud to be part of the healing process, how small it might have been, and (it) makes us further proud to be part of an incredible city, a very strong community that I think became even stronger when we unified in response to it."

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 01:49:00 +0000
MLB marks 67th anniversary of Robinson debut

NEW YORK (AP) Marking the 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, the Rev. Jesse Jackson praised Commissioner Bud Selig for the strides the sport has taken in minority opportunities over the past two decades.

Jackson traveled to baseball's 1992 winter meetings to criticize its lack of minorities in management, and he pushed for change.

Selig retired Robinson's No. 42 in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the big league debut of the Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman. Selig established a Diverse Business Partners program the following year and in 1999 started requiring clubs to consider at least one minority for each manager and major executive opening. MLB also sponsors 35 Jackie Robinson Foundation Scholars.

Jackson said Jackie Robinson Day had become "a national holiday for all practical purposes."

"To honor Jackie in this way honors the best in America," Jackson told Selig on Tuesday at MLB's third Diversity Business Summit. "In many ways, had Jackie not succeeded you could not have Atlanta Falcons or the Braves or the Carolina Panthers. You could not have these southern teams if Jackie had failed."

Robinson's daughter, Sharon, presented Selig with a large plaque. Jackson spoke from the audience after Selig's speech and told him "you took to heart that challenge."

"I guess if you're commissioner long enough, things can turn around," Selig said later.

For the first time since Robinson's number was retired, no players in the major leagues were wearing No. 42. Players using the number were grandfathered at the time of Selig's announcement, and the last to use No. 42 was Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, who retired at the end of last season.

"Today all of our players league-wide will wear No. 42 to celebrate the man who helped change the future course of our game and more importantly our country," Selig said.

A ceremony had been scheduled for Yankee Stadium to unveil a plaque commemorating Nelson Mandela's visit to the old Bronx ballpark in 1990. The Yankees' game against the Chicago Cubs was rained out, and the ceremony, which includes Zondwa Mandela, a grandson of the late South African president, was pushed back until Wednesday evening.

Selig frequently points out that Robinson's first game occurred more than a year before President Harry Truman desegregated the U.S. military and seven years before the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision that ruled state laws requiring segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

"Baseball must continue to be more than just a game on the field," Selig said. "The game's remarkable ability to serve as a common bond should be used to create opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender."

Selig became acting commissioner in 1992 and got the job permanently in 1998. He plans to retire in January. He said the Diverse Business Partners program had led to purchases of more than $1 billion in goods and services from minority- and women-owned businesses.

But the percentage of African-American players in the major leagues has been cut in half since peaking at about 18 percent at times from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s.

Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, who is black, says some of this generation's players don't know of Robinson's accomplishments.

"They don't know a lot about the history, and I don't really blame it all on them. I think their generation is a generation that was force-fed these things," he said, holding up a smart phone. "Everything's now. Not much of an appreciation for the past and what it meant, particularly when it comes to baseball and baseball players. The paths that were paved for them, I don't think they really get it, or really understand it."

---

AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Arlington, Texas, contributed to this report.

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 23:31:00 +0000
Panel of administrators: NCAA system must change

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A panel of college administrators agree the NCAA business model has to change to survive.

Three administrators participated in a discussion Tuesday on integrity and the commercialization of college athletics - Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche, Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart and former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

Many athletic departments are flush with cash thanks to multi-million dollar TV deals. Conferences have started their own networks, and coaches' contracts continue to soar.

Now athletes are demanding their fair share.

"The landscape as we know it for Division I is going to certainly change in some form or fashion," DeBauche said.

While DeBauche sees the current crisis as an opportunity to make college athletics healthier than ever, the panel also agreed the question now is how to do that.

"We have to have 21st century solutions," Barnhart said. "We didn't get to this problem overnight."

A regional National Labor Relations Board official cleared the way recently for football players at Northwestern to form what would be the nation's first union for college athletes. Northwestern has appealed the ruling, and the NLRB currently is weighing that appeal. The NCAA and the Big Ten Conference also oppose the ruling.

Northwestern players will vote April 25 on whether to form a union.

DeBauche said difficult conversations loom in the coming months. There's a gap between the top five conferences with the big-money deals, and she said the majority of the 32 conferences in Division I are more like the OVC. Money made by the conference goes back to members to pay bills. The conferences also need to protect non-revenue generating sports and meet Title IX requirements.

"Put on top of that challenges from unionization ... we're going to have to be flexible to adapt to those," DeBauche said. "In fact, if there's so much pressure and we get close to a business model, we will not be able to sustain it."

Beebe believes that the revenue gap can be bridged, although he said the challenge will be giving a quarterback extra money without taking dollars out of a fellow student's pocket.

"How that all makes sense, I'm not really sure but thank goodness I don't have to" figure it out, Beebe said.

Barnhart pointed to the Olympic model.

He said the organization changed from purely amateur athletes to today's system where many, but not all, Olympians earn money without turning off fans. But the Kentucky athletic director said he also wants to protect a system that allows a tennis player on scholarship the chance to attend college.

Beebe agreed.

He said realignment increased students' desires to get their share of the money generated by football and men's basketball. He noted programs like women's volleyball and softball in the Big 12 now fly to games and stay in first-class hotels with the bills paid by the revenue generated from football and men's basketball.

Reinstating the grant-in-aid for student-athletes is an option that should be discussed at the highest levels, said Beebe, who noted that such a grant that was $15 a month 40 years ago would now be about $200.

"We'd be in a better place," Beebe said, "and if it happened a couple years ago it could've held off some of these outside pressures."

---

Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 23:06:00 +0000
Gordon, Johnson declare for NBA draft

Aaron Gordon's decision was expected. Part of a heralded class of freshmen last season, anything but one and done would have been a surprise.

Nick Johnson had to build toward his move to the NBA.

Always a steady player, he boosted his draft status with a superb junior season, earning numerous All-America honors while leading Arizona to within a few seconds of the Final Four for the second time in three years.

Now he and Gordon are headed to the NBA.

"I'm going to show what I bring to the table, so many things as far as my leadership and my ability to defend and knock down shots," Johnson said during a news conference Tuesday at Arizona's McKale Center. "If you ask me, I'm a basketball player."

So is Gordon. A pretty good one.

He arrived at Arizona as one of the top incoming freshmen in a class that included Duke's Jabari Parker, Kansas' Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky's latest cast of potential one-and-doners, including Julius Randle and twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison.

Exceptionally athletic, particularly for a solid-framed 6-foot-8 forward, Gordon had a strong lone season in college basketball, averaging 12.4 points and 8 rebounds per game to earn Pac-12 freshman of the year honors. He broke a 40-year-old school freshman record with 303 rebounds and shot 49 percent from the floor, though he struggled from the free throw line, finishing at 42 percent.

"Aaron has so many gifts as a player," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "His high energy level, love for the game, competitive fire and ability to blend into a team and become a great teammate are a few of these. Aaron is 18, I can certainly see why the NBA thinks so highly of him."

Gordon could flourish in the NBA.

An eager learner and selfless teammate, he often geared back to fit into the team game at Arizona, to the point Miller and his staff told him to be more aggressive early in the season.

With an above-the-rim game, high energy and versatility, he will be a likely lottery pick in the June 26 NBA draft, possibly in the top 5.

"I know what I'm capable of and know my potential is limitless," Gordon said. "So I'm going to be Aaron Gordon and I'm going to do what the coaches have told me to do: be Aaron Gordon and do what I did all year long. I'm going to flourish and my game is going to expand."

No one outside of Tucson thought that much about Johnson before this season.

The nephew of late Hall of Fame guard Dennis Johnson, he came out of high school with jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism, yet was never considered a top player during his first two seasons in the desert. When Miller tried to get him invited to elite summer camps before last season, he couldn't even get a call back.

Johnson changed the perceptions with breakout junior season.

Taking the team reins from the start, he helped lead Arizona to the best start in school history, a 16-0 run that had the Wildcats atop The Associated Press poll for two months straight. Whenever the Wildcats needed a big play or basket, they turned to Johnson and most times he came through.

A good defender when he arrived in Tucson, Johnson developed into one of the nation's best on the perimeter, combining with point guard T.J. McConnell to often shut down the opposing team's best player.

Johnson added a teardrop to his shooting repertoire this season and shot a respectable 36 percent from 3-point range. He led Arizona with 16.3 points, grabbed 4.1 rebounds and had nearly 3 assists per game while taking Arizona within a point of the Final Four.

"Without us doing the things we did this year, then I wouldn't be near where I am right now," Johnson said. "I took a few weeks, we looked at the facts ... and the last few days was when I started looking at everything and really started being confident in my decision."

Arizona's cupboard won't be left bare with Gordon and Johnson leaving.

Sophomore center Kaleb Tarczewski and freshman swingman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson announced they will be returning to Tucson for another season and Miller has another highly touted recruiting class waiting in the wings.

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:33:00 +0000
Sark: Cody Kessler is still USC's starting QB

LOS ANGELES (AP) Cody Kessler is still Southern California's starting quarterback after holding off a challenge from freshman Max Browne during the Trojans' spring workouts.

New coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed Kessler's spot Tuesday night, saying the junior will start the Trojans' spring game at the Coliseum on Saturday.

"I think he has deserved it," Sarkisian told reporters after USC's penultimate practice of the spring. "I think he has earned it. He has performed well. Sometimes when you get that sense of relief, you go out there and perform even better.

Kessler has picked up Sarkisian's offense with impressive speed, adjusting to an increased tempo and using his improvisational skills to create chances. His experience and decision-making skills tilted the competition in his favor, Sarkisian said.

His victory isn't permanent, however: The competition with freshmen Browne and Jalen Greene will continue in fall camp, Sarkisian said.

"That's the beauty of competition," Sarkisian said. "But I'm confident to say I know we can go out and win a lot of football games with Cody Kessler as our quarterback. There's still plenty of room for him to grow within this system. He's still just 13 practices in, but I'm proud of all these guys. They've worked extremely hard."

Kessler started all 14 games as a sophomore last season, passing for 2,968 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions while playing for three head coaches. He was the MVP of the Trojans' victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, passing for a career-high 345 yards and four TDs.

But Kessler didn't even win the full-time job until the third game of the season. Coach Lane Kiffin felt Kessler hadn't separated himself from Max Wittek, who also got playing time before Kiffin decided to stick with Kessler.

Kiffin was fired two games later, but Kessler kept the job under interim coaches Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton, who returned to Sarkisian's staff.

Browne redshirted last season, but much is expected from the nation's top high-school quarterback in 2012.

Sarkisian knows both quarterbacks well: He recruited Kessler and Browne to Washington when he was the Huskies' head coach, nearly landing Kessler before the quarterback from Bakersfield got a late scholarship offer from the Trojans. Browne is from the Seattle suburbs.

"I think Max is going to be a star," Sarkisian said.

Browne said he will never transfer from the Trojans, which means the quarterback competition at USC could be entertaining for the foreseeable future. Greene also has four years of eligibility left, and highly touted recruit Ricky Town has already committed to USC in the class of 2015.

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:13:00 +0000

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