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Mother of Karl-Anthony Towns dies from COVID-19 complications

Jacqueline Cruz, shown in this 2015 file photo before the NBA Draft, died Monday from complications from COVID-19.
Jacqueline Cruz, shown in this 2015 file photo before the NBA Draft, died Monday from complications from COVID-19.Richard Drew/Associated Press

Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, the mother of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, died Monday due to complications from COVID-19 after more than a month of fighting the virus. The Timberwolves made the announcement via the Towns family. Karl Towns Sr., the father of the two-time All-Star player, was also hospitalized with the virus but has since recovered. Cruz-Towns, a native of the Dominican Republic, was a fixture at Timberwolves games from the start of her son’s NBA career in 2015. “Jackie was many things to many people — a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend,” the statement from the Towns family said. “She was an incredible source of strength; a fiery, caring, and extremely loving person who touched everyone she met. Her passion was palpable, and her energy will never be replaced.” The family expressed gratitude to the “warriors” at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in Philadelphia and JFK Medical Center in Edison, N.J., the hospitals where she received care. After his parents first felt ill at their home in New Jersey, Towns and his sister urged them to seek immediate medical attention and be tested for the virus. Towns, 24, posted an emotional video on his Instagram account March 24, revealing his mother was in a medically induced coma while imploring people to stay home to help stop the spread of the virus. Towns made a $100,000 donation to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for COVID-19 testing.

International soccer may be done until 2021

International soccer might not be played until 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions and the need to give club competitions the chance to resume, a FIFA vice president said Monday. Victor Montagliani, a Canadian who is president of the governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, has been heading a FIFA working group formulating plans to deal with the implications of the world’s biggest sport being largely shut down since last month. FIFA already has called off matches between countries that were due to be played in March and June. Montagliani, CONCACAF’s president, believes the September, October, and November windows for national team matches could be scrapped. “I personally think that might be a bit of a challenge, not so much because of just the health issues around the world and the various degrees of preparedness, but also committing to international travel as soon as we come back,” Montagliani said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think that domestic football is a priority. September is still in the books, but I would garner to say that I’m not sure it’s there on solid ground the way things are trending right now.” The return of fans into packed stadiums could be dependent on a vaccine for the COVID-19 disease being ready — and that might not be until 2021. “If we get the green light to play a football match. I highly doubt that first football match will be with fans. I just can’t see that. I think that would be taken a massive risk,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it’ll be a phased in approach, just like the rest of society is going to be is then in terms of us trying to get back to normal here.” A full resumption of soccer in 2020 might not be possible in parts of the world hardest hit by the pandemic, including Europe and North America. “If you take that across international boundaries, that’s a significant issue,” Montagliani said. “And so, yes absolutely, there’s always that possibility.”


XFL files for bankruptcy

The XFL filed for bankruptcy Monday, likely spelling the end of the second iteration of the league. The filing also indicates the league is for sale. The filing in US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware estimates the organization has between $10,000,001 and $50 million in both assets and liabilities. Former coaches Bob Stoops and Marc Trestman are among the creditors with the largest unsecured claims. The WWE-backed XFL canceled the rest of its return season last month because of the coronavirus pandemic. It suspended operations and laid off its employees Friday. The league said Monday in an e-mailed statement that it wasn’t insulated “from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 crisis.” The XFL had eight franchises this season and played five games out of a planned 10-game schedule. It drew decent TV ratings early on and had deals with ESPN and Fox. The XFL also played one season in 2001 … The Premier Lacrosse League, which was to begin its new year with a stop at Gillette Stadium next month, has postponed the start of its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The season was scheduled to begin play May 29 in Foxborough, where it began its inaugural campaign, as well. The PLL plans to announce an update in May on a new start date for the season. “The health of our players, coaches, fans and colleagues are of paramount importance to us as we go through this unprecedented time,” Mike Rabil, who founded the league with his brother Paul, said in a statement. “As a league, we will continue to adhere to guidelines administered by the CDC, respective state governments, and our hosting venues. This was a difficult decision for our league but a necessary measure to ensure the safety of all parties.” The league debuted last year with six teams traveling to different cities to play weekend games. One team was added for this season, which has 12 weekends of regular-season play planned, including an all-star game, before its playoffs … The PGA of America established the Golf Emergency Relief Fund by donating $5 million and pledging to match up to an additional $2.5 million given by other groups in hopes of providing support for the golf industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The PGA’s contribution included every member of its executive team voluntarily reducing his or her compensation, along with the board of directors pledging personal donations. The fund is being administered by E4E Relief, an independent third-party public charity.



Larson suspended for racial slur

Kyle Larson’s racial slur cost him his two primary NASCAR supporters. It likely will cost him his job soon. McDonald’s and Credit One Bank ended their sponsorship of Larson on Monday, a day after he used the N-word during a live stream of a virtual race. The decision came hours after NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing suspended Larson indefinitely, his team doing so without pay. Without funding from McDonald’s and Credit One Bank, Ganassi seemingly will be forced to dump Larson in favor of a different driver. “We were extremely disappointed and appalled to hear about this incident,” McDonald’s USA said in a statement. “The comments made by Kyle Larson are insensitive, offensive, and not reflective of our inclusive values and will not be tolerated.” McDonald’s has partnered with CGR for nearly a decade and sponsors the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet in the Cup Series. Ending its relationship with Larson would make it next to impossible for Ganassi to stick with Larson behind the wheel. Ross Chastain would be a likely replacement. Chastain is a Ganassi development driver who has been on loan to Roush Fenway Racing as an injury fill-in for Ryan Newman. NASCAR ordered Larson, who is half Japanese, to complete a sensitivity training course before he can be eligible for reinstatement. Larson apologized in a video posted on his social media accounts. Larson was competing in an iRacing event Sunday night when he appeared to lose communication on his headset with his spotter. During a check of his microphone, he asked his spotter, “You can’t hear me?” That was followed by the slur, which was directed at his spotter, who is white. “The words that he chose to use are offensive and unacceptable,” Chip Ganassi Racing said. “As of this moment, we are suspending Kyle without pay while we work through this situation with all appropriate parties.” Larson, whose grandparents spent time in an interment camp in California during World War II, climbed from short-track racing into NASCAR through its “Drive for Diversity” program. He is the only driver of Japanese descent to win a major NASCAR race. NASCAR in 2013 suspended Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements for using the same word Larson used while Clements was speaking to a reporter. Clements was reinstated after completing a sensitivity training course and still competes.


Sports media

ESPN talent asked to take cuts

ESPN has requested that its 100 highest-paid personalities take temporary pay cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic while the sports world is on hold. The news affects personalities such as Stephen A. Smith (believed to be ESPN’s highest-paid commentator at $8 million per year), Alex Rodriguez, Kirk Herbstreit, and Mike Greenberg, among others. The pay cuts are voluntary, ESPN said in a statement, and full salaries will be restored after three months. ESPN executives were calling staffers Monday. It is unclear how many immediately agreed to the reduction. ESPN executives previously took a salary reduction themselves this month, with executive vice presidents taking the biggest cut at 30 percent. The request from ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro comes on the heels of the company informing a number of employees who work on game production that they will be furloughed while sports are on hold.



Dotson, Quickley declare for NBA Draft

Kansas guard Devon Dotson is entering the NBA Draft after leading the Big 12 Conference in scoring his sophomore season. Dotson participated in the NBA combine last summer before returning to school. He said this time he intends to sign with an agent and remain in the draft. The 6-foot-2-inch guard averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2.1 steals while helping Kansas go 28-3 and win its final 16 games. He earned second-team honors on the Associated Press All-America team. Kansas owned the No. 1 ranking when the season was halted March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Jayhawks were likely to receive the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley will also enter the draft and sign with an agent, leaving school after a breakout season in which he was an honorable mention All-America selection. SEC coaches voted the 6-3 sophomore Player of the Year after he wasn’t picked for any preseason all-conference teams. Quickley averaged a team-high 16.1 points per game last season with double-figure efforts in his final 20 contests … Boston College finished sixth in the final men’s college hockey poll after a 24-8-2 season that ended prematurely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cornell was No. 1 and UMass was No. 9 … The Boston Pride re-signed forward Lexie Laing, the 12th pick in the 2017 National Women’s Hockey League draft, to play for the team next season … Midfielder Diego Fagundez and eMLS competitor John Oliveira will represent the New England Revolution in a FIFA 2020 video game tournament that begins Sunday. Fagundez and Oliveira will compete against players from D.C. United in the second episode April 26, at 7 p.m. It will be televised on FS1 and Fox Deportes … The organizers of the inaugural Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race, are withholding the $20 million in prize money while they investigate whether the winner, Maximum Security, was aided by performance-enhancing drugs. Last month, the trainer of the colt, Jason Servis, was among more than two dozen trainers, veterinarians and drug distributors accused, by federal prosecutors in the United States in a series of indictments, of secretly doping horses and cheating the betting public. Servis has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit drug adulteration and misbranding. The colt’s owners, Gary and Mary West, were due to collect a $10 million check after Maximum Security held off a hard-charging Midnight Bisou to capture the Saudi Cup on Feb. 29 at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On March 9, prosecutors announced the indictments. In a statement, the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia acknowledged it had been investigating the allegations made in the indictments and said its work had been slowed by the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The purse structure for the Saudi Cup called for paying $3.5 million to the runner-up, $2 million to the third-place finisher and $1.5 million to the fourth-place finisher. The rest of the field was to be paid from $1 million down to $200,000 for the 10th-place finisher. If Maximum Security were to be disqualified, or “taken down,” Midnight Bisou would pick up the $10 million and every other finisher would move up and collect a bigger check. Last May, Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified for almost knocking over a rival horse and slowing the momentum of others. Country House, a 65-1 shot, was named the winner. Maximum Security went on to win four of his next five races, including the Saudi Cup.