Former Celtics guard Kyrie Irving is making sure WNBA players can sit out the season and not stress about a paycheck, committing $1.5 million to supplement the income of players who chose not to play, whether it be because of coronavirus concerns or social justice reasons. The funds will come from the KAI Empowerment Initiative that Irving launched Monday. It will also provide players with a financial literacy program created by UBS. Irving, now with the Brooklyn Nets, said with the help of Natasha Cloud — who chose to sit out — and Jewell Loyd, he connected with several WNBA players who discussed with him the challenges they faced in deciding whether to play. The season began Saturday and will be played entirely at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Irving decided to help with the financial burden in a league where the top annual salary is a little more than $200,000. To be eligible, players must provide insight into the circumstances surrounding their decision and not be receiving salary support from any other entity. An opt-out for medical reasons must be connected to the pandemic.
Trio lands on Commissioner Exempt List
New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar, and Washington wide receiver Cody Latimer were put on the NFL’s Commissioner Exempt List Monday while facing felony charges from offseason incidents. A player on the Commissioner Exempt List cannot practice or play in games but does get paid. He can be at the team’s facility “on a reasonable basis” for meetings, individual workouts, therapy, rehab, and other non-football activities if given team permission . . . Running back Raheem Mostert, the San Francisco 49ers’ postseason breakout star, reworked his contract after previously requesting a trade, his agent Brett Tessler announced. Mostert, who is still under contract for $2.875 million in 2021, is due $2.575 million in base salary with a $300,000 bonus this season. He can now earn up to an additional $2.75 million in bonuses and incentives . . . Quarterback Alex Smith, who received medical clearance from surgeons who repaired the compound fracture in his right leg, is expected to start training camp with the Washington Football Team on the physically unable to perform list . . . The Minnesota Vikings announced that Eric Sugarman, their head athletic trainer and infection control officer, tested positive for the coronavirus.
2022 World Cup qualifying altered
CONCACAF, soccer’s governing body in this hemisphere, announced a new qualifying format for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, expanding the final group from a hexagonal to an octagonal with eight teams. It means the US men’s national team will have to play 14 qualifying matches instead of 10, starting next June instead of this September. The delayed start will allow US coach Gregg Berhalter additional time to mold his young squad, but it also creates a more perilous path to one of the region’s three automatic berths in Qatar . . . Kylian Mbappe could miss Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League quarterfinal against Atalanta after being ruled out for around three weeks to recover from an ankle ligament injury . . . Spanish club Valencia hired former Watford coach Javi Gracia on a two-year deal. Valencia, which finished ninth in the Spanish League this season, praised the Spaniard for being a “proponent of attacking football.” . . . Atlanta United promoted Stephen Glass to serve as interim coach while the club searched for a permanent successor to Frank de Boer. Glass was appointed to the post three days after the departure of de Boer on the heels of a dismal performance at the MLS Is Back tournament.
Miami names starting QB
If the Miami Hurricanes have a football season, D’Eriq King will be the starting quarterback. Miami coach Manny Diaz made the announcement that King, a redshirt senior transfer from Houston, will be the starter on the first day of the team’s second summer workout session . . . Mia Villegas, the 22-month-old daughter of professional golfer Camilo Villegas of Colombia, died from tumors on her brain and spine, the PGA Tour announced. Villegas’s daughter was diagnosed March 14, two weeks after he and his wife, Maria, noticed she wasn’t as playful. After tests revealed tumors on her brain and spine, she underwent surgery and then chemotherapy before dying Sunday night.