The powerhouse Southeastern Conference will play only league games in 2020, a pandemic-forced decision that pushes major college football closer to a siloed regular season in which none of the power conferences cross paths. The SEC’s university presidents agreed on a 10-game schedule that eliminates all nonconference foes and is set to begin Sept. 26. The SEC championship game, originally scheduled for Dec. 5, will be pushed back to Dec. 19. Each SEC team will have a midseason off week and Dec. 12 will be an off week for the entire conference. UMass AD Ryan Bamford confirmed that the Minutemen’s scheduled game at Auburn on Nov. 14 has been cancelled. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced plans to play only conference games. On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes Boston College, announced a reworked 11-game schedule that left room for one non-conference game. The ACC wanted to allow four of its schools to maintain in-state rivalry games with SEC schools, but now Georgia-Georgia Tech, Florida-Florida State, Clemson-South Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville have been canceled. That puts all ACC nonconference games in doubt because the conference had stipulated it would only allow its schools to play in their home states against non-ACC teams. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have yet to reveal detailed schedules but both could come as soon as Friday. Big 12 officials were holding out hope its 10 members would be able to play nonconference games, but options are dwindling. The SEC’s decision cancels LSU’s home game against Texas and Tennessee’s scheduled trip to Oklahoma in September.
Ferentz promises change at Iowa
Facing a scathing report that detailed racial bias against Black players in his program and bullying behavior by some of his assistants, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he would not be making any staffing changes as he apologized and promised to overhaul some of his policies. University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld said the critical report by an outside law firm showed the “climate and culture must and will change within our football program.” Ferentz apologized to former Black players at a news conference and promised to build on changes made in recent weeks to improve their experience . . . Leo F. Dupere, a 1984 Varsity Club inductee to the Northeastern Hall of Fame who returned to the ice at his alma mater, Amesbury High, coaching the Indians to four state titles and 222 wins from 1964-84, died Wednesday at 79 following a brief battle with cancer. At NU, Dupere registered the second-highest single-season point total (33 goals, 34 assists) in program history during the 1962-63 season. He is a member of the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame . . . College athletes in all sports will now be permitted to wear patches on their uniforms to “express support and voice their opinions.” . . . Athletes and others with ties to the Oregon State women’s volleyball program told The Associated Press that five-year head coach Mark Barnard runs an abusive program that has seen 11 players quit or transfer since 2016 and two team members contemplate suicide, with one attempting an overdose . . . According to a federal lawsuit, the abuse of Dr. Robert Anderson performing unnecessary rectal and genital exams was an open secret for decades on the University of Michigan campus, but the administration failed to take any action against him, despite nearly a dozen reports of misbehavior to school officials, coaches and trainers. Even the school’s legendary football coach, Bo Schembechler, was alerted to the abusive behavior and improper medical treatments, the complaint alleges. Anderson, who voluntarily retired in 2003, died in 2008 .
Positive tests send Bills’ rookies home
Hours after Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said it’s not surprising there have been positive tests for COVID-19 among players reporting to training camp, the Buffalo Bills told their rookies to return home following five positive coronavirus tests. As a result, the Bills held virtual meetings Thursday . . . The Packers placed veteran kicker Mason Crosby, tight end Jace Sternberger, and defensive tackle Trevyon Hester on their COVID-19 reserve list, while the Vikings added starting linebacker Anthony Barr to their reserve list for COVID-19, the eighth player they’ve designated since training camp began. And the Bears added veteran defensive tackle John Jenkins to their Reserve/COVID list . . . Former New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Boston College coach Tom Coughlin, 73, fractured four ribs, slightly punctured his lung, and needed stitches in his head following a bicycle accident in Jacksonville last weekend . . . Veteran running back LeSean McCoy signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus . . . Linebacker Vic Beasley, the Titans’ prized free-agent signee, told GM Jon Robinson that he will be reporting to camp in the “near future” after his absence was unexcused . . . The New York Jets placed quarterback Joe Flacco (neck), linebacker Avery Williamson (knee) and tight end Ryan Griffin (ankle) on the physically unable to perform list Thursday.
Philadelphia soars to MLS is Back semis
Jamiro Monteiro and Sergio Santos scored two minutes apart midway through the first half, Santos added a second goal just before halftime and the Philadelphia Union reached the semifinals of the MLS is Back tournament with a 3-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City. Philadelphia will face either New York City FC or Portland in the semifinals Wednesday . . . Two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is planning to play at the US Open (Aug. 31-Sept. 13) and the hard-court tuneup at the same Flushing Meadows site earlier in August. Osaka won the 2018 U.S. Open and followed that with a title at the 2019 Australian Open. The current No. 1 woman, Ash Barty, withdrew from the Open Wednesday because she’s not comfortable with traveling during the coronavirus pandemic . . . Former Framingham High and University of North Carolina stalwart Sarah Dacey was hired as the varsity girls’ soccer coach at Hingham High. She compiled a 45-15-1 record at Barry University the past four seasons after previous stops at Babson and Boston College. She replaces 13-year coach Ryan Puntiri, whose contract was not renewed in June . . . The New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association Council unanimously reaffirmed the recognition of all fall sports for 2020-21, targeting a practice start date of Sept. 8. But the NHIAA acknowledges that a return to play will be individual school decisions . . . The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) will postpone the start of its season from November to January, becoming one of the first North American professional leagues to move its schedule to 2021 because of the pandemic . . . Swiss prosecutors have asked the federal government to strip the immunity of Attorney General Michael Lauber so they can open a criminal investigation against him over a series of undocumented meetings he held with FIFA boss Gianni Infantino. The special federal public prosecutor leading the probe concluded that there were “indications of criminal conduct” related to meetings between Lauber, Infantino and a regional Swiss prosecutor during a corruption investigation into soccer’s governing body . . . Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund withdrew its bid to buy English Premier League club Newcastle after the process was stalled by concerns about piracy by the kingdom and human rights complaints. The league has spent four months considering whether to approve the 300 million pound ($392 million) takeover that would have seen Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund gain an 80 percent take in the northeast club.