A number of meetings among top league presidents are planned for this week across college football with the expected resolution of postponing fall sports until 2021, multiple sources have told Sports Illustrated. “It’s gotten to a critical stage,” one conference commissioner told Sports Illustrated Sunday, after a conference call with colleagues. “I think all of us will be meeting with our boards in the coming days. We have work to do that is no fun.” On Saturday, the Mid-American Conference postponed fall sports. The Big Ten followed with an announcement that it was pausing its scheduled progression to full-pads football practices. A well-placed source told Sports Illustrated, “I think by the end of the week the fall sports will be postponed in all conferences.”
Referees agree to opt-out language
The NFL reached an agreement with the NFL Referees Association on protocols related to the novel coronavirus and opt-out provisions for the 2020 season, the NFLRA announced. According to the NFLRA, any game official or replay official with coronavirus-related concerns can opt out of the season by Thursday and receive a $30,000 payment. The opt-out decision would be treated as a leave of absence and the official would have guaranteed job protection to return for the 2021 season, according to the NFLRA. The NFLRA also said that any positive coronavirus test by a game official during the season would be treated as an injury sustained during a league-sanctioned or required activity and the official would be entitled to pay, medical expenses, and benefits . . . The Jacksonville Jaguars are down two more defensive linemen, bringing their total to five just a week into training camp. The Jaguars placed defensive tackles Brian Price (knee) and Dontavius Russell (hip) on injured reserve Sunday, adding to a depth problem created when defensive end Lerentee McCray and defensive tackle Al Woods opted out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic . . . New Rams defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract with the Rams in March, will be sidelined indefinitely with a non-football injury. Coach Sean McVay admitted Robinson’s condition was “something that kind of surprised us” when Robinson reported to training camp. Robinson’s condition isn’t coronavirus-related.
Kang a winner as Ko stumbles on 18
Five shots behind with six holes to play, Danielle Kang won her second straight LPGA Tour event Sunday when Lydia Ko took double bogey on the final hole in the Marathon Classic in Sylvania, Ohio. Kang began her rally with consecutive birdies on the 13th and 14th holes at Highland Meadows, and then all she needed were pars the rest of the way for a 3-under-par 68, all because of Ko’s shocking collapse. Ko, who shot 73 on the day, was poised to end two years and 44 tournaments without a victory. She made bogey on the 14th hole, and with Kang’s birdies, the lead suddenly was down to two. Ko dropped another shot on the 16th, and caught a break when Kang was in position for birdie on the par-5 17th and had to settle for par. But on the closing par-5, Ko fell apart. She hit her chip through the green. With a slightly uphill lie in patchy rough, Ko muffed the chip and watched it roll into a bunker. She blasted that out to 10 feet and missed the putt that would have forced a playoff. Jodi Ewart Shadoff, in contention for the second straight week but still without an LPGA victory, played bogey-free after the opening hole for a 67. She wound up in a tie for second with Ko, who reached No. 1 in the world as a teenager and now is outside the top 50 . . . California teenager Rose Zhang won the longest US Women’s Amateur title match in 54 years, denying Gabriela Ruffels a repeat victory in Rockville, Md., when the 20-year-old Australian missed a 3-foot par putt on the 38th hole. Neither player led by more than 2 up the entire 36-hole match, and they halved the last five holes with par to force extra holes for the first time since 2001. Zhang, a 17-year-old who has committed to play at Stanford next year, sent it to overtime with a clutch flop-and-run from the rough about 40 yards away on the 18th hole at Woodmont Country Club to tap-in range. On the first extra hole, Zhang missed about a 12-foot putt for the win. On the 38th hole, USC’s Ruffels went just beyond the green from the rough and hit a good pitch to about 3 feet. Zhang missed her birdie putt, and then Ruffels’s par putt to extend the match spun around the cup . . . An emotional Andy Sullivan ended a near five-year wait for his fourth European Tour title as he recorded a seven-shot victory at the English Championship in Ware. Heading into the final round at Hanbury Manor with a five-shot advantage, Sullivan saw his lead cut to just two by Adrian Otaegui (66), but he recorded four birdies on the back nine to shoot a 6-under 65 for a 27-under 257 total. The victory was his first on the European Tour since the 2015 Portugal Masters, and his first since the birth of his son and the deaths of both his brother-in-law as well as a close friend.
Tennis crowns long-awaited champ
Fiona Ferro upset fourth-seeded Anett Kontaveit in the Palermo Ladies Open final to win the first tour-level tennis title in five months. Ferro, who is ranked 53rd in the world, won, 6-2, 7-5. She had lost just one set on her way to the final. It was the first official tennis event — for men or women — since March when the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports across the globe. There were strict health protocols, including fewer ball kids, a limited number of fans, and no post-match handshakes between opponents. Ferro and Kontaveit wore gloves to handle their trophies . . . Alexei Popyrin withdrew from the US Open, allowing 2012 champion Andy Murray to give up his wild-car invite and move into the main draw. Popyrin joins Australians Ash Barty and Nick Kyrgios as players who are skipping the US Open, which is scheduled to be played without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic in New York starting Aug. 31.