Mark Whipple steps down as UMass football coach
Mark Whipple stepped down as football coach at the University of Massachusetts on Wednesday in a mutually agreed upon separation, said UMass athletics director Ryan Bamford. Whipple, 61, who led the Minutemen to the 1998 FCS national championship in his inaugural season as UMass coach, announced his departure after culminating a 4-8 season with a 66-27 loss at fifth-ranked Georgia last Saturday. Whipple, who had two years remaining on a contract that paid $500,000 annually in base salary, completed the fifth season of his second tour of duty in Amherst, where he compiled a 65-70 record in 11 years overall, including 16-44 the last five seasons.“I want to thank Mark for his commitment to our football program for 11 years,’’ Bamford said. “He came back to UMass when this program needed a strong leader and respected mentor. Mark provided the steady hand we needed in our early years as an FBS program and leaves our program in much better standing than when he came back in 2014.”
Miami dismisses leading WR
Jeff Thomas, the University of Miami’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 563 yards, was dismissed from the football team four days before the Hurricanes (6-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) host No. 24 Pittsburgh (7-4, 6-1) on Saturday. A standout kickoff and punt returner, Thomas, a sophomore from East St. Louis, Missouri, became the first Miami player in more than two years to run back a punt for a touchdown when he took one back 51 yards in last week’s victory at Virginia Tech. Thomas expressed his displeasure with not starting at receiver against the Hokies by missing practice time this week, prompting coach Mark Richt to banish Thomas from the team. “We have high standards for excellence, for conduct and for the commitment to team for all of the young men who wear our uniform, and we will not waver from those standards,’’ Richt said.
BC wins Fort Myers Tip-Off
Jordan Chatman matched a season-best with 20 points to help Boston College beat Loyola Chicago, 78-66, in the championship game of the inaugural Fort Myers Tip-Off in Florida. Chatman rebounded from a 2-for-13 shooting performance in Monday night’s semifinal win against Wyoming hitting 7 of 13 shots, including three 3-pointers, for the Eagles (4-1).
. . . Max Mahoney made 9 of 10 shots for 20 points for Boston University (3-3) in an 88-67 loss to host Drexel (3-2), who were led by freshman Camren Wynter with 22 points, eight rebounds and nine assists — all season highs.
Duke stunned by Gonzaga
Rui Hachimura scored 20 points and No. 3 Gonzaga blocked four shots in the final 46 seconds to hold off five-time champion Duke, 89-87, in the Maui Invitational title game. Duke (5-1) trailed by 16 in the second half before mounting a massive charge with a series of dunks and drives to the basket. After the Blue Devils tied it, 87-87, Hachimura scored on a hard drive to put Gonzaga up. The Zags (6-0) missed four free throws to give Duke a final shot, but Brandon Clarke blocked R.J. Barrett’s drive on the game’s final play.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky was listed as doubtful for the Thanksgiving Day game in Detroit against the Lions. Trubisky suffered a right shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s 25-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. If Trubisky is unable to play, the Bears will turn to backup Chase Daniel, 32, the oldest player on the Bears roster who has not started or played extensively in an NFL game since 2014 . . . The Denver Broncos promoted cornerback Brendan Langley from their practice squad to replace veteran corner Adam Jones, who was waived Tuesday, 48 hours after playing just five snaps on defense and returning a kickoff 16 yards in a win over the Chargers . . . Atlanta Falcons linebacker Deion Jones was ruled out of Thursday night’s game at the New Orleans Saints. Jones came off injured reserve last week after missing two months with a broken right foot. He was inactive against Dallas last Sunday . . . The Saints ruled out left tackle Terron Armstead for Thursday night’s game against Atlanta because of his pectoral injury. . . . Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who grew up in Chico, Calif., announced on Twitter a $1 million donation to the North Valley Community Foundation to help the fire victims in the region rebuild. State Farm, Rodgers’s longtime sponsor, is donating $1 for every retweet of Rodgers’s post, up to $1 million.
Reds closer Raisel Iglesias avoided arbitration by agreeing to a restructured three-year, $24,125,00 deal through the 2021 season. Iglesias was on a seven-year, $27 million contract through 2020 that allowed him to opt for arbitration in 2018. He made $3,214,286 last season, when he had a career-high 30 saves in 34 chances and a 2.38 ERA . . . The Miami Marlins traded lefthander Dillon Peters, 26, to the Los Angeles Angels for minor league righthanded reliever Tyler Stevens, 22 . . . The New York Yankees acquired outfielder Tim Locastro, a native of Auburn, N.Y., who played at Ithaca College, from the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league righthander Drew Finley and cash . . . Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash added Rodney Linares, 41, to his staff as third base coach. Linares replaces Matt Quatraro, who was promoted to bench coach after Charlie Montoyo was hired as Blue Jays manager.
. . . Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias called upon a familiar face to help rebuild the club, hiring former NASA engineer Sig Mejdal from the Houston Astros to be assistant general manager for analytics.
Avalanche F Rantanen fined
The NHL fined Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen $2,000 for embellishment. Rantanen was docked under the league’s program designed to discourage embellishment. He was warned for a play on Oct. 16 at the New York Rangers. His second offense occurred late in the second period against Boston on Nov. 14, with Patrice Bergeron receiving a penalty for hooking and Rantanen for embellishment.