Thursday Sports in Brief – The San Diego Union-Tribune

NBA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers will stay home at Staples Center through at least 2041 after signing a long-term lease extension.

The Lakers and their downtown arena announced the deal Thursday. The 17-time NBA champion Lakers share Staples with the Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

The Lakers have won six titles during their 22 seasons at the arena that opened in 1999. The Lakers christened the building with three championships in its first three seasons before adding two more banners in 2009 and 2010, followed by the 2020 banner from the Florida bubble.

TENNIS

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all ended up in the same half of the French Open men’s field in the draw Thursday, meaning no more than one of them can reach the final.

The Big Three top the leaderboard for Grand Slam men’s singles titles: Federer and Nadal head to Roland Garros, where play begins Sunday, tied with 20, while Djokovic has 18.

Serena Williams, who has won three of her professional-era record 23 Grand Slam titles in Paris, is in a quarter of the women’s draw filled with familiar faces.

That includes possible matchups with three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the third round, two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova in the fourth and either two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka or No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals.

NFL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles have hired former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell as a personnel executive.

Caldwell spent the past eight years in Jacksonville, which had one winning season in that span. In his new role with the Eagles, Caldwell will contribute to evaluating the team while also assisting with both the pro scouting and college scouting process.

The Eagles also promoted Catherine Raîche to vice president of football operations and Ameena Soliman to pro scout.

COLLEGE ATHLETICS

College athletes would have the right to organize and collectively bargain with schools and conferences under a bill introduced Thursday by Democrats in the House and Senate.

Sen. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) announced the College Athletes Right to Organize Act.

“Big-time college sports haven’t been ‘amateur’ for a long time, and the NCAA has long denied its players economic and bargaining rights while treating them like commodities,” Murphy said in a statement.

This NCAA said the bill would “directly undercut the purpose of college: earning a degree.”

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order that will prevent UConn from immediately eliminating its women’s rowing team as part of budget cuts in its athletic department.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Underhill issued the order Wednesday, ruling the rowers were likely to prevail in their lawsuit that alleges eliminating the team would violate Title IX, the federal law that guarantees equal access to women in education, including athletics.

Underhill found that there is compelling evidence that UConn has been inflating the numbers of participants in its women’s programs to make it appear it was complying with the law.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Bowl Season schedule was announced Thursday. The bowls will begin on Dec. 17, with Bahamas Bowl kicking off at noon ET and the Cure Bowl in Orlando later in the day.

Two new bowl games are set to be played this season after canceling their scheduled debuts last year. The LA Bowl at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, is slated for Dec. 18 and the Fenway Bowl in Boston is scheduled for Dec. 29.

The College Football Playoff national championship is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Indianapolis, the first time the title game will be played in the Midwest.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said he is “bitterly disappointed” in the 11 a.m. Central starting time Fox announced Thursday for the Sooners’ home game against Nebraska.

The teams are set to meet Sept. 18, nearly 50 years after the “Game of The Century.” Back in 1971, No. 1 Nebraska beat No. 2 Oklahoma 35-31 in Norman on its way to the national title.

Castiglione had hoped for a later start time to better showcase the matchup of historic programs.

AUTO RACING

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis 500 is set to become the largest sporting event since the pandemic hit in early 2020 with a reduced-capacity sellout crowd of 135,000 expected to attend Sunday’s race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway worked with the Marion County Public Health Department to determine that 40% of venue capacity will be allowed. The speedway is the largest sporting facility in the world with more than 250,000 grandstand seats and the ability to host close to 400,000 on race day throughout the entire property.

SOCCER

MADRID (AP) — Zinedine Zidane is stepping down as Real Madrid coach, again.

The club said Thursday the Frenchman is leaving his job, a few days after a season in which Madrid failed to win a title for the first time in more than a decade.

The club said Zidane “decided to bring an end to his current spell” as Madrid’s coach.

Zidane had a contract through June 2022.

OLYMPICS

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Olympic athletes were told by the IOC on Thursday that a waiver they must sign releasing Tokyo organizers from liability for COVID-19 issues was “standard practice” for major sports events.

The issue was raised when IOC president Thomas Bach took questions to cap a two-day online conference hosted by the official Olympic commission representing athletes.

COLLEGE SOCCER

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Oregon State junior forward Gloire Amanda and Florida State junior midfielder Jaelin Howell are the Hermann Trophy winners as the top college soccer players.

Amanda, from Edmonton, Alberta, had 15 goals and seven assists in 14 games.

Howell, from Lone Tree, Colorado, had five goals and two assists as Florida State reached the NCAA Division I final, where it lost to Santa Clara 4-1 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Brian Plotkin, an All-American at Indiana who went on to win an MLS Cup with the Columbus Crew, was named head soccer coach at Army on Thursday.

Plotkin spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Notre Dame and also served on the staffs at Dartmouth and Loyola Chicago. He takes over for Russell Payne, who left earlier this month after 11 years to become head coach at Northwestern.

HORSE RACING

The most stringent rule regarding the use of a whip in thoroughbred horse racing will be the controversial focal point when Monmouth Park opens its meet Friday.

The rule adopted by the New Jersey Racing Commission allows a horse to be struck with a riding crop only for safety reasons.

It applies to jockeys and exercise riders, and violations can result in suspensions that will increase with additional offenses.

SPORTS MEMORABILIA

A Wayne Gretzky rookie card has sold for a record $3.75 million at auction.

Heritage Auctions of Dallas said Thursday the 1979 O-Pee-Chee Gretzky card was in “gem mint” condition and went to an anonymous buyer. The card features the hockey great in his Edmonton Oilers uniform during the team’s final WHA season before the franchise joined the NHL.

The sale topped the online company’s previous high for a hockey card.

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