ABC - Sports News

jetcityimage/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The NCAA has good news for college football and basketball players who have been sidelined like so many due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Division I student-athletes for both sports have been given the green light to participate in on-campus voluntary athletics activities starting June 1 as long as local, state and federal regulations are followed, the organization decided in a virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The Division I Council also extended its blanket waiver that allows teams to require eight hours per week of virtual nonphysical activities through the end of June for students who aren't able to return to campus just yet.

“We encourage each school to use its discretion to make the best decisions possible for football and basketball student-athletes within the appropriate resocialization framework,” Council chair M. Grace Calhoun said in a press release. “Allowing for voluntary athletics activity acknowledges that reopening our campuses will be an individual decision but should be based on advice from medical experts.”

Coaches are not allowed to be present unless a sport-specific safety exception allows it, and activity cannot be directed by a coach or reported back to a coach.

A decision for other sports and activities is expected to be made soon.

The Council also recognized that each student-athletes' circumstance varies and "remains committed to providing appropriate flexibility to support students, schools and conferences during these challenging times."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


cmannphoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- New York's Belmont Stakes is usually the third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown.  This year it will be the first. The New York Racing Association announced the 152nd Belmont Stakes will take place Saturday, June 20 as the opening leg of the Triple Crown.

Another difference horse racing fans will notice -- no spectators at the event in accordance with social distancing recommendations. Fans will be able to place bets online, however.

The race is also usually a mile and a half, but this year it will be shorter at a mile and an eighth.

The Belmont Stakes will air at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.

The Kentucky Derby was rescheduled from May 2 to Sept. 5. The Preakness Stakes was rescheduled from May 16 to Oct. 3.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- NBA legend Magic Johnson has come in with a big assist to help out small businesses that have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson joined ABC News' Good Morning America on Tuesday to share his latest efforts that will provide capital to minority and women-run firms to ensure their stability and growth in the wake of the pandemic.

After a call with Rev. Al Sharpton and the owner of M.B. Capital, Johnson said the collective goal was "to come together and do something fantastic for minority firms across the country and women-owned businesses."

"My company (Equitrust Life Insurance Co.) put up $100 million for these fantastic companies that were not part of the loan system (Paycheck Protection Program), the stimulus package that went out, and they couldn't get loans. So we have to make sure that they stay in business and also keep their employees," Johnson said. "M.B. is going to make sure they vet these minority firms and women-owned businesses along with the SBA (Small Business Administration) to make sure these companies get money because they've been a pillar and also been outstanding for our community."

Johnson also wanted to recognize these types of businesses because he said they recognized that black communities have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Health-wise it's been really affecting our community in a big way. We're dying at really record numbers from the virus, in terms of African Americans. So we want to make sure that first we get the word out to stay safe, take care of your family and then on the financial side, we've got to make sure these businesses can stay open. We don't want any minority firm in America to close because of this virus and because they couldn't get a loan," he said.

He added that "after we have come out of this situation," and business starts to get somewhat back to normal, "we want these businesses to grow too ... these firms can grow and scale at the same time."

His advice for small businesses is to "try to make sure you can keep your employees" and "stay in touch with your clients and customers" so that when people get back to work they can sit down and do more business.

Despite all the chaos that has come at the hands of the pandemic, Johnson said the highly watched ESPN docuseries, The Last Dance, that chronicled his former NBA competitor and 1992 Olympic teammate Michael Jordan, was perfectly timed "because the country needed something to look forward to."

Johnson appeared in the series when Jordan and the Bulls matched up against his Los Angeles Lakers and showed intimate, up-close moments between the two players.

"Michael made the point that he had won a lot of scoring titles, but he was never in the category of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird of winning championships," Johnson said. "Once he won the first one against my showtime Lakers -- we were both in the locker room and there's a door in between the visitors locker room and the Lakers locker room and so I told their PR person, 'grab Michael because I want to congratulate him.'"

"When he came through the door we just hugged and -- he was just crying. He was so happy to win his first championship, his father was there with him as well and we just had a special moment," Johnson recalled.

"Michael and I always have been great friends. We respect each other. I think on the court we were great rivals, but at the same time we really loved each other," the Hall of Famer said. "Especially when we had that special moment with the Dream Team and we both were able to play with each other and represent our country and win the gold medal."

The pair have had a similar past with their careers off the court as well, Johnson explained.

"We followed each other in terms of as businessmen now too. So we've got a lot in common. We're both close to our mothers and our family and I just love him. And I love the fact that we needed this Last Dance documentary," he said. "It gave us all these thrills and took us back, as well as took us forward too. And I'm glad a lot of kids got a chance to see what made Michael Jordan the G.O.A.T. and what made him special."

Johnson will be a guest on After the Dance With Stephen A. Smith: A SportsCenter Special Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC to share insights about competing against Jordan during the Bulls dynasty and more.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- As fans relived Michael Jordan's show-stopping run with the Chicago Bulls to win the 1998 NBA title on The Last Dance, a docuseries that finished its 10-episode run on Sunday, the superstar's his own kids say they now have a new perspective on their father's storied career.

"At the end of the day, you know, the generation is getting younger and younger and they're going to be in the same boat where they haven't seen my father play," Jasmine Jordan told ABC News' Good Morning America on Monday. "They're going to ask those questions as to 'who is it he? Or what did he do?' And that's a responsibility that my brothers and myself take on. And it's one that we love because it essentially evolves Jordan and the brand and the legacy that my father has created."

Her older brother, Jeffrey Jordan, explained that like younger basketball fans, the series has been a way to rewatch their dad's career highlights with a fresh eye.

"It's been amazing to see him in a different light," Jeffrey Jordan said. "We got to see him when he came home and he was done with work -- but being able to see him in his element, in his atmosphere with the team and see all the ups and downs of that season has been a treat to watch."

Jasmine Jordan -- who admitted she once had to Google her own dad to grasp the concept of his fame -- said the ESPN series that chronicled the pinnacle of MJ's prime has "been eye-opening."

"I had kids and teachers and stuff at school telling me 'it's incredible your father is who he is.' And I'm thinking you all haven't met my father to my knowledge, how do you know this? So I did, I googled him. And I found a lot clearly," she said with a laugh. "I had that conversation with my father afterwards and he just laughed and was like, 'Hey, there's no way to really tell you anything like that.' But between him and my mom, they made sure that we felt like he was normal as can be and we grew up very normal and for that I'm grateful."

"I was so young at the time -- so now I'm understanding the chaos and everything that was happening," Jasmine Jordan, 27, continued. "It's been a joy, really, to watch and I think like everybody else we're sad that it's over."

Her brother also explained that the series gave them insights as to things that were happening with their dad's teammates that they didn't fully understand at the time.

"You would hear those things here and there off the court, but for the most part all those little details about the team -- his teammates stories as well -- were all eye opening and new for me. It was great to see those guys doing what they do," he said of his dad's Bulls teammates Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr.

The 10-part production that became must-watch TV on Sunday nights with six million viewers each week included never-before-seen footage throughout the Bulls' 1997-98 season. Michael Jordan's passion and tenacity were on full display and viewers got to see one of the greatest dynasties in sports history up close.

"He was tough and it was competitive," Jeffrey Jordan, 31, said about what his dad was like off the court at home. "We always felt like the competitive atmosphere shaped us in a way that was for the better and got us prepared for what we were gonna face in the real world. We embraced it, but the switch was on."

Jeffrey Jordan, who played basketball at University of Central Florida, said "it was definitely difficult" to carry the Jordan name onto the court.

"As you get older and you mature it kind of gets a little easier to deal with. But every night you knew you were getting everybody's best game and you had a target on your back," he said. "You just did your best to go out there and face it head on and enjoy it as much as possible."

Their father's name will long be hailed as the greatest of all time and his two kids said "it's very important" that they continue to protect that legacy through his brand.

"It educates the younger generation as we continue to produce products, footwear, apparel, whatever it is for the younger generation," Jasmine Jordan said. "It's definitely an exciting aspect that we get to do and carry on, but as individuals we're able to put our own spin on and keep it authentic so the next generation can ride the wave that we've been able to be a part of."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Rutryin/iStockBy ABC News

(DARLINGTON, S.C.) -- NASCAR returned on Sunday after a 10-week pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kevin Harvick crossed the finish line first, beating Alex Bowman to take the win at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.

Given the ongoing pandemic, several precautions were taken during the race. Fans were not allowed in the stands and team rosters were limited to 16 people, including the driver.

The starting order for the 400-mile race, which was dedicated to health care workers fighting COVID-19, was drawn at random based on owner points.

NASCAR's next race will take place Wednesday, also at Darlington Raceway.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Aurelien Meunier/Getty ImagesBy CANDICE WILLIAMS, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With the final two episodes of Michael Jordan's intimate sport documentary The Last Dance airing Sunday, his daughter Jasmine admits that her father is now finally breathing a sigh of relief.

The wildly popular series, which chronicles her father's final Chicago Bulls season in 1997–98, shares rare footage of Michael's tumultuous journey, which Jasmine reveals he hoped would not see the light of day.

"[It was] understanding, his fear of wanting it to even come out," Jasmine tells ABC Audio. "And why he was hesitant. Because now seeing so many episodes up to this point, I'm like that, 'Dad, why wouldn't you want this to come out? This is incredible. This is what the people want.'"

"He was concerned about the perception," she continues. "He was concerned that people weren't going to understand these were sacrifices. And he had to be that brute teammate or ask that much from everybody else to become great."

Jasmine says Michael thought viewers may not understand the tough love he gave his teammates.

"He's not just beating up Steve Kerr, beating up Ron Harper and constantly coming at Charles Oakley because it's fun," she explains. "He's doing it because he knows their potential and he's trying to pull it out."

"So, with having that conversation, I said, 'OK, I get it,'" she recalls. "'I get why you would be concerned [about the] audience or the younger generation that didn't watch you live during this time."

Watching the doc in real time, Jasmine says she has a better grasp of her father's feelings, adding that his fear was rooted in people not understanding his "mentality."

Now, thankfully, Jasmine says Michael's "fear has been pretty much been wavered."

"He allowed the documentary to come to fruition ... because I think everybody should be benefiting from it," she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/nycshooter(DARLINGTON, S.C.) -- BY: KELLY MCCARTHY

As NASCAR prepares to get drivers to their starting positions so it can once again wave the green flag, race car driver Kurt Busch shared the silver linings of getting back to the racetrack in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The racing season was temporarily suspended on March 13 but it will resume at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on Sunday — without fans and with a limited number of onsite personnel and media.

Busch, who drives the number 1 car for Chip Ganassi Racing, joined ABC News' "Pandemic: What You Need to Know" on Thursday, where he said that "the biggest disappointment is that our fans won’t be there with us" when they begin racing again.

"The sport is driven on fan interaction before, during, and after the race. We love our meet and greets and we love celebrating with our fans. So it’s going to be tough," he said. "But I know I feel the love of my fans in my heart when I am driving. There’s also a new element that new people will be tuning in through the live stream of the race and we have new eyeballs watching, which is always good for the sport."

NASCAR is one of the first professional sports to resume competition, along with Major League Soccer, UFC and Premiere League Lacrosse. Busch hailed the company for the steps it's taking, like requiring health questionnaires, temperature checks and social distancing.

“I’m really proud of the collaborative effort from NASCAR to make this happen — all the task forces being able to work with states and counties. This responsibility is with us to stay safe. We take it very seriously because we want to keep this going," Busch said. "It’s exciting. Everyone is up for the challenge. All the drivers, NASCAR. We want to work together. This has always been our mantra."

As if helmets, fire suits and gloves weren't enough gear, the teams will also wear additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and safety reasons.

Busch said there will be “PPE protocol for everyone at the track: safety crews, pit crews, everyone. All drivers will be given a fresh mask as soon as they step out of the car. Inside my car, I have a filtered air system so I feel pretty good about that.”

While NASCAR drivers were relegated to their homes due to the pandemic, many turned to iRacing, a racing simulation online video game with various tracks, weather conditions and car adjustments.

“We have a racing simulator that I have been spending hours on, working on track set ups and just staying in race shape," Busch explained. "We have been connecting with the team via Skype, FaceTime. I have been going bonkers inside as an athlete, so just trying to use technology as best I can to stay in touch with my team.”

Busch, who each year has given away 100 race tickets to veterans and active duty service members, said he'll begin including front-line workers.

“Our first step is to now help out first responders and those on the frontlines battling this virus," he said. "We also have wheels in motion to work with NASCAR as certain sections of grandstands open throughout this season. We are going to really try to get these guys in there.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is known as an offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, but the NFL Player has swapped his football jersey for scrubs to help out on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Laurent, who is the only active NFL player with a doctorate in medicine, rushed back to Quebec, his hometown, just weeks after he and his team took home the Super Bowl title, to help at a long term care facility.

“We were put in isolation for 14 days. And during that time, I was kind of like trying to figure out, like how can I help?” Laurent told ABC News' Good Morning America.

At the long term care facility, Tardif does a little bit of everything as an orderly and has been working three to four shifts a week.

“So far, I’ve been assigned to administration of medication in the morning,” he said. “I try to do a little bit of like caring, but not necessarily treating people -- just spending time with them.”

On top of his time as a health care worker, Laurent is also still virtually training with the Chiefs, who have been supportive of his work.

“We’re in a really competitive business. And for them to realize that, you know what’s happening right now and the opportunity I have to contribute and help is bigger than, you know, one virtual workout that I might be missing. I think it’s huge,” he said of his team.

“I want to be positive,” he added. “I want to play at a stadium in front of 80,000 people. The reality is I don’t know what’s going to happen. And we still don’t know enough about the disease and how it’s going to be in order to make a call.”

Laurent, who has no intention of quitting football, said that whenever football returns, he’ll be ready to protect his teammates -- including the Chiefs’ new draft pick, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is also French-Canadian, just like him.

“I heard he might be speaking French so I’m really excited we’re going to do some trash talking in French on the sidelines,” he joked. “We’re going to be unstoppable.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Alberto Rodriguez/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo BankBy: LESLEY MESSER AND HENDERSON HEWES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Soccer star Alex Morgan is a mom.

The U.S. women's national team co-captain and her husband, soccer player Servando Carrasco, welcomed a daughter, Charlie Elena, on May 7.

Morgan shared a photo of the new arrival on Instagram, saying she was born at 11:30 a.m. and weighed in at 8 pounds, 5 ounces.


"She made us wait longer than expected, but I should have known she would do it her way and her way only. My super moon baby," Morgan wrote.

A cavalcade of her teammates, including Mallory Pugh, Abby Dahlkemper, Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan, Sydney Leroux and Rose Lavelle, congratulated her on the baby in the comments. Baseball great Alex Rodriguez, basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash and Olympic swimmer and two-time gold medalist Simone Manuel also got in on the congrats.

Morgan, 30, and Carrasco, 31, married in 2014 and announced last year that they were expecting a baby girl. She told "Good Morning America" in February that "taking a step back from soccer" while pregnant was "a little different" for her, but added, "I am enjoying it."

"I hope that she's born into a world that she can accomplish much bigger and better things that I'm ever capable of," Morgan said.

One issue that's important to Morgan has been pay equity for women. She and her USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe told "Good Morning America" on May 4 that the team plans to appeal a federal judge's decision to throw out their unequal pay claim in the more than $66 million lawsuit they filed against the United States Soccer Federation. The women's national team won the World Cup in 2015 and 2019, and last won the Olympic gold in 2012. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns until at least 2021.

"This decision was out of left field for us. I think for both sides it was very unexpected," Morgan said. "If anyone knows anything about the heart of this team, we are fighters and we will continue to fight together for this."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Joe Robbins/Getty ImageBy: ELLA TORRES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- College sports would not take place in the fall if the student body isn't expected to return to campus under the novel coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA president said.

President Mark Emmert said Friday that while universities will be in different places in the fall, many are in "clear agreement" that "If you don't have students on campus, you don't have student-athletes on campus."

"That doesn't mean it has to be up and running in the full normal model, but you have to treat the health and well-being of the athletes at least as much as the regular students. And so, if a school doesn't reopen, then they're not going to be playing sports. It's really that simple," Emmert said during an interview with Andy Katz, college basketball correspondent for the NCAA. The 36-minute interview, titled "The Future of College Sports," was posted to the NCAA's Twitter feed.

Emmert said that presidents of the universities he has been in touch with are looking at three options for the fall semester: creating what could best be described as a typical school year with social distancing and proper hygiene practices in place, working on a hybrid plan that would bring students back to campus but keep large lecture classes online, or staying entirely online.

Emmert said everyone is trying to avoid the third option, but it's unlikely there will be a unified plan come August and September.

"It's very unlikely that we'll reach a place sometime this summer where everybody feels equally confident and equally comfortable," he said. "The level of confidence is going to vary from campus to campus."

Dr. Brian Hainline, the NCAA's chief medical officer, said that the current plan is six weeks of conditioning and practice before playing games. Hainline noted that the plan is not "set in stone."

However, the possibility of a start date that works for everyone appeared practically impossible.

"We aren't going to have one national time when everyone can start preseason so there's going to be a little bit of inequity there," Hainline said.

Emmert said the main priority is the health and safety of the student athletes. He admitted that it will be a "very unusual school year" and the NCAA is trying to make the best of it.

"What does it mean if you look at a conference, for example, if a conference has some schools open and some not?" Emmert said. "You can't run a regular schedule if you've got that scenario. How do you adjust all the rules to provide as much flexibility as you possibly can to let student-athletes have a good experience in that season?"

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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