Wednesday Sports in Brief

National Sports

OLYMPICS

China will take part in the men’s hockey tournament at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing after initial concerns that the team would be embarrassed on home ice against NHL-level competition.

The International Ice Hockey Federation confirmed China’s participation Tuesday, avoiding what would have been an unprecedented removal of a host country’s team for performance reasons. The IIHF spent recent weeks reviewing players’ eligibility to represent China.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP)Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday that Australia will join the U.S. in a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Games over human rights concerns.

Morrison said it should come as no surprise that Australian officials would boycott the event after the nation’s relationship with China had broken down in recent years.

He said Australian athletes would still be able to compete.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – It’s been five weeks of global concern about the safety of tennis player Peng Shuai in China.

The International Olympic Committee has acknowledged even it cannot give any certainties about her case. The IOC’s two video calls with the Grand Slam doubles champion are the only reported contacts Peng has had with people outside China since Nov. 2.

On that date she sent a social media post alleging she was sexually assaulted by a former top Communist Party official. She’s largely disappeared from public view since.

The IOC says it’s pursuing ”quiet diplomacy” with China. Critics say it’s enabling a cover-up by China ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says at a news conference ”we can’t provide you with absolute certainty on anything.”

NBA

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been diagnosed with a collapsed right lung and will be sidelined indefinitely.

McCollum was injured in the final quarter of the Blazers’ 145-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

He was listed as probable with a rib contusion for Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers, but did not play in the 102-90 loss. The team says McCollum’s condition was revealed by a CT scan.

He is averaging 20.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season.

NHL

NEW YORK (AP) – Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza was suspended for six games without pay by the NHL on Tuesday for kneeing Winnipeg Jets defenseman Neal Pionk.

In the third period of Sunday’s game between the Jets and Maple Leafs, Pionk had a knee-on-knee hit on Toronto’s Rasmus Sandin. Sandin skated off the ice after the hit on his right knee. Pionk received a two-game suspension for that hit on Monday.

After the hit on Sandin, Spezza drove his left knee into the face of Pionk, who was without a stick and on his knees trying to clear a puck.

NCAA

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The NCAA released revisions Tuesday to its proposed pared-down constitution, including some clarifications about the role of the Board of Governors.

Passing a revised constitution at the NCAA convention in January is the first step in a two-phase process that will allow each division of the association to govern itself. The broader goal is to shift power away from the NCAA to conferences and schools.

Among the revisions made in the 18 1/2-page draft was a clarification to note the Board of Governors, comprised mostly of university presidents, will approve ”contracts regarding media rights and revenue-producing agreements in consultation” with governing bodies for each division.

Also, the proposed constitution will explicitly state the board will consult with divisional governing bodies when evaluating the NCAA president’s performance. The board’s consultation with divisional bodies is to promote transparency.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio State has hired defensive coordinator Jim Knowles away from Oklahoma State.

Buckeyes coach Ryan Day announced Tuesday that Knowles will take over as defensive coordinator on Jan. 2. Day said Ohio State (12-2) will continue preparations for the Rose Bowl with the current staff intact.

The 56-year-old Knowles was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which recognizes the nation’s top assistant coach, after the No. 9 Cowboys finished as the third best in the country in total defense (278.4 yards per game) and in the top 10 in several defensive categories.

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Mark Whipple has resigned after three seasons.

The team made the announcement on Tuesday, a day after Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett was named one of the four finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

Whipple spent three seasons with the Panthers and put together one of the most dynamic offenses in the country in 2021. No. 12 Pitt finished the regular season 11-2 and won its first Atlantic Coast Conference title behind an attack that averaged 43 points, third among FBS teams behind Western Kentucky and Ohio State.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer clubs must interview at least one Black candidate when hiring for sporting positions as part of updates to the diversity hiring policy announced by the league.

The new requirement calls for at least two non-white candidates to be interviewed for any open sporting/technical positions with clubs and one of the candidates must be Black.

Previously, the league’s hiring requirements called for only one ”diverse” candidate to be interviewed for open positions.

Teams not abiding by the new policy face fines, including $50,000 for a first offense and up to $100,000 for a second offense.

BOXING

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Tyson Fury’s next defense of his world heavyweight title looks set to be against a fellow Briton.

Dillian Whyte was declared Tuesday by the World Boxing Council as the mandatory challenger to Fury.

Fury retained his WBC belt by beating Deontay Wilder in October to complete their trilogy.

Whyte holds the WBC interim title and pulled out of his scheduled fight with Otto Wallin in late October, citing a shoulder injury. By then, the WBC had already announced plans to order Fury to defend his belt against its interim titleholder.

If the fight with Fury is secured, it would be Whyte’s first shot at a world title.

WOMEN’S INTERNATIONAL BASKETBALL

The Minnesota Lynx’s Cheryl Reeve will be the next USA Basketball national team coach, a person with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced. USA Basketball will hold a news conference on Wednesday in Minnesota.

The WNBA coach has been an assistant on the last two Olympic teams,. She will be the first professional women’s basketball coach to lead the team since Anne Donovan was courtside for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. UConn’s Geno Auriemma was the coach in the 2012 and 2016 Games. South Carolina’s Dawn Staley led the Americans to a seventh consecutive gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics this past summer.

– By Basketball Writer Doug Feiberg.

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

STORRS, Conn. (AP) – UConn star Paige Bueckers suffered a fracture just below her left knee and will be sidelined for up to two months, the school said Tuesday.

Last season’s women’s college basketball player of the year was dribbling up the court with under 40 seconds left in Sunday’s 73-54 victory over Notre Dame when she stumbled and came down awkwardly. She had to be carried off the court.

The school said an MRI and CT scan showed she suffered a tibial plateau fracture, which is a break of the tibia bone that extends into the knee joint. It has a recovery time estimated at between six and eight weeks.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Amanda Cromwell was hired Tuesday as coach of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Orlando Pride.

The 51-year-old Cromwell, a former U.S. national team player, spent nine seasons as the coach at UCLA and led the Bruins to the national championship in 2013, her first year. She led UCLA to three College Cup appearances and four Pac-12 titles.

The Pride had been looking for a coach since Mark Skinner resigned in July to become coach of the Manchester United women’s club. Becky Burleigh was interim coach for the rest of the season, which the Pride finished with a 7-10-7 record.

SWIMMING

MIAMI (AP) – Caeleb Dressel and Katie Ledecky were honored as male and female athletes of the year at USA Swimming’s annual Golden Goggle awards on Tuesday night.

Dressel repeated as athlete of the year after earning gold medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100 free, and 100 butterfly at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ledecky earned two gold and two silver medals in Tokyo, becoming the most decorated female individual gold medalist in Olympic history.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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