Soccer

MLS set to return Wednesday

Major League Soccer is about to resume its season — in a state that has seen a huge spike in coronavirus infections, with one team absent because of a COVID-19 outbreak, and with plenty of worry about what will happen next.

The MLS is Back tournament starts Wednesday in Florida. The league’s teams are sequestered in resorts for the duration of the World Cup-style tournament, which will be played without fans at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

FC Dallas withdrew from the tournament on Monday after 10 players and a coach tested positive for the virus. On Tuesday, Nashville SC’s status was thrown into doubt with five confirmed positive tests.

The tournament kicks off with a match between Orlando City and expansion Inter Miami. D.C. United’s opening game against Toronto FC was moved from Friday evening to Sunday morning.

WNBA

WNBA owner opposes BLM initiative

The WNBA started its year trying to declare itself one of the most progressive professional sports leagues in the world. Yet, one day after the league announced its plans to wear special jerseys to seek justice for the Black women and girls who have died due to police brutality and racial violence, not everyone was in favor of the move.

Atlanta Dream co-owner Kelly Loeffler wrote to league commissioner Cathy Engelbert on Tuesday to express her dissatisfaction with the latest initiative.

“I appreciate your hard work as the WNBA Commissioner, especially during these challenging moments, but I was incredibly disappointed to read about efforts to insert a political platform into the league,” Loeffler, a Georgia Republican senator who’s running for re-election in November, wrote of the new measure in a letter obtained by Atlanta News Now.

On Monday, the league announced plans for players to wear special warm-up jerseys that will say “Black Lives Matter” on the front and “Say Her Name” on the back. “Black Lives Matter” will also be displayed on the courts during games.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

N.C. State hires McNeill

N.C. State hired former Virginia assistant, East Carolina head coach and Oklahoma assistant Ruffin McNeill for an advisory role on its football staff.

The school said Tuesday that McNeill would serve as a special assistant to head coach Dave Doeren. Duties include assisting player development analysis, leading special projects and outreach to alumni, campus and community groups.

McNeill, 61, was the Pirates’ head coach from 2010-15 and guided his alma mater to four bowl appearances during a college coaching career spanning more than three decades. He worked under Bronco Mendenhall at UVA before joining Oklahoma’s staff under Lincoln Riley — who had worked under him at ECU — for three seasons as assistant head coach.

Austin Peay promotes Lovings

Austin Peay promoted associate head coach Marquase Lovings to interim head football coach.

The promotion was announced days after Mark Hudspeth resigned after one season for personal reasons.

Lovings was defensive line coach last season, helping Austin Peay rank eighth nationally defending the run and 12th in total defense.

Lovings was one of the American Football Coaches Association’s Coaches’ coaches under 35 leadership institute, designed to identify and train rising coaches. Before coming to Austin Peay, Lovings was defensive line coach at Nicholls in 2017. He also was an assistant for seven seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette.

— The Associated Press

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