The NBA has decided to hold the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans after taking the midseason event out of North Carolina because of a state law that limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay and transgender people.
New Orleans, announced Friday as the new location of the game, replaces Charlotte, which was set to host the game until the NBA decided last month to move it elsewhere.
Unlike several other Southern states, Louisiana has not been swept up in legislative efforts to pass laws similar to that in North Carolina — a fact Gov. John Bel Edwards has touted while lobbying the NBA to bring its All-Star weekend to New Orleans.
“We embrace our rich cultural heritage and see our diversity as a virtue,” Edwards wrote in a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in late July. “Should the NBA choose to bring the All-Star Game back to New Orleans in 2017, it will strongly reaffirm its commitment to communities that value fairness and inclusion.”
The NBA’s decision — and the economic boost it will bring — provides a timely dose of good news following disastrous flooding across large swaths of southeast Louisiana that has killed at least 13 people and damaged an estimated 40,000 homes, mostly around Baton Rouge. Much of the New Orleans area has been spared from the flooding.
Earleywine grateful at Mizzou • After more than four months of uncertainty about the future of the program, Missouri announced Friday that softball coach Ehren Earleywine will remain with the program, as reported Thursday by the Post-Dispatch and other outlets. Earleywine had been under investigation by the Mizzou athletics department and the university’s Office of Title IX and Civil Rights after players issued complaints about his coaching style. Details of the internal review are considered protected personnel files and will not be released publicly, per school policy, MU said Friday. Earleywine and school officials were not available for comment.
“Naturally, I’m relieved to have this process done, and I deeply regret the attention this has brought to our program and University,” Earleywine said in a prepared statement. “I do understand that the University was obligated to review the allegations. As I’ve said previously, I fully recognize that I need to improve in certain areas, and I am committed to working on those areas moving forward. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to continue to coach this program, and I’ve said a thousand times, I love this place with all my heart and look forward to being the coach here for many years to come. The support our program receives means so much, and I am grateful for our fans. Hopefully, we can now refocus on maintaining the great softball tradition we have built here and put this in the past.”
In 10 seasons at Mizzou, Earleywine is 452-154 with eight NCAA regional championships and three Women’s College World Series appearances. He has two years left on his contract that pays him a base salary of $155,000.
“We have had productive conversations with Coach Earleywine and he understands our expectations moving forward,” said senior associate athletics director Tim Hickman, who serves as MU’s sport administrator for the softball team. “While the process was a lengthy one, we know it was thorough and fair, and we’re now at a place of resolution. I am pleased to work together toward the continued success of our softball program under coach Earleywine.” (Dave Matter)
Minnesota United FC advancing to MLS • Minnesota United FC says it’s moving up to Major League Soccer for the 2017 season and will play at TCF Bank Stadium until they get a new stadium.
Team and league officials announced the plan Friday evening. The team will keep its name and its loon logo.
Former UnitedHealth CEO Bill McGuire rescued Minnesota United with his purchase of the financially struggling North American Soccer League franchise in 2013. The NASL is a level below MLS, which began to eye the Twin Cities market after seeing United’s success under McGuire.
McGuire and his partners have pledged to pay the entire bill for a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium expected to cost about $150 million. But they’re seeking a still-unapproved property tax exemption from the state for the St. Paul site.
Kerber reaches semis, eyes No. 1 ranking • Angelique Kerber has Serena Williams within arm’s reach, and she’s trying not to think about it.
Kerber on Friday advanced to the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open, staying on track to overtake Williams at No. 1. She overcame a sloppy first set and beat Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
If Kerber wins the tournament, she’ll move ahead of Williams in next week’s WTA rankings. Williams has been No. 1 for 183 consecutive weeks. She is the two-time defending champion but withdrew because of a sore shoulder.
Karolina Pliskova also advanced with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Groom accused of drugging horses • A groom at the Parx Casino and Racing facility in suburban Philadelphia is accused of giving performance-enhancing drugs to racehorses.
The state Attorney General’s Office announced that Marian Vega, 25, has been charged with rigging a publicly exhibited contest.
Prosecutors allege she administered doses of the drug Clenbuterol to a number of horses that was beyond “accepted guidelines.” Authorities say she was found with a bottle of the drug during the investigations by the state’s Horse Racing Commission and Attorney General’s Office.
The drug is used to treat horses with respiratory disease but has the effect of a performance-enhancing drug when it’s used outside the prescribed guidelines.