- Associated Press - Friday, April 1, 2016

SOCCER

Five stars from the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team have accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of wage discrimination in an action filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo maintain in the EEOC filing that they are paid nearly four times less than their male counterparts on the U.S. men’s national team, based on U.S. Soccer’s 2015 financial report. The filing was announced in a statement from the law firm representing the players.

The union representing the players is currently involved in a legal dispute with U.S. Soccer over the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The federation filed a lawsuit this year seeking to clarify that its contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association runs through the Rio Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time. That case is pending.

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COLLEGE BASKETBALL

HOUSTON (AP) - Denzel Valentine of Michigan State is The Associated Press Player of the Year, edging out Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield by three votes. Valentine is the first Spartans player to win the award.

Bill Self of Kansas won Coach of the Year after leading the Jayhawks to a 12th straight Big 12 title and the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Self and Valentine accepted the awards in Houston ahead of the Final Four.

Valentine received 34 of 65 votes from the national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Hield was the only other player to receive votes. Hield and Valentine were the only unanimous selections to the AP All-America team.

Self received 21 votes. Chris Mack of Xavier was second with 15 votes and Dana Altman of Oregon received 13.

NEW YORK (AP) - George Washington won its first National Invitation Tournament championship, getting 18 points from Kevin Larsen and pulling away in the second half to beat Valparaiso 76-60 at Madison Square Garden.

Patricio Garino had 14 points and the fourth-seeded Colonials (28-10) set a school record for wins in a season with a dominant performance over the final 20 minutes. They won their fourth straight game against a higher-seeded team and sent three senior starters out with a tournament trophy, softening the sting of being rebuffed by the NCAA selection committee.

Tyler Cavanaugh, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored 12 against the top-seeded Crusaders (30-7), who went 8 for 28 from 3-point range.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - James Kiki isn’t sure if he’ll fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket next year. He might want to.

Heading into Final Four weekend, Kiki is tied for first place out of more than 500,000 entries in Yahoo’s contest. That’s the good news. The bad news: he has no chance to win the $50,000 prize because he didn’t pick a winner for the national title game.

“Don’t ask me how,” Kiki said with a pained laugh.

One of the more than 20,000 Lost Boys of Sudan, Kiki decided to try his luck this year and filled out his first-ever bracket. Kiki said he was planning to pick Villanova to beat North Carolina in the championship game. Now, he’s just rooting for Syracuse.

HOUSTON (AP) - NCAA President Mark Emmert says he has spoken to North Carolina’s governor about the state’s new religious exemption law and made clear if it remains in place, it will affect the state’s chances to host major college athletic events.

For the second straight year, Emmert faced questions at his Final Four news conference about a state law critics say allows discrimination against gays, lesbians and others. And for the second straight year, Emmert said the association is prepared to refrain from doing business in places that create hostile environments for student-athletes, coaches and fans.

Emmert said the NCAA is still taking a reactive approach and not lobbying against similar laws being considered in several states. But South Carolina President Harris Pastides says the NCAA could become more proactive.

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FOOTBALL

BOSTON (AP) - A preliminary study by Boston University researchers shows a link between the number of hits a player takes in youth, high school and college football and the development of cognitive difficulties as an adult.

The authors warn that more research is needed before parents or policy-makers draw conclusions about the safety of amateur football.

The study was published in the Journal of Neurotrauma. Dr. Robert Stern of the BU School of Medicine says the study is the first of its kind to look at the connection between the total number of head impacts an athlete sustained and later-in-life difficulties such as depression, apathy and behavioral dysfunction. But he stressed it is meant to spur further research and not guide individuals when deciding whether football is safe for them.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - After months of trade talk and speculation, Colin Kaepernick is still on San Francisco’s roster and due a hefty payday.

The quarterback’s $11.9 million 2016 contract became guaranteed at 1 p.m. local time when the 49ers kept him on the roster.

While potential new teams for Kaepernick - Denver had been considered a serious suitor given the retirement of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler’s departure to Houston in free agency - might ask him to restructure his current deal, Kaepernick wouldn’t have to accept anything less than the $11.9 million.

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BASEBALL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia is officially apologizing to Jackie Robinson for the racism he faced in the City of Brotherly Love.

The City Council passed a resolution naming April 15 as a day to honor Robinson’s achievements and to apologize for his mistreatment while visiting Philadelphia in 1947. April 15 is the day Robinson broke the color barrier by becoming the first black player in Major League Baseball, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In Philadelphia, Robinson was refused service by a local hotel and taunted by Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman, who, along with players, hurled racial slurs at Robinson each time he came to bat.

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HOCKEY

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Giving away 10,000 toy rats to fans as they arrived at the arena was supposed to be a promotion for the Florida Panthers. It turned into a problem instead.

The Panthers were penalized twice in the third period of a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils because fans were throwing the rats onto the ice despite warnings not to do so. New Jersey didn’t score on either resulting power play, but that wasn’t enough to keep Panthers star Jaromir Jagr from saying after the game that he wasn’t pleased with the situation.

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