MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota fired coach Tracy Claeys just over two weeks after the football program became embroiled in a standoff with the administration over the suspension of 10 players in connection with allegations of sexual assault.
Athletic director Mark Coyle said he made the decision to “address challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program. We need strong leadership to take Gopher football to the next level and address these challenges.”
The Golden Gophers beat Washington State in the Holiday Bowl last week, a game overshadowed by a threatened boycott of the bowl by the entire team a week earlier. The players ultimately decided against a boycott.
Claeys publicly supported his players in lobbying for fairness in the sexual assault investigation. A tweet he sent out in support of their movement drew wide criticism from victims’ rights groups and faculty on campus. Claeys later said he chose his words poorly and planned to donate $50,000 to raise awareness for sexual assault victims.
The 48-year-old Claeys went 11-8 in a year and a half leading the Gophers. He became a head coach for the first time when he took over midway through 2015 after Jerry Kill was forced to retire because of health issues. Coyle said in late November that Coyle and his staff would return next season. But that was before the standoff in mid-December.
First-year eligibles LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor and Brian Dawkins are among 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Also making the finals are Morten Andersen, Tony Boselli, Isaac Bruce, Don Coryell, Terrell Davis, Alan Faneca, Joe Jacoby, Ty Law, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae, Terrell Owens and Kurt Warner.
Previously selected as a finalist by the veterans committee is former Seattle safety Kenny Easley.
In the contributors’ category, the nominees are former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
The class of 2017 will be elected on Feb. 4, the day before the Super Bowl in Houston. Inductions will be Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Denver GM John Elway has been granted permission to interview three assistants currently in the playoffs for his vacant head coaching position, according to a person with knowledge of the Broncos’ plans.
The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team isn’t revealing its interview schedule, told The Associated Press that the Broncos will interview Kyle Shanahan, Vance Joseph and Dave Toub in the next week.
The Broncos are seeking a successor to Gary Kubiak, 55, who stepped down Monday for health reasons with two years remaining on his contract.
CINCINNATI (AP) - Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones was jailed on charges he head-butted police and spit on a nurse after being arrested for disorderly conduct in his latest brush with the law. Authorities said he was so combative that he had to be placed in a restraint chair.
A lawyer representing Jones at his initial court appearance told a judge he “vehemently denies” the allegations against him. The Hamilton County judge set bond at $37,500 for Jones and ordered that he submit to a blood test.
The Hamilton County sheriff’s office said Jones would remain jailed until the blood test can be performed Wednesday morning. Sheriff Jim Neil said Jones was “disorderly and combative” throughout his booking just after midnight Tuesday and had to be put in restraints.
CLEVELAND (AP) - Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam have apologized to the team’s season-ticket holders following a 1-15 season.
The team shared a letter that the Haslams sent to fans following the worst season since the Browns joined the NFL in 1950.
The couple thanked Cleveland fans for their support during a season that “has been a painful part of our building process. You deserve the best, and you certainly deserve better than a 1-15 team. We are sorry that our results have not been better.”
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Golden State Warriors plan to break ground on their new arena in San Francisco this month.
The team announced the ceremony will be Jan. 17 at the site of the Chase Center near the San Francisco Giants’ downtown baseball stadium.
The Warriors are preparing to move from Oakland to San Francisco in time for the 2019-20 season.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A Pennsylvania judge dismissed the murder case against former pro wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, saying he is not competent to stand trial in the 1983 death of his girlfriend.
The decision by Lehigh County Judge Kelly Banach comes a month after Snuka’s lawyer told the court that his 73-year-old client has dementia, is in hospice care in Florida and has six months to live.
The retired WWE star was charged in 2015 with third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Nancy Argentino, whose body was found more than three decades earlier in their Whitehall Township hotel room.
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