Thursday Sports in Brief

Sports

NBA

The Brooklyn Nets have enough players to fly to Los Angeles and play their Christmas showdown against the Lakers, though Kevin Durant might not be among them.

Coach Steve Nash said Thursday that James Harden has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but he said the Nets don’t expect any of their players still in the protocols to come out in time for the game. That would include Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer.

Brooklyn planning to play on Saturday is an obvious positive sign, as was Chicago coach Billy Donovan announcing after practice Thursday that the Bulls no longer have any players on the protocols list. The Bulls had as many as 10 on that list last week, when the league postponed two of their games as a result.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Rutgers will replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest after an NCAA committee decided Thursday to adhere to an existing policy for making teams with 5-7 records bowl eligible.

The NCAA football oversight committee also announced that any bowl can be moved to as late as Jan. 10 if the schools involved need additional time to prepare for the game.

The Gator Bowl will keep its scheduled date and 11 a.m. EST kickoff on New Year’s Eve, meaning Rutgers will have less than a week to get ready to play one of the highest-scoring teams in the country.

Rutgers will be making its first bowl appearance since 2014, its first season as a member of the Big Ten Conference.

HONOLULU (AP)The Hawaii Bowl was canceled Thursday on the eve of the game after Hawaii withdrew because of COVID-19, season-ending injuries and transfers.

The game was scheduled for Friday at the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex.

Hawaii athletic department spokesperson Derek Inouchi said about 30 players and staff recently tested positive for COVID-19. Cases have been surging in Honolulu for the past two weeks. Oahu’s seven-day average of new cases was 11 times higher on Thursday compared to Dec. 8

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) – East Tennessee State has hired Furman offensive coordinator George Quarles as the Buccaneers’ head coach.

Athletic director Scott Carter introduced Quarles on Thursday as the 19th coach in ETSU history, describing him as a coach who personifies winning from his high school days in East Tennessee.

Quarles was with Furman the past five seasons as associate head coach, the last four as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He also played at Furman, helping the Paladins win the 1988 FCS national title. During his time on the coaching staff, Furman reached the FCS playoffs in 2017 and 2019 and shared the regular-season Southern Conference championship in 2018.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Southeastern and Big East conferences have updated their policies for basketball game postponements, cancellations and rescheduling to provide more leniency for teams that are unable to play because of spiking COVID-19 cases.

The policies for both conferences establish that men’s and women’s teams will be required to play if seven scholarship athletes and one countable coaching staff member are available. The SEC gives teams the option to play with fewer players or coaches if they choose.

If a team can’t play, both leagues say the game will be rescheduled or declared a no contest. The policies announced Thursday are a revision of previous procedures, which called for a game to be forfeited and a loss given to any team unable to play.

The Mid-American Conference and Conference USA announced similar policies Thursday.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Five-time Australian Open runner-up Andy Murray received a wild-card entry Thursday for the tournament’s main draw.

Murray last played at Melbourne Park in 2019, when he made a teary retirement announcement before undergoing a second hip surgery to extend his career.

The former top-ranked Murray had also accepted a wild-card entry last year but didn’t go after testing positive for COVID-19 shortly before he was due to board a charter flight to Melbourne.

SOCCER

SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazilian soccer great Pele was released from a Sao Paulo hospital on Thursday but will continue being treated for a colon tumor.

”Edson Arantes do Nascimento was discharged from the Israelita Albert Einstein on Thursday,” the hospital said in a statement. ”The patient remains stable and will continue having treatment on the colon tumor that was identified in September.”

Pele, 81, was hospitalized at the start of December for sessions of chemotherapy.

LONDON (AP) – Coronavirus outbreaks at Leeds and Watford have led to two Premier League matches scheduled for Sunday being postponed in the latest disruption to the competition caused by cases rising in squads.

Leeds was due to travel to Liverpool and Watford was set to play at Wolverhampton as part of the Boxing Day program that still features seven games.

The Premier League has now called off 12 matches due to coronavirus issues in two weeks, with players having to isolate after testing positive or if they are unvaccinated and a close contact of a COVID-19 case.

COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – Russ Rose retired Thursday as Penn State’s women’s volleyball coach, ending a 43-year run that featured seven NCAA titles, 109 straight wins from 2007-10 and the Division I career victory record.

The 68-year-old Rose will remain in an advisory role within the athletic department. Katie Schumacher-Cawley will serve as interim head coach.

Rose finished with a 1,330-229 record, the most victories in Division I history. He led Penn State to national titles in 1999, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014 and 25 conference championships – 17 in the Big Ten and eight in the Atlantic 10.

OLYMPICS

TOKYO (AP) – Japan announced Friday it won’t send a delegation of ministers to represent the government at the Beijing Games but three Olympic officials will attend, a mixed response to a U.S.-led move to boycott the games to protest China’s human rights conditions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a regular news conference that ”We have no plans to send a government delegation.”

He said Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita and Kazuyuki Mori, the president of the Japan Paralympic Committee, will attend.

Matsuno said the three officials are attending at the invitation of the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees to represent the JOC and IPC.

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

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