SPORTS BRIEFS: Savannah Special Pops tennis players collect medals

Nine Special Pops-Savannah athletes traveled to Atlanta for an adaptive tennis tournament in September that included more than 100 athletes from several states. The Savannah athletes participated in various levels of competition playing Unified Doubles over the weekend. (Photo courtesy of Mary Smith)

LOCAL

 

Savannah Special Pops

athletes collect medals

ATLANTA — Nine Special Pops-Savannah athletes traveled to Atlanta for an adaptive tennis tournament in September that included more than 100 athletes from several states. The Savannah athletes participated in various levels of competition playing Unified Doubles over the weekend.

The Special Pops Tennis Program in Savannah includes more than 50 Special Olympian athletes from ages 16-60 who train on Saturday afternoons at The Landings Club in an 18-week program. There is also a junior program held at Bacon Park for ages 7-16.

Gold medals were awareded to Ashley Carroll, Herman Days, William Kimble and Joanne Lanier. Silver medals were awarded to Larry James, Julius Mitchell, Michelle Phoenix, Jessica Lane and Ginger Vasquez.

NATIONAL

Pitt QB Max Browne out

after shoulder surgery

PITTSBURGH — Max Browne’s college football career is over.

The Pittsburgh quarterback has undergone surgery on his right shoulder and is out for the rest of the season. Browne was injured in the third quarter of a loss to Syracuse last weekend. A graduate transfer from Southern California, Browne had just one season of eligibility remaining.

Browne earned the starting job at Pitt out of training camp but spent much of the first half of the season splitting time with Ben DiNucci. Browne completed 96 of 135 for 997 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions in six games.

Browne signed with the Trojans as a five-star recruit in 2013 but struggled to live up to expectations. He started the first three games of the year for the Trojans in 2016 before being replaced by Sam Darnold.

DiNucci will get the start for the Panthers (2-4, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) on Saturday when they host No. 20 N.C. State (5-1, 3-0).

Bengals TE Tyler Eifert out

for season with back injury

CINCINNATI — Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert will miss the rest of the season with a back injury that has put his career in jeopardy.

The fifth-year veteran missed half of last season with ankle and back injuries. He had surgery on a disc in his back last December. He aggravated it in the second game this season, forcing him to consider another procedure. He’s been inactive for the past three games and was put on injured reserve Thursday.

The Bengals (2-3) are on their bye week. They resume with a game at Pittsburgh (3-2) on Oct. 22.

The Bengals made him the 21st overall choice in the 2013 draft, hoping his pass receiving skills would upgrade their offense. He’s been one of Andy Dalton’s favorite targets, especially near the goal line, but has been severely limited by injuries in three of his five seasons.

Eifert caught 39 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns in 15 games as a rookie. The following year, he hurt his shoulder during training camp and dislocated an elbow in the opener, ending his season. He returned and had his best season in 2015, caching 52 passes for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns, a franchise record for a tight end.

He made the Pro Bowl that season and tore a ligament in his ankle during the game, requiring surgery. He returned and played in eight games, making 29 catches for 394 yards and five touchdowns, but an injured back disc ended the season and resulted in more surgery.

He played in the first two games this season and had four catches for 46 yards. He aggravated the back in the second game and came off the field. He wasn’t able to practice and was inactive for the past three games.

Eifert’s injury gives Tyler Kroft a chance for a bigger role. Kroft, a third-round pick in 2015, leads Bengals tight ends with 14 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns after five games.

Pac-12 forms task force

to seek answers for issues

SAN FRANCISCO — The Pac-12 Conference is launching its own task force to develop reform proposals in the wake of a federal bribery investigation that includes two assistant coaches in the conference.

Commissioner Larry Scott expects the 10 to 12 members on his task force “to address issues that are threatening the integrity of collegiate athletics and to protect our student-athletes.”

“Importantly, our task force is going to look at the issues raised by the FBI investigation and do deep dives into the culture and issues around recruitment and men’s college basketball, but, more broadly, at related issues and examine how some of the things we’ve seen in basketball could potentially impact other sports,” Scott said. “This is particularly the case when it comes to recruitment in other sports where we’re increasingly seeing trends, more and more influence and involvement from third parties.”

Scott named the first five members Thursday during the Pac-12’s men’s basketball media day — a day after the NCAA announced a commission to study the inner workings of college basketball amid the scandal.

Trojans assistant Tony Bland and Arizona assistant Emanuel Richardson, who the school said is in the process of being dismissed, were among the four assistant coaches arrested in the alleged bribery scheme. Bland is on administrative leave.

USC coach Andy Enfield said all his players are practicing as the investigation continues. He has been instructed not to speak about the investigation, and Arizona coach Sean Miller also didn’t directly address the situation with his former assistant also part of the investigation.

“I support the investigation into the allegations and I also support what anybody can do to make our game better,” Miller said, repeatedly stating, “I’m going to stand by the statement that I gave.”

The task force members so far are: Utah athletic director Chris Hill, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero, former NFL player Charles Davis, former Stanford, Cal and Golden State Warriors coach Mike Montgomery and administrator Tom Jernstedt.

The group will present findings to administrators and athletic directors by the end of the first quarter next year and then share the results with the NCAA basketball commission and other collegiate leaders.

“We’re highly concerned by the issues that have been exposed and its impact on all the great things that happen for student-athletes as part of college sports,” Scott said.

Montgomery said he will begin by gathering information.

“Some people are going to tell you it’s rampant and everybody’s doing it, I don’t think that’s the case,” said Montgomery, who heard from the Pac-12 and NCAA early in the week. “Obviously, if the FBI gets involved that’s a little different level. I think as long as I’ve been in coaching for 42 years there’s been stuff. You hear about it and you never really know for sure.”

Along with Bland and Richardson, Auburn assistant Chuck Person and Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans also are under investigation. Washington State coach Ernie Kent warned against labeling them. The four are all African-American.

“I would caution” people not to assume “that this is a black assistant coach problem,” Kent said. “This is a college basketball problem. People need to be well aware of that.”

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley stressed the importance of head coaches having a voice in ideas to make things better going forward, while Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak can see the task force making an impact not only in the Pac-12 and out West but nationally.

“I think you’re seeing the president of the NCAA and commissioner of our conference are being proactive,” Krystkowiak said. “I can only hope that it’s going to have some positive impact on the overall picture.”

Colorado coach Tad Boyle said he hopes every guilty party is caught, that “everybody gets exposed” and noted the scandal “sheds some light on the underbelly of our sport … I think it’s a good thing.”

“Hopefully, we can purge the system of what needs to be purged,” Boyle said. “Bottom line is this, there’s a black market that’s been exposed. That black market is not going away. We just have to learn how to deal with it.”

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