Sports

Tuesday’s Sports in Brief

MICHIGAN STATE ABUSE

CHICAGO (AP) Michigan State University, already reeling from the scandal involving a gymnastics doctor who molested young athletes, maintained ties to a prominent volleyball coach long after he was publicly accused in 1995 of sexually abusing and raping six underage girls he trained in the 1980s.

Letters obtained by The Associated Press from advocates for the accusers reveal the school has been under pressure for at least a year to sever its relationship with Rick Butler. He runs training facilities in suburban Chicago that for decades have been a pipeline for top volleyball recruits, including Michigan State.

Butlers accusers say he threatened to use his national influence to thwart their college prospects if they did not accept his advances.

Questions about ties to Butler add to the scrutiny of Michigan State that began when Dr. Larry Nassar was charged in 2016 with abusing scores of gymnasts over 20 years while he had an office on campus. A former dean, William Strampel, was recently charged with failing to protect patients from Nassar and with sexually harassing female students.

Colleges nationwide have recruited players trained by Butler and sent teams to play at his facilities, but one of Butlers 1995 accusers, Sarah Powers-Barnhard, said theres a special onus on Michigan State in the wake of Nassar to have nothing to do with him. Instead, she said, the school ”turned a blind eye” to Butlers sordid history.

PRO BASKETBALL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Newly freed rapper Meek Mill rang the ceremonial bell before the start of Game 5 of the Philadelphia 76ersMiami Heat playoff series in Philadelphia.

Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin posted a picture of himself with Mill on Instagram with the caption ”On the way to the sixers game lets go.”

Mill was freed from a prison outside Philadelphia shortly before 7 p.m. He watched as the 76ers won 104-91 to advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had directed a Philadelphia judge who had jailed him to immediately issue an order freeing him on bail while he appeals decade-old drug and gun violations.

Mill was sentenced in November to 2 to 4 years in prison for violating probation.

While he was incarcerated, celebrities including Rubin and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, visited him and offered their support.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The New Orleans Pelicans say theyve voided around 2,500 playoff tickets that were purchased improperly during a pre-sale event for the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The club says the event was designed exclusively for season-tickets holders, but that codes provided for online purchases were shared with people who were not eligible for the promotion.

The Pelicans say they have not previously had a problem with the improper sharing of promotional codes for ticket sales, but that an ”unprecedented demand for playoff tickets resulted in tickets being purchased by non-season ticket or partial season ticket holders.”

The club says it conducted a review of the presale and voided all purchases from unqualified buyers.

The Pelicans say they have sought to notify those whose tickets have been voided, as well as business which sell Pelicans tickets on the secondary market.

NEW YORK (AP) – Russell Westbrook has been fined $10,000 and assessed a postgame technical foul for initiating a confrontation with Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert on Monday.

The league made the announcement Tuesday.

The Oklahoma City Thunder guard came onto the court as a substitution following a stoppage with 7:55 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 113-96 Game 4 loss to the Jazz. He intervened in an incident between Gobert and Oklahoma City backup point guard Raymond Felton.

Westbrook committed four fouls in the first half and finished with five. He had 23 points and 14 rebounds, but had just three assists and made 7 of 18 shots.

The Thunder trail the Jazz 3-1 and host Utah on Wednesday in an elimination game.

FOOTBALL

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Former Florida receiver Antonio Callaway failed a drug test at the NFL combine, a mistake that could damage his draft status.

A person with knowledge of the situation says NFL teams were made aware of the result Tuesday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the league does not release that information publicly.

NFL Network first reported Callaways failed test.

It was the latest misstep for a talented but troubled receiver who was once considered a lock to be a first-round draft pick. Now, some teams surely will take the 21-year-old Callaway off their draft board. Failing a drug test at the combine, a place prospects know theyre going to be tested, is widely considered one of the more head-scratching results of the pre-draft process.

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