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Stanford to cut 11 varsity teams, Ivy League cancels fall sports due to pandemic

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July 8 (UPI) — As coronavirus cases continue to spike around the country, Stanford University is cutting 11 of its varsity programs and the Ivy League has ruled out playing sports this fall.

Stanford is discontinuing men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling, according to the school. The programs will end at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.

“As you can imagine, this has been a heartbreaking day for all of us, especially those student-athletes and coaches involved,” Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said Wednesday. “We came to this decision only [after] exhausting all other viable alternatives.

“It recently became painfully clear we would not remain financially stable and support 36 varsity sports at a nationally competitive level, which is what we desire.”

The school announced the decision and the reasoning behind it in an open letter to the Stanford community on behalf of Muir, president Marc Tessier-Lavigne and provost Persis Drell. The letter said that funding the school’s 36 athletic programs was “not sustainable” and that alternatives such as budget cuts and fundraising were “insufficient.”

“These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches,” the letter read. “They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements.

“Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history.”

Stanford will honor all of its scholarship commitments and provide assistance to any athletes who attempt to continue their careers elsewhere. Coaches’ contracts also will be honored.

Meanwhile, the Ivy League became the first Division I conference to cancel fall sports because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No decision has been reached about winter or spring Ivy League sports or whether fall sports could be pushed back to spring 2021.

“As a leadership group, we have a responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students who attend our institutions, as well as the faculty and staff who work at our schools,” the Ivy League Council of Presidents said in a joint statement Wednesday. “These decisions are extremely difficult, particularly when they impact meaningful student-athlete experiences that so many value and cherish.

“With the information available to us today regarding the continued spread of the virus, we simply do not believe we can create and maintain an environment for intercollegiate athletic competition that meets our requirements for safety and acceptable levels of risk, consistent with the policies that each of our schools is adopting as part of its reopening plans this fall.”

Student-athletes in fall sports within the conference will be allowed to practice — in modified form — on campuses.



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Miami Heat oust Boston Celtics, advance to NBA Finals

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Sept. 27 (UPI) — The Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014 after a 125-113 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night inside the NBA bubble near Orlando, Fla.

Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 32 points and brought down 14 rebounds for the Heat, who won the Eastern Conference for the sixth time in franchise history. Miami will play LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the championship. Game 1 of that series is Wednesday night.

“This group, more than anything, they just love to compete,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said during the trophy celebration.

Heat star Jimmy Butler, who will be playing in his first NBA Finals, notched 22 points and eight assists. Tyler Herro had 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Andre Iguodala and Duncan Robinson each scored 15. Goran Dragic added 13 points for Miami.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Jayson Tatum scored 24 and had a career-best 11 assists.

Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker each added 20 points for the Celtics, who fell in the East finals for the third time in the past four seasons. Gordon Hayward recorded 12 points and two assists off the bench.

The Heat are the only NBA team with six Finals appearances in the last 15 years. They are seeking their fourth title in franchise history.



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Ottawa Senators parting ways with All-Star winger Bobby Ryan

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Sept. 25 (UPI) — The Ottawa Senators have placed All-Star forward Bobby Ryan on waivers and plan to buy out the rest of his contract.

The 33-year-old Ryan acknowledged his departure from the franchise by releasing a statement Friday.

“While the news this morning came as a bit of a shock, I understand the decision,” Ryan said. “The Sens are an upcoming young team with so many bright years ahead of them. I’m excited to follow along as a fan of all the young players with the rest of you.

“I’d like to thank [owner] Eugene Melnyk for giving me a chance to wear the Sens logo for so many years. You’ve always treated me and my family incredibly well [and] for that I’m grateful. … Ottawa will have a special place in our family’s heart forever. See you around the ice.”

Ryan had two years remaining on a seven-year, $50.75 million deal that he signed with the Senators in October 2014. Friday was the first day of the NHL’s buyout window that runs through Oct. 8.

The Anaheim Ducks selected Ryan with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He spent his first six professional seasons with the Ducks before being traded to the Senators prior to the 2013-14 campaign.

Ryan scored more than 30 goals in four consecutive seasons for the Ducks but failed to duplicate that success in Ottawa. He topped 20 goals just twice in seven seasons with the Senators.

Ryan recorded only five goals and three assists in 24 games this season as he took a leave of absence to deal with an alcohol problem. His openness about the issue led to him winning the 2019-20 Bill Masterton Trophy, which is given annually to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Despite his decreased production on the ice, Ryan told the Ottawa Sun that he plans to continue playing.

“I have good hockey left in me and I got away from that for about 18 months and that hurt me,” Ryan said Friday. “The way I’ve been able to train myself this summer and the way I’ve been able to treat my body, it just keeps getting better. … This is just a small setback. Everything has been a benefit to me and a new start could be the same.

“I’m still hungry, I want to play and I want to finish correctly and do it on the right terms and do it professionally.”

In 833 career NHL games between the Ducks and Senators, Ryan has notched 555 career points (254 goals, 301 assists).



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Watch: Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. belts longest home run of 2020 season

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St. Louis Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson (3) is congratulated by teammate Tommy Edman after hitting a two-run homer against the Milwaukee Brewers in St. Louis on Thursday. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 4-2. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo



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