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With No Basketball Tournament, N.C.A.A Slashes Payments to Universities

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College athletic departments got their first indication of how the coronavirus pandemic might hurt their bottom lines when the N.C.A.A. announced on Thursday that it would slash its distribution of men’s basketball tournament revenue by about $375 million, a cut of nearly two-thirds.

The N.C.A.A. board of governors voted to distribute $225 million — instead of the $600 million that had been budgeted — to 32 conferences. The payout comes from revenue generated by the lucrative Division I tournament, which was canceled on March 12, three days before the 68-team bracket was to be unveiled.

There remains uncertainty about how each university will be directly affected by the loss of tournament revenue, which is calculated by a byzantine set of formulas that reward each conference’s performance over the previous six seasons. For each college in the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference, the annual payout can amount to nearly $5 million, while schools from low-profile conferences that are regularly eliminated in the first round get far less.

Still, several athletic directors said Thursday that they welcomed some certainty about the severity of the cut.

“It’s a little bit of a gut punch, but we knew this one was coming,” said John Hartwell, the athletic director at Utah State. “The good thing is we can quantify it and move on.”

Hartwell said that his school had been expecting about $1 million from the Mountain West Conference’s share of the N.C.A.A. tournament pie, and that it would have to make do with about $400,000. Some of that shortfall will be offset by travel savings from the cancellation of spring sports, such as track and field, softball, golf and tennis. And if the football season begins on schedule in September, Utah State can probably weather the financial hits that are coming now.

For schools that do not play football, which can offer another source of income through TV contracts, Thursday’s announcement may be more significant.

Andy Fee is the athletic director at Long Beach State, which has a national champion men’s volleyball program but dropped football nearly 30 years ago. He suggested that it was in the best interest of Power 5 schools — those, such as Ohio State and Texas, that had revenues of more than $200 million last year — to allow mid-major schools a greater share if that would protect them from having to eliminate sports. Teams from those smaller schools end up on the schedules of the Power 5 schools in a variety of sports.

“We’re curious how the mid-major world is going to be seen by the N.C.A.A.,” Fee said. “We make decisions on a lot different parameters than football schools. We don’t have a lot of excess. We can’t say, ‘We’re not going to charter flights for our basketball team.’ We’re hopping on Southwest and looking for the best deals.”

He added: “You’re cutting into muscle in terms of our program.”

Michael Drake, the president of Ohio State and the chairman of the N.C.A.A.’s board of governors, said in a statement released by the N.C.A.A. that the organization was undergoing cost-cutting measures that would be announced later. The statement also said that the payout would happen in June — about two months later than originally scheduled — and that it would come from $50 million in reserves and from a line of credit that will be paid off within 12 months by a $270 million event-cancellation insurance policy on the men’s basketball tournament, which generated more than $1 billion last year.

“As an association, we must acknowledge the uncertainties of our financial situation and continue to make thoughtful and prudent decisions on how we can assist conferences and campuses in supporting student-athletes now and into the future,” Drake said.

The next decision facing the N.C.A.A. members will come soon enough. On Monday, the organization is expected to vote on whether to award an additional season of eligibility to athletes in spring sports — a decision that may be widely viewed as just, but that will force schools to grapple with other issues: the cost of additional scholarships, roster limits and whether to restrict the extra year to seniors.

On Thursday, though, some clarity emerged on one front.

“It feels more real,” said Boo Corrigan, the athletic director at North Carolina State, whose department had an $85.3 million operating budget last year. He had been expecting about $4 million from the N.C.A.A. distribution. “There’s a certain finality to it. The greater clarity you can have in moments like this the better.”



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Bears Make Signings of Robert Quinn, Germain Ifedi Official – NBC Chicago

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The Chicago Bears have continued to confirm the signings
they made early in NFL free agency, as the team announced contracts with
offensive lineman Germain Ifedi and linebacker Robert Quinn.

Both signings, previously reported when the new NFL league
year began in mid-March, were both made official on Wednesday.

Quinn, a two-time Pro Bowler who most recently played for
the Dallas Cowboys, agreed to a five-year contract with the Bears. Ifedi, let
go by the Seattle Seahawks after the conclusion of the 2019 season, signed a
one-year deal with the Bears.

Quinn is joining a dynamic Bears front seven that is one of
the best in the NFL. Last season, Quinn started 14 games for the Cowboys,
racking up 11.5 sacks in those contests for Dallas. He also had 22 quarterback
hurries and 13 tackles-for-loss, and according to the Bears it was his fourth
career season with double-digit sacks.

Ifedi, a first-round pick of the Seahawks in 2016, will hope
to bolster an offensive line that struggled at times during the 2019 season. He
primarily played right tackle for the Seahawks last season, and will be one of
the Bears’ main candidates to replace Kyle Long, who retired from football
after the 2019 campaign.





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Podcast: Jim Jackson, Marc Zumoff, Tom McCarthy talk careers in sports, and more

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Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers’ 2019-20 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as most improved player.

Destra

When it comes to most improved from last season, Travis Konecny is the first that comes to mind. He didn’t have a poor 2018-19 season by any means but when looking back and the leaps and bounds he has made since then, it just makes sense to award him the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy. 

Before the season started, I noted that Konecny was the most important puzzle piece for a successful year and he has continued to prove that with every game played. 

Konecny bettered his two-way game, cleaned up his puck work in the neutral zone and can be on a line with just about anyone and still find a way to drive play. He’s grown every aspect of his game and now leads the team in points, as well. 

Not to mention, he’s also a pest to play against, a ton of fun to watch, made his first All-Star appearance back in January … and he’s only 23 years old. 

Emmer

Konecny is the most improved player.

Fans were expecting a breakout season from Konecny and he’s having it. With 61 points through 66 games, he’s already 12 points past his previous career high of 49 points in 82 games last year. 

Konecny’s average ice time has gone up by almost two minutes more than last season and he has continued to dominate in his 5-on-5 play, while his presence on the Flyers’ power-play units has grown as he leads the team in man advantage assists with 18.

The Flyers’ 2015 first-rounder obviously had talent from the start, but this season he really blossomed on the score sheet and grew that confidence Flyers fans had certainly seen hints of before, but now see it on another level. 

His confidence could have spiked for many reasons: his offensive success, his coaching staff and new linemates and maybe even that six-year, $33 million contract he inked at the start of the season.

Whatever it was, that confidence is hopefully here to stay. Konecny certainly improved the most this season and I think Flyers fans have plenty to look forward to out of this 23-year-old for the next five-plus years.  

Hatcher

The Flyers have quite a few players who have taken the next step in their game this season, but Scott Laughton deserves this one in my opinion.

Statistically speaking, Laughton played 82 games last season, netting 12 goals and tallying 20 assists. After battling through two injuries this year (finger, groin), he’s still managed to pass that goal total with 13 in just 49 games so far in 2019-20. Laughton has also jumped from a minus-11 rating last year to a plus-13. He’s a key piece of the Flyers’ significantly improved penalty kill.  

Not to mention, when Alain Vigneault has needed to shake up lines, Laughton has been able to find success as a top-six player. But, when called upon to contribute in the bottom six, he’s assumed the role without issue. Laughton still finds ways to distribute the puck well and produce with a different cast of players.  

Hall

With Konecny making such an important jump for the Flyers, he’ll rightfully be the favorite for this award and should even be in consideration for the Bobby Clarke Trophy.

However, Oskar Lindblom won’t be counted out for most improved. Don’t be surprised if some teammates cast their votes for the 23-year-old forward — and those votes would be deserved.

Before being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma during mid-December, Lindblom was thriving in his biggest role yet, scoring 11 goals and 18 points through 30 games. He was projected to finish with 30 goals after a promising rookie season in which he recorded 17 while playing fewer minutes.

Lindblom, who continues to undergo treatment, quickly won over Vigneault with his smarts and skill. His improvements were significant and evident.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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‘It’s Just So Devastating’: Olympic Delay Is Especially Hard for Gymnasts

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“I was never doing it for them anyway,” she said. “I’m just playing it by ear. I have to listen to my mind and body and go into the gym and see how I feel.”

Skinner is also listening to her body, and the two gymnasts have commiserated about their aging bodies in the past — including just last week when they texted each other and said they both dreaded a possible postponement because, to paraphrase, they are old and their bodies hurt.

To compete at the Olympics, Skinner would need to weather another year of wear and tear, with achy knees and stinging elbows. And taking another year off from the University of Utah might mean that Skinner’s N.C.A.A. eligibility for her final year of college gymnastics would expire. She has been looking forward to her senior year, which would not be nearly as intense as her Olympic training and, frankly, much easier on her body and more fun.

Holding on for Tokyo next summer also would mean putting off her real life, yet again. She married Jonas Harmer in November and they recently were looking for a starter home in Utah.

These days, nothing is unfolding the way Skinner had expected. Her best friend’s bridal shower didn’t happen last week because of concerns over the coronavirus — the partygoers instead pulled up in their cars, handed their gifts over, waved and left. The bachelorette party that Skinner, a bridesmaid, had planned didn’t happen, either. Skinner was upset that she couldn’t even attend a casual gathering for the bride, fearing that she had been exposed to the virus through her parents or, possibly, relatives who recently had taken a cruise.

She has leaned on her husband and other relatives to vent her stress and anger over the situation. Her mental trainer, Clay Frost, has also helped her refocus when her mind starts spinning.

She says a few key phrases, like “be the best you can be,” and punches her hand to snap her back. Or, to put things in perspective, she makes lists of the things she can and can’t control.



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