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No death penalty for Penn State

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No death penalty for Penn State

By RALPH D. RUSSO and TOM COYNE
Associated Press INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Penn State football was all but leveled Monday by an NCAA ruling that wiped away 14 years of coach Joe Paterno's victories and imposed a mountain of fines and penalties, crippling a program whose pedophile assistant coach spent uncounted years molesting children, sometimes on university property. The sanctions by the governing body of college sports, which capped eight months of turmoil on the central Pennsylvania campus, stopped short of delivering the "death penalty" of shutting down the sport. But the NCAA hit Penn State with 60 million in fines, ordered it out of the postseason for four years, and will cap scholarships at 20 below the normal limit for four years. Other sanctions five years' probation, and the NCAA also said that any current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school. NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the staggering sanctions at a news conference in Indianapolis. Though the NCAA stopped short of the "death penalty," the punishment is so harsh it's more like a slow-death penalty. "The sanctions needed to reflect our goals of providing cultural change," Emmert said. The NCAA ruling holds the university accountable for the failure of those in power to protect children and insists that all areas of the university community are held to the same high standards of honesty and integrity. "Against this backdrop, Penn State accepts the penalties and corrective actions announced today by the NCAA," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a statement. "With today's announcement and the action it requires of us, the University takes a significant step forward." The Big Ten also announced that it would weigh in with sanctions of its own during a teleconference at 11 a.m. EDT, and the NCAA reserved the right to add additional penalties. Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing young boys, sometimes on campus. An investigation commissioned by the school and released July 12 found that Paterno, who died in January, and several other top officials at Penn State stayed quiet for years about accusations against Sandusky. Emmert fast-tracked penalties rather than go through the usual circuitous series of investigations and hearings. The NCAA said the 60 million is equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program. The money must be paid into an endowment for external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at Penn State. "Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people," Emmert said. By vacating 112 Penn State victories from 1998-2011, the sanctions cost Paterno 111 wins. Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will now hold the top spot in the NCAA record book with 377 major-college wins. Paterno, who was fired days after Sandusky was charged, will be credited with 298 wins. The scholarship reductions mean Penn State's roster will be capped at 65 scholarship players beginning in 2014. The normal scholarship limit for major college football programs is 85. Playing with 20 less is devastating to a program that tries to compete at the highest level of the sport. In comparison, the harsh NCAA sanctions placed upon USC several years ago left the Trojans with only 75 scholarships per year over a three-year period. The postseason ban is the longest handed out by the NCAA since it gave a four-year ban to Indiana football in 1960. Bill O'Brien, who was hired to replace Paterno, now faces the daunting task of building future teams with severe limitations, and trying to keep current players from fleeing to other schools. Star players such as tailback Silas Redd and linebacker Gerald Hodges are now essentially free agents. "I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead," O'Brien said. "But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes." Penn State's season starts Sept. 1 at home against Ohio University. The sanctions came a day after the school took down the statue of Paterno that stood outside Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa., and was a rallying point for the coaches' supporters throughout the scandal. Emmert had earlier said he had "never seen anything as egregious" as the horrific crimes of Sandusky and the cover-up by Paterno and others at the university, including former Penn State President Graham Spanier and athletic director Tim Curley. The investigation headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh said that Penn State officials kept what they knew from police and other authorities for years, enabling the abuse to go on. There had been calls across the nation for Penn State to receive the "death penalty," and Emmert had not ruled out that possibility as late as last week -- though Penn State did not fit the criteria for it. That punishment is for teams that commit a major violation while already being sanctioned. Penn State has already agreed to not fight the sanctions. Emmert said the university and the NCAA have signed a consent decree, essentially a pact signing off on the penalties. "This case is obviously incredibly unprecedented in every aspect of it, as are these actions that we're taking today," he said.

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FanGraphs projects Orioles to face the toughest schedule in MLB

FanGraphs projects Orioles to face the toughest schedule in MLB

FanGraphs released its playoff odds for the 2020 season on Thursday and the Orioles were one of two teams (alongside the Seattle Mariners) to receive a 0.0% chance of making the postseason.

It’s an unsurprising figure for a club that lost 108 games last year and did little to improve its major-league roster this winter. One number that stands out, however, explains exactly why Baltimore was the only team projected to finish with fewer than 60 wins.

When computing its playoff odds, FanGraphs takes into account each team’s strength of schedule. The Orioles are projected to face opponents with an average winning percentage of .515, which is tied with the Mariners and Miami Marlins for the highest in baseball.

The Orioles reside in the American League East, where they’re subject to facing 19 times each two teams that made the playoffs last season (New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays), another that projects as an 88-win team (Boston Red Sox) and a club in the Toronto Blue Jays that figures to take a step forward in 2020.

Outside their division, the Orioles will also face a tough slate of interleague play with the National League Central—a division with four teams hoping to be competitive this year—on their schedule in addition to four games against the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals. They also have to face several AL teams that are chasing the pennant in 2020, including the Houston Astros, Oakland A’s, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox.

Here’s how FanGraphs projects the AL East to shake out.

  1. Yankees – 96.8 wins
  2. Rays – 91.5
  3. Red Sox – 88.7
  4. Blue Jays – 73.7
  5. Orioles – 59.3

It’s going to be a long summer in Baltimore.

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Steph Curry cleared for contact, targeting March 1 return vs. Wizards

Steph Curry cleared for contact, targeting March 1 return vs. Wizards

Steph Curry hasn't played in an NBA game since October 30, when he broke his left hand in a collision with Suns center Aron Baynes.

After nearly four months sitting on the sidelines watching his team put up the worst record in the NBA without him and Klay Thompson, Curry has been cleared for contact and is targeting a March 1 return against the Wizards. 

"It's always been March 1," Curry said, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell. "But that for me mostly is just to give you a target. You have to have something to work towards in the rehab process because that gives you a barometer for each week, what you're building towards."

Curry will go through live scrimmages with his team and see how his hand reacts to the action. However, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is optimistic Curry will make his on-court return Sunday against Washington. 

With Thompson out all season rehabbing from a torn ACL he suffered in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the team playing poorly and a high draft pick coming Golden State's way this summer, there's an argument against Curry playing at all this year. 

"I'm gonna do what's right for me," Curry said. "And that's about it."

Whether you think Curry's right or wrong for playing the last quarter of the season, the Warriors aren't going to be as bad as they've been, and teams like the Wizards who are vying for a playoff spot can't afford to take them lightly now that the most prolific shooter the game has ever seen is coming back. 

The Wizards and Warriors will face off Sunday, March 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

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