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Notre Dame and Big East talk early exit for Irish

Notre Dame and Big East talk early exit for Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick has had ``very preliminary conversations'' with Big East officials about the Fighting Irish leaving the conference before the required 27-month notification period ends.

But Notre Dame isn't desperate to join the Atlantic Coast Conference ahead of schedule, he added.

Notre Dame announced last month it was joining the ACC in all sports except football and hockey. The Irish will remain a football independent, but play five games per season against ACC teams.

Big East bylaws require members give the league 27 months' notice before leaving. That would keep Notre Dame out of the ACC until 2015.

``We've begun very preliminary conversations with the Big East,'' Swarbrick told The Associated Press in a brief interview Friday night. ``I continue to believe it's in the interest of both parties to find a way to facilitate an earlier movement of Notre Dame out of the conference.

``It's too early to tell whether we're going to be able to find a solution that works well for both parties, but I can assure you it will always be amicable. There won't be any fighting or any issues. We'll see if we can reach a common solution. If we can't we'll be happy to play out the remainder of our term in the Big East.''

Pittsburgh and Syracuse agreed to pay $7.5 million to the Big East so they would be able to leave for the ACC after waiting only one season. The Panthers and Orange will join the ACC in July 2013.

Swarbrick said Notre Dame would likely need to reach an agreement with the Big East by Jan. 1 for the Irish to be able to start competing in the ACC during the 2013-14 school year.

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In wake of video controversy, Brian MacLellan says he is disappointed but it was lesson learned for Kuznetsov

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In wake of video controversy, Brian MacLellan says he is disappointed but it was lesson learned for Kuznetsov

When you are a general manager preparing for the draft and free agency, seeing a video of one of your most prominent players in a hotel room sitting next to lines of an unidentified white powder is about the last thing you want to see.

That was how the summer kicked off for Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan when video of Evgeny Kuznetsov began circulating on social media.

“We're a little disappointed that he had put himself in that situation that could be interpreted in a number of different ways,” MacLellan said on a conference call Thursday in his first availability with the media since the incident.

The video was alarming not just because of the presence of the unidentified substance, but also because it came off a down year for Kuznetsov, one in which he managed only 21 goals and 72 points after scoring over a point per game in the 2018 postseason. That one could have had an effect on the other was an easy conclusion for fans and critics to jump to.

Kuznetsov, however, denied ever taking drugs and after an investigation by both the team and the league, it was determined he would receive no discipline. He also released a statement apologizing for the incident.

MacLellan said he was ultimately satisfied with Kuznetsov’s explanation and the findings of the investigation surrounding the video.

“I think we had a pretty thorough investigation by both the league and the club and a number of discussions with Kuzy about what happened and how he got in that spot and how to handle that going forward,” MacLellan said. “I think at the end of the day, we're comfortable on all the conversations we've had, we're comfortable what the league had to say about it.”

While Kuznetsov may have avoided any discipline for the incident, MacLellan still feels confident that it was a lesson learned for the dynamic center and noted that he has high expectations for him heading into the next season.

Said MacLellan, “I think Kuzy learned a lesson about putting himself in certain situations and we're going to move forward and we expect Kuzy to have a good year this year.”

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Nationals extend protective foul ball netting

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Nationals extend protective foul ball netting

The Washington Nationals will become the latest MLB team to extend their protective netting down the first and third base lines, team owner Mark Lerner announced on Thursday. A new netting will be installed at Nationals Park during the MLB All-Star break. 

The new netting will extend from the end of the dugout, where they currently end, and go to the left and right field corners. It will be designed with certain sections that can be raised to allow for fan interaction before the games. 

In his announcement, Lerner stated "I could not help but become emotional last month watching the Astros-Cubs game when a four-year-old little girl was hit by a line drive. I can’t imagine what her parents must have felt in that moment. And to see the raw emotion and concern from Albert Almora Jr. was heartbreaking. Further extending the netting at Nationals Park will provide additional protection for our fans."

This announcement comes fresh off the heels of a national conversation about the importance of netting in ballparks and more that needs to be done to protect the fans. As Lerner referenced, a young fan was hit by a foul ball during an Astros-Cubs matchup in May. The girl was rushed to the hospital and left those in attendance paralyzed in shock, especially Cub Albert Almora Jr. 

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he did not expect the league to step in this season for a league-wide change. However, he did mention that it would continue to be discussed and stressed the importance of fan safety. 

As a result, some teams are taking matters into their own hands. The Chicago White Sox became the first team to announce an extension of their current protective netting to the foul poles. 

Preceding the White Sox announcement, both Chicago and the Nationals experienced a traumatic foul ball situation. Chicago's Eloy Jimenez ripped a foul ball down the line and hit an unsuspecting fan.  

The first game with the new netting with be on Monday, July 22 against the Colorado Rockies. 

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