Thursday’s Sports In Brief | AP News


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Frank Reich is returning to the Carolina Panthers as their coach, more than 27 years after starting the franchise’s first game at quarterback.

The Panthers agreed to terms with the 61-year-old Reich to become the sixth head coach in franchise history. An introductory news conference was set for Tuesday.

Reich was chosen among nine candidates who interviewed for the job, including former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and this season’s interim head coach, Steve Wilks. Wilks was 6-6 after Matt Rhule was fired after a 1-4 start.

Reich received a four-year deal from the Panthers, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team does not release details of coaching hires.

Reich joins the Panthers after spending the past four-plus seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, where he went 40-33-1 as head coach before being fired on Nov. 7 after a 3-5-1 start.

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — A shuffling of the coaching staff for the Dallas Cowboys won’t include defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who is returning after another year of receiving interest from teams seeking head coaches.

Coach Mike McCarthy said the club’s decision not to renew the contracts of six members of his staff, including one with deep ties to him in Green Bay, hasn’t affected his relationship with owner/general manager Jerry Jones or the rest of the Dallas front office.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Former Denver Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett was hired as the New York Jets’ offensive coordinator to replace Mike LaFleur after coach Robert Saleh interviewed more than 15 candidates for the vacancy.

The hiring of the 43-year-old Hackett fuels speculation about whether the Jets could pursue Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose playing future is uncertain. Hackett and Rodgers have a connection: Hackett served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator from 2019-21 with Rodgers as the quarterback.

Hackett went 4-11 in less than one season as head coach of the Broncos, who fired him a day after Denver’s 51-14 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Christmas.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills have fired safeties coach Jim Salgado, a person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the Bills have not announced the move. first reported the firing.

Salgado just completed his sixth season with Buffalo, and his first coaching safeties. He broke in with the team as a defensive assistant in 2017 before being promoted to overseeing the nickel cornerback position in 2020.

NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL is expanding its partnership with the Players Coalition to address issues of racial and social justice with a five-year extension and a $15 million grant through its Inspire Change initiative.

The agreement comes as the league and its teams say they have surpassed a $250 million commitment to combat systemic racism. The NFL says that goal was reached four years ahead of schedule.


LeBron James is closing in on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA career scoring record. And now, he has caught Abdul-Jabbar in the All-Star record book.

James was announced Thursday as an NBA All-Star for the 19th time, the Los Angeles Lakers’ star tying Abdul-Jabbar for the most selections in league history. James — the leading overall vote-getter — will be the captain of one of the teams for the Feb. 19 All-Star Game in Salt Lake City, while Eastern Conference voting leader Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee will captain the other side.

James and Antetokounmpo will pick their teams shortly before the game, a newly announced twist and a departure from past years in which the captains picked a week or two in advance of All-Star weekend.

The other eight starters they’ll be choosing from, barring any changes because of injury beforehand, are: Denver’s two-time reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, NBA scoring leader Luka Doncic of Dallas, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Brooklyn teammates Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died at 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008.

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962.


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina reached her second final in the past three Grand Slam tournaments by beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the Australian Open.

Rybakina added to what already was an impressive run through a string of top opponents. Azarenka, the champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, joined a list of players eliminated by Rybakina over the past two weeks that includes No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko — both owners of major titles — and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.

In Saturday’s final, Rybakina will face No. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Sabalenka reached her first Grand Slam title match at age 24 by beating unseeded Magda Linette 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the second semifinal. Sabalenka improved to 10-0 in 2023, winning all 20 sets she has contested this season.


SAN DIEGO (AP) — Sam Ryder extended his lead to three shots in the Farmers Insurance Open with a 4-under 68 in challenging wind in the second round on Torrey Pines’ South Course while Jon Rahm had an eagle and three straight birdies late in his 5-under 67 on the easier North Course to get under the cut line.

Ryder survived both the Santa Ana wind and the tougher South Course with just one bogey to reach 12-under 132 and take a three-stroke lead over Brendan Steele, who shot a 70 on the South Course. Tano Goya was two more shots back after a 67 on the North Course.

Ranked third in the world and coming off consecutive victories, Rahm took his first tour win here in 2017 and then won the 2021 U.S. Open on the blufftop municipal course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The final two rounds will be on the South Course.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Patrick Reed fared better than Rory McIlroy after some pre-tournament friction as the Dubai Desert Classic got off to a wet start with only 11 players managing to finish their weather-affected first rounds.

Play only began at the European tour event after a delay of six hours caused by heavy overnight rain that left the course unplayable at Emirates Golf Club.

By the time the siren sounded to suspend play because of fading light, Reed was 4 under par after 16 holes and top-ranked McIlroy was 2 under after 15 holes. Thomas Pieters was leading at 5 under with three holes to play. Three English players — Matthew Jordan, Daniel Gavins and Oliver Wilson — shared the clubhouse lead at 4-under 68.


NEW YORK (AP) — The American men’s national team shakeup that began after a public spat erupted between two well-known families accelerated when sporting director Earnie Stewart announced he is quitting the U.S. Soccer Federation to join PSV Eindhoven.

Men’s general manager Brian McBride also is resigning, leaving coach Gregg Berhalter in limbo following the expiration of his contract Dec. 31. Berhalter is under investigation for a 1991 domestic violence incident and Anthony Hudson, one of his assistants, led his first game as interim coach on Wednesday.

Hours later, Austin’s Major League Soccer team said former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna was no longer its sporting director. The Reyna family has been embroiled in a dispute with Berhalter that became public earlier this month, several weeks after the U.S. was eliminated from the World Cup.

USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone said it likely will be many months before the coach situation is sorted out. Sportsology Group, a company that has worked with the Los Angeles Rams and several soccer teams, was hired to lead the sporting director search, review the sporting department and analyze coach candidates. The sporting director will then make the coach decision.


NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

Baffert was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night. And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.

Flightline — the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career — won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male.

Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.

It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years.


SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier scored a personal-best 81.96 for a commanding lead after the pairs short program in the first day of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Overwhelming favorite and reigning world champions, Knierim and Frazier bested their previous best by three points. They led second-place Emily Chan and Spencer Howe by more than 15 points after the short program with the free skate competition set for Saturday at SAP Center.

The first day of competition concluded with the women’s short program. Fifteen-year-old Isabeau Levito led the way with a score of 73.78, ahead of two-time national champion Bradie Tennell (73.76). In the rhythm dance, favorites Madison Chock and Evan Bates had the lead.


HOUSTON (AP) — Dana Brown was hired as the general manager of the Houston Astros.

Brown replaces James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series. Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

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