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story.lead_photo.caption Former NBA player and coach Derek Fisher (Little Rock Parkview, UALR) has been hired to coach the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

GYMNASTICS

USAG files bankruptcy

USA Gymnastics is turning to bankruptcy in an effort to ensure its survival. The embattled organization filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition on Wednesday as it attempts to reach settlements in the dozens of sex-abuse lawsuits it faces and to forestall its potential demise at the hands of the U.S. Olympic Committee. USA Gymnastics filed the petition in Indianapolis, where it is based. It faces 100 lawsuits representing 350 athletes in various courts across the country who blame the group for failing to supervise Larry Nassar, a team doctor accused of molesting them. Kathryn Carson, who was recently elected chairwoman of the board of directors, said the organization is turning to bankruptcy to speed things up after mediation attempts failed to gain traction. The filing does not affect the amount of money available to victims, which would come from previously purchased insurance coverage, she said. "This is not a liquidation. This is a reorganization," Carson said, one that USA Gymnastics hopes will buy it enough time to fend off the USOC's intent to decertify it. The USOC on Nov. 5 took steps to remove USA Gymnastics as the sport's governing body at the Olympic level -- a step that is taken only under the most extreme circumstances. Carson said the legal maneuvering Wednesday delays the USOC's efforts to strip its designation as a national governing body. USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky disagreed. "The filing does not impact our Section 8 complaint and that process will move forward," Sandusky said.

FOOTBALL

Referees upset with Hughes

The NFL Referees Association is questioning why the league isn't focusing more attention on Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes for threatening umpire Roy Ellison following Buffalo's game at Miami last weekend. Ellison has been placed on administrative leave while the NFL investigates Hughes' accusation that Ellison called him a vulgar name during the game. In a statement released Wednesday, NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green said the association expects the NFL's investigation to clear Ellison while turning the focus on Hughes. Green said Hughes has a history of being flagged for personal misconduct and arguing with officials.

Broncos lose Sanders

The Denver Broncos (6-6) lost leading wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to a ruptured left Achilles tendon on Wednesday. He was hurt in a non-contact drill at the beginning of practice. The 31-year-old receiver was placed on injured reserve. The Broncos quickly claimed wide receiver Andre Holmes off waivers from Buffalo, giving them a seventh-year veteran to go with their four remaining receivers, all of whom made their NFL debuts this season. Sanders, who led the team with 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns in a bounce-back year, was injured on a routine route. He sensed the gravity of the injury as he crumbled to the ground, tearing off his helmet and rolling it away as teammates and trainers rushed toward him. Sanders' injury was the latest blow to a team that's lost seven starters from its opening-day lineup, including six on offense.

Trubisky back Sunday?

Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is just about ready to return to the Chicago Bears' lineup. Trubisky said he is "really close to 100 percent" and expects to play against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night after missing the past two games because of a right shoulder injury. He went through a full practice on Wednesday. Assuming no setbacks, he figures to start when the NFC North leaders host the NFC West champions. Trubisky was hurt sliding late in a victory over Minnesota on Nov. 18. He was hit by the Vikings' Harrison Smith on the left side, resulting in his throwing shoulder getting driven into the ground. Chase Daniel has started the past two games, a victory at Detroit on Thanksgiving and an overtime loss at the New York Giants.

BASEBALL

Owings joins Royals

Chris Owings has agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals, five days after the utilityman was cut loose by Arizona. Owings can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses as part of the deal announced Wednesday. The 27-year-old Owings hit .206 in 106 games this year. He made 33 starts in right field, 10 in center, 9 at third, 8 at second and 3 in left. He had 12 home runs and 51 RBI in 2017. Owings had a $3.4 million salary this year, was eligible for salary arbitration and likely would have received a raise. But the Diamondbacks failed to offer a 2019 contract by last Friday's deadline. He is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.

SOCCER

Martinez named MVP

Josef Martinez claimed the MVP award from Major League Soccer after shattering the record for goals in a season and leading Atlanta United to the championship game. The 25-year-old Venezuelan striker received his Landon Donovan trophy during a ceremony Wednesday at the headquarters of United owner Arthur Blank in Atlanta. Martinez already earned the Golden Boot for scoring 31 goals in 34 games this season, breaking the mark of 27 shared by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips.

BASKETBALL

Emmert: New rules to help

NCAA President Mark Emmert said new rules that allow the organization to use information from legal proceedings will help its investigation of the FBI's college basketball corruption case. He also said the inquiry is unlikely to be completed before the next men's tournament begins in March. The first federal trial in the case in New York in October resulted in the conviction of three men for wire fraud and testimony that implicated several schools, including Louisville, Arizona and Kansas, of being involved in payments to high school players. Emmert said federal prosecutors are still at work and the NCAA needs to be "very respectful" of that.

BASKETBALL

Fisher to coach Los Angeles Sparks

LOS ANGELES — Former NBA player and coach Derek Fisher (Little Rock, UALR) has been hired to coach the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.

The Sparks announced the move Wednesday, five days after longtime WNBA coach Brian Agler resigned.

Fisher helped the Los Angeles Lakers win five NBA titles during his 18-season playing career and served as president of the players’ union. He coached the New York Knicks from 2014-2016. He played for the Lakers in 12 of his first 14 seasons before being traded to the Houston Rockets in the 2011-12 season.

“I’m excited to be the new head coach of the LA Sparks,” Fisher said in a team statement. “There is no finer organization in the WNBA and I can’t wait to work with our ownership group, front office, talented players and staff to cement a culture of sustained excellence, which is what LA basketball fans demand — and deserve.”

Fisher, 44, is the 12th coach in Sparks history.

In a team statement, Penny Toler, the Sparks’ executive vice president and general manager, said Fisher “is a champion and proven leader on and off the court. With his wealth of experience as a former player and head coach, I can’t think of a better steward for our basketball team moving forward.”

Fisher will hold a news conference Friday, the Sparks announced.

“Derek is a great basketball mind who brings a ton of high-level experience to our team,” two-time MLP Candace Parker said. “I look forward to working with someone with championship pedigree and who has a track record of strong leadership.

“Derek has been a strong supporter of women’s basketball for quite some time, so it’s nice to officially welcome him.”

Agler had a 85-51 record with the Sparks and led the team to the 2016 WNBA championship. The Sparks were 19-15 in 2018, falling to the Washington Mystics in the second round of the playoffs.

Sports on 12/06/2018

Print Headline: Off the wire

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