College Blog Blog Network

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Thunder again benefit from late missed call to win playoff game, this time over Warriors

05.17.16 at 8:13 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Royals, 8:15 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NBA playoffs: Raptors at Cavaliers, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Draft lottery, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


— The Thunder benefited from some key missed calls during their second-round series victory over the Spurs, and that trend continued in Monday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

After the Thunder rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to take a three-point lead, guard Russell Westbrook dribbled up the court, picked up his dribble and clearly dragged his pivot foot before calling a timeout.

Referee Monty McCutchen, standing a few feet away, gave Westbrook the timeout despite the protestations of the Warriors and coach Steve Kerr, who signaled for a travel.

“I thought he walked, but it wasn’t called, so that’s the way it goes,” Kerr said.

Said Westbrook: “I just play until I hear the whistle.”

After the timeout, Westbrook was fouled and hit one free throw to make it a two-possession game, and the Thunder held on for a 108-102 victory.

“The officials, no one could get in a good position to see him drag that pivot foot,” NBA senior vice president of replay and referee operations Joe Borgia told NBA TV. “It’s an unfortunate miss, but so much going on in the play, the speed of it, and officiating is about getting angles and sometimes you just can’t get them, and they did not get a great angle on that play.”

— One day after his fight with Blue Jays star Jose Bautista, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor said Monday that he did not regret what happened but that he respects Bautista and wants to move on from Sunday’s incident.

“I think it’s over,” the Venezuelan said through a translator. “It’s in the past.”

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Read More: Joey Bautista, Rougned Odor, Russell Westbrook, Sammy Watkins

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista ‘pretty surprised’ by Rougned Odor’s punch to his face

05.16.16 at 8:12 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Royals, 8:15 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Warriors, 9 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)


— It’s not secret that the Rangers were not happy with Jose Bautista’s bat flip during the playoffs last season. On Sunday they got some revenge, courtesy of second baseman Rougned Odor’s right hand to Bautista’s jaw.

In the eighth inning of Texas’ 7-6 victory, Rangers pitcher Matt Bush — the 30-year-old rookie whose career was derailed by a 3 1/2-year stint in prison for a drunken driving accident — plunked Bautista.

On an ensuing grounder, Bautista slid through second base and forced a wild relay throw from Odor (but the runner was called out due to Bautista’s obstruction). As Bautista got up, Odor pushed him in the chest, and they both took a fighting stance. Odor then connected with a strong right that knocked off Bautista’s helmet and glasses and appeared to stun him.

“I was pretty surprised,” Bautista said. “I mean, obviously, that’s the only reason that he got me and he got me pretty good, so I have to give him that. It takes a little bit bigger man to knock me down.”

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre grabbed Bautista and pulled him away as players from both teams rushed in.

Bautista and Odor were ejected along with another representative from each team.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who had been ejected during a third inning argument with umpires, returned to the field during the fight and exchanged words with Rangers manager Jeff Banister.

“I didn’t want to sit here and drink too much wine,” Gibbons joked. “You’ve got to go out there. I’m sure the league will say something about that, but it’s kind of the manager’s responsibility.”

When the game resumed, Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch and was ejected along with bench coach Demarlo Hale, who had replaced Gibbons.

Gibbons said he didn’t appreciate that the Rangers waited until Bautista’s last at-bat of the series to start something.

“It was ugly and unfortunate,” Gibbons said. “To me, it was gutless. The other 29 teams, they come at you right away, but to wait until the end, it just sort of tells you something. Everybody is going to say, ‘Oh, it was a one-run game. The ball got away.’ That ain’t going to fly.”

— The Mayor of Manchester, England, expressed his frustration with Sunday’s postponement of a Premier League soccer game due to a fake bomb left apparently behind after a training exercise.

After the Manchester United-Bournemouth match was called off and the stadium cleared of fans, the device — found in a toilet — was blown up in a controlled explosion. It was later determined to be a fake.

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Read More: Curt Schilling, Donald Trump, Jose Bautista, Rougned Odor

Thinking Out Loud: NBA draft combine will have big effect on Big East

05.13.16 at 5:41 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to the Olympic ideal.

— Junior Lomomba certainly could have been a part of PC’s backcourt mix next season. Fifth-year players can be found gold for many programs, because they often serve as “coaches on the floor.” In Junior’s case, however, the guess here is that he’ll need a chance to showcase or develop skills that might allow him to pursue pro ball — so he heads to Western Kentucky.

— Junior’s role for the Friars was to defend and rebound — worthwhile and needed, but not conducive to developing an all-around game. He’s a solid student, and a great young man. Hope he gets what he needs.

— Tyree Chambers’ departure shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. It’s simple — the younger guards coming into the program need the playing time in order to develop. They also probably give the Friars the best chance to win — now. Another good program kid who filled a need, and deserves to play somewhere.

— Don’t know if anyone noticed, but Providence was one of 12 college basketball programs with multiple players (2) attending the NBA draft combine this week. If you want to be one of the big boys, you’d best go recruit some big boys. Just sayin’.

— Thoughts on the NBA combine in Chicago? Early returns are mixed, at least where Ben Bentil is concerned. ESPN’s Chad Ford believes he could be a sleeper in the draft and potentially selected anywhere from 18 to 28 overall. Is that enough for him to stay in the draft? It shouldn’t be. On occasion, these “expert” opinions can do more harm than good, if the athletes (and those who are in their ears) pay them any attention at all.

— Hopes for next season are hanging in the balance of this week’s combine at three Big East schools — Providence (Bentil), Villanova (Josh Hart) and Seton Hall (Isaiah Whitehead). All three could return — unless they set the floor on fire this week and hire an agent. All three remain front runners for preseason Player of the Year in the Big East next season, too.

— An NBA scout told the New York Post this week, “It’s a big few days for [the three players] because it allows them to figure out who they are. It’s one thing to be the second-best guy at Providence, the best guy at Seton Hall, and a real good guy at Villanova. But that’s something totally different from being a first-round pick.”

— The Big East could be L-O-A-D-E-D once again, coming off of a national championship year, if these three players are around to lead the way.

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Read More: Ben Bentil, Junior Lomomba,

Friday’s Morning Mashup: Aaron Hernandez associate Ernest Wallace acquitted of murder but found guilty of being accessory

05.13.16 at 8:13 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Astros at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Pirates at Cubs, 2 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Raptors at Heat, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championships, United States vs. Hungary, 9:30 a.m. (NBCSN)


— Ernest Wallace, one of Aaron Hernandez’s associates who was with the former Patriots tight end the night Hernandez shot and killed Odin Lloyd, was acquitted of first-degree murder but found guilty of being an accessory after the fact.

Wallace was sentenced to serve 4 1/2 to seven years in state prison. He has been in custody since turning himself into authorities in June 2013, shortly after Lloyd’s death, and will receive credit for the nearly three years he already has been in custody.

The Bristol Superior Court jury’s decision Thursday came after a 10-week trial and about eight hours of deliberations over two days.

“I very much respect the jury’s verdict,” District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn said in a statement. “They apparently felt there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove Mr. Wallace and Mr. Hernandez were acting in concert to kill Odin Lloyd. I am happy the jury found the defendant guilty of accessory after the fact to murder, and was involved in the attempt to cover up the crime. I am pleased he will serve a state prison sentence.”

Wallace’s attorney, David E. Meier, also sounded pleased with the result.

“The jury’s verdict on the first-degree murder charge speaks for itself, as does the speed with which the jury returned that verdict,” Meier told The Boston Globe. “In the end, the truth won out. Mr. Wallace looks forward to rejoining his family in Florida as soon as possible and moving on with his life.”

Another man, Carlos Ortiz, faces similar charges and is due to be tried in October. Prosecutors say all three men played meaningful roles in Lloyd’s death after picking him up from his Dorchester apartment.

Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder last year and is serving a life sentence, which he is appealing. He also faces a double-murder charge for the shooting deaths of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado outside a Boston nightclub in July 2012.

— Russia’s chances of competing in track and field in the upcoming Rio Olympics took a blow Thursday when the World Anti-Doping Agency criticized the country’s oversight of its program.

WADA released statistics indicating that testing by independent authorities in Russia decreased by more than two-thirds in the past year, despite reports of widespread violations by athletes.

On the same day, The New York Times published a story detailing how at the Sochi Games in 2014 Russia switched out urine samples and committed other acts to hide doping in its athletes, including 15 who won medals.

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Read More: Aaron Hernandez, Ernest Wallace, Scott Skiles,

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Cubs P John Lackey upset about Padres batter admiring HR, says he has ‘long memory’

05.12.16 at 8:02 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Astros at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Thunder, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Predators at Sharks, 9 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championships, United States vs. France, 9 a.m. (NBCSN)


— Cubs pitcher John Lackey, no stranger to controversy, took offense Wednesday after Padres batter Christian Bethancourt paused to admire his monster home run off the right-hander.

Lackey, who had his share of issues during his up-and-down stint with the Red Sox from 2010-14, had a perfect game in the fifth inning when Bethancourt unloaded on a breaking ball, sending it 445 feet. It soared over the left field bleachers out of the park and onto the street below.

Bethancourt took his time making his way to first base, admiring the shot that ended up being the game’s only run, and that didn’t sit well with Lackey.

“How many home runs does he have?” Lackey asked sarcastically after the game (it was the 24-year-old Bethancourt’s third homer of the season).

Lackey had never faced Bethancourt before, but when they meet again it promises to be interesting.

“Oh, I know,” Lackey said. “He’ll learn.”

Added Lackey: “I’ve got a long memory.”

Lackey fell to 4-2 after pitching eight innings of three-hit ball with no walks and seven strikeouts. The homer allowed San Diego to complete a doubleheader sweep, giving the league-leading Cubs their first two-game losing streak of the season.

— Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette will announce his retirement Thursday, after suffering a serious neck injury last season.

Lockette, who played five seasons in Seattle, was known as a standout on special teams. He also caught 22 passes for 451 yards and four touchdowns.

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Read More: Christian Bethancourt, John Lackey, Ricardo Lockette,

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Congress set to hold ‘critical’ hearing on daily fantasy sports

05.11.16 at 8:30 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Athletics at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Royals at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Heat at Raptors, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Trail Blazers at Warriors, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Stars, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Chelsea at Liverpool, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)


— A congressional subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday morning in Washington to discuss legal controversies surrounding the daily fantasy sports industry, although the two largest companies, DraftKings and FanDuel, declined invitations to attend.

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade will discuss “Daily Fantasy Sports: Issues and Perspectives” at 10:15 a.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, with a focus on whether federal oversight is needed.

“It’s a critical pivot point,” sports law expert Daniel Wallach told the New York Daily News. “We’ll find out if the federal government wants to get involved in fantasy sports.

“This is it.”

DraftKings and FanDuel, whose CEOs testified before the Nevada Gaming Control Board two months ago, will be represented by the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.

The four majors sports leagues also will not attend the meeting. Major League Baseball and the NHL have equity in DraftKings, as does Patriots owner Robert Kraft, while the NBA has equity in FanDuel.

Nine state attorneys generals — most notably New York’s Eric Schneiderman — have ruled that daily fantasy sports are illegal, while other states — including Massachusetts — are working on regulating the industry.

An estimated 56.8 million people in the United States and Canada participated in fantasy sports in 2015, generating $3.4 billion in entry fees.

— Nationals manager Dusty Baker said he likes Bryce Harper, but even he acknowledged that his star player should face some additional discipline from Major League Baseball for his confrontation with an umpire Monday night.

Despite being ejected for arguing a called third strike on a teammate from the dugout, Harper raced onto the field with his teammate to celebrate Clint Robinson’s walk-off home run moments later. While on the field, Harper pointed at home plate umpire Brian Knight and dropped an F-bomb at him.

Baker said Harper “deserves a fine or something,” noting that “probably what he did and said was wrong.”

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Read More: Bryce Harper, daily fantasy sports, Dusty Baker, Manchester United

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: After ejection, Nationals star Bryce Harper celebrates teammate’s walk-off HR by taking shot at umpire

05.10.16 at 8:06 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Athletics at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Royals at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Blue Jays at Giants, 10 p.m. (MLBNetwork)
NBA playoffs: Thunder at Spurs, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Penguins, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Manchester United at West Ham, 2:45 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Nationals start Bryce Harper likely is in line for some additional punishment from Major League Baseball after swearing at an umpire while running onto the field to celebrate his teammate’s walk-off home run against the Tigers — moments after he was ejected from the game.

Video shows Harper pointing at Brian Knight and tossing an F-bomb at the home plate umpire. And Harper didn’t deny it.

“Absolutely,” he confirmed. “I was pretty upset. … So let him hear what I have to say — and let him hear it again. And, you know, so what?”

As for the possibility of incurring a fine, Harper said, “If I do, I do. I’ll pay it. Maybe he’ll get fined, too. So we’ll see.”

Harper was among several Nationals who were complaining from the dugout after Danny Espinosa was called out on a high strike. Harper claims he was singled out for punishment.

“I think everybody was up on the steps and preaching about what they thought was going on,” Harper said. “And [Knight] picked me and said, ‘See you later.’ ”

Said manager Dusty Baker: “I guess you can’t kick everybody out on the team, because a lot of guys were hollering about it.”

Added Baker: “He’s an emotional young man, like most of us on the field out there. You certainly don’t like him to get tossed, but every once in a while, you’ve got to blow off some steam or else you go crazy.”

Two pitches later, Clint Robinson ended the game with a one-out home run off Mark Lowe — without realizing he had won the game, as he thought it was only the eighth inning.

“Rounding first, I thought it was a go-ahead homer,” Robinson said. “Thinking it was the eighth inning probably had a little bit of a calming effect on me, maybe, going to the plate. Thinking it’s just the eighth inning – just another pinch-hit at-bat, no big deal.”

— One day after taking a somewhat defiant stance regarding his disrespectful actions during the Canadian national anthem on Saturday, Heat guard Dwyane Wade made sure to line up for the playing of the song before Monday’s game against Toronto and issued an apology.

Wade insisted he did not mean to offend anyone when he continued to hoist up shots after the anthem started before Saturday’s Game 3 in Miami, deflecting some of the blame on a miscommunication regarding the pregame timeline. On Monday he was the first Heat player to line up.

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Read More: Bryce Harper, Dwyane Wade,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Penn State child molestation allegations date back to 1971

05.09.16 at 8:13 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Athletics at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Tigers at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Raptors at Heat, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Warriors at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Stars at Blues, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)\
NHL playoffs: Sharks at Predators, 9 p.m. (CNBC)
Hockey: IIHF World Championships, Finland vs. United States, 1 p.m. (NBCSN)


— Those close to the late Joe Paterno attempted to defend the coaching legend after it was revealed last week that child molestation allegations against Jerry Sandusky dated back to 1976.

Over the weekend a Penn State spokesman confirmed to The Associated Press that the allegations dated back even further — to 1971, two years after Sandusky was hired as an assistant coach at his alma mater.

Before his death in 2012, Paterno claimed the first time he heard complaints about Sandusky was 2001. But insurance settlements — which have topped $90 million for 30 civil claims — cover abuse claims dating back to 1971, the school confirmed.

The information first came to light when a judge cited it last week as part of his ruling in a lawsuit between an insurance company and Penn State over how much the school should have to pay.

Penn State President Eric Barron, in comments to the Penn State community Sunday, said he was “appalled by the rumor, innuendo and rush to judgment” following the “unsubstantiated” allegations.

“Coach Paterno is not alive to refute them. His family has denied them,” Barron said, adding that some of the media reports “should be difficult for any reasonable person to believe.”

Paterno’s wife, Sue, called for an end to “this endless process of character assassination by accusation.”

— Heat star Dwyane Wade got defensive when asked about his actions during the Canadian national anthem Saturday, insisting it wasn’t his intention to be disrespectful when he took some additional shots as the song began before Game 3 against the Raptors.

Wade explained that his extra shots are part of his pregame routine, but because both the Canadian and American anthems were played back-to-back, it threw off his timing.

“It’s something that I do before every game that I prepare for, and I’ve been doing it my whole career,” Wade said after the Heat’s practice Sunday. “So I understand whatever is said from that standpoint, but I’m not a disrespectful person. So if anybody thinks I’m being disrespectful towards a country, then they have no idea of who Dwyane Wade is.”

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Read More: Dwyane Wade, Greg Bryant, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno

Thinking Out Loud: Conference realignment set to rear its ugly head again

05.06.16 at 5:47 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering whatever happened to WPRO disc jockey Holland Cooke.

— Told ya so. The story that just won’t go away, like an oncoming tidal wave of inevitability, has returned to our shores. And no, it has nothing to do with air pressure in balls.

It has everything to do with balls, all right. Intercollegiate Armageddon (as I like to call it) began in the early 2000s and rose to a crescendo just a few short years ago (2013) when the old Big East disintegrated, thanks in part to the poaching abilities and inexorable greed from conference commissioners and school administrators in the current ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and, to a lesser extent, the Big 12. Football drives the economic bus on these schools’ campuses, and everyone was eager to pull up to the pump, ready for a fill-up.

For the most part, everyone got what they were hoping to get — especially when it came to their bank accounts. Perhaps except for Boston College, which received athletic irrelevancy and inadequacy in exchange for a big check. But forget the added expenses, forget the extra time spent for student-athletes away from their studies, forget the non-revenue sports thrown to the curb to cut expenses and lower budgets — this is life in the Power Five, or the Football Five. Their version of Collegiate Relevancy.

However, the Big 12 found itself reduced to just 10 schools, and while the conference boasted of being able to play everyone from within, it still was missing out on the Big Party. That soon could change, as a result of league meetings this week and the Big 12 presidents meeting at the end of this month.

The Big Party is the College Football Playoff. True, the Big 12 did have its first entrant in the four-team CFP this year (Oklahoma), but it missed out in Year 1 with two teams that arguably could have been factors (TCU and Baylor). Even though the NCAA has now said leagues with less than the previously mandated 12 teams can hold a conference title game (for more $$$, of course), the Big 12 has known for some time that to be a player in the current national championship chase every year, expanding back to 12 teams from 10 would need to be considered.

Why? Because new research (from says the Big 12 would have a 10-15 percent better chance (a chance, mind you) of reaching the CFP in a given year with 12 teams instead of 10. Well then. Drop everything for the almighty dollar, and get ‘er done. More power? More prestige? More money? The Big 12 finally is looking at expansion to get back to 12 teams, and it’s targeting the former members of the Big East currently residing in the American Athletic Conference — whose league office still remains in Providence.

Yes, Providence. The epicenter of Intercollegiate Armageddon then and now, with another earthquake about to shake down the landscape. As if having crime, political inadequacy and corruptness, and general business unfriendliness in Lil’ Rhody wasn’t enough.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Joe Paterno reportedly was informed of Jerry Sandusky molestation in 1976

05.06.16 at 8:23 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Hawks, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Thunder, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Islanders, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championships, United States vs. Canada, 9 a.m. (NBCSN)


— Legendary former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno apparently was made aware of an accusation that Jerry Sandusky molested a boy in 1976, according to a report out of Pennsylvania. reported that Philadelphia Judge Gary Glazer said insurers involved in a lawsuit with the school claim a boy told Paterno that he was molested by Sandusky, then an assistant coach. Other assistants coaches also said they witnessed inappropriate contact between Sandusky and children.

Glazer, who was ruling on a suit regarding insurance coverage for Sandusky-related claims, wrote in his decision that there was no evidence that Paterno or anyone else took the information to any higher-ranking Penn State officials.

Paterno, who was dismissed as coach in 2011 and died in early 2012, did report Sandusky’s abuse of a child in 2001 to school officials, but he denied that he had covered up other incidents.

“I do not know of anything else that Jerry would be involved in of that nature, no. I do not know of it,” Paterno testified in 2011, before Sandusky was first charged.

Sandusky eventually was convicted on 45 counts of child abuse of 10 boys for incidents that date back to the 1990s and is serving a long prison sentence. On Thursday he was granted a hearing to be held later this month as part of his appeal.

Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers said there is nothing new to prove that the coach covered for Sandusky.

“Through all of this review there has never been any evidence of inappropriate conduct by coach Paterno,” Sollers said. “To the contrary, the evidence clearly shows he shared information with his superiors as appropriate.”

— Jaromir Jagr will be back for at least one more season — his 23rd in the NHL — as the 44-year-old one-time Bruins forward signed a one-year deal to return to the Panthers, the team announced Thursday.

“Jaromir is a Hall of Fame player and had an excellent season playing alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau,” general manager Dale Tallon said. “His track record speaks for itself, ranking third all time in points and goals. He has been a great fit with our organization and we are excited to have him back for next season.”

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Read More: Jaromir Jagr, Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Laremy Tunsil