WNBA signs six-year extension with ESPN
The WNBA signed a television deal that will keep the league’s games on ESPN through 2022, the league and the network announced Thursday.
The new contract, a six-year extension to the previous WNBA-ESPN deal, will pay the league $12 million per year, according to Sports Business Daily (SBD).
Up to 30 games per year will air on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and WatchESPN, up from 28 per year, SBD reported. The All-Star game and playoffs will be included, and on April 15, the WNBA draft will air live on ESPN for the first time.
“Our enhanced television agreement reflects ESPN’s extraordinary commitment to women’s sports and to the WNBA,” WNBA president Laurel J. Richie said at a New York press conference. “The extension has been a catalyst for the WNBA and ESPN to bring forward fresh thinking ideas to better showcase our players, our game and our league.”
On the league’s opening day, Memorial Day, May 27, ESPN2 will air two games. SBD reported that the two games will include the top four picks in the April draft, three of whom are expected to be Baylor’s Brittney Griner, Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins.
Shaka Smart to stay as VCU coach
Like the decision to fire former Minnesota Gophers coach Tubby Smith, the process to replace him is also moving quickly.
University of Minnesota officials have interviewed an unnamed candidate, according to a person with knowledge of the search process. Multiple sources said a deal could happen soon.
But a coach who many saw as their dream target is no longer in play. Virginia Commonwealth confirmed Wednesday night that Shaka Smart agreed to an extension to remain head coach at the school. Multiple outlets reported the extension is through 2023 — including a raise in annual salary from $1.2 million to $1.5 million and other program perks.
“Coach Smart has demonstrated through this process that he is loyal to VCU and his greatest concern lies with our program moving forward every year,” said Ed McLaughlin, VCU’s athletic director, in a news release. “Our goal was to present him with a revised agreement proactively rather than wait for another institution to step in with an offer. I believe we accomplished our goal.”
Patriots sign veteran wide receiver Jenkins
The New England Patriots continued an overhaul of their receiving corps, signing former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Michael Jenkins.
Jenkins hauled in 40 passes last season and has averaged 40 receptions per season over the past three years for the Vikings and Atlanta Falcons.
The former first-round pick has a chance to make the Patriots because they’re thin at wide receiver, with Danny Amendola and Donald Jones currently on the team’s depth chart.
Wes Welker (free agent) and Brandon Lloyd (released) were the Patriots’ starting wide receivers last season.
Pacers’ Granger out for season
Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger will miss the remainder of the season to undergo surgery on his left knee.
The Pacers made the decision “after all conservative treatment options could not alleviate the soreness” Granger had experienced after only five games this season.
Granger and the Pacers’ medical staff received consultation from renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews, at which time the “preferred option” became surgery, the Pacers said in a release.
This will be the second operation on Granger’s knee since October. He sat out until Feb. 25 and played five games before continued soreness in the knee sent him back to the sideline.
The Pacers expect Granger to be on the court in time for training camp.
Metta World Peace has left knee surgery
Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace underwent surgery Thursday for a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, three days after being injured in a game against the Golden State Warriors.
World Peace has averaged 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.70 steals in 70 games this season. He is expected to miss at least six weeks.
Huskies’ Auriemma signs new contract
University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma has agreed to a $10.86 million contract that will keep him with the Huskies through the 2017-18 season, the school announced Wednesday.
Auriemma, 59, has coached at UConn since 1985. He’ll earn $1.95 million in salary, speaking fees and media fees in the next year, and that will increase to $2.4 million in the final year of the five-year pact.
Auriemma’s deal includes bonuses tied to the program’s success, including conference regular-season or tournament titles, reaching the NCAA tournament and winning a national title.
He has led the Huskies to seven national championships and 13 Final Fours, including the last five.
Boxer Robert Guerrero facing gun charge
Boxer Robert Guerrero was arrested Thursday morning at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York for trying to board a flight to Las Vegas with an unloaded gun.
Guerrero, 30, was scheduled to be arraigned on gun-possession charges. He’s preparing to fight welterweight titleholder and pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 4.
After making several appearances to promote the Showtime pay-per-view bout at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Guerrero attempted to bring a .40-caliber handgun onto his flight, according to multiple reports. Fox News reported that he didn’t have any ammunition.
Reports said that Guerrero disclosed that he had the weapon at the ticket counter, and police were then called. Citing a source, ESPN.com reported that Guerrero has a permit to carry a gun in California, but not in New York.