TIME Football

Michael Sam Says There Are Other Gay Athletes in the NFL

Michael Sam attends the premiere of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" season 20 in West Hollywood, Calif. on March 16, 2015.
Alberto E. Rodriguez—Getty Images Michael Sam attends the premiere of ABC's "Dancing With The Stars" season 20 in West Hollywood, Calif. on March 16, 2015.

"There is a lot of us," says Michael Sam

Free-agent defensive end Michael Sam says that he is not the only gay player in the NFL.

Sam became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

He was cut at the end of training camp after making three sacks during the preseason and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their practice squad, spending seven weeks with the team before he was released in October.

“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m just saying there is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.”

Last month, Sam told Sports Illustrated‘s Robert Klemko that there were other gay players in the NFL.

Sam worked out at the veterans combine in Arizona last weekend, running a 4.99 40-yard dash. He admits coming out was a “risky move” and didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.

“Maybe I was naive,” Sam said. “Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there’s gay NFL players. There’s gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.”

Sam is currently competing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

“Dancing with the Stars is my employer,” Sam said. “That’s my main source of income.… I’m unemployed, and I don’t believe I’m out of the NFL because I’m gay. But if it was a reason, it can hurt their livelihood, and you don’t want to take that chance.”

Sam says he has not talked to his father since February 2014, when the New York Times published a story detailing Sam’s upbringing in Hitchcock, Texas.

Sam sent his father a text saying he was gay, prompting Michael Sam, Sr. to tell the newspaper, “I’m old school…. I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”

The younger Sam says those comments and others made in the article were “unforgivable.”

“I still love him, but I can love him from afar,” Sam said.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Basketball

Washington Wizards Let 13-Year-Old With Brain Cancer Join the Team for a Day

Nitin Ramachandran's wish came true

The Wizards had a very special guest at their 110-107 double-overtime win over the Hornets on Friday. The team signed Nitin Ramachandran, a 13-year-old boy from Virginia with brain cancer, to a one-day contract. He got to hang out with the team throughout the day and even got introduced as part of the starting lineup.

Nitin watched shoutaround and helped coach up the big men.

John Wall better hope Nitin doesn’t take his spot permanently.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College Basketball

That Last-Second Free-Throw in the Duke-Utah Game Cost Vegas Millions

during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
Tom Pennington—2015 Getty Images Quinn Cook #2 of the Duke Blue Devils and Delon Wright #55 of the Utah Utes battle for a rebound during a South Regional Semifinal game of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at NRG Stadium on March 27, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

The whistle was ignored in the stadium but heard loud and clear by bettors

A seemingly meaningless free-throw shot in the Duke-Utah Sweet 16 game cost Vegas big bucks Friday night.

When the buzzer sounded, Duke was up five points 62-57. That was bad news for bettors who picked Duke. Since most sportsbooks had Duke as a 5-point favorite, Duke would have to win by more than 5 points for those bettors to get paid. But after players had already left the court, officials said they had called a last-second foul. Putting 0.7 seconds back on the clock, Duke guard Quinn Cook sank one free-throw that cost casinos thousands because they were forced to pay the three-quarters of bettors who had placed their money on Duke.

Exactly how much money casinos lost is still unclear, but it’s probably in the millions. “It caused a million-dollar swing with parlay liability, to the bad,” MGM vice president of race and sports Jay Rood told ESPN.

Here’s what happened: Duke led 62-57 with 10 seconds left in the game when Cook rebounded a missed shot by Utah forward Jordan Loveridge. Cook wrestled for the ball with Utah defenders in what could have been a jump ball call. But the whistles stayed silent, and Cook dribbled out of trouble.

With the game seemingly over, the Utes began to head back to the locker room as the Blue Devils celebrated. But officials said they called a foul on Utah guard Brandon Taylor who grabbed Cook as he was dribbling away with 0.7 seconds left. Officials called the Utes back to the court so Cook could shoot what seemed to the players to be pointless free-throws. Duke came away with its 6-point victory.

According to ESPN, 77% of spread bettors were on Duke on Friday night. Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology said they had a six-figure swing after the free-throw, according to ESPN.

Bettors tweeted their fury and joy—depending upon where they placed their bets:

Watch the last-second foul below:

Read next: Crazy Long Shot March Madness Bet Looks to Pay Off Big Time

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Education

Boy With Special Needs Told He Can’t Wear Varsity Letter Jacket

The high school student was told to take his jacket off

A Kansas mom is outraged after her son, who has special needs, was forced by his school to remove his varsity letter jacket.

Jolinda Kelley of Wichita, Kansas, bought a varsity letter for her son Michael’s letter jacket after he was recognized for participation for playing basketball, but she says when Michael wore it to school he was asked to take it off.

“Another parent, from what I’ve been told, was upset that my son was wearing his letter jacket,” Kelley told Wichita’s KSNW.

She said Michael took off the jacket and was given a girl’s sweatshirt to wear instead…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Boxing

Justin Bieber Will Be Floyd Mayweather’s Good Luck Charm at Boxing Match

The pop star will accompany Mayweather to his fight against Manny Pacquiao

Floyd Mayweather is always confident in his abilities, but he will still be bringing his good luck charm, Justin Bieber, with him to the ring for his May 2 bout against Manny Pacquiao.

Bieber was leaving a Hollywood bar on Thursday night when TMZ hectored him with questions about being part of the undefeated boxer’s escort to the ring and the pop star said he would be while trying to shield himself from the cameras.

The May 2 fight is expected to be the highest grossing in the history of the sport, with the gate alone reportedly bringing in $74 million.

TIME College football

USC AD Pat Haden: Documents Confirm NCAA Sanctions Unfair

USC Trojans Athletic Director Haden stands on the sidelines during the NCAA football game against the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles
Danny Moloshok—Reuters Pat Haden stands on the sidelines during the NCAA football game against the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles on Sept. 1, 2012

USC athletic director Pat Haden says private emails between NCAA committee on infractions members that were made public as part of a lawsuit filed by former Trojans running backs coach Todd McNair confirm the school was treated unfairly in the NCAA’s handling of the Reggie Bush case.

The NCAA released almost 500 pages of documents on Tuesday after losing a court battle to keep them sealed. The documents relate to McNair’s defamation suit against the NCAA.

“I think these documents are cause for concern about the NCAA’s own institutional controls,” Haden said Wednesday in a statement. “It should be concerning to all schools that the NCAA didn’t appear to follow its own rules.”

The NCAA investigated the school to determine whether Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo received improper benefits and whether USC coaches knew about the players’ violations.

USC’s football program received a postseason ban, lost 30 scholarships and was forced to vacate 14 victories in which Bush played from December 2004 through Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy winning season after NCAA investigators concluded that Bush and his family received cash and gifts from sports marketers in 2004 and 2005.

“We are extremely disappointed and dismayed at the way the NCAA investigated, judged and penalized our university throughout this process,” Haden said. “USC hopes that the transparency in this case will ultimately lead to review and changes so that all member institutions receive the fair and impartial treatment they deserve.”

The investigative report also criticized McNair, slapping him with a one-year “show-cause penalty” prohibiting him from recruiting and other sanctions.

McNair sued the NCAA in June 2011, saying the NCAA investigation was one-sided and seeks unspecified damages for libel, slander and breach of contract. McNair’s contract was not renewed by the school after the show-cause penalty was handed down.

The NCAA said McNair lied about his knowledge of extra benefits being provided to Bush and his family.

In the unsealed documents, the NCAA criticized the school for hiring Lane Kiffin as its head coach. Kiffin, now the offensive coordinator at Alabama, was the coordinator of the USC offense while Bush was playing.

“Lack of institutional control … (and do we add the hiring of Lane Kiffin?), is a very easy call for me,” committee member Roscoe Howard wrote.

NCAA committee member Rodney Uphoff also compared the evidence against McNair to the case surrounding the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City. Uphoff said the case against McNair was stronger than that against Terry Nichols, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the bombing.

This story originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Basketball

Notre Dame Beats Wichita State for Spot in Elite Eight

Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks in the second half against Rashard Kelly #0 and Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Gregory Shamus—Getty Images Zach Auguste #30 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish dunks in the second half against Rashard Kelly #0 and Darius Carter #12 of the Wichita State Shockers during the Midwest Regional semifinal of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena on March 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio.

This marks the first time Notre Dame has reached the Elite Eight since 1979

The most intriguing matchup of the Sweet 16 didn’t live up to its billing. Notre Dame shot 56% from the field and 47% from three-point range Thursday in beating Wichita State, 81-70, to earn a spot in the Elite Eight.

While Wichita State didn’t get much offensive production from players not named VanVleet or Carter, it lost this game on the other end of the floor. Despite rating out as one of the better defensive teams remaining in the field, the Shockers simply could not slow down Notre Dame’s high-powered offense. To wit: the Irish rang up roughly 1.25 points per possession.

The first five minutes hinted at the outcome of the game. Notre Dame opened with a flourish, opening up a 13-point lead thanks to a trio of three-point shots from guards Demetrius Jackson and Pat Connaughton and two-point field goals from center Zach Auguste. The Irish’s third-ranked efficiency offense had ignited, and Wichita State seemingly had no means to stop it.

The Shockers quickly found their bearings and began narrowing Notre Dame’s deficit. After a layup from Auguste around the 15-minute mark, Wichita State ripped off a 9-2 run. Then Shockers guard Ron Baker drilled a three-point shot to slice the deficit to six and, about a minute later, hit another trey to make it a one-possession game.

Notre Dame weathered Wichita State’s charge, and a Connaughton jumper at the 3:40 mark put the Irish up by eight points. But the Shockers finished the half on a strong note, with guard Fred VanVleet scoring seven points over the final three and a half minutes.

VanVleet and forward Darius Carter helped the Shockers take their first lead (38-37) of the game early in the second half. After Notre Dame’s Jackson and Steve Vasturia scored a jump shot and a layup to give the Irish a five-point lead, Carter maneuvered inside for two two-point buckets and VanVleet knocked down a pair of free throws.

Notre Dame answered decisively. In the next two-plus minutes, the Irish showed why they boast the nation’s third most efficient offense. Jackson drained two threes and converted a layup, Vasturia buried a trey of his own, and guard Jerian Grant and forward Bonzie Colson finished layups. When the run ended, Notre Dame led by eight and seemed on track for a comfortable win.

Another offensive onslaught a few minutes later effectively sealed the game. Grant sank a three, Auguste connected on two two-point field goals, Vasturia and Connaughton also converted from downtown and Jackson made two free throws to put Notre Dame up 19.

This marks the first time Notre Dame has reached the Elite Eight since 1979. The Irish have now won 32 games this season, the second most in program history. Meanwhile, this is the fourth consecutive year Wichita State has reached the tournament, and the third consecutive year in which it has won at least one game.

As impressive as it was for Notre Dame to pull through against a Wichita State team that ranked among the nation’s top 20 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, don’t expect the Irish to advance to the Final Four. Barring a massive upset on Thursday night at the hands of No. 5 seed West Virginia, Kentucky will meet Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

The question of whether the Irish are a good or bad matchup for the Wildcats misses the point, because there is no team that matches up well against Kentucky.

It’s disappointing that Wichita State won’t get an opportunity to face the Wildcats. While the Shockers may not have been able to beat the Wildcats, anyone who watched the two teams play a thrilling game in the Round of 32 last season would have welcomed a rematch.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME College Basketball

North Carolina Coach Sends $200 Check to All of His Former Players in His Will

North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith during a news conference where he announced his retirement, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Oct. 9, 1997.
Bob Jordan—AP North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith during a news conference where he announced his retirement, in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Oct. 9, 1997.

For a dinner out to remember

Late North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, who died last month, willed his trust to send $200 to each player who lettered under him, Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letter, confirmed to SI.com.

Smith died at 83 on Feb. 7 at his North Carolina home. He coached for 36 years at UNC, winning 879 games and two NCAA championships.

In the letter Smith’s former players received from Miller McNeish & Breedlove, PA, it was revealed that Smith requested each of his former players be sent a $200 check with the message, “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” The enclosed checks also included the notation, “Dinner out.”

By SI‘s count, Smith coached 184 players from 1961 to 1997.

(H/t @ChestPassDemps)

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME College Basketball

West Virginia Gets Cocky Before March Madness Game Against Undefeated Kentucky

Dayton v Oklahoma
Jamie Sabau—Getty Images Daxter Miles Jr. #4 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts after dunking the ball during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament on March 22, 2015 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

"They're going to be 36-1," a WVU freshman says

West Virginia freshman Daxter Miles Jr. made a bold prediction to the media on Wednesday when he guaranteed that his team would beat undefeated Kentucky in their sweet 16 matchup Thursday night.

“[I] salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they’re gonna be 36-1,” Miles declared out of either confidence or hubris.“They should be more intimidated. Because they’re the ones who have the high standard, and we’re coming for them.” He went on to say the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to pass the ball under the Mountaineers’ press.

West Virginia, a 5 seed , has just a 13% chance of snapping 1 seed Kentucky’s streak, according to Nate Silver’s predictions at FiveThirtyEight. And bettors have the Wildcats as a 13-point favorite over the Mountaineers.

Even West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was careful to hedge Miles’ claims. “I don’t know,” he said when asked if the press could stop Kentucky. “I hope so. It’s going to be a long day for us if we can’t.”

But who knows. With Miles’ conviction, March Madness could just get that mad. Kentucky and WVU play on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. EST.


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