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West Virginia Sports

Virus forces West Virginia to push back basketball workouts

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has postponed the start of men’s basketball workouts for two weeks after five players and one staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, the school announced Sunday.
The workouts were scheduled to start on Monday. The decision was made in consultation with university medical officials.
“The recent positive numbers tell me the safest thing to do is put a pause on the start of our men’s basketball workouts,” West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement. “The well-being of our student-athletes is the top priority, and we will continually monitor our men’s basketball situation in hopes of starting on July 20.”
Those testing positive will self-isolate for 14 days. Contract tracing has identified additional people who could have been exposed and they will go into quarantine as well, the statement said.
Recent positive virus tests among West Virginia sports teams also include four in football and one in women’s soccer.

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West Virginia Sports

Kentucky adds UAB, Marshall to men’s basketball schedule

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky has added UAB and Marshall to its nonconference men’s basketball schedule next season.
Kentucky announced on its athletics website Tuesday that the Wildcats will host UAB on Dec. 6 and Marshall on Dec. 29.
UAB will play at Kentucky for the second straight season. The Wildcats defeated the Blazers 69-58 on Nov. 29 in Rupp Arena. The all-time series is tied 3-3.
Kentucky is 12-0 all-time against Marshall. Their last meeting was in December 2012.

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West Virginia Sports

West Virginia DC Koenning on leave after player accusations

By JOHN RABY AP Sports Writer
West Virginia has placed defensive coordinator Vic Koenning on administrative leave after a player alleged in a social media post that the assistant coach made a series of insensitive remarks, including against Hispanics.
West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced the move Tuesday after safety Kerry Martin posted the allegations on his Twitter account about Koenning.
“I want to thank Kerry Martin for having the courage to bring his concerns to light,” Lyons said in a statement. “We will not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination or bias on our campus, including our athletic programs.”
Lyons said the athletic department “will work with the appropriate parties to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. This is serious, and we will act appropriately and in the best interests of our student-athletes.”
Martin, a sophomore, said in a lead-in to his post that “I’ve been contemplating about posting but we need a change in our program.”
Koenning, who was brought to West Virginia from Troy when coach Neal Brown was hired last year, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Martin said he had met with Brown about Koenning’s comments but didn’t indicate when it occurred.
Brown said in a statement released by the school Tuesday night that he was “sick about today’s events” and that Martin had every right to express his opinion. Brown said he talked with all parties involved, including the defense as a unit and the entire team.
“I again emphasized to our team that our program culture will be one of acceptance, respect, tolerance, and positive relationships,” Brown said. “We will listen, learn and grow from this together, as a family, to become even more united.”
Martin said the latest incident happened Monday, when Koenning shared a conversation he had with his son about protests over racial injustice.
Martin, who is Black, said Koenning’s “exact words were, ‘if people did not want to get tear gassed, or push back by the police then they shouldn’t be outside protesting.'”
Martin said he spoke up right away and asked what Koenning meant but said Koenning “couldn’t give a straight answer.” A graduate assistant stepped in to try to defuse the situation.
Martin said Koenning then asked him to stay on the call and “wanted to apologize and give clarity on what he said.”
During a June 2019 workout in Morgantown, Martin said Koenning “called me retarded for doing the wrong technique.” Martin said he has family members who are mentally ill, “and for him to say that hurt me because it was an action we could fix.”
During 2019 spring football practices, Martin said Koenning antagonized defensive back Derek Pitts “for believing in something that (Koenning) didn’t believe,” Martin said.
Martin said Koenning then would discuss religion and the Bible in front of Pitts, who transferred last summer to Marshall.
Martin said Koenning found out last fall that Martin had converted his religious beliefs “and pulled me into his office on multiple occasions and talked about religion.” Martin said Koenning also has made him read passages from the coach’s Bible.
Koenning also would discuss his views on politics during position meetings during the 2019 season, according to Martin.
In one particular meeting, Koenning talked about President Donald Trump “and how he should ‘build the wall and keep Hispanics out (of) the country,'” said Martin, who said someone of Hispanic descent was in the meeting.
Martin said he “didn’t want to bring negativity to the program but with everything going on and for him to still act this way and feel okay with saying what he said is not okay, Enough is enough.
“No, coach Vic is not a bad person and he does mean well in many (different) aspects but his heinous actions towards us overrules the good things he has done and many of us are uncomfortable with being around him.”
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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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West Virginia Sports

Virus forces team of ex-WVU players to withdraw from tourney

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A team of former West Virginia University players has withdrawn from a summer tournament after one of the athletes tested positive for the coronavirus.
Best Virginia said in a statement Monday that the team learn of the confirmed case last week when it started practices for The Basketball Tournament. The team decided to withdraw rather than have all its players enter a 14-day quarantine before the start of the tournament.
“Because of the heightened nature of safety and security in TBT this year due to the virus, we will not be participating,” the statement said. “This is not the news West Virginians want to hear. It was a tough decision to come to. But this is the reality of where we are now, and safety is everything.”
Best Virginia was scheduled to play a team of former Marshall players in the opening round July 5 in Columbus, Ohio. The tournament announced it will be replaced in the 24-team field by Playing For Jimmy V, a team that includes former college stars Josh Perkins of Gonzaga, Marques Townes of Loyola-Chicago and ex-Philadephia 76er Haywood Highsmith.

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West Virginia Sports

West Virginia football player tests positive for coronavirus

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A football player at West Virginia has tested positive for the coronavirus, the school said Monday on the first day of voluntary workouts.
The school’s athletic department said in a statement that contact tracing identified other football players who could have been exposed to the athlete. Both the player who tested positive and the others he may have been in contact with will isolate themselves for 14 days, the statement said.
Voluntary workouts will continue for players who have tested negative for the virus, the statement said.
When West Virginia begins its fall semester on Aug. 19, students must wear masks on campus, including in class. Students, faculty and staff must be tested for the virus before they return to campus and complete a coronavirus education course.

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West Virginia Sports

World TeamTennis plans to have fans at West Virginia matches

By HOWARD FENDRICH AP Tennis Writer
If World TeamTennis gets its way, Grand Slam champions Sofia Kenin and Sloane Stephens could be among the first tennis players to compete in front of fans after the coronavirus pandemic prompted lockdowns around the globe.
WTT said Tuesday it is planning to allow up to 500 spectators at each of its outdoor matches during a three-week season from July 12 to Aug. 2 at a resort in West Virginia.
The league also announced an increase in total prize money to $5 million this year, $1.5 million more than for its 2019 season.
All tennis events sanctioned by the ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation are on hold until at least late July because of the COVID-19 outbreak. That includes the French Open, which was supposed to have started its 15-day main draw Sunday but was postponed until September, and Wimbledon, which was canceled outright for the first time in 75 years.
But WTT is not affiliated with those tours — no ATP or WTA ranking points are available for its matches — and does not need to abide by their decisions about when it is OK to compete.
Because of the pandemic, World TeamTennis is bringing all nine of its teams to one site — The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia — instead of having matches played around the United States.
And unlike smaller exhibition tennis events around the world that have been staged without any fans present, WTT intends to sell tickets for one-fifth of a 2,500-seat outdoor stadium.
There also will be an indoor court set up in case it is needed; spectators will not be allowed to watch there.
WTT CEO Carlos Silva said in a recent interview he has been monitoring other sports events taking place to see how they handled health protocols, including UFC fights and NASCAR racing. Neither of those sports allowed spectators at their returns to action this month.
Among the players the WTT said will participate in its matches are Kenin, who won the Australian Open in January, before sanctioned tennis was suspended because of the virus in March; Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up; and twins Bob and Mike Bryan, who have won 16 Grand Slam titles in men’s doubles as a team.
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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
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More AP Tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Riders flock to reopened West Virginia ATV trails system

GILBERT, W.Va. (AP) — Riders packed a vast network of all-terrain vehicle trails in southern West Virginia on the first weekend the system was allowed to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
The eight trail networks that make up the more than 700-mile Hatfield-McCoy system were open for Memorial Day weekend. Jeff Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that all of the more than 60 lodging providers that serve the trails were booked for the weekend.
“We truly appreciate getting to reopen,” Lusk said. “Being able to open now will help our trail businesses recover.”
Gov. Jim Justice reopened the trails late last week as part of the most aggressive phase of his coronavirus reopening strategy. Also back are ATV rentals, restaurants, malls, big box stores, tanning salons, and whitewater rafting and zipline businesses, along with campgrounds for in-state residents.
The governor has said lifting the state’s virus restrictions is a balance between safety and the state’s ailing economy.
The Republican governor will allow swimming pools, bowling alleys, spas and video lottery retailers to reopen next Saturday. On June 5, movie theaters and casinos can open.
Justice has said lifting the state’s virus restrictions is a balance between safety and the state’s ailing economy.
“After shutting things down, you never know if visitors are going to want to come back, especially with all this going on,” Lusk said.
Did they ever.
At the Twin Hollow Campground and Cabins in Gilbert, the phone lines rang constantly since the reopening announcement, said Cameron Ellis, whose family owns the mountaintop lodging venue built to serve the ATV trail system.
Twin Hollow’s 45 campsites with full hookups and all of its 11 cabins were booked on Friday. The venue’s primitive campsites remain closed due to state coronavirus guidelines.
The reopening not only benefits the trail system but also the grocery and convenience stores in the surrounding small communities.
Jeff Sowers of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, parked his side-by-side at a Gilbert convenience store on Friday, preparing for a day on the trails with a group of friends. He rode on the trail network during a previous visit near Pineville.
“There’s no place like this for us to ride in North Carolina,” Sowers said.
Pittsburgh-area trail riders Lindsay and Chris Rhome stayed at Twin Hollow last year. They enjoyed it enough to book a reservation seven months in advance for this weekend.
“I had been holding my breath until we found out (earlier this month) that it had reopened,” Lindsay Rhome said.
“Places to ride in Pennsylvania are few and far between and not as large,” Chris Rhome added. “Here, you can go for hours and hundreds of miles without having to repeat parts of the trail.”
State guidelines for trail visitors urged the wearing of face masks when they weren’t riding and to observe physical distancing. Shared use of a trail vehicle by anyone outside a family group or a party of riders is discouraged. Public buildings and restrooms along the trail will remain closed for now.
While trail pass sales are about $400,000 below for a typical year, “I think we can make up some of that by the end of the year since the riders are coming back,” Lusk said.
Two more trail networks are scheduled to be added to the Hatfield-McCoy system later this year in Lincoln and Wayne counties, Lusk said.
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WVU Coliseum selling old seats ahead of remodeling

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University is selling off the old WVU Coliseum seats before installing new ones later this year, the college said this week.
WVU basketball season ticket holders can buy their own seats for $100 and the general public can get them for $150. The 50-year-old seats are being replaced this off-season.
The for-sale seats only consist of the plastic seatbacks and bottoms because the way they were installed prevents the metal bases and armrests from being included.
You can buy the seats at wvugame.com but must pick them up in-person during a selected date and time over the summer. WVU says it will not ship the seats.

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West Virginia Sports

Kansas’ Azubuike AP Big 12 player of year, Drew top coach

By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
Kansas center Udoka Azubuike is The Associated Press Big 12 player of the year, with the 7-foot senior averaging a double-double for the regular season conference champion and top-ranked Jayhawks.
Azubuike and Kansas sophomore guard Devon Dotson were the only unanimous picks for the AP All-Big 12 first team released Tuesday, and split all the votes for player of the year. Azubuike got 10 votes for top player from a panel of journalists who regularly cover the Big 12 in the league’s five states, and Dotson got the other seven.
Baylor sophomore guard Jared Butler, TCU senior guard Desmond Bane and forward Kristian Doolittle, Oklahoma’s only senior, were the other first-team selections.
Baylor’s Scott Drew was picked as coach of the year. Before dropping three of their last five games, the No. 5 Bears had set a Big 12 record by winning 23 games in a row. The Big 12 runner-ups were the nation’s No. 1 team for five weeks in a row before a home loss to Kansas on Feb. 22 ended their winning streak.
Azubuike is the only Big 12 player averaging a double-double at 13.7 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, and is the national leader making 74.8% of his field goal attempts (181 of 242). Dotson is the league’s top scorer at 18.1 points a game.
Bane, the league’s top 3-point shooter with 2.9 a game while making 44.1% of his attempts, is second in the Big 12 with 16.6 points a game. Butler is the third-leading scorer at 16.0 points a game, including 2.6 made 3-pointers a game. Doolittle, a 6-7 forward, averages 15.8 points and 8.9 rebounds a game.
Texas Tech freshman guard Jahmi’us Ramsey (15.0 ppg) was the AP newcomer of the year, and among the second-team selections with Kansas junior guard Marcus Garrett, West Virginia freshman forward Oscar Tshiebwe and Baylor teammates Freddie Gillespie and MaCio Teague.
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The 2020 AP All-Big 12 team, with players listed with school, classification, height, weight, class and hometown (“u-” denotes unanimous selections):
FIRST TEAM
u-Udoka Azubuike, Kansas, Sr., 7-0, 270, Delta, Nigeria.
u-Devon Dotson, Kansas, So., 6-2, 185, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Desmond Bane, TCU, Sr., 6-6, 215, Richmond, Indiana.
Jared Butler, Baylor, So., 6-3, 190, Reserve, Louisiana.
Kristian Doolittle, Oklahoma, Sr., 6-7, 232, Edmond, Oklahoma.
SECOND TEAM
Marcus Garrett, Kansas, Jr., 6-5, 195, Dallas.
MaCio Teague, Baylor, Jr. 6-3, 195, Cincinnati.
Freddie Gillespie, Baylor, Sr., 6-9, 245, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech, Fr., 6-4, 195, Arlington, Texas.
Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia, Fr., 6-9, 258, Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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Coach of the year — Scott Drew, Baylor.
Player of the year — Udoka Azubuike, Kansas.
Newcomer of the year — Jahmi’us Ramsey, Texas Tech.
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AP All-Big 12 Voting Panel: Eric Bailey, Tulsa World; Abby Bitterman, The Oklahoman; Frank Bonner, Tulsa World; Tom Bragg, Charleston Gazette-Mail; Chuck Carlton, Dallas Morning News; Paul Catalina, ESPN Central Texas; Brian Davis, Austin American-Statesman; Drew Davison, Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Matt Galloway, Topeka Capital-Journal; Jimmy Gillispie, Stillwater News Press; Justin Jackson, The Dominion Post; Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register; Soren Petro, Sports Radio 810; Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle; Carlos Silva Jr., Lubbock Avalanche-Journal; Matt Tait, Lawrence Journal-World; John Werner, Waco Tribune-Herald.
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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Division II Shepherd reinstates men’s, women’s cross-country

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Division II Shepherd University is reinstating men’s and women’s cross-country as varsity sports next fall.
Shepherd Vice President for Athletics Chauncey Winbush made the announcement Tuesday.
Shepherd last competed in cross -country in 2003.
Shepherd, located in the West Virginia community of Shepherdstown, joined the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference last fall.
“The Eastern Panhandle is a running community and I believe we will certainly attract some quality home-grown talent while also attracting great runners from the surrounding states,” Winbush said.