National sports in brief


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AD says Pitino ‘our coach’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Louisville graduate transfer Trey Lewis said Wednesday that athletic director Tom Jurich has assured players that Hall of Famer Rick Pitino will remain the Cardinals coach amid escort allegations.

Lewis said that Jurich “explained to us that Coach Pitino is going to be our coach” when he was asked if he was worried about his coach’s future during the Atlantic Coast Conference media day. “Coach has come in very confident saying that he’s going to be here for a long time.

“So I have no worries about that. None of the players have any worries about that.”

Allegations emerged earlier this month that an ex-staffer hired an escort and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits from 2010-14.

Pitino isn’t attending the media day on the advice of counsel, and he said to avoid the investigation being a distraction for other ACC coaches.

“If coach is ever bothered by this, he does a great job of hiding it because we can’t tell,” Lewis said. “And I worry about him all the time, I pray for him all the time, but he handles this very well. He comes in fired up every day. He seems like he’s more fired up now.”

Tar Heels ACC favorites

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina is the preseason favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels return one of their most-experienced lineups in seven seasons.

North Carolina received 60 of 89 first-place votes from media members at Wednesday’s ACC media day, leading two-time regular-season champion Virginia and defending NCAA Tournament champion Duke. The Tar Heels return four starters and nine of its 10 leading scorers from last year’s team, which finished 26-12.

“Our goal is the Final Four and a national championship,” sophomore guard Justin Jackson said. “Anything less than that will be a disappointment for us, because we know we have a lot of pieces and we have the right pieces to be able to make a long run.”

The last time North Carolina fielded a lineup with this much experience was during the 2008-2009 season, when the Tar Heels went 34-4 and won their second NCAA title in five years.

Game 1 highest rated

NEW YORK (AP) — The World Series opener between the Kansas City Royals and the Mets was the highest-rated Game 1 since 2009 — the previous time a New York team played for the championship.

Kansas City’s 5-4, 14-inning win Tuesday night was watched by 14.9 million viewers, according to Fox. The game received a 9.0 rating and a 17 share, the network said Wednesday,

The rating was the highest for Game 1 since an 11.9 rating/19 share for the Philadelphia Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Yankees in 2009. The viewership was the most since 15 million tuned in for San Francisco’s 11-7 victory over Texas in 2010.

The rating was up 22 percent from the 7.3/12 for San Francisco’s 7-1 romp over Kansas City in the first game last year and the viewers were up 22 percent from last year’s 12.2 million.

San Diego fans boo lawyer

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The lawyer who is leading the San Diego Chargers’ efforts to move to Los Angeles was vigorously booed as he addressed the crowd at the beginning of a public hearing the NFL mandated as part of the relocation process.

“Why don’t you tell the truth?” one fan yelled at Mark Fabiani, who has criticized Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s efforts to build a new stadium in Mission Valley to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium.

Eric Grubman, the NFL’s point man on Los Angeles, had to step in and ask that the crowd to calm down.

Many Chargers fans feel betrayed because the team and its biggest rival, the Oakland Raiders, have proposed a joint $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, an industrial suburb of L.A. if they don’t get stadium deals in their home market. Their proposal was announced after St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke announced plans for a stadium in Inglewood.

Prayers get coach suspended

SEATTLE (AP) — The coach of a Washington state high school football team who prayed at games despite orders from the school district to stop was placed on paid administrative leave.

Bremerton School District officials said in a statement that assistant football coach Joe Kennedy’s leave was necessitated because of his refusal to comply with district directives that he refrain from engaging in overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty as a coach.

Kennedy has vocally engaged in pregame and postgame prayers, sometimes joined by students, since 2008. But the practice recently came to the district’s attention, and it asked him to stop.

He initially agreed to the ban, but then, with support from the Texas-based Liberty Institute, a religious-freedom organization, he resumed the postgame prayers, silently taking a knee for 15 to 20 seconds at midfield after shaking hands with the opposing coaches. His lawyers insist he is not leading students in prayer, just praying himself.

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