Golfer Kevin Na resigns from PGA Tour....Big 12 to begin interviews for next commissioner soon....UEFA apologizes to fans for violence at Champions League final

Golfer Kevin Na resigns from PGA Tour

Five-time PGA tour winner Kevin Na yesterday announced that he “has resigned” from the PGA Tour, doing so rather than “face potential discipline and/or legal action” for playing in the rival LIV Golf Invitational Series. Na, who is ranked 33rd in the world, “announced his resignation” on social media saying he “wanted the ‘freedom to play wherever I want and exercising my right as a free agent gives me that opportunity.’” Na was one of 13 PGA Tour players “listed as being included in the field for the first LIV Golf event,” which begins Thursday at the Centurion Club in London (, 6/4).

The upstart league headed by CEO Greg Norman was “too much to pass up” for Na. Na: “I am doing this not because I don’t love the PGA Tour, but there was an opportunity for being a free agent and playing wherever I want to play, to have that flexibility. Hopefully, there will be an opportunity in the future to play the PGA Tour again and I would love to. ... But if I didn’t resign, this would end up where you know it will end up. And I don’t want to be in a legal battle with the Tour, where I worked for the past 19 years.” He added, “I have three kids, and I want to be home more” (, 6/4).

Sunday Must-Read: Norman's PGA Tour fight

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The WASHINGTON POST takes a deep-dive look at LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman under the header “The Shark Is On The Attack Again.” With the LIV Golf Invitational Series debuting its first event on Thursday, golf is "at war," and Norman is "leading the attack." His "default setting has always been aggression," a man who "goes for it even when he shouldn’t, and he’s showing no sign of letting up." Norman is one of the "most recognizable and accomplished figures" in golf history, but his "reputation is in tatters." Norman’s explanations for doing business with the Saudis have been "clumsy at best," but he "remains all-in." But the POST reports that Norman also is "increasingly isolated,” as with "many of his old friendships gone, controversy chasing off most of the rest," Norman has "almost no one to talk to." He "cut off his longtime mentor," Jack Nicklaus, after Nicklaus "admonished any series that would compete with the PGA Tour." Norman: “I’ve got my own life. I’m disappointed, but that’s the way it is." Among other notes, Norman said that Tiger Woods "turned down a deal that was 'mind-blowingly enormous; we’re talking about high nine digits'" to lead LIV Golf (WASHINGTON POST, 6/5).

Big 12 to begin interviews for commish soon

Interviews are "expected to begin soon” for the next Big 12 Commissioner, with the conference hoping to have the new commissioner "named by football media days July 13-14.” Search firm Turnkey ZRG “has gathered a number of candidates." Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec, who serves as board chair, updated the Big 12 board on the search in an executive session Friday. Schovanec: “We’re very pleased with the quality of the pool and the progress we’ve made, our goal is to announce at Big 12 media days in July, and we’re on track to do that.” Schovanec is leading a three-person exec search committee, with Baylor President Linda Livingstone and Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod. The Big 12’s next media rights contract “will be a top priority for the new commissioner."

Also from the Big 12 meetings: Outgoing Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby will have the conference's Sportsmanship Trophy "renamed" in his honor. Meanwhile, the Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournament "will stay" in K.C. through ‘27 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/3).

UEFA apologizes to fans for violence at CL final

UEFA on Friday apologized to fans for the "'frightening and distressing' chaos" at the Champions League final last weekend after LaLiga Real Madrid joined EPL Liverpool in “demanding the organizer explains what went wrong” at the Stade de France. UEFA in a statement said, “No football fan should be put in that situation, and it must not happen again.” Fans, including children, “were tear-gassed, assaulted and harassed” while trying to get into the final. UEFA “initially blamed the chaos and violence on fans arriving late,” then “blamed holders of fake tickets.” UEFA added on Friday it has “commissioned an independent review," led by Dr. Tiago Brandao Rodrigues from Portugal, to “identify shortcomings and responsibilities of all entities -- the clubs, federations, fans, security, stadium operator” (AP, 6/3).

Gauff faces disappointing French Open finals

Coco Gauff lost Saturday’s French Open singles final to No. 1 Iga Swiatek and Gauff and Jessica Pegula lost today’s double final to Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. Saturday “was a deflating day for Gauff," but she “spoke with poise and perspective through the tears” at the awards ceremony and at her post-match new conference. Meanwhile, Swiatek "cemented her status as the game’s dominant player,” winning the French Open singles title in "just over an hour." Swiatek also “offered her support to Ukraine" amid the Russian invasion, a message that the crowd “applauded at length.” Swiatek wears a "ribbon in the colors of the Ukrainian flag on her cap." Swiatek also is one of the first tennis players to "travel with a full-time performance psychologist, Daria Abramowicz, and she emphasizes mental health” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/5).

Univ. of Wisconsin donors start NIL collective

A group of Univ. of Wisconsin donors and alumni have “banded together to form ‘The Varsity Collective,’” in an effort to see the school “remain competitive in the Big Ten and nationally.” The site, which is “independent of the UW athletic department, was launched” yesterday. The goal is to “raise money to support UW athletes in the changing world of NIL." UW AD Chris McIntosh said, “I like what I know about their approach. I think it is going to be a little different and it aligns with the Wisconsin way.” Supporters of "The Varsity Collective" include former UW QB Brooks Bollinger and businessman Ted Kellner. The UW athletic department “made two moves last month to help student-athletes looking to capitalize on NIL opportunities," an agreement with NIL advisory firm Altius Sports Partners and a "dedicated NIL marketplace" called YouDub Marketplace (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/5).

Brittney Griner receiving, answering emails

WNBA Phoenix Mercury C Brittney Griner has been able to "receive emails and letters from WNBA players during her detainment in Russia." Hundreds of emails "have been sent by players" to an account Griner’s agent "set up to allow them to communicate with her." Emails are "printed out and delivered sporadically in bunches" to Griner by her lawyer after they are "vetted by Russian officials." Griner "doesn’t have access to the email account," so she will "either write a response on paper and her lawyers will take a photo of it or she’ll dictate a response if she doesn’t have any paper." Griner has been detained for 108 days (AP, 6/2). Celtics F Grant Williams coordinated with the WNBPA to "get overnight deliveries of the 'We are BG' shirts worn by several Celtics as they worked out." The black shirts have an "orange QR code on the back directing to," a website established by the Wasserman, which represents Griner (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/4).

Some Rays players opt out of Pride celebration

Not all Rays players “wanted to be included” in the team’s 16th Pride Night celebration at Tropicana Field which saw them “add rainbow-colored logos to their Pride Night uniforms, to the 'TB' on their caps and a sunburst on their right jersey sleeves.” No exact breakdown “was provided,” but “well more than half the players appeared to participate.” P's Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were “among those who did not,” electing to “peel off the burst logo and wear the standard hat.” Adam said that it was “primarily a matter of religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage the 'behavior' of those in the LGBTQ+ community.” Rays officials “would have preferred full participation," but also felt it "was important to give players and staff the choice." The topic “sparked numerous conversations -- team-wide, small-group and individual” -- over the last several weeks. The Rays have “backed LGBTQ+ efforts in several ways" before and “included members of the LGBTQ+ community in pregame events” during the celebration yesterday (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/5).

Globe Life Field sees roof leak during game

During Rangers-Mariners on Friday, thunderstorms outside of Globe Life Field led to water “seen coming down on both the first and third base lines." The leaks “weren’t vast and were coming down in drops that were isolated to certain sections,” but down the first base line it “was enough for people in the section underneath to scatter out of the splash zone and move from their seats.” Even after the thunderstorm ended, water “was still seen dripping onto select areas of the stands.” Globe Life Field opened in ’20 (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/4).

Liberty Media buys land in Las Vegas for F1 race

F1 owner Liberty Media “has completed its purchase of a land tract" near the Las Vegas Strip ahead of its race in the city next year. Liberty closed its $240M acquisition of “nearly 40 acres at the northeast corner of Harmon Avenue and Koval Lane” from real estate firm 3D Investments. F1 plans to hold a 50-lap Grand Prix in Las Vegas in November ‘23 (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/10).

A's see largest Coliseum crowd of season

The A's on Friday hosted the Red Sox with the “largest crowd" at RingCentral Coliseum yet this season. Attendance was announced at 17,852, "topping the 17,503 mark for the home opener." The A’s entered Friday with the "lowest average home attendance, 7,547," in MLB (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/3). The attendance for Saturday's A's-Red Sox game stood at just 14,796 (SBJ).

Early Access: Oilers' Ice District; Warriors' strategy

Take an early look at this week's issue of Sports Business Journal with these early access stories:

Alex Silverman writes with the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in early May, the Oilers "finally welcomed fans to the Ice District Plaza." The 50,000-square-foot public square, first opened in '19, has become a "central part of the fan experience for thousands of Oilers supporters reveling in the team’s success and the opportunity to gather after two years of pandemic isolation." The Oilers’ use of the Ice District Plaza is a "textbook example of how NHL and NBA teams with arenas located in entertainment districts are taking advantage of outdoor space to host more fans and generate additional revenue."

Eric Prisbell writes the Warriors have returned to the NBA Finals as a "different organization than the one that last played on this stage three years ago." Finishing their third year at Chase Center, they have "now cemented themselves as a fast-growing, robust sports and entertainment company." How they became a "revenue-generating machine" is a "testament to the envelope-pushing vision espoused" by co-owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob, as well as the influence of Rick Welts, the former team president and chief operating officer who retired after last season.

Speed Reads....

Magic VP/Basketball Operations Matt Lloyd has "agreed to become" T'Wolves Senior VP/Basketball Operations, according to sources. It it the "first significant hire" by T'Wolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly (, 6/3).

The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway will "unfold in front of 57,000 expected fans" today as St. Louis "adds another major sporting event to its history" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/5).

The National Lacrosse League Buffalo Bandits last night won Game 1 of the NLL Finals 15-14 over the Colorado Mammoth in front of 14,274 fans in Buffalo. The Finals continue with Game 2 on Saturday, June 11 in Denver (NLL).

A 24th civil suit "will be filed" against Browns QB Deshaun Watson on Monday by a massage therapist alleging "sexual misconduct during past appointments" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/4). Watson's attorney addressed "non-disclosure agreements, $5,000 payment to spa" in an interview with USA TODAY (6/5).

Quick Hits....

“For us to see these kids get killed, members of our African American community get killed in a grocery store, members of our Jewish community getting killed in a synagogue (in a 2018 Pittsburgh shooting). Come on. That’s not right. That’s not right. That’s not right. I mean it’s amazingly wrong. It’s amazingly wrong. And you should be ashamed of yourself, if you are in a position of power" -- Former Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, on politicians' inaction after recent mass shootings (Durham HERALD-SUN, 6/5).

Weekend Hot Reads:

Under the header, "The four NIL issues that kept popping up at the SEC spring meetings," the TAMPA BAY TIMES' Matt Baker notes two days of discussions brought "some insight" into the NIL issues that "must be addressed -- one way or another" -- in the coming months and years: lack of clarity, lack of equity, lack of transparency and lack of solutions. Boosters are "banned from recruiting," but third-party collectives -- groups of fans who pool their money together to give players NIL deals -- are a "major part of the marketplace." Schools are also dealing with a "patchwork of state laws" dealing with NIL. Conferences "could come up with their own answers to problems," but SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said state laws “essentially stand in that way.” The "easiest fix" is to have "Congress come up with national NIL legislation."


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Today's Back Pages....

The Weekend Rap offers today's back page sports covers from some of North America's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post  N.Y. Daily News Newsday Boston Herald Chicago Sun-Times Philadelphia Daily News