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Michigan State cleared by NCAA in Nassar, basketball, football review

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Michigan State said it was cleared of potential violations from an NCAA review stemming from Larry Nassar‘s sexual abuse crimes and reported allegations of sexual assault and violence against women involving Michigan State football and basketball players.

“it does not appear there is a need for further inquiry,” Jonathan F. Duncan, Vice President of Enforcement for the NCAA, wrote in a letter to Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman, according to the university. “[The NCAA review] has not substantiated violations of NCAA legislation.”

Beekman said MSU welcomed the “closure” regarding the NCAA inquiry.

“In regards to the crimes committed on our campus by Larry Nassar, the NCAA findings do not change a thing,” he said in a statement. “NCAA member organizations have a specific set of rules to which we hold each other accountable. And while we agree with the NCAA that we did not commit a violation, that does not diminish our commitment to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student athletes. That pledge permeates everything we do as part of a larger university commitment to making MSU a safer campus.

“As it relates to the handling of student-athlete conduct issues, at Michigan State we are committed to following all appropriate policies and procedures. Today’s findings provide external validation of [football and basketball coaches] Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo and the way they administer their programs. Mark and Tom represent the athletic department and Michigan State University with integrity.”

In May, Michigan State announced a $500 million settlement with more than 300 women and girls who said they were assaulted by Nassar in the worst sex-abuse case in sports history.

The deal surpassed the more than $109 million that Penn State University paid to settle claims by at least 35 people that assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused boys.

Michigan State was accused of ignoring or dismissing complaints about Nassar, some as far back as the 1990s. The school, however, has insisted that no one covered up assaults.

Nassar pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise that it was treatment. He was also found to have child pornography and is serving prison sentences that will likely keep him locked up for life.

He treated campus athletes and scores of young gymnasts at his Michigan State office. He had an international reputation while working at the same time for USA Gymnastics, which trains Olympians.

Prominent Michigan State officials, including its athletic director and president in a span of two days, resigned or retired amid the Nassar scandal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

MORE: Ex-MSU coach charged with lying amid Nassar probe

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Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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