Thursday's Sports In Brief

COLLEGE SPORTS

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) NCAA leaders need a few days to digest the new law that will replace North Carolina's so-called ''bathroom bill'' before deciding whether to bring March Madness and other championship sporting events back to the Tar Heel state.

As for other potential political hot spots, such as Texas where lawmakers are considering a similar bill and where the Final Four will be next year, the NCAA is in no rush to weigh in.

A few hours before NCAA President Mark Emmert gave his annual pre-Final Four news conference, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill that rolled back HB2. The law had required transgender people to use public bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. It also excluded gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide antidiscrimination protections.

The law prompted the NCAA, NBA, Atlantic Coast Conference and other businesses and popular music acts like Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam to pull out of North Carolina.

The new bill drops the rule on transgender bathroom use. But it says local governments cannot pass new nondiscrimination protections for workplaces, hotels and restaurants until December 2020. It has its critics. Gay and transgender rights activists complained that the measure still denies them protection from discrimination, and they are demanding nothing less than full repeal.

SOCCER

ZURICH (AP) - FIFA wants to hold a new six-team playoff round in the 2026 World Cup host country to complete the expanded 48-team tournament lineup.

The final two qualifying slots would be decided in the proposed mini-tournament played in the November before the World Cup as a test event, a move that puts the Confederations Cup's long-term future at risk.

The idea was announced as part of the FIFA Bureau's proposal to award each of the six continental confederations extra places at the World Cup, which will expand starting in 2026 when North America is expected to host.

If agreed in May, the playoffs would give the 2026 hosts four more games to stage, adding to an 80-game tournament that has been 64 games since 1998.

PENN STATE ABUSE

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A Penn State University trustee said he is ''running out of sympathy'' for ''so-called victims'' of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky following the conviction of the university's former president over his handling of a 2001 complaint about Sandusky.

Penn State said the trustee was speaking personally, not for the university, and prosecutors issued a rebuke.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, following up on former university president Graham Spanier's child endangerment conviction, reported that former bank executive Al Lord had told the publication in an email that he was ''running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth.''

PRO BASKETBALL

CHICAGO (AP) - Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James passed Shaquille O'Neal for seventh place on the NBA's career scoring list.

James came into a game against the Chicago Bulls with 28,573 points in 14 seasons with Cleveland and Miami.

He needed 23 points to tie O'Neal and did that when he scored on a layup with 7:23 left in the game. James took sole possession of seventh place when he hit the first free throw after getting fouled on a 3-point attempt with 4:28 left.

Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki is sixth with 30,181 points.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

DALLAS (AP) - UConn's Geno Auriemma is The Associated Press' women's college basketball Coach of the Year for the ninth time.

Auriemma has guided his team to an undefeated season so far and the Huskies have won 111 consecutive games overall.

This might be Auriemma's best coaching job as he lost three All-Americans to graduation from last year's team that won a fourth consecutive national championship.

Mark Few was named the men's AP Coach of the Year, while Kansas' Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on the men's side. For the women, Kelsey Plum of Washington was named Player of the Year.

OLYMPICS

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea's national women's soccer team will travel to North Korea next month to compete in the women's Asian Cup qualifying rounds.

Despite strained relations with Pyongyang, South Korea's Unification Ministry said it approved the April 3-12 visit.

The announcement came days after the ministry permitted North Korean women's ice hockey team to stay in the South from April 1-9 to participate in the group rounds of the women's world championship in Gangneung, South Korea.

Lee Eugene, a spokeswoman at the ministry, said Friday that the 30-member North Korean ice hockey team, including coaches and support staff, was expected to arrive in the South on Saturday via a third-country airline. The 51 South Koreans the ministry permitted to travel to the North for the soccer tournament includes 10 reporters.

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