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AROUND THE HORN

Betting big on the draft

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — For those who haven’t mastered the odds of Belarussian soccer or Russian table tennis, this week’s NFL draft gives U.S. gamblers their first opportunity in weeks to bet on an event about which they actually know something.

With major sports shut down for more than a month because of the coronavirus outbreak, American sportsbooks say they expect football’s annual draft to be the most bet on ever.

Desperate to offer a familiar event, online sportsbooks say they are seeing a much greater volume of bets on the draft this year.

Several sportsbooks estimated the gambling industry as a whole could see $5 million wagered on the draft in the U.S. this year; FOX Bet estimated the market at $20 million, up from a typical draft of about $1 million.

NFL draft schedule

• Thursday (8-11:30 p.m.) Round 1: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Radio.

• Friday (7-11:30 p.m.) Rounds 2 and 3: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Radio.

• Saturday (12-7 p.m.) Rounds 4 to ­7: ABC, ESPN, NFL Network, ESPN Radio.

Former Ohio State AD dies

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Jim Jones, a former academic assistant to football coaching great Woody Hayes who went on to serve as Ohio State athletic director in the 1980s and ’90s, has died. He was 83.

Jones died Wednesday in Bonita Springs, Florida, of natural causes, the university said.

Jones started at Ohio State as a physical education instructor in 1965 and moved to the athletic department in 1967. He served as academic adviser, mainly to the football team. for four years and often was referred to by Hayes as the team’s “brain coach.” He then moved to athletic department administration and was athletic director from 1987 until his retirement in 1994.

“He had a commitment to diversity and made a tremendous contribution to the growth of Ohio State athletics,” current athletic director Gene Smith said.

Jones was a past president of the national athletic directors association and served on many national committees at the Big Ten Conference and national levels, including the NCAA’s special events and post-season bowls committees, the Big Ten promotions and PR committee, and the Rose Bowl management committee.

Red Sox stripped of pick

NEW YORK (AP) — The Boston Red Sox escaped major penalties in Major League Baseball’s cheating investigation on Wednesday, with Commissioner Rob Manfred concluding that the 2018 World Series champions’ sign-stealing efforts were less egregious than the Astros’ when they won it all the previous season.

Ex-manager Alex Cora was formally suspended for the coronavirus-delayed 2020 season — but only for his role as a Houston bench coach; Manfred had held off a penalty for Cora despite fingering him as the ringleader of the Astros’ sign-stealing operation. Cora did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.

The Red Sox upgraded the status of Ron Roenicke, who had been the interim manager pending the outcome of the investigation.

Boston was also stripped of its second-round pick in this year’s amateur draft, No 52 overall.

Minor league negotiations

NEW YORK (AP) — Negotiators for the governing body of the minor leagues asked questions during Wednesday’s bargaining session about what the administrative structure would be if Major League Baseball takes over their operation next year, a person familiar with the talks told The Associated Press.

MLB deputy commissioner Dan Halem did most of the talking during the one-hour electronic meeting, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

The sides did not address MLB’s proposal to cut the minimum total of affiliated minor league teams to 120, the most contentious issue in talks to replace the Professional Baseball Agreement that expires after this season.

No date was set for the next meeting.

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