NEW YORK – (Staff and Wire Service Reporting) – The UConn to the Big East story, broken here in June, continues to evolve as details emerge on the University of Connecticut‘s “departure fee” to the American Athletic Conference. UConn has agreed to pay a fee of $17 million as part of its departure from the American Athletic Conference, according to multiple published reports. The university agreed to pay the amount in full by 2026. … Earlier this month, the AAC said its members voted to terminate UConn’s membership, effective July 1, 2020. UConn previously decided to return to the Big East. … “We appreciate UConn’s accomplishments in The American, we wish them the best, and we thank them for their contributions over the past six years,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. … UConn athletic director David Benedict said the program is committed to enjoying its final year in the conference before making the move to the Big East. … “Some of the finest moments in UConn athletics history came during our time as a member of the American Athletic Conference and I am grateful to The American for providing a home to many of our teams over the last six years,” Benedict said in the AAC’s news release. “I would like to thank Mike Aresco and his staff for their professionalism during this process and we look forward to writing a memorable final chapter in 2019-20.” … UConn craved a return to the Big East due to its basketball programs, who have many rivals in the league it first was a part of in 1979. … However, the football program was left without a home and will become an independent beginning in 2020. … UConn left the Big East in 2013 as conference realignments in college sports led to several departures. The current “basketball schools” include long-time rivals Georgetown, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Villanova. … Digital Sports Desk was first to report the UConn to Big East story on June 21st. … NBA veteran J.J. Redick declined an invitation to participate in USA Basketball’s training camp, ESPN reported. Redick, who signed a free agent contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, said he wanted to take part in the training camp and in the FIBA World Cup in China but wasn’t sure he could do that and move his family to a new city. The 35-year-old spent the past two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers. His original contract with the 76ers was directly tied to USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo‘s work as a special advisor to the Sixers. … The Team USA training camp will begin Aug. 5 in Las Vegas, and a number of previously committed players have backed out, including James Harden, Damian Lillard, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis. … Speaking on “The Warrior Podcast” posted Wednesday on the Bay Area affiliate of NBCSports.com, the three-time NBA champion head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors called out transactions sparked by star players — like Anthony Davis maneuvering his way from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers — as “bad for the league” and “a real problem.” … “I’m talking more about the Anthony Davis situation,” Kerr said. “Where a guy is perfectly healthy and has a couple years left on his deal and says, ‘I want to leave.’ That’s a real problem that the league has to address and that the players have to be careful to avoid, according to Kerr. … “When you sign on that dotted line, you owe your effort and your play to that team, to that city, to the fans. And then it’s completely your right to leave as a free agent. But if you sign the contract, then you should be bound to that contract.” … Davis had initially demanded a trade from the Pelicans with over a full season remaining on his existing contract, and although New Orleans did not immediately cave to his in-season request, this offseason Davis got his wish when he was dealt to L.A. … Kerr has an issue with Davis’ approach, while still under contract, as opposed to stars who have played out their contracts first before switching teams. … “What LeBron [James] did, played out his contract. What Kevin [Durant] did, both when he arrived at Golden State and when he left. You sign contracts, you play them out and you move on. That’s how it should be done,” Kerr said. … “But it’s a little disturbing that there has been some action that happens before contracts are up, where teams are sort of held hostage and the league is sort of held hostage. I’m not a big fan of that. That’s damaging for everybody.” … Earlier this month, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver publicly commented in his annual summer league news conference in Las Vegas that the manner in which many free-agent deals seem to be happening well ahead of rules prohibiting contact between agents, players and teams. … “My job is to enforce a fair set of rules for all our teams and a set of rules that are clear and make sense for everyone,” said Silver. “I think right now we’re not quite there.”
Here Now, The Notes: SF Giants starter Madison Bumgarner might not be on the trade block after all. … MLB Network reported Friday that the San Francisco Giants are planning to keep Bumgarner rather than making him available before the July 31 trade deadline. … The team’s resurgence has everything to do with the decision. According to the report, if the Giants are still making the climb out of the National League West cellar on Monday, they could become buyers at the deadline. … Bumgarner, who turns 30 on August 1, is scheduled to start the series finale this weekend in San Diego, against whom the Giants have five straight wins. Bumgarner has given up only five total runs in his past three starts, including a complete game against the Mets on July 19. … The Giants are 17-4 since June 29 and entered Friday within 3.5 games of the second NL Wild Card spot at 52-51 despite a run differential of negative-43. … Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the focus at the moment is “trying to put ourselves in position to be contenders this year.” … Bumgarner can enter free agency after the season and expectations outside the organization centered on the Giants trying to move the lefty in order to get something in return. … Russell Westbrook said he is ready to work with guard James Harden to bring a championship to Houston. … Meeting the Texas media for the first time since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded him to the Rockets two weeks ago, Westbrook talked about starting his career fresh with an old pal. … “We’ve been friends for many, many years,” Westbrook, 30, said of Harden. “Since I was 10, actually. So we’ve played with each other in Oklahoma City, and to be able to win something, you’ve got to be willing to sacrifice some parts of your game and we both understand that.” … The two played together, along with Kevin Durant, in Oklahoma City for three seasons. Harden was traded to the Rockets before the 2012-13 season after being named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. … “We both understand that we have one common goal and that’s to win a championship. We understand what we have to do. I’m not worried about it and I know James isn’t worried about it. I can play off the ball; I don’t have to touch the ball to impact the game. That’s the best way for me to come in and impact this team. I can do other things on the floor to make sure we have a better chance to win.” … Westbrook, the 2016-17 league MVP and an eight-time All-Star, said he has no doubts he’ll make a successful transition from Oklahoma City, where he spent 11 seasons. … “I’ll fit right in, personally,” Westbrook said. “Floor spread, it gives me the opportunity to attack, penetrate, kick. Defensively, it’ll give me an opportunity to switch and guard and rebound at a high level. Push the break, get us out on the break. A lot of different things.” … Westbrook said he’ll miss Oklahoma City, the only NBA home he’s known. … “It’s tough. It’s something that will stay with me the rest of my life. Because I basically grew up there, in Oklahoma City,” he noted. “Eighteen years old in Oklahoma City and the people, the organization, never done me wrong. They always stood up for me and my family — always had my back — and I’m very, very grateful and I don’t take that for granted.” … Westbrook played in 821 career games (804 starts) with the Thunder, averaging 23 points, 8.4 assists and 7 rebounds per game. He averaged a triple-double in each of the past three seasons. … Melvin Gordon is planning a lengthy holdout if the Los Angeles Chargers don’t meet his demands for a new contract on par with the NFL’s top-paid running backs, ESPN reported. … Gordon’s holdout began when the Chargers reported to training camp this week after a warning from Gordon through agent Fletcher Smith that he wouldn’t report without a new deal. Smith and Gordon plan to request a trade if a new deal isn’t struck, but the Chargers are showing no willingness to oblige. … General manager Tom Telesco said Wednesday that Gordon would be playing for the Chargers if he suits up this season. … “I love Melvin Gordon,” Telesco said. “He’s an excellent player. He’s tough. He has a great work ethic and represents our organization extremely well. But he’s not here. … “I understand his thoughts and opinions of what he’s going through. I always look at the player’s side, so I can see it. It doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I can kind of see what his thought process is.” … Telesco said Gordon was offered a new contract but that the team is ready to move forward behind the trio of Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. … “I’m not naive; I know we’re better with Melvin Gordon,” Telesco said. “But we’ve got a strong group of guys that are here, and it’s their time to work and get ready to go.” … Gordon is subject to fines up to $40,000 for each day of training camp he misses. He is in the final season of his rookie contract and slated to make $5.6 million this season. … The 26-year-old has scored 38 touchdowns over the past three seasons. In 55 career games, the two-time Pro Bowl selection has gained 5,205 yards from scrimmage.
–Field Level Media contributed to this notes column.
Digital Sports Desk posts a once-a-week Sunday Notes column, entitled: “While We’re Young Ideas.” It’s a throwback of sorts to the days when sportswriting and the baseball beat were the best jobs in the entire sports industry, maybe the entire world. One of those sportswriters was named Dick Young and he wrote “Young Ideas” with a “Diamond Dust” section for notes and quotes.
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Here’s a few comments on Dick Young, as compiled by my good bud Dennis D’Agostino for a missive, “Keepers of the Game.”
“There’ll never be another Dick Young,” said NY Daily News columnist Phil Pepe who once wrote a letter back to me after I submitted a “NY Islanders poem to the verse of “The Night Before Christmas.” Continued Pepe, “He was a trailblazer, a pioneer, a leader. With all the negative things there’s much more positive than negative. I knew him as a rival, a colleague, and a boss. His influence in the business is still felt today. He had the foresight to see the transition and what was happening with television, how people were getting their information. A lot of the jargon that we use in baseball came from him. Ribbies for RBI, for instance. The way players talked, he’d write it that way.” … One of his mantras as a columnist was to “”Always take care of your beat man.” That was important, as the beat man (or woman) was with the team 24/7/365 and it was their job to nail all the news. … “Diamond Dust” he once was, and is now, and forever.