Charlotte is awarded 30th Major League Soccer franchise

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, left, Charlotte MLS owner David Tepper, center, and Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles pose for a photo after announcing the MLS will have a team in Charlotte in 2021 at an event in Charlotte, N.C., Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Nell Redmond/Associated press
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber (left), Charlotte MLS owner David Tepper (center), and Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles pose after announcing that MLS will have a team in Charlotte in 2021.

Charlotte, N.C., was awarded a Major League Soccer expansion team on Tuesday by MLS commissioner Don Garber at a news conference in downtown Charlotte. The team will begin play in 2021 and can sign players immediately. Owner David Tepper, who owns the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, said the team will play its games at Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play. Garber confirmed that the expansion fee price tag for the new Charlotte franchise was between $300 million and $325 million. The team name has not been established yet but should be announced in the spring. Charlotte is one of six teams joining the league over the next three years. Nashville and Miami will join in 2020, Charlotte and Austin, Texas, in 2021, and then Sacramento and St. Louis will begin play in 2022. Garber indicated the league, which will stand at 30 teams by 2022, is likely done with expansion for a while.


Stern, 77, remains in serious condition

Former NBA commissioner David Stern remained in serious condition following emergency brain surgery last week. The league said Stern, 77, is surrounded by his loved ones and receiving great care. The NBA says both the league and Stern’s family appreciate the outpouring of support. Stern suffered a brain hemorrhage Thursday while having lunch in New York. Stern served exactly 30 years as the NBA’s longest-tenured commissioner before Adam Silver succeeded him on Feb. 1, 2014 . . . Washington Wizards forward Rui Hachimura will miss at least the team’s next five games after hurting his groin. The Wizards said the rookie, the first player from Japan to be a first-round pick in the NBA Draft, will be evaluated when Washington returns from a four-game road trip Dec. 26.


Surgery to sideline UConn’s Auriemma

UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is scheduled to undergo minor surgery Wednesday that could keep him off the court for the Huskies’ game this weekend against Oklahoma. The school says the 65-year-old Hall of Famer will undergo a procedure to relieve symptoms of diverticulitis. The surgery will require a short hospital stay and rest. It is not clear when doctors will allow Auriemma to resume coaching. The No. 2 Huskies face the Sooners on Sunday in the Hall of Fame Showcase at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville. They don’t play again until Jan. 2 when Wichita State visits Hartford. Associate head coach Chris Dailey will take over. She’s coached the Huskies to a 9-0 record in games Auriemma has missed during his 35 seasons at Connecticut . . . North Carolina star freshman point guard Cole Anthony is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after having arthroscopic surgery in his right knee. The school says Anthony had the procedure Monday to treat a partially torn meniscus . . . Ed Orgeron of LSU was named the Associated Press Coach of the Year after leading the top-ranked Tigers to an SEC championship and their first College Football Playoff appearance. Orgeron received 33 of 56 first-place votes from Top 25 poll voters and a total of 130 points. Baylor’s Matt Rhule, who led the Bears to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the Big 12 championship game, finished second with 14 first-place votes (86 points). Ohio State’s Ryan Day was third (45 points) and Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck was fourth (40 points) . . . Hayden Fry, the Texan who revived Iowa football and became a Hawkeye State institution, has died. He was 90. Fry’s family announced the coach died Tuesday with his family at his side after a long battle with cancer. The native of Eastland, Texas, had never been to Iowa before taking over the Hawkeyes in 1979.


US women’s hockey holds off Canada


Abby Roque and Alex Carpenter scored early goals, and the United States women’s hockey team held on to beat Canada, 2-1, in Moncton, New Brunswick, in the second game of their five-game Rivalry Series. Roque found the net 2:43 into the first period on the Americans’ first shot on goal, beating Canadian goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens stick-side. The series will continue with three games in February . . . Reliever Joe Smith and the Houston Astros agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract. Smith, 35, spent the last two seasons with the Astros and is 6-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 84 appearances for Houston. He was coming off a $15 million, two-year deal with the Astros. Smith missed the beginning of last season recovering from Achilles’ tendon surgery before returning in July and posting a 1.80 ERA in 28 regular-season appearances. Smith didn’t allow a run in eight of his 10 postseason appearances in 2019 and finished the playoffs with a 3.12 ERA . . . The Detroit Tigers will retire Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 this coming season. Whitaker will become the ninth player with his number retired by the Tigers — not counting Jackie Robinson, whose No. 42 has been retired throughout baseball . . . In Courchevel, France, Federica Brignone won her first women’s World Cup giant slalom in more than a year, while Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin struggled in finishing 17th, missing the podium for the first time in seven GS races. It was Brignone’s 11th career World Cup win and sixth in GS, but first since triumphing in Killington, Vt., in November 2018.