Rescheduled The NCAA approved moving the women’s basketball Final Four to a Friday-Sunday format beginning in 2017. The women’s Final Four had that format from 1996-2002 before switching to the current Sunday-Tuesday model in 2003. The moves were made to help improve attendance, which has become stagnant over the past few years.
Announced The U.S. men’s soccer team will host Mexico in an exhibition game April 2 at Glendale, Ariz., as both nations prepare for the World Cup in Brazil. The Americans opened their 2014 schedule with a 2-0 victory over South Korea on February 1.
Released The Detroit Lions are releasing wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delmas, two starters from last season’s team. If Burleson and Delmas don’t return to Detroit under different contract terms, the Lions will have significant holes to fill at both receiver and in the team’s secondary.
Approved Before hiring Gregg Williams as his defensive coordinator for the second time, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher cleared it with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Williams was part of Fisher’s first staff with the Rams in 2012, but only for a few weeks before getting suspended for his role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal.
Agreed The Chicago Cubs agreed to one-year contracts with pitchers Jason Hammel and James McDonald. Hammel is set to earn $6 million next season while McDonald, whose deal is not guaranteed, is due $1 million plus particular performance bonuses.
Added The Washington Nationals filled the last clear-cut need on their roster on the opening day of spring training, acquiring catcher Jose Lobaton and two prospects from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday for pitcher Nathan Karns. To make room for the new players on the 40-man roster, Washington placed right-handed pitcher Erik Davis on the 60-day disabled list.
Planned The New York Yankees will play exhibition games against the Miami Marlins in Panama City on March 15-16 to honor recently retired reliever Mariano Rivera. The career saves leader will promote the event, and a gala dinner will be held March 14 to benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation and the Children’s Hospital in Panama City.
Extended The Cleveland Indians signed outfielder Michael Brantley to a four-year, $25 million contract extension that avoids arbitration. He led Cleveland with a .284 batting average last season.