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Sat - Partly Cloudy
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Sun - Scattered Thunderstorms
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Mon - Isolated Thunderstorms
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|Minnesota State team to return under Hoffner
MANKATO, Minn. (AP) Minnesota State football players ended their boycott of spring practice and said Thursday they will play for coach Todd Hoffner, who was reinstated after being exonerated of having child pornography on his cellphone.
The players had refused to practice Wednesday as a show of support for interim coach Aaron Keen, who took over after Hoffner was arrested in 2012 because images of his naked children were found on a university-issued cellphone. A judge later said he had been wrongly accused and the images were an innocent video of his children playing after a bath.
"As a team, we are ready to get back to playing football," junior defensive back Sam Thompson and sophomore wide receiver Kyle Riggott said in a statement after the players and coaching staff held a nearly two-hour closed-door meeting Thursday.
The players had said on Wednesday they felt shut out of the process of Hoffner returning.
"We received the answers we were looking for, feel fit to practice and welcome Coach Hoffner as we head toward the end of spring drills," the players said after the team meeting. They will return to practice Friday.
After his arrest, Hoffner was suspended, reassigned and fired for reasons that the school declined to make public. His supporters said the school overreacted in the wake of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State, noting his high-profile arrest came just months after retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child sex abuse.
A report from an arbitrator said Hoffner was accused of viewing porn on his work computer and letting his wife use the device, and that neither charge was proven.
Hoffner, 47, accepted the head coaching job at Minot State University in January. But after he was cleared of wrongdoing, Hoffner decided to return to Mankato, saying it would "help heal that injury." The university apologized to Hoffner on Tuesday and welcomed him back.
The reinstated coach said he does not take the players' actions personally.
"It's clear there has been a shift in the culture and I look forward to adapting and integrating many of those positive changes into my leadership of the program and the pursuit of the ultimate goal of winning a national championship," Hoffner said in a statement.
Athletic director Kevin Buisman said it had been a "challenging situation for everyone involved," but the school was committed to making a smooth transition for the coach and players.
Under interim coach Keen, Minnesota State finished 11-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament. But they were also successful under Hoffner: 34-13 in his four seasons from 2008-12.
|Atlanta lands MLS expansion team for 2017
ATLANTA (AP) Arthur Blank donned traditional soccer garb to mark his newest venture - an MLS team for Atlanta.
"I love this one," Blank said, looking down at the red, black and gold scarf draped over his dark suit. "I haven't taken it off since it was given to me. I may not sleep in it tonight, but I may. I haven't decided yet."
Major League Soccer announced its latest team Wednesday, an expansion team for Atlanta that will begin play in 2017 at the city's new retractable roof stadium.
The team will be owned by Blank, who also controls the NFL's Atlanta Falcons. He said it was the culmination of a process that started about a decade ago, when he first started talks with MLS about bringing a team to the city.
The off-and-on discussions picked up again after Blank reached a deal with the city last year to build a new $1 billion downtown stadium next to the soon-to-be-demolished Georgia Dome. He is putting up most of the money, with the city kicking in $200 million from a hotel tax.
"I think Atlanta is a natural fit for Major League Soccer," said Blank, who was serenaded by a burgeoning fan group that calls itself "Terminus Legion," a reference to the city's former name.
The team's name has not been determined. Blank said he will get input from the fans before deciding on the new moniker, though he already knows the colors: red and black - matching the Falcons - with a substantial amount of gold as well.
"What the name will be, we really don't know," he said. "We will spend a lot of time listening to our fans and trying to understand why some names are more important than others, why certain designs are more important than others, why certain logos are more important than others."
One name that won't be considered: Atlanta Chiefs, the name of two previous teams that played in the old North American Soccer League. While the Chiefs won the first NASL championship in 1968, both versions struggled financially and eventually folded.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said there was no hesitation about putting a team in Atlanta once Blank worked out a stadium deal.
It is the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and the biggest without a top-level soccer team. The city has a large Hispanic population and last month drew more than 68,000 fans to the Georgia Dome for a friendly between Mexico and Nigeria.
"This is something that will help elevate our league," Garber said. "It will also elevate our sport in the entire Southeast, which is something that is very important to us strategically."
The league went all out to tout its newest team. Hundreds of fans turned out for a street festival before Blank and Garber arrived by helicopter for the introductory news conference, touching down on the roof of a downtown hotel overlooked Centennial Olympic Park. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also attended.
While the new stadium is primarily designed for the Falcons, Blank stressed that it will be soccer-friendly. The stands along the sideline will have the capability to retract, accommodating the larger soccer pitch while maintaining sightlines.
Curtains will descend from the roof automatically to close off the upper sections, creating the sort of intimate atmosphere that works better for less-attended MLS games.
The new facility is designed to seat about 71,000 for NFL games, Blank said, but can be reduced to about 29,000 for soccer using only the lower bowl.
"There will never be an MLS game in Atlanta where NFL lines are shown on the field," Blank said, drawing a big cheer.
MLS, which has 19 teams this season, is expanding rapidly with a goal of having 24 teams by the end of the decade. Orlando and New York City are scheduled to begin play next season, and the league has awarded a provisional team in Miami to a group led by David Beckham, contingent on a soccer-specific stadium being built.
The league has added five teams in the past five years, including the hugely successful Seattle Sounders. Garber said there is no worry about growing too fast given the abundance of soccer talent around the world.
"When we expand, we can pick from players around the world," Garber said. "We could change the roster rules, the international player limits, and have no dilution in talent."
Blank said he will try to encourage some crossover between Falcons' season-ticket holders and those interested in attending MLS games. But he acknowledged the teams are likely to have very different fan bases, making it clear the new soccer team will not merely be a side business for the Falcons.
His first priority is to hire a team president for the MLS venture. He will also be exploring possible locations for a state-of-the-art training facility.
"We don't want any stepchildren in our family," Blank said. "We want to make sure the people running soccer get up in the morning thinking about soccer and go to bed thinking about soccer."
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
|Anaheim Ducks hold off Stars 4-3 in series opener
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and an assist, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves to win his NHL playoff debut, and the Anaheim Ducks opened the postseason with a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.
Getzlaf, Kyle Palmieri and Mathieu Perreault scored in a dominant first period for the top-seeded Ducks, who began their playoff run on a dead sprint. Anaheim led 4-0 midway through the second period before Dallas got rolling in its first playoff game since 2008.
Captain Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour had power-play goals, and Tyler Seguin scored with 6:07 left to trim the Ducks' lead to one. Anaheim hung on with a handful of big saves from Andersen, a 24-year-old Danish rookie.
Game 2 is Friday.
Matt Beleskey had a goal and an assist before incurring a lower-body injury in the third period, leaving a hole on the Ducks' top line with Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Getzlaf then got hit in the face with the puck with 16 seconds left, sending him to the dressing room early.
Benn and Sceviour scored in their postseason NHL debuts, but the Stars couldn't escape their early hole despite an impressive game from their high-scoring top line of Benn, Seguin and Valeri Nichushkin, which accounted for 14 shots.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 shots for the wild-card Stars, who ended their five-year playoff drought thanks to new coach Lindy Ruff and seven Stanley Cup winners on their roster.
Anaheim is the Western Conference's No. 1 seed for the first time after the best regular season in franchise history, setting new marks for victories (54), points (116) and goals (263) while winning its second straight Pacific Division title.
But after the second-seeded Ducks were knocked off in the first round by Detroit last year, Anaheim is overdue for playoff success. The Ducks have won just one postseason round since their only Stanley Cup title in 2007, and just four players remain from that championship team.
One of those players is Teemu Selanne, who plans to retire after the season. The 43-year-old Finnish Flash began his 13th NHL postseason with an assist.
Stephane Robidas also faced his former teammates for the first time since Dallas traded the veteran defenseman to Anaheim last month.
Andersen, who went 20-5 in his first NHL season, got the start over veteran Jonas Hiller, who has fallen out of favor with coach Bruce Boudreau after a handful of poor starts.
After a raucous pregame reception from their orange towel-waving fans, the Ducks wasted no time. Nick Bonino lifted an exceptional pass over diving defenseman Aaron Rome to Palmieri for a backhand goal just 1:53 in.
Getzlaf led a rush and converted a rebound of Beleskey's shot off Lehtonen's mask later in the period, and Perreault put Anaheim up 3-0 with a power-play goal on exceptional passes from Patrick Maroon and Getzlaf.
Beleskey got credit for the Ducks' second power-play goal when Francois Beauchemin's long shot deflected off his leg midway through the second period.
Dallas got a 5-on-3 advantage for 56 seconds late in the period, and Benn scored easily on a rebound before Sceviour wired a stoppable shot through Andersen's legs, halving the Ducks' lead.
Anaheim controlled play in the third, with Maroon missing an open net, before Seguin tipped Trevor Daley's pass by Andersen. Seguin infamously scored just one goal in 22 playoff games for Boston last season.
NOTES: Anaheim's long-struggling power play hadn't scored multiple goals in a game since Jan. 15, when the Ducks got six against Vancouver. ... LW Ray Whitney returned to the Stars' lineup after missing the last six games with a lower-body injury, but D Brenden Dillon missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Nichushkin, who turned 19 last month, made his NHL playoff debut two months after playing in his first Olympics for Russia. ... Getzlaf had his 19th career multipoint playoff game, while Beleskey had his first.
|Weise's OT goal lifts Canadiens over Lightning 5-4
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Dale Weise scored 18:08 into overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the opening game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal playoff series on Wednesday night.
Daniel Briere fed a pass to Weise from behind the net to set up the winner against Anders Lindback, who stopped 39 of 44 shots while filling in for injured goaltender Ben Bishop.
Carey Price stopped 21 shots for the Canadiens, who blew a pair of third-period leads. Brian Gionta had a short-handed goal and Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and Thomas Vanek also scored for Montreal.
Steven Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay, including the goal that forced overtime.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
|White wash: Yanks sweep Cubs 3-0, 2-0
NEW YORK (AP) Michael Pineda followed an overpowering outing by Masahiro Tanaka with one of his own, pitching six innings of four-hit ball as the New York Yankees beat the Chicago Cubs 2-0 on a bitterly cold Wednesday night to complete its first doubleheader shutout sweep since 1987.
Tanaka (2-0) struck out 10 and allowed just two bunt hits - one replay aided - over eight innings in a 3-0 win in the opener of the day-night twinbill. Carlos Beltran homered for a third straight game, off Jason Hammel in the first inning of the Cubs' first regular-season game at the current Yankee Stadium.
Brett Gardner and Scott Sizemore had RBI singles off Travis Wood (0-2) in the nightcap, helping the Yankees win for the fifth time in six games and handing Chicago its fourth straight loss.
New York had not won by shutout twice in one day since April 9, 1987, against Kansas City, according to STATS, and no tea, in the major leagues had done it since Minnesota swept Oakland on June 26, 1988.
The Cubs had not been blanked twice on the same day since Larry Gibson and Ray Sadecki pitched complete games for St. Louis on June 27, 1962.
|Health and Wellness News
|Now a 'Pollen Vortex'? Wild Weather May Mean Allergy Nightmare
If the constant cold weren’t enough, a brutal winter has many speculating that the polar vortex will be replaced by a “pollen vortex,” leaving allergy sufferers sniffling and miserable.Alesia Kotek is ready for the worst.
|Achoo! 7 Ways to Fight Spring Allergies
Your nose is swollen and congested, your eyes itch and you feel exhausted: if you’ve had symptoms like these for more than seven days, chances are it’s not a cold virus -- it’s allergies.You can thank the pollen vortex.
|'This Thing Is Working,' Obama Touts ACA
President Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act while speaking at the White House.
|Uta's marathon training tip of the day: Focus on carbs, eat small amounts throughout day
Uta Pippig is a marathon legend, the first woman to win three consecutive Boston marathons. As TODAY'sNatalie Morales prepares to attempt her sixth marathon, and first run in Boston, on April 21, Pippig will be sharing her daily training tips with TODAY.com.
|Dog's Death Causes Woman to Go to Hospital
A Arizona woman so distraught over the loss of her dog had to be hospitalized for Broken Heart Syndrome. Rebecca Taylor reports.
|New York Times Homepage
|Staten Island Officers Will Soon Carry Heroin Antidote
All police officers in the borough, and emergency medical workers across New York City, will be equipped with naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose.
|Bits Blog: Facebook’s New Twist on Location Sharing Puts Users in Control
Nearby Friends, a feature announced Thursday, lets users broadcast their location to friends, but simple privacy controls give them the power to decide how much more to share.
|ArtsBeat: Remembering the Life and Work of Gabriel García Márquez
A look at The Times’s coverage of Gabriel García Márquez, who died on Thursday at 87.
|U.S. and Russia Agree on Pact to Defuse Ukraine Crisis
The foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, Ukraine and European Union reached an agreement in Geneva after more than five hours of talks.
|Obama Says Young Adults Push Health Care Enrollment Above Targets
President Obama announced on Thursday that 8 million people have enrolled for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and 28 percent of them are under the age of 35.
|Quote of the Day
"That friendship will not continue to the end which is begun for an end."
"All our sweetest hours fly fastest."
"Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own."
"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."
|How to of the Day
|How to Decorate Easter Eggs
Decorating Easter eggs is a fun activity that you can do with your kids. There are numerous ways to make the eggs colorful without sticking to a traditional kit. When working with art supplies, always work with hard boiled eggs. After ten minutes on the stove and some cooling down time, you're ready! Assemble your materials and let's get started.
|How to Cope with Loss and Pain
When you lose someone or something very precious to you, the grief can be intense. Pain, sad memories, and unanswered questions can haunt you. You may even feel that you'll never be the same - that you'll never laugh or be whole again. Take heart - though there is no way to grieve without pain, there are healthy ways to grieve which allow you to constructively move forward. Don't settle for a life drained of joy - work through your loss and, slowly but surely, you will get better.
|How to Draw the Easter Bunny
Every April the Easter Bunny comes hopping down the bunny trail. Kids love him because he hides Easter eggs in gardens and parks. Learn how to draw him by following this hippity-hoppity tutorial!
|How to Calculate the Volume of a Triangular Prism
In geometry, a triangular prism is a three-sided polyhedron with two parallel triangular bases and three rectangular faces. It should not be confused with a pyramid. If you want to calculate the volume of a triangular prism, all you have to do is find the area of one of the triangular bases and multiply it by the height of the shape.
|How to Plan Easter Games for a Children's Easter Party
If you're planning to hold an Easter party for children, it's important to have a few games to keep them entertained along with the usual Easter goodies like chocolate and sugar treats. There are a number of Easter-themed games you could include in your Easter children's party and this article has rounded up some really fun ones that are likely to be a big hit.
|Peace talks lack specifics
CNN's Reza Sayah reports on a six hour meeting by top diplomats to help resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
|Pro-Russians thwart army
The Ukrainian military's attempts to quell pro-Russian activists has failed. CNN's Phil Black reports.
|Abu Hamza: Terrorist or opinionated?
The trial of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical Islamic cleric accused of conspiring to kidnap Americans in Yemen and planning to establish a jihad training camp in rural Oregon, began Thursday in federal court in Manhattan.
|Salsa legend dies in car crash
Jose Luis "Cheo" Feliciano, a giant of salsa music and Puerto Rican legend, died in a car crash early Thursday morning in San Juan, police said. He was 78.
|Tearful captain apologizes
Captain could face charges for abandoning ship in South Korea ferry disaster. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.