YEAR END AWARDS
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles has been named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year.
In a vote by U.S. editors and news directors, Biles received 31 votes out of a possible 59 votes. U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky, who won four golds and a silver in Rio, finished second with 20 votes. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon for the seventh time to tie Steffi Graf's record of 22 Grand Slam titles, and three-time AP women's NCAA basketball Player of the Year Breanna Stewart tied for third with four votes each.
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Biles became the fifth gymnast to win the honor, joining Olga Korbut in 1972, Nadia Comaneci in 1976, Mary Lou Retton in 1984 and Gabby Douglas in 2012. It's company Biles joined while completing a run of dominance that included three straight all-around World Championships, an unprecedented run at the top in a sport where peaks are often measured in months, not years.
The teenager from Spring, Texas, hardly seemed burdened by the outsized expectations. If anything, she embraced them. She opted out of a verbal commitment to compete collegiately at UCLA to turn professional so she could cash in on the lucrative opportunities afforded an Olympic champion, a bit of a gamble considering the window is so narrow and directly tied to success at the Games.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer says he doesn't believe his defensive backs made their own plan for covering Green Bay wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Xavier Rhodes repeatedly called the conflict a ''miscommunication.'' Terence Newman said it was a non-issue.
Post-game commentary on Saturday by Rhodes suggested players defied Zimmer's orders to put the Pro Bowl cornerback on Nelson, rather than keep Rhodes and Newman in their places regardless of the formation shown by the Packers.
The stunning admission after the 38-25 loss by the Vikings served as a snapshot of Minnesota's spoiled season and became a national headline. Two days later, the Vikings tried to thoroughly dismantle any controversy or tension.
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - A series of human errors caused an airliner to run out of fuel and crash in Colombia last month, killing 71 people including most of a Brazilian soccer team, aviation authorities said.
Colombia's Civil Aeronautics agency concluded in its investigation that the plan for the flight operated by Bolivia-based charter company LaMia did not meet international standards. Among the errors made were the decisions to let the plane take off without enough fuel to make the flight safely and then to not stop midway to refuel. The pilot also did not report the plane's emergency until it was too late, it said.
Neither the company nor Bolivian authorities should have allowed the plane to take off with the flight plan submitted, said Freddy Bonilla, air safety secretary for Colombia's aviation authority. He said the agency's preliminary conclusions were based on the plane's black boxes and other evidence.
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Mike Sullivan's arrival in Pittsburgh last season provided the spark that turned the Penguins' listless season around.
The franchise rewarded its fiery head coach with a three-year contract extension that will keep Sullivan with the team through 2019-20.
The 48-year-old Sullivan took over for Mike Johnson last December and guided the team on a spirited run that finished with the Penguins earning their fourth Stanley Cup. Sullivan is 55-24-10 with Pittsburgh, the second-best point total in the NHL over that span.
General manager Jim Rutherford said Sullivan ''did the best coaching job in the NHL last season.'' Sullivan has kept the momentum going. The Penguins, who play in New Jersey on Tuesday, are currently second in the Metropolitan Division, one point behind Columbus.
STORRS, Conn. (AP) - UConn fired football coach Bob Diaco after his third losing season, choosing to cut ties rather than allow Diaco to rebuild a struggling offense.
Diaco will be relieved of his duties effective Jan. 2, university officials said.
The move was surprising in its timing a month after the Huskies season ended but it made financial sense for the university. The buyout on Diaco's contract drops from $5 million to $3.4 million after Jan. 1.
''I believe a new leader for our program and student-athletes is needed to build long-term success,'' athletic director David Benedict said.
Diaco said he hoped things would have played out differently but that he'll continue to root for UConn to succeed.