Veteran Vinovich

heads SB officials

NEW YORK — Veteran referee Bill Vinovich will head the crew for the Super Bowl in Miami.

Vinovich is in his 15th season as an NFL official. He previously worked the 2015 game between New England and Seattle.

It’s been a difficult season for NFL officials and the league went with one of its most experienced referees. Down judge Kent Payne and side judge Boris Cheek will be handling their third Super Bowl each.

Also on the crew will be umpire Barry Anderson, line judge Carl Johnson, field judge Michael Banks, back judge Greg Steed and replay official Mike Chase. It will be the first Super Bowl assignments for Anderson and Chase. Johnson has done two, as have Steed and Banks.


Clemson’s top receiver

to enter NFL draft

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s leader in receiving yards and touchdowns, Tee Higgins, is forgoing his final college season to enter the NFL draft.

Higgins announced his decision Wednesday on social media.

Higgins is 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He had 1,167 yards on 59 catches with 13 touchdowns as the Tigers (14-1) won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

The Tigers’ 29-game winning streak came to end Monday night with a 42-25 loss to LSU in the national championship game.

Higgins had a career-record 27 touchdown catches in three seasons with the Tigers.

Higgins thanked his family, his coaches, teammates and Clemson fans for their support. He said it has always been his dream to play in the NFL and support his family.

“Because of Clemson, I now have the opportunity to do that” by moving on to the NFL, he said.

Higgins is projected as a late first-round pick in next spring’s NFL draft.


Women to be part

of All-Star Weekend

NEW YORK — Twenty of the top women’s hockey players in the world will take part in a 3-on-3 game at a new-look NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis next week.

National team players from the U.S. and Canada will be split into two 10-player teams and compete in a 20-minute 3-on-3 scrimmage during the skills competition. This marks an expanded role for women at the All-Star game, and comes a year after American Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman to take part in skills competition event.

Filling in for injured Colorado forward Nathan MacKinnon, Coyne Schofield created a buzz in San Jose by finishing seventh out of eight competitors with a blazing time.

The women’s team rosters, coaches and referees will be unveiled later Wednesday.

The NHL is also adding a new event, called “Shooting Stars,” in which eight NHL players and two of the female players will shoot pucks from the stands at targets on the ice. The women, one representing each nation, will be selected through a vote on social media.

The skills competition will feature four other events limited to NHL players: fastest skater, save streak, shooting accuracy and hardest shot.

St. Louis is hosting All-Star Weekend Jan. 24-25. The skills competition is set for Jan. 24 and the 3-on-3 tournament among NHL All-Stars is Jan. 25.

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