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Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images(SEATTLE) — The Seattle Mariners relieved Jack Zduriencik of his general manager duties Friday.

The decision was likely prompted by the Mariners failure to see a playoff game in the seven years since Zduriencik took the general manager post, reports MLB.com.

Kevin Mather, the Mariners’ team president, will look at candidates to replace Zduriencik over the next month with hopes to find a new team manager by early October.  

In the meantime, the current assistant manager Jeff Kingston will fill in as interim GM to complete the season, MLB.com reports.

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Michael Hickey/Getty Images(URBANA, Ill.) -- Illinois' coach is out only a week before the season begins.

Head football coach Tim Beckman has been dismissed by the University of Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas, according to a statement on Friday.

The decision came out of an external review and one week before the season began. The review looked into allegations that Beckman had encouraged players to play hurt or influenced medical decisions.

"The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I've chosen to act accordingly," Thomas said in the statement. "During the review, we have asked people not to rush to judgment, but I now have enough information to make this decision in assessing the status and direction of the football program."

Bill Cubit will be the interim coach for the 2015 season, said the statement.

According to the statement, Beckman won't get the $3.1 million left from the last two years of his original five-year contract. The statement also said he won't get the $743,000 called for if his contract had been bought out.

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Derrick Rose has responded to a civil suit filed against him.

Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose released a brief personal statement to USA TODAY on Thursday, commenting on the lawsuit filed against him for sexual misconduct.

“I am just focusing on staying healthy and getting ready for the season,” Rose said in the statement. “I am not going to comment other than to say – I know the truth, and am confident I will be proven innocent.”

The plaintiff in the civil suit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court accuses Rose of drugging and gang raping her two years ago after breaking into her apartment.

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Jim McIsaac/Getty Images(SARASOTA, Fla.) -- Hockey icon Al Arbour has died.

Al Arbour has died at the age of 82 after a lifetime career in hockey where he served as a player, coach, and as an executive.

He is perhaps most remembered as a coach for the New York Islanders, leading the team to four consecutive Stanley Cup wins from 1980-1983.

“Al will always be remembered as one of, if not the, greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League,” Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said in a statement. “The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al’s incredible efforts. From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Arbour family.”

In NHL history, Arbour is second in wins and games coached behind Scotty Bowman. He was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.

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Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- The lives of champion UFC fighter Ronda Rousey and speech pathologist and mom Laura Smith might seem worlds apart, but the two women share a unique connection.

Smith and her 5-year-old daughter, Ashlynn, met Rousey, 28, this spring at a book signing in Denver for Rousey's autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight.

Smith told ABC News she was on a mission to meet Rousey in order to find out if the speech disorder she had as a child was the same condition that her daughter, Ashlynn, has.

“I read probably everything she’s ever said about her speech impediment and the more I read I was like, ‘That was apraxia. This is apraxia,’” Smith recalled.

Childhood apraxia of speech is a motor speech disorder where the brain has problems coordinating with the body parts -- like lips, jaw and tongue -- needed for speech, according to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

“At first I was tested for deafness,” Rousey said of her own childhood struggle. “They thought maybe my pronunciation was off because I was hearing things differently.”

“But it was really I had all these words perfectly arranged in my head, it’s just when they tried to come out of my mouth they sounded different,” she said. “It was kind of like there was a divide between my brain and my mouth.”

Because apraxia was not a common diagnosis when Rousey was a child, no one suspected it was what was behind the fighter’s speech problems. That is, until Smith gave Rousey a brochure on apraxia at the book signing.

“I threw the brochure and the bodyguards came in immediately to get it,” Smith said. “She [Rousey] picked it up and I was like, ‘If you did have it, would you say it in your interviews because it would mean so much for our kids.’”

Rousey says the information in the brochure struck her instantly.

“I actually ended up reading through the whole thing that night and was like, ‘Oh my God, this is all exactly it. This is exactly what it was,’” Rousey said. “I didn’t know it was actually apraxia until that moment.”

“She really taught me a lot about myself that day and I can’t thank her enough for it,” Rousey said of Smith.

To thank Smith and her daughter, Rousey sent a special message, doing exactly what Smith asked her to do at the book signing, talking about apraxia.

“Hi Laura and Ashlynn,” Rousey said in the taped message. “I just wanted to say I’m so happy to hear everything that you’re doing to raise awareness of apraxia.”

“You definitely raised awareness in me and I just wish you all the best,” she said. “I know our paths will cross again someday at some point so I can’t wait to see you again.”

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With the Chase approaching, the Sprint Cup Series drivers have the weekend off.

They return to action Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, in the Bojangles' Southern 500. It's the second-to-last event before the Chase begins.

You can still get your NASCAR fix this weekend with the XFINITY Series' Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville, held at Road America in Wisconsin. It airs Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Network.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- AMERICAN LEAGUE
L.A. Angels 2, Detroit 0
Texas 4, Toronto 1
Kansas City 5, Baltimore 3
Tampa Bay 5, Minnesota 4
Chicago White Sox 4, Seattle 2

NATIONAL LEAGUE

L.A. Dodgers 1, Cincinnati 0
San Francisco 9, Chicago Cubs 1
Washington 4, San Diego 2
Pittsburgh 2, Miami 1
N.Y. Mets 9, Philadelphia 5, 13 Innings
St. Louis 5, Arizona 3

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Bob Levey/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Texans back-up quarterback Ryan Mallett missed practice on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, the Houston Chronicle reported Mallett had overslept through Thursday's practice, but according to ESPN, later, Texans Coach Bill O'Brien said the absence was because of a "personal issue."

"It's between Ryan and I," O'Brien said. "It's a personal issue."

On Monday, Brian Hoyer was chosen as the Texans starting quarterback after a small competition. He started the preseason opener with Mallett starting the second game of the preseason.

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Don Juan Moore/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) -- Martavis Bryant is already off to a rough pre-season start.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is appealing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy by using marijuana, according to ESPN.

ESPN reports Bryant is hoping to hear about his appeal in the next week or more.

Earlier this summer during training camp, Bryant suffered from an elbow infection and missed practice to undergo a minor procedure.

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Manny Carabel/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Legendary basketball player Darryl Dawkins, known as "Chocolate Thunder" for his ferocious slam dunks, died on Thursday at the age of 58.

ESPN reports that a statement from Dawkins' family cited a heart attack as the cause of his death.

Dawkins played 14 years in the National Basketball Association, including seven with the Philadelphia 76ers and five more with the New Jersey Nets. Posting 12 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, Dawkins was a steady player known for being dangerous around the rim. His 57.2-percent field goal percentage is among the 10 best in NBA history.

"The NBA family is heartbroken by the sudden and tragic passing of Darryl Dawkins," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "We will always remember Darryl for his incredible talent, his infectious enthusiasm and his boundless generosity."

 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the passing of Darryl Dawkins pic.twitter.com/lwWXmoDoOR

— NBA (@NBA) August 27, 2015



Dawkins, drafted fifth overall by the 76ers in 1975, was the first player to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft directly out of high school.

 

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