Today in sports: MLB's bid to take over the Dodgers hits a snag following the McCourt divorce settlement, safety concerns preceded the IndyCar crash that killed driver Dan Wheldon, and the NFL wants to launch a venture capital fund.
- Frank and Jamie McCourt have reportedly agreed in principle to a divorce settlement, ending one of the most expensive divorces in the history of California and bolstering his chances of retaining control of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Jamie would receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $130 million in exchange for relinquishing any ownership claim to the team. With a settlement in place, the bankruptcy court hearing later this month on whether McCourt can auction the team's TV rights is now effectively "a winner-take-all court showdown" between Major League Baseball and Frank McCourt over the club, says the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. Without a divorce deal, notes Shaikin, Frank McCourt would have had to beat MLB in bankruptcy court and then also "defeat his ex-wife in divorce court on the issue of whether the Dodgers were community property" to hold on to the team. [The Los Angeles Times]
- Two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon died yesterday following a 15-car pileup at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. On The Early Show this morning, Sports Illustrated IndyCar reporter Bruce Martin said observers and drivers voiced safety concerns before the start of the race. "Everybody kind of expected that there was going to be at least one or two really big crashes," said Martin. According to Martin, the 34-car field "was far too big for a mile-and-a-half track," where a typical full field is between 26 and 28 cars. [CBS]
- There's no shortage of theories about what caused Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz to chase San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh into the tunnel after their postgame handshake yesterday. Schwartz is blaming Harabugh for snubbing his hand shake and swearing at him, while Harbaugh suggested Schwartz was rattled by the strength of his grip. Looking at the footage of the incident, the truth looks to be somewhere in-between, with Harbaugh appearing to go in for a chest bump and in the process knocking away Schwartz's extended hand. Detroit News Lions beat reporter Chris McCosky says the tension between the two coaches dates back to the league's annual meeting in March when Schwartz supposedly told Harbaugh, who coached at Stanford last year, he'd have no chance of catching up if the then-pending lockout cancelled offseason workouts. According to McCosky, Harbaugh was "pissed" about the exchange. Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, is already blaming the kerfuffle on "leftist culture" run amok. [The New York Times]
- The NFL is poised to be the first American pro sports league with its own venture capital fund. Owners were briefed on the program at their annual meeting in Houston last week, with a vote possibly coming in December. Each owner would personally contribute more than $1 million of their own personal money to the fund, which would be invested at the discretion of the league in "startup media, technology and entertainment businesses that tie into football." Unlike bigger venture capital firms which buy new companies outright, the league would be looking more towards making angel investments in developing companies. A league source cites ESPN and Twitter as two brands the league believes it has indirectly had a hand in developing. [Sports Business Journal]
- New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton tore his meniscus and fractured his left tibia after Saints tight end crashed into him during yesterday's game against the Buccaneers. Payton was carted off the field and coached the rest of the game from the press box, and team orthopedist Deryk Jones confirmed he performed surgery on the coach this morning. Payton's already said he'll coach next Sunday's game from the press box and there's a chance he could remain up there for the rest of the season. Jones says he won't be able to put weight on the leg for eight weeks and a full recovery could take as long as six months. [ESPN]