Denny Hamlin has partnered with NBA legend and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan to form a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR's top level.

"Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners," Jordan said in his statement. "The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more."

Jordan becomes the first Black majority owner of a full-time Cup team since Hall of Famer Wendell Scott drove his own race car in 495 races from 1961 to 1973. Scott's 1964 victory at the Jacksonville 200 is the only win by a Black driver in Cup history. He joins former NBA player Brad Daugherty, a partner at JTG Daugherty Racing, as the only Black owners at NASCAR's elite Cup level.

Wallace is the only Black driver at NASCAR's top level and this season used his platform to push for racial equality. The 27-year-old successfully urged NASCAR to ban the display of the Confederate flag at its events and has exploded into a national spokesperson.

"This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career," Wallace said.

Minnesota Scene

Whalen lands recruit

Gophers women's basketball coach Lindsay Whalen and her staff picked up a new recruit with the commitment of power forward Alanna Micheaux from Wayne (Mich.) Memorial High School.

Voted to the Division 1 all-state team last spring, the 6-2 Micheaux averaged 26.1 points and 13.5 rebounds for the Zebras, who went 19-5. Micheaux announced her decision on Instagram and Twitter on Monday night. Micheaux, who will fill a big need on the Gophers roster, had at least 38 other Division 1 offers, including from Colorado, Purdue and Syracuse. Micheaux becomes the third player to commit to the Gophers' 2021 class after Roseau guard Katie Borowicz and Watertown guard Maggie Czinano.

Kent Youngblood

College football

Deion Sanders to coach

Deion Sanders wiped away tears of joy Monday as he was introduced as Jackson State's new coach.

"We're going to win," the Hall of Famer said. "We're going to look good while we win, and we're going to have a good time while we win."

Jackson State will be his first head coaching job.

College Basketball

Louisville fires back

Louisville refuted NCAA allegations against its men's basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified to a second-tier violation.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

The allegations involve a former Adidas executive who steered players toward Louisville; Louisville contends he committed fraud.

Tennis

Djokovic is champion

Fifteen days after he was defaulted from the U.S. Open, Novak Djokovic celebrated a title in the Italian Open in Rome.

Djokovic beat Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3, reasserting his dominance before the French Open starts in six days.

Djokovic improved to 31-1 this year.

Halep wins in walkover

Top-seeded Simona Halep won the women's Italian Open when 2019 champion Karolina Pliskova retired midway through the final with a left thigh injury.

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