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3 members of USA Gymnastics board of governors resign

Three members of the board of directors for USA Gymnastics resigned Monday as criticism increased over the organization’s handling of a sex-abuse scandal that involved former team doctor Larry Nassar, NBC News reported.

>> Read more trending news

Board Chairman Paul Parilla, Vice Chairman Jay Binder and Treasurer Bitsy Kelley announced they were resigning, a move that was supported by Kerry Perry, the organization’s president and CEO.

"We support their decisions to resign at this time," Perry said. “We believe this step will allow us to more effectively move forward in implementing change within our organization.

"As the board identifies its next chair and fills the vacant board positions, we remain focused on working every day to ensure that our culture, policies and actions reflect our commitment to those we serve.”

USA Gymnastics, based in Indianapolis, trains Olympians, including nearly 100 competitors who said that Nassar sexually assaulted them, NBC News reported. Monday was the fifth day in which victim impact statements were given in Nassar’s sentencing, the New York Post reported.

>> USA Gymnastics doctor sentenced to 60-year prison term

Nassar, who spent more than 20 years working at Michigan State University and as a physician for USA Gymnastics, has admitted to sexually assaulting gymnasts, ESPN reported. In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on charges of child pornography. 

Monday was the fifth day of victim impact statements in Nassar’s sentencing.

USA Gymnastics has been criticized by Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles and Jordyn Weiber -- all of whom allege Nassar molested them.

Shirtless flag-bearer from 2016 Olympics qualifies for 2018 Games

The flag-bearer from Tonga who walked shirtless in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics will need to pack some warm shirts for the South Korean games.

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Saying that “a miracle happened,” Pita Taufatofua qualified for the Pyeongchang Olympics in cross-country skiing Saturday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Taufatofua had failed in two previous attempts to qualify for the Winter Olympics, but on Saturday, he met the standards in five races to qualify, ESPN reported.

“I gave it absolutely everything,” he told the Journal. “I died at the end.”

Taufatofua qualified in taekwondo at the Rio de Janeiro Games, ESPN reported. He was eliminated in his first bout.

Jim Johannson, GM of USA Hockey, dead at 53

Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director of USA Hockey and general manager of the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team, died in his sleep Sunday morning, USA Hockey said in a statement. He was 53.

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USA Hockey said Johannson died at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said in the statement. “As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet. His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”

Johannson’s death comes a few weeks before the United States competes at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. The Games begin Feb. 9.

Johannson has been with USA Hockey since 2000. This season was going to be a challenge for the American team, as it would be competing without NHL players for the first time since 1994.

Johannson played college hockey at Wisconsin from 1982 to 1986 and led the Badgers to an NCAA title as a freshman. He played for the U.S. men’s hockey team in the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics.

This year’s U.S. hockey squad is coached by Tony Granato, who was Johannson’s teammate on the 1988 squad.

Michael Phelps reveals he considered suicide after 2012 Olympics

Swimmer Michael Phelps has revealed that after the 2012 Olympics, he considered suicide.

>> Michael Phelps and wife Nicole expecting second child

“Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” he told David Axelrod at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, an organization for mental health advocacy, according to CNN. Phelps revealed that after winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the 2012 Olympics, the depression got worse, and he couldn’t leave his room for days.

“I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore … I didn’t want to be alive anymore,” he said.

Eventually, Phelps decided he needed to seek help.

>> Read more trending news 

“I remember going to treatment my very first day. I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was coming up,” Phelps said. “I needed to figure out what was going on.”

After getting his life back on track, Phelps started the Michael Phelps Foundation, which works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He also has been open about his struggles with mental health and depression.

>> WATCH: Michael Phelps races great white shark ... sort of

“I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it, and I think this is the only way that it can change,” he said. “That’s the reason why suicide rates are going up; people are afraid to talk and open up.”

Phelps said that now, he is thankful to be alive. He is now married to his longtime love, Nicole Johnson, and has a son, Boomer, with another on the way, due later this year.

“I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life,” he said.

USA Gymnastics says it will not fine McKayla Maroney if she speaks out against team doctor

USA Gymnastics said Tuesday evening it will not fine gymnast McKayla Maroney if she speaks publicly about the alleged abuse by former team doctor Larry Nassar.

Maroney, who signed a nondisclosure agreement for $1.25 million with USA Gymnastics in in December 2016 in exchange for her silence, is currently suing USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University with the claim that the nondisclosure agreement she signed after claiming Nassar molested her was illegal. 

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Chrissy Teigen offers to pay McKayla Maroney's possible $100K fine to speak out about team doctor

USA Gymnastics said in a statement it has not and will not seek retribution if Maroney speaks about alleged abuse by Nassar during his four-day sentencing.

As of Wednesday morning, Maroney was not expected to speak at Nassar’s sentencing.

"USA Gymnastics has not sought and will not seek any money from McKayla Maroney for her brave statements made in describing her victimization and abuse by Larry Nassar, nor for any victim impact statements she wants to make to Larry Nassar at this hearing or at any subsequent hearings related to his sentencing,” the statement to USA TODAY read. “This has been her right and USA Gymnastics encourages McKayla and anyone who has been abused to speak out. USA Gymnastics remains focused on our highest priority — the safety, health and well-being of our athletes and creating a culture that empowers and supports them."

In response to reports Tuesday that USA Gymnastics could fine Maroney up to $100,000 if she spoke out against Nassar at his sentencing like nearly 100 other alleged victims, model Chrissy Teigen offered to pay the fine.

>> Read more trending news 

“The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla,” Teigen wrote.

After Nassar pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct in November, his sentencing on seven sexual assault charges began Tuesday. 

The former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor is currently serving a 60-year sentence in federal prison on child pornography charges.

Chrissy Teigen offers to pay McKayla Maroney's possible $100K fine to speak out about team doctor

One after one, gymnasts and other victims of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, 54, stepped forward in a Michigan courtroom Tuesday to recount the sexual abuse and emotional trauma they say he inflicted on them as children.

U.S. Olympians Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas are among the many women to accuse Nassar of abuse.

>> Read more trending news 

Nearly 100 victims are expected to address the court during the four-day sentencing hearing. 

However, former gold medalist McKayla Maroney may not speak out.

In December 2016, Maroney signed a confidential settlement with the group that trains U.S. Olympic gymnasts to keep allegations that she was sexually abused by Nassar a secret.

The settlement included nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses and Maroney or her parents could be sued for more than $100,000 for violating the agreement. The suit seeks to invalidate those provisions under a California law that prohibits settlements in civil cases that could result in criminal sex offense charges.

Chrissy Teigen, who is from Snohomish, Washington, is offering to pay Maroney's possible fine so Maroney can speak out against Nassar. 

On Tuesday, Teigen tweeted the following about the fine:

"The entire principle of this should be fought – an NDA to stay quiet about this serial monster with over 140 accusers, but I would be absolutely honored to pay this fine for you, McKayla."

Maroney said Nassar's abuse started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

At least 4 Olympians won’t accept invitation to White House

Controversy has hit the Winter Olympics before the torch has been lit in South Korea, as four U.S. Olympians — plus one “furious” ice skater who didn’t end up making the cut — preempted a White House invite from President Donald Trump by turning it down.

>> Read more trending news

Skiers Gus Kenworthy and Lindsey Vonn, and figure skaters Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon have all said publicly that they will not accept a White House invite from the president in the event that they receive one.

Figure skater Ashley Wagner said the same, but she didn’t make Team USA.

Kenworthy and Rippon, who are both openly gay, said that they do not support Trump’s policies and do not want to appear that they do by visiting the White House.

“I am very proud to represent the U.S. but I don’t stand by Trump and his cabinet and their policies,” Kenworthy said. ”I do not want to feign approval for policies that are in place and things that are being pushed at the moment, by going. If I was invited I would decline my spot.”

Rippon said that he felt it is his “duty” not to go.

“Athletes are given a really special platform. It’s our duty, as athletes, to be role models. I won’t go to the White House,” Rippon told the BBC. “I won’t go because I don’t think somebody like me would be welcome there. I know what it’s like to go into a room and feel like you’re not wanted there.”

USA Today reported that Nathan Chen and Ashley Wagner would also decline an invite. In Wagner’s case, it is moot since she did not qualify for Team USA.

Wagner notably missed out on an Olympic appearance, said that she was “furious” about the decision-making by the judges and that she believed that she wasn’t treated fairly.

“I’m furious. I am absolutely furious. I know when I go and I lay it down, and I absolutely left one jump on the table. But for me to put out two programs that I did at this competition, as solid as I skated, and to get those scores, I am furious, and I think deservedly so,” she said. “I am absolutely OK with [judges] being strict on my [jump] rotations […] but you know it needs to be across the board. I don’t necessarily feel like it’s been that way at this event, so we’ll see how things pan out.”

The U.S. Figure Skating selection committee responded that the judges “absolutely made the right call.”

Wagner later changed her tune.

Lindsey Vonn said as early as the beginning of December that she hoped to “represent the people of the United States, not the president.”

When asked if she would accept an invite she replied “Absolutely not.”

Simone Biles latest gymnast to claim team doctor sexually abused her

Simone Biles, who won four gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics, went on social media Monday and became the latest gymnast to claim that former team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused her.

>> Read more trending news

“I am one of the many survivors who was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” Biles, 20, wrote on Twitter. “Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak these words out loud than it is now to put them on paper.”

Nassar, who spent more than 20 years working at Michigan State University and as a physician for USA Gymnastics, has admitted to sexually assaulting gymnasts, ESPN reported. 

In December, Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on charges of child pornography. He will be sentenced Tuesday for 10 state counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, ESPN reported. Nassar, 54, pleaded guilty to those charges in November.

Nassar has been accused by more than 140 women and girls of sexual misconduct. That includes Olympic gymnasts Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney and Aly Raisman, CNN reported.

“For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive?’ ‘Was it my fault?’ I now know the answers to those questions,” Biles tweeted. “No. No, it was not my fault.

“No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG (USA Gymnastics), and others .”

In her tweet, Biles also called Nassar’s behavior “completely unacceptable, disgusting and abusive.”

Raisman offered her support to Biles in a tweet. Raisman accused Nassar of sexual abuse in November.

“I stand with you,” Raisman tweeted.

Tonya Harding's mother speaks out about abuse claims

Figure skater Tonya Harding’s mother LaVona “Sandy” Golden slammed her daughter in a new interview on the two-hour special “Truth and Lies: The Tonya Harding Story,” which aired Thursday night on ABC News.

>> Click here to watch

In the rare interview, Golden accused her daughter of lying about being abused as a child, which is depicted in the new biopic, “I, Tonya.”

“I didn’t abuse any of my children,” Golden said. “Spanked? Yes, spanked. Absolutely, positively, you got to show them right from wrong.”

>> Read more trending news 

Harding alleged that her mother once “dragged me into the bathroom and beat me with a hairbrush, literally” and regularly abused her, but Golden denied the allegations, saying, “I spanked her once with a hairbrush at a competition. She wouldn’t know what a beating was.”

Golden continued, “She’s lied so much she doesn’t know what isn’t a lie anymore.”

The figure skater previously claimed that her mother would drink a thermos of coffee and brandy every day when she would drive her daughter to school.

>> On Rare.us: 23 years later, Tonya Harding speaks out about the attack on Nancy Kerrigan at the Winter Olympics

“I would have coffee, and sometimes I would put brandy flavoring in it. I love brandy flavoring. You can’t get drunk on flavoring. Sorry to disappoint you,” Golden said.

Golden also denied claims that Harding made about growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in a trailer.

“We were never trailer trash,” Golden said. “We had a beautiful new trailer. We didn’t live in filth or dirt or anything that I would call unusual.”

Harding said in the interview that she does not want anything to do with Golden, and she wants her mother to stay away from her 6-year-old son, Gordon.

“I don’t want her anywhere near me. I don’t want her anywhere near my son,” Harding said. “She wants forgiveness. She wants to see me. She wants to make amends. She wants to meet and be part of the family. Hell no.”

(H/T PEOPLE)

Legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson dead at 89

Keith Jackson, whose Southern drawl and homespun, folksy phrases endeared him to college football fans for more than half a century, died Friday night, ESPN reported. He was 89.

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Jackson died surrounded by his family, according to NBC Sports' Todd Harris.

Born in Roopville, Georgia, on Oct. 18, 1928, Jackson was also the first play-by-play broadcaster for “Monday Night Football” when it debuted in 1970 and covered a wide range of sports. He was known for his signature phrase “Whoa, Nellie!” after a big play. Jackson said the origin of the phrase came from his great-grandfather. He also coined the phrase “Big Uglies,” and christened Michigan’s football stadium “The Big House,” ESPN reported.

Jackson called 15 Rose Bowl games and was credited with calling the New Year’s Day game “The granddaddy of them all,” The New York Daily News reported. The final game he broadcast from Pasadena was the 2006 game in which Texas rallied to defeat USC for the national title.

Jackson was named national sportscaster of the year five times, the Daily News reported.

Jackson spent four years in the Marines and later graduated with a journalism degree from Washington State University, where he broadcast the team’s games.

He joined ABC’s college football announcing team in 1966, but also called NBA games, auto racing and was a staple on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” He also announced World Series games, 10 Olympics and traveled to 31 countries, ESPN reported.

Jackson also had fun playing off his signature phrase, as this commercial for Miller Lite demonstrates:

Tributes to Jackson rolled in on Twitter:

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