Olympics

North and South Korean hockey players team up

• Female hockey players from the rival Koreas were paired up with each other Thursday to form their first-ever Olympic squad during next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Games, as their countries press ahead with rare reconciliation steps following a period of nuclear tensions. A dozen North Korean hockey players crossed the heavily fortified border into South Korea earlier Thursday, as about 30-40 conservative activists shouted anti-Pyongyang slogans at a nearby border area.

• Russia announced a 169-strong team for the Winter Olympics, without many of the country’s top athletes. The team has been depleted by 46 bans for doping at the 2014 Games in Sochi, as well as the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to issue invitations for dozens more athletes, citing new evidence of alleged drug use.

College SPORTS

USC fires assistant coach in wake of bribery case

• Southern California has fired associate head coach Tony Bland in the wake of his arrest in the college basketball bribery and corruption case. A school spokesman confirmed Bland’s firing on Thursday, but offered no other details. He had been on administrative leave since his arrest in September. He was on USC’s staff for 4½ years.

• Alabama hired Karl Scott as secondary coach and Josh Gattis to work with wide receivers. Coach Nick Saban announced the hirings. Scott was hired as Louisiana-Lafayette’s defensive coordinator in late December after spending the last two seasons as the secondary coach at Texas Tech. Gattis spent the past four seasons at Penn State, working as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator along with leading the offensive recruiting efforts.

• Washington State linebacker Peyton Pelluer was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Pelluer started the first three games of last season but missed the final 10 with a foot injury.

Other SPORTS

Serena Williams returning to tournament action

• Serena Williams is returning to tournament play for the first time since giving birth in September. Williams was among the entries released for the BNP Paribas Open, which runs March 5-18 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California. It will be the two-time champion’s first tournament in 14 months, since winning the 2017 Australian Open.

• Lazio was fined 50,000 euros ($63,000) by the Italian soccer federation on Thursday because of the anti-Semitism displayed by the team’s fans. After a victory over Cagliari on Oct. 22, Lazio fans littered the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with images of Anne Frank — the young diarist who died in the Holocaust — wearing a jersey of city rival Roma.

— ABJ/Ohio.com wires