HARTFORD, Conn. — The U.S. Justice Department is getting involved in a federal civil rights lawsuit that seeks to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from competing as girls in interscholastic sports.

Attorney General William Barr signed what is known as a statement of interest Tuesday, arguing against the policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the board that oversees the state’s high school athletic competitions.

The conference allows athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify, arguing it is following a state law that requires high school students be treated according to their gender identity. It also argues the policy is in accordance with Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities, including in athletics.

The Justice Department, in its filing, disagrees.

“Under CIAC’s interpretation of Title IX, however, schools may not account for the real physiological differences between men and women. Instead, schools must have certain biological males — namely, those who publicly identify as female — compete against biological females,” Barr and the other department officials write. “In so doing, CIAC deprives those women of the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”

FOOTBALL

WSU safety dies

PULLMAN, Wash. — A Washington State football player was found dead in his apartment by an officer who responded to a call for help involving “breathing problems,’’ Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said Wednesday.

Jenkins said there were no signs of foul play and that the Whitman County coroner will determine the cause of death for 22-year-old Bryce Beekman, the senior defensive back who was found Tuesday afternoon. Beekman started all 13 games last season for Washington State after transferring from Arizona Western College.

CORONAVIRUS

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns says his mother is hospitalized and in a medically-induced coma after contracting the new coronavirus.

Towns talked about the condition of his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, early Wednesday on his Instagram page and urged his followers to take COVID-19 seriously and practice social distancing.

Towns said both his parents went to the hospital recently and were tested for the disease. While his father was released and told to quarantine at home, his mother’s condition deteriorated to the point where she was put on a ventilator and placed in a coma.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Former Texas A&M basketball player David Edwards, whose single-season school record for assists has stood for more than 25 years, has died in his home state of New York. He was 48.

The school said in a news release that Edwards died Monday. Former teammate Charles Henderson posted on social media that Edwards died of complications from the new coronavirus. The Associated Press couldn’t independently confirm Henderson’s account.

BASKETBALL

Toppin going to NBA

Dayton’s Obi Toppin is headed to the NBA after leading the Flyers to a 29-2 record and No. 3 ranking as a redshirt sophomore.

Toppin tweeted his decision Wednesday, a day after he was honored as The Associated Press’ men’s college basketball player of the year. The Flyers’ Anthony Grant was voted coach of the year.

USC’s Okongwu declares for NBA draft

LOS ANGELES — Southern California forward Onyeka Okongwu has declared for the NBA draft after one season.

He averaged 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks for the Trojans. Okongwu broke the school record for blocks by a freshman and was named to the Pac-12’s All-Conference first team and All-Freshman team.

ROCK HILL, S.C. — Winthrop University in South Carolina said women’s basketball coach Lynette Woodard will not return for another season. Woodard led the team to a 24-70 overall record in three years and 16-43 in the Big South Conference.

Woodard is a 2005 inductee to the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. In college, she scored 3,649 points at Kansas University and was the all-time women’s Division 1 scoring leader when she left school. She later won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and then became the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters’ basketball team.

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State guard Cariter Diarra is leaving the program with the intention of turning professional, though he is leaving open the option of transferring to another school for his senior season.

Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said in a statement Thursday that his leading primary ball-handler and second-leading scorer will graduate this spring.