Four Notre Dame football players expelled
SOUTH BEND, Ind., May 6 (UPI) -- According to a report in the South Bend Tribune, the four football players recently accused of rape by a campus coed have been expelled from Notre Dame University for misconduct.
The expulsions, coming in the wake of a disciplinary hearing held on April 25, affect Donald Dykes, 22, a senior from Hammond, La., who had been scheduled to graduate in two weeks; Lorenzo Crawford, 19, a sophomore from Prospect Park, N.J.; Abram Elam, 20, a sophomore from Riviera Beach, Fla.; and Justin Smith, 22, a fifth-year student from St. Petersburg, Fla., who already has graduated and was taking graduate courses. His eligibility expired at the end of last season.
Smith had been a backup safety last year, and the other three were expected to play prominent roles next fall for new Coach Tyrone Willingham. Dykes and Elam were safeties, and Crawford was a wide receiver.
The Tribune report said according to an attorney for one of the four, the men were told last Thursday they had been expelled by the school and have until Tuesday to appeal. The attorneys for all four say appeals will be filed.
The 20-year-old accuser claims she was raped on March 28 at a house near a bar where she ran into the four. Apparently, they were all acquainted.
She claimed she went to the house after being told there was a party there. She said she discovered when she got there that there was no party. The Tribune report said the woman waited five days to seek treatment at a local hospital and nine days to contact police.
Also, the paper reported police have taken DNA samples from each of the four suspects, and a source close to the investigation said police collected a sheet stained with the female student's blood from the trunk of Smith's car.
The information gathered by police is being studied by the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office. Prosecutor Chris Toth said he expects to decide by May 15 whether the case merits criminal charges.
Mavs try to draw even with Kings
SACRAMENTO, May 6 (UPI) -- The Dallas Mavericks seek to even up with the Sacramento Kings Monday night in Game Two of an NBA semifinal Western Conference playoff series matching the NBA's highest-scoring teams.
The Mavericks averaged nearly 113 points per game in sweeping Minnesota in the first round but were held to 39 percent shooting in Saturday's 108-91 loss to the Kings.
"That wasn't us," said Mavericks guard Nick Van Exel. "You'll see us on Monday night."
Determined to play at a breakneck pace, the Mavs exhibited poor shot selection and were just 6-of-23 from three-point range.
Dallas must make adjustments to contain Chris Webber and Vlade Divac, who dominated the low post in the series opener for the top-seeded Kings.
Webber overcame early foul trouble to collect 20 points and 10 rebounds. He scored 13 points in the third quarter, when the Kings broke the game open. Divac controlled the paint on both ends, totaling 18 points and 16 rebounds as he exploited the Mavericks' soft interior defense.
The inside play spread the court and allowed Sacramento sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic to score 26 points.
The Kings scored 64 points in the paint and also controlled the backboards, holding a 53-43 advantage.
The Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, who averaged 33.3 points per contest in the sweep of Minnesota, was held to 23 on 8-of-24 shooting in Game One.
"I think they know they didn't see our best effort," said Mavericks point guard Steve Nash.
The series shifts to Dallas for Games Three and Four Thursday and Saturday.
NHL Battle of Ontario continues
OTTAWA, May 6 (UPI) -- After a disappointing marathon loss on the road, the Ottawa Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night for Game Three of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Corel Centre.
The "Battle of Ontario" is tied at a game apiece after Toronto posted a 3-2 triple-overtime win on Saturday. The Senators stole home-ice advantage with a 5-0 rout in the opener.
"We won one on the road, two would have been a bonus," said Senators goaltender Patrick Lalime, who turned aside 39 shots in the defeat. "Of course we're disappointed, but you have to look at the positives. Ottawa bounced back from an overtime setback in its previous playoff round.
The Senators reeled off four straight wins after dropping Game One of their quarterfinal battle with the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0 in overtime. Gary Roberts scored 4 1/2 minutes into the third overtime Saturday to end the third-longest game in the Maple Leafs' storied history.
The Maple Leafs were outscored, 15-7, in losing all three road games against the New
York Islanders in the quarterfinals, but they have won the last three playoff games at the Corel Centre and seven of their eight road meetings with the Senators in the postseason, including four straight when going into overtime. Toronto has played without many of its regulars during the playoffs, including captain Mats Sundin, and might be without veteran defenseman Jyrki Lumme, who missed four games late in the regular season with a shoulder ailment. He suffered an injury to his upper body Saturday when he was checked hard into the boards by Ottawa's Chris Neil in the first period. The Maple Leafs played with five defensemen for the rest of the game.
Game Four is also in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, at San Jose, the Sharks host Colorado in Game Three of their Western Conference semifinal.
The Avalanche bounced back nicely on Saturday with an 8-2 rout after losing the series opener, 6-3.
Colorado improved to 7-0 in games after goalie Patrick Roy has surrendered at least five goals, outscoring opponents, 39-7.
Including the 1999 playoffs, the Avalanche are 14-5 in San Jose.
Game Four also is in San Jose on Wednesday.
Chargers give ex-con Vanover a chance
SAN DIEGO, May 6 (UPI) -- The San Diego Chargers Monday added a talented, if not troubled, return specialist to their arsenal when they signed veteran wide receiver Tamarick Vanover to a one-year contract. It is believed he signed for the one-year minimum of $525,000.
The 28-year-old Vanover played four seasons for the Kansas City after being chosen in the third round in the 1995 NFL Draft. In his last season with the Chiefs in 1999, he ranked third in the NFL with a 12.3-yard punt return average and scored two touchdowns, and also averaged 20.1 yards on kickoff returns.
He scored on a punt return in his first NFL game in 1995 and, ironically, returned a punt 84 yards for a score in his last NFL game in Kansas City on Jan. 2, 2000.
The 5-11, 220-pound former Florida State star scored four touchdowns on punt returns in his rookie season. He returned a punt 86 yards to defeat the Chargers in overtime in a Monday Night Football contest in Kansas City.
Vanover's career numbers include 181 punt returns for 1,930 yards (10.7 avg.) and four touchdowns, returned 212 kickoffs for 5,099 yards (24.1 avg.) and four scores, 39 catches as a receiver for 564 yards (14.5 avg.) and three touchdowns, and 17 carries for 88 yards (5.2 avg.).
With the addition of Vanover, the Chargers now have three of the most dangerous return specialists in the NFL.
Wide receiver Tim Dwight is one of the NFL's most dangerous punt returners, while running back Ronney Jenkins has established himself as one of the league's premier kickoff return men.
Dwight scored on an 84-yard punt return the first ever time he touched the ball with the Chargers in last year's season opener against Washington, while Jenkins has broken the Bolts' single-season kickoff return yards mark in each of the past two seasons.
Vanover's NFL career was cut short when he was sentenced to four months' confinement for his part in separate drug and car-theft rings. In February 2000, he pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the sale of a stolen sport utility vehicle that crossed state lines and later acknowledged supplying friends with money for a drug buy.
"I know the young man as well as anybody knows him, and he made a very serious error in judgment," new Coach Marty Schottenheimer, who coached Vanover for four seasons in Kansas City, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "But he has been held accountable and has taken responsibility for what he did. Now, he's anxious to continue his career and we'd like to give him an opportunity to do that because he's not only a good player, but a very good person."
Panthers WR has more knee surgery
CHARLOTTE, May 6 (UPI) -- Veteran wide receiver Patrick Jeffers of the Carolina Panthers, who played only sparingly last season after missing all of the 2000 season because of knee problems, was on the operating table again over the weekend.
New Coach John Fox said that he has been assured by team physicians that the former University of Virginia star can return from his latest surgery, the third procedure on his right knee and his fifth knee surgery overall in less than two years.
Fox said that it will be at least 6-8 weeks before Jeffers can do anything, meaning that he will miss three weeks of coaching sessions that precede the opening of training camp in late July at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.
"Any time you put a fella on the shelf, it's a concern," he said. "It's a medical issue. I'm not a doctor, but it's always a concern, anytime a guy has a surgery. Our doctors think it's something they can get squared away, and usually there's about a six-to-eight-week rehab. It's a setback, and we'll just have to evaluate it as we go."
The 6-3, 218-pounder also has played for Denver and Dallas in his five-year career. In 42 career games, he has 98 receptions for 1,563 yards, an average of 15.9 yards per catch, and 14 touchdowns.
The native of Fort Campbell, Ky., had his best season in 1999 with the Panthers when he made 63 catches for 1,082 yards, an average of 17.2 yards per, and had 12 TD receptions.
Hingis withdraws from Berlin event
BERLIN, May 5 (UPI) -- Martina Hingis of Switzerland, who is fourth in the WTA rankings, has withdrawn from the $1.22 million German Open claycourt event because of a pulled ligament in her left foot.
Hingis, who captured the 1999 German Open title, lost to current world No. 1 Venus Williams of the United States in the Hamburg semifinals on Saturday.
"I am very disappointed that I cannot play in Berlin, but I had problems all week with my left foot," said Hingis, who withdrew from the event in Berlin late Sunday. "I had to take strong painkillers in order to be able to play at all. I absolutely must have a medical checkup in order to find the cause."
The 21-year-old Hingis also was sidelined for three months after undergoing surgery on torn tendons in her right ankle on Oct. 14, 2001.
The former world No. 1 has won 40 career WTA titles, including the Sydney and Tokyo crowns earlier this year, but her ability to beat the game's big hitters has been suspect for some time.
Safin, Agassi advance in Rome
ROME, May 6 (UPI) -- Early results offered few surprises Monday in the first round at the $2.33 million Tennis Masters Series claycourt event in Rome.
The sixth seed, Marat Safin of Russia, cruised past Spain's Alberto Martin, 6-2, 6-2. Safin is still seeking his first title of the year, but has appeared in the quarterfinals in his last three ATP events, including the Tennis Masters Series tournament at Monte Carlo two weeks ago.
Ninth-seeded Andre Agassi, who has two tournament victories on the year, defeated Germany's Nicolas Kiefer, 6-3, 6-2, for the fifth time in as many meetings. Agassi improved to 15-8 at this event, one of four TMS titles he has not won.
Although a finalist here in 1989, Agassi has not passed the third round in three tries during the past three years.
Also, No. 10 Sebastien Grosjean of France downed Hicham Arazi of Morocco, 6-4, 6-0, and No. 14 Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic beat Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands, 6-4, 6-4.
Later, the top seed, Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, plays Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden.
Hewitt, who reached the quarterfinals two years ago, lost in the first round at Monte Carlo but advanced to the semifinals at Barcelona on clay last month. He has not lost to Bjorkman in three meetings.
First prize at the year's four Tennis Masters Series event is $372,000.