NCAA sanctions for Alabama, Kentucky
INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The NCAA on Tuesday upheld the sanctions imposed against Alabama and Kentucky, a ruling that will keep the Southeastern Conference schools from competing in a bowl game this season.
The NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee ruled first against Alabama, which had sought a restoration of six scholarships and a lifting of a two-year bowl ban. The committee thought otherwise, adding that the school could have received the "death penalty" if not for its diligent efforts to correct past violations.
Later in the day, the NCAA denied Kentucky's appeal to lift a postseason ban for this season. The Wildcats are off to a 3-0 start and a bowl berth was far more plausible than when the NCAA issued its original ruling last winter.
The NCAA on Feb. 1 handed down a series of sanctions against Alabama, including five years probation.
Alabama claimed the violations were "contrary to the evidence." But the committee upheld the penalties, ruling they were not excessive or inappropriate considering the university's status as a repeat violator.
The "death penalty," which the NCAA has imposed only once, to Southern Methodist, originally was considered because Alabama had been on probation in 1995 and 1999.
"This is a case about institutional cooperation," committee chairman Terry Don Phillips said. "The efforts of the university and the staff there most probably saved the university from the death penalty."
The NCAA placed Alabama on probation on Feb. 1, tacking on six scholarship cuts to the 15 self-imposed cuts made by the school. Division I teams can award as many as 25 initial scholarships per year.
The majority of the violations took place during the tenure of coach Mike DuBose, who resigned after a 3-8 season in 2000. Many of the sanctions involved the illegal recruitment of lineman Albert Means in 2000.
But the NCAA praised Alabama on Tuesday for doing to its best to right a wrong. "It speaks strongly that institutions acting in their best interest in such a case should follow the actions of Alabama," Phillips said.
Alabama is 2-1 this season under second-year coach Dennis Franchione. The Crimson Tide have made an NCAA-record 52 postseason appearances
Three years probation, a ban from a bowl game next season and a reduction in scholarships were among the penalties handed down against Kentucky on Jan. 31. While accepting most of the penalties, the school notified the NCAA that it would appeal the postseason ban. The NCAA denied the request because Kentucky obtained a "significant and protracted recruiting advantage" as a result of the violations.
The transgressions were committed during the tenure of former coach Hal Mumme, who stepped down last February.
Many of the infractions were committed by former recruiting coordinator Claude Bassett. One violation had Bassett mailing money orders totaling $1,400 to coach Tim Thompson of Melrose High School in Memphis, Tenn.
Ewing retires from basketball
NEW YORK, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Patrick Ewing, the old warhorse who never won the NBA title expected of him when he came out of Georgetown 17 years ago, Tuesday announced his retirement from the game.
He surprised even himself by accepting a job offer from the Washington Wizards, for whom he will be an assistant coach in the up coming season.
"When people used to ask me what I would do when I stopped playing, I never thought I would be a coach," Ewing, 40, told the Washington Post. "I thought maybe I would go into management or broadcast. This is a good opportunity. (Head coach) Doug (Collins) is a great coach and I'm really looking forward to it."
Ewing made his retirement public at a news conference in New York, where he was introduced by former Madison Square Garden president David Checketts, who called him "the greatest New York Knick in history. I felt it was time for me to move on. It was a great ride. It's time to go on to the next chapter of my life."
Voted one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history, Ewing, a future Hall of Famer, played sparingly for the Orlando Magic last season and has been troubled by knee and foot problems in recent years.
He spent most of his pro career with the Knicks, but never had the personnel around him to make a successful championship run.
"There have been a lot of great players that have never won a championship," said Ewing, who spent 15 of his 17 NBA seasons with the Knicks. "I'm sorry I couldn't bring a championship here. All I can say is that every time me and my teammates stepped on the court we gave it 110 percent, but we fell short."
Ewing led the Knicks to the 1994 NBA Finals, but they lost in seven games to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. The Knicks advanced to the NBA Finals again in 1999, but Ewing tore his left Achilles tendon earlier in the playoffs and could only watch when they lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.
The 11-time All-Star stands as the Knicks' all-time leader in points (24,815), rebounds (10,759), blocked shots (2,758), steals (1,061), games played (1,039), field goals (9,260) and free throws (5,126).
Ewing, who averaged 22.8 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest as a Knick, had his best season in 1992-93, when he averaged 24.2 points and a career-high 12.1 rebounds
After finishing with Seattle and Orlando, Ewing had career averages of 21.0 points and 9.8 rebounds. While in college, he and the Hoyas captured the NCAA championship in 1984 and led the Hoyas to two other trips to the national title game.
Funeral held for Johnny Unitas
BALTIMORE, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Legendary former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas was eulogized then laid to rest Tuesday.
Unitas died last Wednesday of a sudden heart attack at the age of 69. At the time of his passing, he was exercising at a local rehabilitation facility.
The Hall of Famer is best known as the "Man with the Golden Arm," and led the NFL into the modern era by leading the Colts to a 23-17 sudden-death victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 title game. That contest more than any other established the two-minute offense.
The Ravens, an expansion franchise who replaced the Colts when they relocated to Indianapolis, plan to unveil a 19-foot statue of Unitas in front of their stadium on Oct. 20 before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Robert Vowels named SWAC commissioner
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Southwestern Athletic Conference on Tuesday named Robert Vowels Jr. its first full-time commissioner since Rudy Washington was fired last year.
The SWAC's council of presidents voted to hire Vowels, who was serving as commissioner of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He also was associate commissioner of the Big Ten Conference from 1994-2000.
Dr. James Frank had been working as interim commissioner after Washington was fired for financial improprieties - most notably overpaying himself some $80,000 - in June 2001. Frank was commissioner for 15 years before retiring in 1998.
Vowels has been in intercollegiate athletics administration the past 13 years. He was assistant athletic director at Vanderbilt from 1990-94.
Sugiyama wins first round match
TOYKO, Japan, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Ai Sugiyama, Japan's top player, beat countrywoman Shinobu Asagoe in one of just two singles matches completed Tuesday at the Princess Cup before officials were forced to suspend play due to rain.
Sugiyama, who is seeded fifth, defeated Asagoe, 6-4, 6-1 to win for the third straight time in four head-to-head meetings. She has reached the quarterfinals or better in five of 23 tournaments this year. Last week in Shanghai, China, Sugiyama lost in the semifinals to Anna Kournikova.
Russian Elena Likhovtseva downed Conchita Martinez of Spain, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 in the only other singles match completed. It was Likhovtseva's first triumph over Martinez in seven career meetings. Likhovtseva will play No. 8 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in the second round.
The top four seeded players received byes at this Tier II tournament.
Serena Williams is the top seed and appears in her first tournament since winning the U.S. Open on Sept. 7. She also won the Grand Slams at the French Open and Wimbledon and will compete for her seventh title of the year which will equal that of her sister Venus Williams.
This marks the first time Serena is playing doubles on the tour without Venus, with whom she has won nine titles including Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal.
Redskins QB undergoing MRI
ASHBURN, Va., Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Quarterback Shane Matthews, injured when the Washington Redskins got pasted by Philadelphia Monday night, was scheduled to undergo an MRI Tuesday afternoon to determine the extent of the damage done to his left shoulder.
Matthews suffered a bruised left shoulder late in the second quarter when hit by safety Brian Dawkins after a blitz and did not return, although he claimed he could have played.
Matthews threw for just 62 yards on 10-of-22 passing, with one interception through two quarters. Coach Steve Spurrier said after the humiliating defeat that Matthews would start at San Francisco Sunday if he is healthy.
Dodgers Pitcher Brown done for 2002
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Jim Tracy Monday said veteran starting pitcher Kevin Brown, who has dealt with lower back soreness all year long and was forced to have surgery in June, will not pitch again this season.
Last Tuesday, Brown gave up five runs and six hits in five innings of a 5-2 loss in San Francisco. After informing team medical officials of the soreness, he received an epidural injection Thursday to relieve the pain.
Since the injection, Brown reported no improvement, forcing Tracy, General Manager Dan Evans and the team's medical staff to tell Brown Monday afternoon that he will be shelved for the balance of the campaign.
"I'm frustrated and disappointed that I haven't been able to help the team," Brown said. "They're having a great season, and I haven't been able to help the guys out. As far as right now, it doesn't feel good."
The 6-4, 195-pounder had been scheduled to pitch against San Francisco at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, but Tracy said Kevin Beirne will start that game against the Giants.
Brown, 37, has been sidelined by an array of injuries over the last two years, and he underwent surgery June 11 for a herniated disk. That's the area of his back in which he has been experiencing residual soreness.
Seahawks finally sign Walter Jones
SEATTLE, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Veteran offensive tackle Walter Jones, one of the NFL's best, finally came to contract terms with the Seattle Seahawks late Monday after holding out through the preseason and the first two games of the regular campaign.
The absence of Jones, 28, who has six years of pro experience, was telling. In losing their first two games, the lack of a rushing attack was one of the team's biggest problems. The 6-5, 326-pound Jones should help immediately in that area.
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle has been given a two-week roster exemption to allow Jones to get himself back into playing shape. He told reporters that, if he had to, he would play this Sunday in the encounter at East Rutherford, N.J., against the New York Giants.
The newspaper said that Jones signed the $4.92 million offer the club made in February, when it designated him the team's franchise player. Now that he has signed the offer, the club and Jones can negotiate a long-term contract. Time will tell whether (holding out) was good or bad."
Seattle Coach and General Manager Mike Holmgren said the Seahawks simply could not offer more money, but had no explanation for why the holdout ended so abruptly.
The former Florida State All-American started all 16 games at left tackle last season, and has started 69 consecutive regular-season games. He was the sixth overall pick in the 1997 draft.
Vikings to make offer to Gary Anderson
MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Vikings, who basically lost to Buffalo because of failures in the kicking game, Monday made a contract offer to former placekicker Gary Anderson.
Head coach Mike Tice told reporters Monday that he has spoken with Anderson about coming out of retirement, but would only say that the team is "trying to get that situation worked out."
Tice also intimated that Anderson would be brought back for placekicking chores, which includes field goals and points after touchdown. Last season, the team's coaching staff felt Anderson no longer had the leg for effective kickoffs.
"If Gary comes back, he comes back for good," Tice said. "Gary Anderson is certainly no stop gap."
The Vikings' regular placekicker, Doug Brien, who replaced Anderson after former punter Mitch Berger, refused to take a pay cut, missed a pair of extra points in the 45-39 overtime loss to the Bills that proved to be costly.
Hawks sign free agent Darvin Ham
ATLANTA, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Hawks Tuesday dipped into the free agent market and signed forward Darvin Ham, who spent his previous three seasons with the Bucks.
"Darvin's a player we've always had interest in because of his high-energy and competitive toughness," said Hawks General Manager Pete Babcock. "And we're looking forward to bringing those elements, in addition to his basketball abilities to our franchise."
The 6-7 Ham is the second Buck to make his way to Atlanta in the offseason, joining forward Glenn Robinson, who was acquired in a deal for Toni Kukoc.
The Hawks were put been in the market for a forward after DerMarr Johnson was involved in a serious auto accident last Friday. The incident left his playing status for the upcoming season in question.
Last season, Ham, who went to Texas Tech, played in a career-high 70 games and averaged 4.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest.