ALLEN PARK, Mich., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The NFL wants an explanation from the Detroit Lions, who allegedly failed to interview minority candidates before hiring Steve Mariucci as their coach.
Lions President Matt Millen confirmed Friday that he has been summoned to a special meeting with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and members of the league's Committee on Workplace Diversity early next month.
The Lions has been criticized for their alleged failure to adhere to guidelines put in place Dec. 20 by the committee headed by Pittsburgh Steelers President Dan Rooney.
Detroit targeted Mariucci after he was fired by the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 15 and did not conduct any other in-person interviews. Rooney said their hiring process "fell short" of committee guidelines requiring a team to interview at least one minority candidate after Mariucci was hired on Feb. 4.
However, the Lions contacted a number of minority candidates, including former Minnesota Coach Dennis Green and Steelers defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, but were turned down for interviews because it appeared inevitable Mariucci would be hired.
Any punishment against the Lions could result in a fine or perhaps the loss of draft choices.
Under criticism by civil rights attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri for their practice of hiring minorities, the NFL implemented a comprehensive program to promote diversity in their coaching and front office ranks based upon recommendations of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity.
NFL team owners strongly agreed on the principle that any club seeking to hire a head coach will interview one or more minority applicants for the position.
There are only three black head coaches in the league with the recent hire of Marvin Lewis by the Cincinnati Bengals. The others are Herman Edwards of the New York Jets and Tony Dungy at Indianapolis.
Phillips makes history, but loses game
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Theresa Phillips, the Athletic Director at Tennessee State, made history Thursday night, but her team followed a familiar pattern.
She became the first woman to coach a men's Division I basketball team, but could not prevent her team from dropping a 71-56 decision at Austin Peay.
The former women's coach at Tennessee State took over the team after suspending interim coach Hosea Lewis following Monday night's game with Eastern Kentucky in which 19 players were ejected following a benches-clearing brawl.
Phillips didn't think she made history, instead lobbying for the likes of Pat Summit of Tennessee and Jody Conradt of Texas to get permanent jobs in the men's game.
"History to me will be when an institution actually hires a woman to coach a Division I team," she said. "I am nothing more than an AD stepping in for a missing head coach."
The Tigers, on their third coach of the season, fell to a dismal 2-21 overall, 0-12 in the Ohio Valley Conference. They still found a way to impress Austin Peay Coach Dave Loos.
"If there is any doubt that TSU's athletics department is not in good hands, that was dispelled tonight," he said. "They played with great energy tonight. They had a good game plan. They stalled us offensively, but I think our defense solved it. Our defense was turned up a couple of notches and we were able to get some transition baskets, some easy baskets, and that kind of got us on a little bit of a roll."
Tennessee State led four times in the contest, and took a 22-21 edge on a basket by Roshaun Bowen 6:18 before halftime. The Governors then reeled of 17 unanswered points for a 38-22 halftime cushion.
"It seemed like we played a little bit harder," said Bowens, who led his team with 21 points and 12 rebounds. "We were thirsty for a win. All the media attention maybe had something to do with it."
Although they never got close in the second half, the Tigers never lost focus. That was because of their respect for Phillips.
"It made no difference at all," Bowens said. "Everything she said, we have heard all year. She was right and never indecisive. That gave us the confidence that she knows what she is talking about."
Nolan Richardson III began the season as coach but resigned Jan. 8, two weeks after Phillips suspended him indefinitely for bringing a gun into the school's gym.
Richardson, the son of the former Arkansas coach, said he got the gun out of his car during an argument with Lewis, then his assistant, when only four players showed up for a Christmas night practice.
In Phillips' eyes, things went too far Monday.
"We have had our share of attention this year at TSU," she said. "It hadn't necessarily been the kind of attention we wanted. We have had it none the less. In the past 36 hours, I've been shocked by the interest in this game, and in the fact that I was going to coach our men's basketball team tonight."
"We played TSU a week ago in Nashville and they did not play with the energy and the enthusiasm that they did tonight," Loos said.
Adu expected to play for America
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Armenia, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Freddy Adu gained his passport Friday, enabling him to start for the United States Under-17 team in Guatemala March 5 against Jamaica.
The word about the status of Adu, 13, came from U.S. Soccer spokesman Jim Moorhouse.
Adu is expected to become the youngest player ever to wear the American jersey when he takes the field in the USA's attempt to qualify for the World Youth Cup this August in Helsinki, Finland.
Adu, who scored twice Wednesday against the Chicago Fire, including the 69th minute penalty kick winner in a 2-1 exhibition match win, gained his passport when his mother, Emilia, was granted her citizenship.
Adu, born in Ghana, emigrated to the USA at age 8 in 1995, and joined the USA's residency program at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., in the spring of 2002. Under FIFA rules, all a player needs to be eligible for a national team is possession of a passport.
Els stays hot at Perth
Els, who was the first-round leader at eight-under, reached the turn on level par for the day before carding a 29, including his second eagle on the par-5 15th, to move to 15-under, four shots ahead of Greg Owen and Robert Allenby.
"I wasn't trying to shoot a 29, it just happened," Els said. "I guess I have to thank the architect. I enjoyed it. I all came together for me."
It was a masterful back nine for Els, who is chasing his fifth tournament win in six starts after he had found the water on the par-5 fifth for a bogey. He birdied the 11th, then landed his tee shot within inches on the par-3 12th to pick up another stroke. He carded a pair of threes before an eagle on 15 elevated him three shots clear of the pack as 14-under-par.
Els' homeward 29 and seven-under round of 65 was sealed with a 33-foot putt on the last.
"That was nice," he said. "I didn't expect that to go in."
Els leapfrogged back over Owen and Allenby, the No. 1 in Australia, who had both shot stunning second rounds of eight-under 64.
Owen, who finished in the top 40 of the European Order of Merit for the last three years, converted seven birdies as well as an eagle on the par-5 15th.
After pulling out of the Heineken Classic with a bad back and missing the cut at last week's ANZ Championship, Owen was delighted by his showing at the Lake Karinyup Country Club.
"I was a lot more consistent," he said. "I've driven the ball well the last couple of weeks, but the iron play has been off. I've just found a feeling in my swing which seems to get it going in the right direction. I've just got to trust it now and keep trusting it. I don't see why it should be a problem for the weekend."
Allenby teed off on the 10th and reached the turn at 33, before carding birdies on the third, fourth, and fifth to surge to 10-under. He picked up his final birdie on the last for a solid round which left him closer to Els than he had imagined.
"I played pretty well and made a few more putts than yesterday," said Allenby, who began the day five strokes off the lead. "At the moment Ernie is really tough to beat at whichever tournament he tees up in. I knew I had to shoot 8 to 10-under. If I could get to 11, 12, 13 I thought I would still be behind, but closer to the lead than when I started. (But) I am feeling really fresh and strong and I'm hitting the ball really well. I think this year is going to be a really good year."
Stephen Leaney bogeyed the last, his first of the tournament, to finish the day at nine-under and tied for fourth with France's Jean-Francois Remesy.
Andre Stolz of Australia was alone at eight-under with defending champion Retief Goosen a shot back after a 65 on Friday.
Ian Woosnam and Paul McGinley both carded 71s to reach halfway at six-under, while Nick Dougherty was one further back after picking up six shots to finish level with Warren Bennett, Niclas Fasth of Sweden, and David Smail of New Zealand.
Sergio Garcia reached halfway at level par after a two-under 70.
Soren Hansen of Denmark was disqualified from the tournament after failing to turn up for his tee time, but there were cheers for Singapore's Mardan Mamat, who aced the 219-yard eighth hole to register his first in competitive golf.
Offlee Wild heads Fountain of Youth field
HALLENDALE BEACH, Fla., Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Offlee Wild heads the field for the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream Park, the first Grade I race of the year open to all 3-year-olds.
65-year-old T.V. Smith has been training horses for four decades, but has yet to have a Kentucky Derby starter. Smith flirted with a Kentucky Derby run in 1999 with Grits'n Hard Toast, who won the Holy Bull but stumbled in other prep races.
Offlee Wild is a legitimate candidate to make the trip to Louisville for the May 3 Kentucky Derby, the first of the three Triple Crown races. The road continues Saturday with the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, which should provide several candidates for the $1 million Florida Derby on March 15.
Horses that finish first, second or third automatically are nominated for the Florida Derby.
After finishing fourth in his debut race at Keeneland, Offlee Wild has won twice in his last three starts, including an impressive triumph as a 27-1 long shot in the Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 18. It was the first time that Offlee Wild raced around two turns.
"Fact is, I think he will go a lot farther than he went in the Holy Bull," Smith said. "He's the best horse I've ever trained."
Offlee Wild, a Seattle Slew mare that was purchased for $325,000 by Azalea Stables, was clocked going six furlongs in a sizzling 1:11.40 in a workout Wednesday.
The horse drew the far outside No. 9 post and is 6-1 in the morning line with Mark Guidry aboard. The field will include Whywhywhy, who finished 10th as the 5-2 favorite in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Trainer Patrick Biancone will give the mount to Edgar Prado.
Whywhywhy is the morning-line favorite at 5-2, and will break from the No. 5 post.
Trainer Ken McPeek, who saddled Sarava, the 2002 Belmont Stakes winner, will try his hand Saturday with Ten Cents a Shine with Jerry Bailey aboard. Ten Cents a Shine is 4-1 and has the No. 2 post.
In his 2003 debut at Gulfstream on Jan. 31, Ten Cents a Shine rallied from eighth place to finish in a dead heat with the undefeated Senor Swinger in a 1 1/16-mile allowance test. The horse won his maiden start at Churchill Downs and was second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at that track.
The second choice is Trust N Luck, who is 3-1 from the No. 6 post. The horse had a two first and two second-place finishes last season.
Saturday's Gulfstream card also includes the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes, another prep for the Florida Derby. Lion Tamer (8-5) is the favorite in the six-horse field that will go seven furlongs.
The field for the Kentucky Derby opened up considerably last week when Vindication, the undefeated winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, dropped out of the Triple Crown series with a foot injury.
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