Chest surgery for Robinson
LAS VEGAS, March 4 (UPI) -- John Robinson, the football coach at Nevada-Las Vegas, had an artery in his chest unblocked Monday after feeling discomfort during a routine examination.
Robinson, who also is the school's Athletic Director, mentioned he was experiencing discomfort in his chest during his exam, and was referred to a cardio consultation. A cardiogram was performed and some blockage was found in his right artery.
The blockage was opened successfully at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, which is on UNLV's Rose de Lima campus in Henderson, Nev., a suburb of Las Vegas. Robinson, who is 67, was resting comfortably Monday night.
"Everything went perfectly," said Dr. Joe Johnson. "Coach Robinson will make a full recovery, and is generally in excellent health. He should be released in two to three days."
Robinson's wife, Linda, also has been experiencing "health problems," according to the school.
"Our thoughts are with them, and we are confident they will make speedy recoveries," said UNLV President Carol Harter.
Robinson is just 20-27 in four years at UNLV, but is 10th among active college football coaches with a lifetime winning percentage of .663, going 124-62-4 in two stints with Southern California and one with the Rebels.
He was the 1979 Coach of the Year on the college level, and also spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, compiling a 79-74 mark from 1983-91.
Robinson took over as AD at UNLV on Jan. 1, 2002.
WAC bans Fresno State from postseason
ENGLEWOD, Colo., March 4 (UPI) -- The Western Athletic Conference agreed Tuesday to prohibit schools that are ineligible for postseason play from participating in the conference tournament.
That made Fresno State ineligible for this year's event.
The move came one day after Fresno State decided on a self-imposed postseason ban due to violations involving academic fraud committed under former coach Jerry Tarkanian. The Bulldogs captured the WAC regular-season crown.
The resolution, approved by the WAC Board of Directors, is effective immediately.
A joint investigation by the university and the NCAA found instances of academic fraud among former players, who received assistance in completing writing assignments by an individual who was paid.
The postseason ban means the Bulldogs, who captured the regular-season title in the Western Athletic Conference, cannot participate in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
In addition, the entire athletic department was placed on probation for two years, and a total of three scholarships were taken away from the basketball team for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.
Fresno State Monday imposed a one-year postseason ban on its men's basketball team for violations committed under Tarkanian.
"I regret that this severe action will affect student-athletes, staff, and coaches who were utterly unconnected to the problem," said school President John Welty. "However, it is important that this institution guarantee its academic integrity. We simply will not tolerate academic misconduct in any form."
"While I regret having to take an action that is so hurtful to our current team, it is consistent with NCAA precedent, and I believe it is in the best long-term interest of the basketball program and the university," Welty said. "Doing it now puts our program in the best possible position to enter next year with a clean slate as we begin our first season in the Save Mart Center. Most importantly, it demonstrates to the NCAA that we are dealing with this problem in the most serious manner."
Tarkanian resigned March 15, 2002 after a 38-year college coaching year, including seven seasons with Fresno State, his alma mater. He led the Bulldogs to the postseason every year, but saw his teams dogged by numerous off-the-court problems.
Tarkanian remains employed by the university as the Senior Development Consultant to the Save Mart Center, the Bulldogs' new arena that will open next fall.
Giovanni Lapentti upsets Srichaphan
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 4 (UPI) -- Giovanni Lapentti posted the biggest victory of his short tennis career Tuesday by upsetting fourth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.
The 6-5 Lapentti, an Ecuadorian ranked an obscure No. 311 on the tour, won his first career main draw match, dispatching the world 12th-ranked player in 73 minutesin the opening round of the Franklin Templeton Tennis Clasoc.
"I played unbelievable, it was a great day for me out there," Giovanni told Nicolas in a long distance telephone conversation afterward. "I felt very comfortable and I didn't think too much about. It just happened, and here I am now."
In other first round matches, Australian Open finalist and fifth seed Ranier Schuettler of Germany bounced qualifier Harel Levy of Israel, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, and No. 6 Alex Corretja of Spain ousted Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-2.
In the featured night match, top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt of Australia tangled with Spain's Fernando Vicente.
With a big served constantly clocked above 130 miles per hour along with an attacking ground game, the 20-year-old Lapentti has all the tools to climb the rankings ladder. But he had not been able to match the physical talent with psychological aspect of the game.
"It's all mental," he explained. "The difference between the top 10 players in the world and the top 100 is all mentally how they play the important points. That's it. I'm getting stronger there."
Lapentti pointed to beating Marcelo Rios of Chile in Davis Cup as the turning point that gave him belief he could compete with the top guns.
Heat place Jones on injured list
MIAMI, March 4 (UPI) -- Miami Heat guard Eddie Jones, the team's leading scorer, was placed on the injured list Tuesday for the third time this season.
The move came after Jones suffered a sprained ankle in practice on Monday.
Jones will wear a non-weighted brace cast for two weeks before being re-evaluated. He also spent time on the injured list this season with a thumb injury and sprained ankle.
Jones, who has started 47 games, is averaging 18.5 points and also leads the Heat in field goals made (291), 3-pointers made (98) and attempted (241) and minutes played (38.1).
The three-time All-Star also is averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field and a team-high 41 percent from 3-point range.
In another move, the Heat activated guard Anthony Carter from the injured list. He had been sidelined since Feb. 22 with left knee tendinitis.
Carter is averaging 3.4 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 27 games this season, including 10 starts.
Panel nominates three for Hall of Fame
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., March 4 (UPI) -- Drazen Dalipagic and Dino Meneghin were nominated Tuesday for enshrinement into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
They are two of the greatest players in international basketball history. Dalipagic is from the former Yugoslavia, and Meneghin is from Italy.
Also nominated for the Class of 2003 by the International Screening Committee was Spanish League coaching legend Pedro Ferrandiz. A nominee needs to be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the Honors Committee to be inducted.
This year's enshrinees will be announced during the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans on April 7.
Dalipagic, Meneghin, and Ferrandiz were selected from a dozen international candidates and are the second group of finalists nominated for induction.
On Monday, the Veterans Committee selected Coach Forrest Anderson, contributor Grady Lewis, and player Earl Lloyd for consideration. On Wednesday, the names of finalists selected by the Women's Screening Committees will be revealed, followed by the choices of the North American Committee on March 10.
Meneghin and Ferrandiz previously have been finalists.
Dalipagic, 52, was the premier international point guard of his era, playing for Partizan in the former Yugoslavia and in the Italian League. He was named the European Player of the Year in 1977, '78, and 1980, and earned 12 medals in European, World and Olympic competition.
He was a member of the Gold Medal-winning Yugoslavian Olympic team in 1980, and averaged 33.7 points per game in seven seasons with Partizan. While playing for Reyer Venice in 1986-87, he set the single-game scoring record with 70 points.
Meneghin, 53, is widely regarded as the greatest Italian basketball player ever. From the age of 16 to 44, he played in Italy's top division, where he dominated play while participating in a record 834 games. He appeared in four Olympic Games.
In 1991, Meneghin was named by Giganti del Basket as the greatest player in European history.
Ferrandiz, 74, enjoyed a 15-year coaching career, compiling a record of 427-90 (.826) with Hesperia and Real Madrid of the Spanish League and with the National Team. He compiled a 264-17 (.939) record with Real Madrid, including a 48-9 record in the Spanish Cup, and a 93-34 record in the European Cup.
Ferrandiz led Real Madrid to a record 12 Spanish League Titles and 11 Spanish Cup Titles. He also led Real Madrid to a record four European Cup of Champion titles and three second-place finishes.
He also is credited with bringing "fast break" basketball to Europe at a time when the game was played at a much slower pace.
Extension for Brown, Rice
The signings continues as the Raiders continued scrambling to create room under the salary cap.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that Rice, 40, and Brown, 36, signed nearly identical six-year cap-friendly extensions worth $30 million apiece.
"It's a good deal for Jerry," Rice's agent, Jim Steiner, told the newspaper. "It works for him, and it works for the Raiders."
By heavily backloading both contracts, the Raiders lessen the salary cap hit for 2003 and 2004.
Before the free agency period started last Friday, the AFC champions were more than $40 million over the salary cap. That forced them to release six players, including defensive starters Regan Upshaw, Sam Adams, and Anthony Dorsett, and renegotiate numerous others.
Upshaw already has signed a free agent contract with Washington.
After the reported moves with Rice and Brown, the Raiders are about $6 million under the NFL's $75 million salary-cap limit.
Rice, the NFL's all-time leading receiver, was named to his 13th Pro Bowl at the age of 40 last season after leading the Raiders with 92 catches for 1,211 yards. Brown had 81 receptions for 930 yards.
After 16 glorious years with the 49ers, Rice signed with the Raiders in 2001. He has 1,456 career catches for 21,597 yards and 202 touchdowns.
Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowler, has spent his entire 15-year career with the Raiders, and is one of only three players with 1,000 career receptions, compiling 1,018 catches for 14,167 yards.
New deal for Piller
NASHVILLE, March 4 (UPI) -- Zach Piller became the latest free agent guard to cash in this offseason, signing a seven-year contract worth $21.2 million with the Tennessee Titans.
His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Piller got a $4 million signing bonus, and the Nashville Tennesseean reported that Piller re-signed with the Titans after rejecting an offer from Washington. In college, Piller played for Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier.
"Free agency is a scary thing," Piller told the paper. "I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I am here."
Big money for offensive linemen normally is reserved for tackles in the free agent market, but the Washington Redskins set the bar high for guards when they signed free agent Randy Thomas, a four-year starter with the New York Jets but never a Pro Bowler, to a seven-year deal worth $28 million with a $7 million signing bonus.
Piller, a 6-5, 315-pounder, turns 27 in May. He did not become a full-time starter for Tennessee until 2001, but is the team's best run-blocking lineman.
"Re-signing Zach was one of our top priorities this offseason," said Titans General Manager Floyd Reese. "He is a big strong presence in the middle of the line, and we feel very fortunate to have Piller and (Benji) Olson locked up at the two guard positions. As two young and improving players, they will anchor the middle of our offensive line for many years to come."
"I've definitely matured," Piller said. "I have the confidence to be a leader on this team."
Piller was chosen by the Titans in the third round, 81st overall, of the 1999 NFL Draft.
Texans retain Foreman
HOUSTON, March 4 (UPI) -- The Houston Texans Tuesday re-signed linebacker Jay Foreman, the team's leading tackler, to a five-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Houston Chronicle reported that the deal is worth $10 million.
Foreman started all 16 games at inside linebacker in Houston's inaugural season in 2002, and had a career-high 193 tackles. He also forced one fumble and had four passes defensed.
"Re-signing Jay was one of our top offseason priorities," said Texans
General Manager Charley Casserly. "Jay had a solid first season for us, and we think he will continue to flourish in this system."
Foreman's return became imperative since the Texans lost free agent linebacker Jeff Posey, who led the team with eight sacks last season. He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills last week.
The Texans acquired Foreman from Buffalo for kick returner Charlie Rogers last April.
Falcons sign Cory Hall
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., March 4 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons have made their first free agent acquisition this offseason by signing safety Cory Hall.
Terms of the deal were not made public.
Hall, 26, was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 1999 draft, and spent four seasons with them. The 6-0, 213-pounder had 71 tackles, two sacks, and one interception last season. He made two starts at strong safety and 13 at free safety.
"I'm glad to be a piece of a puzzle, a growing puzzle," Hall said. "I haven't been with a winning program since college. I see Atlanta heading in that direction. For the next three, four, five, six, seven, eight years, I see Atlanta as a Super Bowl caliber team. I see that this year. I want to be a part of that."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Falcons impressed Hall so much that he canceled scheduled visits to Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, had already visited Houston, and that, on his visit Sunday, he met with Atlanta coaches and owner Arthur Blank, who once again won over a visiting free agent.
"He's definitely put the personal touch to it," Falcons Coach Dan Reeves told the paper about Blank.
"They [the Falcons] gave me the option of which position I wanted to play, free or strong safety," Hall said. "When they gave me that choice, my mind was pretty much made up. I'm an aggressive player. I can play the post, but I like to be in the mix. As I get more familiar with the defense, we'll see how I can best be used, but I do like to mix it up a lot in the box."
The Falcons did lose cornerback Ashley Ambrose, who signed with New Orleans after spending the previous three seasons with Atlanta. He began his NFL career with the Saints, his hometown team.
The Falcons also continue intense negotiations with Buffalo about a possible deal for wide receiver Peerless Price, who is upset about being labeled the Bills' franchise player recently.
The Falcons want a premier wideout for star quarterback Michael Vick.
Giants sign three
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 4 (UPI) -- The New York Giants Tuesday re-signed three reserves -- quarterback Jason Garrett, cornerback Kato Serwanga, and tackle Barrett Brooks.
Garrett spent the last three years with the Giants, but has not thrown a pass in a regular season game for them, and is the team's third-string quarterback behind starter Kerry Collins and backup Jesse Palmer.
Garrett played seven years with the Dallas Cowboys as a backup. He was 6-3 as a starter before signing with the Giants in 2000.
Serwanga was signed by the Giants last Dec. 3, a week after being released by the Washington Redskins. He played in three regular season games with New York, and on special teams in the NFC wild card game at San Francisco. Serwanga began his NFL career with New England in 1998.
Brooks was signed by the Giants on Dec. 17. He was inactive for the final two regular season games and the wild card loss to San Francisco. He played in two games with the Green Bay Packers last season before being waived on Dec. 9.
Hill goes back to 76ers
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 4 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia 76ers have signed free agent forward Tyrone Hill to a contract days after he was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hill was in uniform Monday night in a 107-99 loss to Sacramento. In 12 minutes, had no points, three rebounds, and one assist.
Hill, 34, is making his second stop in Philadelphia. Originally acquired in a four-player deal with Milwaukee on March 11, 1999, he averaged 10.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest in 165 games with the Sixers.
After helping the 2000-01 Sixers win the Eastern Conference championship, Hill was traded to Cleveland on Aug. 11, 2001.
The Sixers made the move in the midst of their best stretch of the season. Before Monday night, they were 9-0 since the All-Star break, and pulled to within three games of first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. They are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Hill was talked into rejoining the 76ers by Shelly Brown, the wife of Coach Larry Brown,
Falcons trade linebacker to Eagles
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., March 4 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that they traded linebacker Mark Simoneau to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Falcons got a sixth-round choice in the 2003 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft.
Simoneau, 6-0, 234 pounds, was originally drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2000 draft out of Kansas State. During his three-year career, Simoneau has been a part-time player in the Falcons linebacker rotation in addition to being a contributor on special teams.
Last season Simoneau played in 15 games as a reserve. He finished the season with 11 tackles on defense and was second on the team with 10 special teams tackles to go along with one forced fumble and one recovered fumble. Simoneau has accumulated 107 tackles, 0.5 sack and five passes defensed in 45 NFL games.
Kings activate Pollard
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 4 (UPI) -- The Sacramento Kings have activated forward-center Scot Pollard, who had missed the last eight games with a fractured right hand.
Pollard scored two points in five minutes in Monday's 107-99 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
By activating Pollard, the Kings, who own the NBA's third-best record (42-19), have all their key players healthy for the first time this season.
Pollard also missed 40 games earlier this season with a back injury. The 6-11 veteran only has appeared in six games this season.
When he entered the game Monday night, he received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd at 17,317 at Arco Arena, despite his recent criticism of Sacramento fans.
To make room for Pollard, the Kings placed point guard Damon Jones on the injured list with a sprained right ankle. Jones is averaging 4.6 points in 49 games.
Predators get Petrov from Montreal
NASHVILLE, March 4 (UPI) -- The Nashville Predators have added some scoring depth by acquiring Oleg Petrov from the Montreal Canadiens.
The Predators are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
They sent a fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft to Montreal for Petrov, 31, a right wing, who has seven goals and 16 assists in 53 games this season. He had a career-high 24 goals in 2001-02.
While Petrov has struggled this season, General Manager David Poile acquired him for his speed and skill. He should fit in nicely a with a young team that has outscored opponents, 21-6, during a four-game winning streak.
"He is also a veteran player who has been involved in the playoff hunt before," Poile said. "And his presence gives the team greater depth and gives the coaches more flexibility with the lineup."
Petrov, a ninth-round pick in the 1991 draft, has 70 goals and 113 assists in 365 NHL games, all with Montreal. He has one goal and six assists in 20 playoff games.
The Russian is expected to join Nashville for its game in St. Louis on Tuesday night.
The deal also came two days after center David Legwand, the team's leading scorer, suffered a broken collarbone that will sideline him four to six weeks.
The Predators still have 11 pick in the first four rounds of the June NHL Draft, which will be held at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville.
While the Canadiens are four points out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, the Predators are three back in the West. They have won eight of their last nine games (8
1), outscoring opponents, 34-13.
The Predators missed the playoffs in each of their first four NHL seasons.