ATHENS, Ga., March 5 (UPI) -- Assistant coach Jim Harrick Jr. has become the first casualty of the controversy swirling around the Georgia basketball program.
Georgia issued a statement Wednesday saying that it will not renew the contract of Harrick Jr., the son of Bulldogs Coach Jim Harrick. Harrick Jr. was suspended last Friday due to allegations that he provided improper benefits and academic assistance to former Georgia point guard Tony Cole.
Georgia Athletics Director Vince Dooley said Harrick Jr. is an "at will" employee and, as such, serves at the pleasure of the athletic director. His contract expires on June 30.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday that Harrick Jr. resigned in the wake of the alleged improprieties. The younger Harrick told the newspaper he resigned, effective immediately, to alleviate distractions to the team.
The controversy began last Thursday when Cole alleged that Harrick Jr. paid for his hotel and phone bills and gave him an 'A' in a course that Harrick Jr. taught and Cole never attended.
Cole also claimed that Harrick Jr. arranged for someone other than Cole to do course work in two junior college correspondence courses.
The scandal widened Saturday when Cole alleged that Harrick Sr. gave him his credit card to purchase a television.
Harrick Jr. has not commented on the charges, which his father has denied.
Amid the turmoil, the 25th-ranked Bulldogs (18-8) defeated third-ranked Florida, 82-81, Tuesday in their final home game of the season.
The victory improved Georgia's chances of receiving an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament if it does not win the Southeastern Conference tournamnet.
Jake Plummer signs with Denver
DENVER, March 5 (UPI) -- The Denver Broncos made a big splash in the NFL's free agent market Wednesday, signing veteran quarterback Jake Plummer.
He visited with team officials at the team's Dove Valley complex near Denver Tuesday, and came to terms within a day.
Team officials had been excited about his possible signing, and had both Plummer and defensive tackle Darryl Gardner on their wish list.
A press release issued by the team indicated that Plummer will sign his new deal Thursday.
General Manager Ted Sundquist already made his feeling known.
"Obviously, we've done extensive evaluations on both these players," said Sundquist of both Plummer and Gardner. "We feel like they would be excellent fits for what we need on both offense and defense. We've had these guys singled out since a couple of weeks ago."
The signing of Plummer spells the end of Brian Griese's days in Denver. He had been shopping the entire offseason.
"Since John Elway retired, we really have fallen off where we move in the pocket and get away from the rush and make plays, plays that are not scheduled, not designed," Assistant Coach Alex Gibbs told a radio station in Phoenix this week. "Brian Griese was not as good in that."
Plummer, 6-2, 212-pounds, has completed 1,540-of-2,754 passes for 17,622 yards, with 90 touchdowns and 114 interceptions in 84 NFL games, including 82 starts. He was the fastest Cardinal player to reach 10,000 career passing yards. He also has rushed for 1,183 yards on 247 attempts, with 10 scores, including four in 1998, the most by a Cardinal quarterback in over 20 years.
Plummer, 28, has an uncanny ability to produce in last-minute situations, and led the Cardinals to 21 come-from-behind victories. In 1998, his first full season as a starter, he guided the Cardinals to their first playoff appearance since 1982, and their first post he season victory since 1947.
Wright State fires men's basketball coach
DAYTON, Ohio, March 5 (UPI) -- Ed Schilling, the men's basketball coach at Wright State for the last six seasons, was fired on Wednesday.
The dismissal of Schilling was announced Wednesday by Athletics Director Michael Cusack, one day after the Raiders lost in the first round of the Horizon League tournament.
"It is with a great deal of sadness that we have decided to make a change in our basketball program," Cusack said. "Coach Schilling has brought many positive aspects to our program, but we do not feel it has developed to where we had hoped."
Wright State finished 10-18 overall and 4-13 in the Horizon League this season.
"While we are disappointed in the progress of the program, we have developed an appreciation of Ed's integrity, work ethic and values," Cusack said.
Wright State will honor Schilling's contract, which runs through June 2006.
Schilling posted a 75-93 record, but was 59-27 at home with memorable upsets of Michigan State in 1999 and Butler last year. In 1998, Wright State beat Illinois-Chicago in the league championship game to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Panthers re-sign QB Rodney Peete
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 5 (UPI) -- Carolina retained its veteran quarterback as Rodney Peete, who started all seven of the Panthers' wins last season, re-signed on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Peete reportedly received a three-year deal worth $4 million.
"Jake is a young player who has shown a good upside in his playing opportunities," Fox said. "He has an accurate arm and we look forward to seeing him in our system."
The signing of Delhomme likely signals the end for quarterback Chris Weinke, the Panthers' starter in 2001 as a rookie when the team finished 1-15.
Peete beat out Weinke for the starting job in training camp last season and led the team to seven wins in 14 starts, completing 58 percent of his passes for a career-high 2,630 yards and 15 touchdowns with 14 interceptions.
A 14-year veteran, Peete had not started a game since 1998 and not played in a game since 1999 before joining Carolina. But he led the Panthers to wins over Baltimore, Detroit and Minnesota to open the 2002 season and threw for more than 300 yards three times, one more than he achieved in his previous 13 seasons.
Peete missed two games - losses to Atlanta and Tampa Bay - while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Peete previously played for the Detroit Lions (1989-93), Dallas Cowboys (1994), Philadelphia Eagles (1995-98), Washington Redskins (1999) and Oakland Raiders (2000-01). He has passed for 16,316 yards and 76 touchdowns with 92 interceptions in 101 games, including 86 starts.
Delhomme, 28, appeared in just six games with two starts in four years with New Orleans. Last season, he completed 8-of-10 passes for 113 yards in four games off the bench.
Eye socket surgery for Thomas
WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) -- Etan Thomas, whose performance had improved of late, has undergone surgery to repair a left orbital fracture.
He will be sidelined at least five weeks.
Thomas, 24, who will be placed on the injured list, suffered the injury Friday when hit with an elbow accidentally by New Jersey forward Richard Jefferson. The blow resulted in double vision and extensive swelling, and outpatient surgery was performed Monday by Drs. Phillip Schoenfeld and Kevin Perman.
Thomas is averaging 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game as a backup to Brendan Haywood, but has played better of late, averaging more than six points and nearly six rebounds per game since Feb. 1.
Washington (29-31) has lost its last two games, and will host the woeful Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night. The Wizards trail Milwaukee by one game and Orlando by a game-and-a-half in the battle for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
which is tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and have 25 games remaining.
They have activated center Jahidi White to fill Thomas' roster spot. White was available in Tuesday night's 89-86 loss to Toronto, but did not play, and has not played this season after undergoing left knee surgery this summer.
Also, the Wizards likely will be without Michael Jordan, who left in the second quarter of the loss to the Raptors with back spasms. He was listed as doubtful.
Cowboys sign free agent tackle Ryan Young
IRVING, Texas, March 5 (UPI) -- A year after being selected with the second pick in the expansion draft, tackle Ryan Young is back with Coach Bill Parcells.
The Dallas Cowboys signed him Wednesday to a three-year contract.
Parcells drafted Young in the seventh round in 1999 and he started 40 straight games for the New York Jets. But for salary cap purposes, Young was exposed in the expansion draft in 2002 and was selected by the Houston Texans.
However, the 6-5, 320-pound Young suffered a groin injury in training camp that sidelined him for more than a month and he started just eight games for the Texans.
In Dallas, Young likely will start at right tackle, replacing Solomon Page, an unrestricted free agent.
Young is the second former Jet to reunite with Parcells, joining fullback Richie Anderson, who signed a three-year contract with the Cowboys on Tuesday.
Packers, DT Hunt in multi-year deal
GREEN BAY, Wis., March 5 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers on Wednesday re-signed defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt to a multi-year contract.
Hunt, who had been designated as a transition player, reportedly received a six-year deal worth $25 million.
The 27-year-old Hunt stepped in at the start of training camp last season following the release of veteran Santana Dotson, and led all of the team's linemen in tackles with 48 to go with 5 1/2 sacks.
By making Hunt a transition player, the Packers were obligated to pay him the average salary of the top-10 defensive tackles' salaries, a number set at $4.69 million for the 2003 season before the multi-year agreement was reached.
A third-round pick out of Kentucky State in 1999, Hunt started just 16 games in his first three years with the Packers.
Redskins sign safety Matt Bowen
ASHBURN, Va., March 5 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins have continued their free agent shopping binge by signing restricted free agent safety Matt Bowen to an offer sheet.
Bowen, a backup free safety who started six games for the Green Bay Packers last season, had been tendered at a compensation level equal to a sixth-round pick.
The Packers have seven days to match the offer or accept the compensation. If they reject, it would allow Bowen to move to Washington.
Bowen, 26, served as the backup to Darren Sharper, was a regular in the dime package and played a key role on special teams for Green Bay. In Washington, he likely would become an immediate starter at free safety, replacing free agent David Terrell.
The sixth-round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2000 started two games as a rookie, but suffered a broken foot in the 2001 season opener and was placed on injured reserve. After being waived off injured reserve in November, Bowen joined the Packers in Week 12, and played in the club's last five games.
The Redskins already have made a major splash in the free agent pool, signing guards Randy Thomas, Dave Fiore, and Lennie Friedman, defensive end Regan Upshaw, defensive tackle Brandon Noble, and placekicker John Hall, and acquiring running back Trung Canidate from St. Louis.
Chiefs sign CB McCleon to 5-year deal
KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 5 (UPI) -- Dick Vermeil plucked one of his former players from St. Louis Wednesday when Kansas City signed cornerback Dexter McCleon to a five-year contract.
McCleon was a starter on the Rams' Super Bowl championship team in 1999 under Vermeil.
The deal reportedly is worth more than $11 million with a signing bonus of $2 million.
"Dexter fills a position of need for us at cornerback," said Chiefs President Carl Peterson. "He will push our two starting corners and be our nickel back initially."
Eric Warfield and William Bartee are Kansas City's starting corners. McCleon will replace veteran Ray Crockett, who was waived, at nickel back, but may eventually unseat Bartee.
"He has been an outstanding starting cornerback three years for the Rams," Peterson said. "Both Dick Vermeil and our defensive backs coach Peter Giunta have a long history with Dexter and are pleased to acquire a player of his talent, as well as his experience."
McCleon, 29, spent his first six years with the Rams and started 47 of 48 games and seven postseason contests between 1999-2001. He had a career-high eight interceptions in 2000. But McCleon lost his starting job to Dre' Bly last year and played mostly at nickel back.
The Rams waived McCleon for salary cap purposes and also lost Bly, who signed a five-year, $24.5 million contract with the Detroit Lions last week.
A second-round pick in 1997, McCleon started 58 of 91 games with the Rams and had 20 interceptions and 63 passes defensed.
The addition of McCleon comes two days after the Chiefs signed free agent linebacker Shawn Barber to a seven-year, $30 million contract.
Kansas City also is pursuing free agent defensive end Hugh Douglas, a Pro Bowler each of the last three years.
Ravens sign cornerback Corey Fuller
OWINGS MILLS, Md., March 5 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Ravens have bolstered their secondary by signing free agent cornerback Corey Fuller to a three-year contract.
Fuller, 31, who also has the ability to play safety, spent the last four seasons with the Cleveland Browns. He was released last Wednesday in a salary cap move.
"We are excited to add Corey to our team," said Ravens Coach Brian Billick. "With his experience and passion for the game, he is going to add some veteran presence for us in the defensive backfield."
Last season, Fuller started 12 of 13 games at left cornerback, and finished with 32 tackles and an interception.
The 1995 second-round pick of Minnesota has started 115 of 124 games in his career, collecting 578 tackles and 17 interceptions.
Blackhawks sign veteran Todd Gill
CHICAGO, March 5 (UPI) -- The Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday signed Todd Gill and assigned the veteran defenseman to Norfolk of the American Hockey League.
Gill, 37, has appeared in 15 games with Springfield of the AHL this season, recording a goal and five assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-4.
Gill has played in 1,002 NHL games over 18 seasons with six teams, recording 82 goals and 271 assists with 1,214 penalty minutes. Originally selected 25th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1984 draft, Gill also has played for San Jose, St. Louis, Detroit, Phoenix and Colorado.
The Blackhawks are fading from the playoff race with seven straight losses and have just three wins in their last 21 games (3-14-2-2).
Anderson signs with Dallas
IRVING, Texas, March 5 (UPI) -- Fullback Richie Anderson has chosen Bill Parcells over Bill Belichick, signing a three-year contract with Dallas.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the New York Times reported that Anderson will receive close to $3 million.
Anderson, 31, spent his entire 10-year career with the New York Jets, where he played under Parcells, who is the Cowboys' coach, from 1997-99.
Belichick, the coach of the New England Patriots, was an assistant under Parcells in those years.
Anderson decided to play for Parcells after meeting with Cowboys offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, who was his running backs coach in New York from 1997-2000.
The Cowboys were in need of a fullback after waiving Robert Thomas, and the Patriots have yet to re-sign free agent fullback Marc Edwards. Both teams coveted Anderson, a Pro Bowler in 2000, when he caught a career-high 88 passes.
Anderson's blocking has also been a key factor in the success of Curtis Martin, who has rushed for 6,562 yards in five years with the Jets.
The 6-2, 230-pound Anderson, who played collegiately at Penn State, rushed just 191 times for 722 yards and caught 305 passes for 2,449 yards and 10 touchdowns with the Jets.
Barmore named Hall of Fame finalist
SPRINGFIELD, Mass., March 5 (UPI) -- Leon Barmore, who retired with the best coaching winning percentage in women's basketball history, is a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Coaches Harley Redin of Wayland Baptist and Cathy Rush of Immaculata also were named as finalists Wednesday by the Women's Screening Committee.
The Hall of Fame will release the names of finalists selected by the North American Screening Committee on March 10.
This week, the International and Veterans Committee revealed their finalists. On Tuesday, Drazen Dalipagic of the former Yugoslavia, Italy's Dino Meneghin and Spanish Coach Pedro Ferrandiz were named as the international candidates. Monday, the Veterans Committee selected Coach Forrest Anderson, contributor Grady Lewis and player Earl Lloyd for consideration.
A nominee needs to be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 24-member Honors Committee to be inducted.
This year's enshrinees will be announced during the NCAA Final Four in New Orleans on April 7.
Barmore, 58, compiled a 576-87 record in 17 seasons at Louisiana Tech, where he began his career as an assistant in 1977. Upon his retirement following the 2001-2002 season, Barmore's .869 winning percentage was the best in history and he was the fastest to 500 wins.
As an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech from 1977-1982, Barmore was instrumental in the school's 54-game winning streak that has since been eclipsed by Connecticut. In the 1988 season, Barmore led Louisiana Tech to the NCAA championship with a 32-2 record.
Under his direction, Louisiana Tech reached five national championship games and nine Final Fours, second best in women's basketball history.
Named coach of the year in 1988, Barmore had 13 30-win seasons and 19 20-plus win seasons. His teams spent 179 straight weeks ranked in the AP Top 25.
Redin, 83, spent 25 years coaching the men's (1948-57) and women's (1955-73) teams at Wayland Baptist. In 18 years as the women's coach, Redin posted a 431-66 record, a mark that included six AAU championships (1956, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1970, 1971), two undefeated seasons (23-0 in 1955-56 and 29-0 in 1956-57), a 76-game winning streak from 1955-58 and 17 top-five AAU finishes.
Rush, 55, is widely acknowledged for her role in bringing national attention and scholarship money to women's sports. In seven seasons coaching at tiny Immaculata College in Pennsylvania, Rush compiled a 149-15 record and earned three consecutive AIAW national championships (1972-74) and six straight Final Fours (1972-77).
Immaculata was the first women's college team to appear on national television (against the University of Maryland in 1975) and play outside the United States (against Australia in 1974).