Georgia suspends basketball coach, ends season
ATHENS, Ga., March 11 (UPI) -- Findings of academic fraud have cost Georgia men's basketball team a chance to play in the postseason and may cost coach Jim Harrick his job.
The school on Monday suspended Harrick with pay for "unethical conduct" and declared two players - forward Chris Daniels and guard Rashad Wright - ineligible after an investigation by school and NCAA investigators discovered academic improprieties in the basketball program.
The rest of the players will suffer as well. The school has withdrawn from participating in the Southeastern Conference Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
"Due to the seriousness of the findings of academic fraud and unethical conduct, these are cardinal findings and concerns and he (Harrick) has the ultimate responsibility," Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley said at an afternoon news conference.
"We're not talking about allegations, we're talking about findings. As a result, we have suspended him with pay from his employment, pending further investigation."
The suspension of Harrick comes less than a week after his son, Jim Harrick Jr., was fired as an assistant coach due to allegations that he provided improper benefits and academic assistance to former Georgia point guard Tony Cole.
Cole accused Harrick Jr. of sending him $300 to pay a phone bill, arranging for someone else to complete Cole's junior college correspondence courses, and giving Cole an 'A' in the physical education class that Cole says he never attended.
Both Daniels and Wright also took the physical education class and were also involved in academic fraud.
"We learned this morning of the academic fraud involving not only Cole but two other players and we declared Chris Daniels and Rashad Wright ineligible," Georgia President Michael Adams said.
The suspension of Harrick is not surprising amid the controversy, but the decision to pull out of the SEC Tournament and NCAA Tournament, where the Bulldogs were certain to receive an at-large bid, was a stunning blow to the players.
The 22nd-ranked Bulldogs (19-8, 11-5 SEC) were scheduled to play Arkansas Thursday in the first round of the league tournament at New Orleans.
"My heart goes out to them and I bleed for that," Dooley said. "On the other hand, there were two players that were involved and I feel deeply for them as well. At the same time, the overall decision is the right decision and, unfortunately, some will have to suffer."
The 64-year-old Harrick has three years left on his contract worth a total of $2.1 million along with a longevity clause of $400,000 that is due on April 1.
One of only two coaches to take four schools to the NCAA Tournament, Harrick was involved in his share of controversy at Rhode Island and UCLA before heading to Georgia.
After coaching UCLA to the national championship in 1995, Harrick was fired following the 1996 season for lying on an expense report.
Virginia Tech fires basketball coach
BLACKSBURG, Va., March 11 (UPI) -- Virginia Tech fired basketball Coach Ricky Stokes Monday after the Hokies missed the Big East Conference Tournament for the third straight year.
"This is a very difficult decision for me, personally, as I have the highest regard for Ricky as a person," Athletics Director Jim Weaver said. "We appreciate all the hard work Ricky has put into his position and wish him the best in the future."
The Hokies completed an 11-18 season Saturday with a 71-67 loss to West Virginia. Virginia Tech was 4-12 in the Big East Conference.
Virginia Tech won 16 games in its first season under Stokes, but slumped to 8-19 in 2000-01 and was 45-70 in his four season tenure.
The 40-year-old Stokes was associate head coach at Texas before arriving at Virginia Tech. He also served as an assistant at Virginia, Wake Forest and Bowling Green.
Stokes played at Virginia and was part of Final Four teams in 1981 and 1984.
Weaver said that Virginia Tech would buy out the final year of Stokes' contract.
Arizona, Kentucky remain 1-2
ARLINGTON, Va., March 11 (UPI) -- Arizona and Kentucky retained the two top spots in the latest college coaches' basketball poll.
Arizona (25-2) posted victories over Oregon State and Oregon and will have the top seed in this weekend's Pac-10 Conference Tournament. The Wildcats collected 26 first-place votes and 770 points from the panel of Division I coaches.
Kentucky (26-3) picked up five first-place votes - three more than a week ago - and 749 points with victories over Vanderbilt and Florida. Kentucky completed Southeastern Conference play with a perfect 16-0 mark.
A 69-67 loss to Kentucky on Saturday dropped Florida (24-6) four spots to seventh.
Texas (22-5) snapped Oklahoma's 37-game home winning streak with a 76-71 win over the Sooners on Saturday and moved up one spot to third this week. Oklahoma (21-6), which trounced Nebraska earlier in the week, fell one spot to sixth.
Kansas (24-6) moved up two spots to fourth with wins over Texas Tech and Missouri. Pittsburgh (23-4) also advanced two spots, going to fifth after topping Seton Hall and Villanova.
Marquette (23-4), Wake Forest (23-4) and Xavier (24-4) complete the top 10.
Syracuse (23-4) is 11th and is followed by Duke (21-6), Illinois (21-6), Stanford (23-7), Maryland (19-8), Louisville (21-6), Creighton (28-4), Wisconsin (22-6), Notre Dame (22-8) and Oklahoma State (21-8).
Dayton (21-5), Georgia (19-8), California (20-7), Memphis (22-5) and Mississippi State (19-8) complete the poll.
Yankees fine Wells $100,000 for book
NEW YORK, March 11 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees moved to put the David Wells book saga behind them Monday by fining the outspoken lefthander $100,000.
Wells has agreed not to appeal the fine through the Players Association and the money collected will be donated to several organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of New York, one of the favorite charities of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
Wells and the Yankees have been seeking a way to end the widespread attention that the soon-to-be-released book, "Perfect I'm Not! Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches and Baseball," has created.
In the advance copies of the book, Wells wrote that he was "half drunk" when he pitched a perfect game in 1998 and speculated on steroid and amphetamine use by major league players. The book also included disparaging comments about some of Wells' teammates.
"The New York Yankees have 100 years of history and a sacred tradition. We guard that tradition viligantly," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. "I am pleased that David has made himself accountable for his actions.
"This concludes the matter and it is now time for the Yankees and David to concentrate on baseball."
Cashman said Saturday he would not ask Wells to waive his no-trade clause and pursue a deal involving the 38-year-old lefthander.
Wells seemed equally intent on ending the furor, offering an apology to the Yankees and Major League Baseball and calling into questions the facts in his own book.
"I want to clarify a couple of things. First when I took the mound the day of my perfect game, I was ready to pitch. I certainly wasn't drunk," Wells said. "Second, anyone who knows me understands that I only intended to write this book in the spirit of fun. I am sorry that the book hasn't been taken in that vain."
The New York Times reported Monday that the Yankees sought to fine Wells his salary for 10 games - $163,000 -but were persuaded to reduce the fine by Wells' agent Gregg Clifton. Gene Orza, the No. 2 official in the Players Association, had said the union would challenge any attempt to discipline Wells.
But Wells decided fighting the fine was not worth the trouble.
"I never intended to offend anyone, or compromise my relationships with teammates or fans and I deeply regret that I may have done so," Wells said.
Redskins sign Patricl Johnson
ASHBURN, Va., March 11 (UPI) -- Tthe Washington Redskins Monday confirmed the signing of speed receiver Patrick Johnson on Monday.
Numerous New York newspapers reported Monday that the Redskins are preparing a seven-year, $35 million offer sheet to Laveranues Coles with a $13 million signing bonus. When Coles officially signs, the New York Jets will have seven days to match the offer or accept a first-round pick as compensation.
However, the Redskins only announced the signing of Johnson, who had just nine catches for 187 yards in nine games with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season before suffering an abdominal injury.
The Redskins lost free agent receiver Derrius Thompson, who signed with the Miami Dolphins on Saturday. Thompson had 53 catches for 773 yards and four touchdowns last season with Washington.
Johnson, 26, will likely serve as the third receiver behind starters Rod Gardner and Darnerian McCants.
The 5-10, 191-pound Johnson spent the first four years of his career with the Baltimore Ravens before signing with Jacksonville last season. He has started 21 of 47 career games with just 67 catches for 1,085 yards and nine touchdowns.
Johnson also had 18 kickoff returns for 438 yards and one touchdown.
Nevin shelved by shoulder injury
SAN DIEGO, March 11 (UPI) -- Veteran outfielder Phil Nevin of San Diego will miss the 2003 season after a devastating shoulder injury last week.
Nevin suffered a dislocated left shoulder Friday while making a diving catch in a 2-0 exhibition loss to the Chicago White Sox. Doctors said the dislocation was severe, and that it will require reconstructive surgery.
"It has to be put back together," Nevin, the club's Most Valuable Player from 1999-2001, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It has to be fixed. It'll happen again and again and again if I don't get it fixed."
A report by MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, the surgery will secure the shoulder by tightening up the ligaments that hold it in place.
"If they don't do it, during the rehab process the shoulder could keep popping in and out of the socket," said reliever and teammate Trevor Hoffman, who will miss at least half the season after surgery earlier this month to shave a small piece of his right collarbone at the A/C joint.
Nevin, 32, will have missed a good portion of two seasons when he returns to the team in 2004. Last year, he missed 55 games with a right elbow injury and a broken left arm just below the shoulder blade.
He underwent an MRI on the damaged shoulder in Peoria, Ariz., on Saturday, and then returned to San Diego.
Nevin enjoyed a great year in 2001, batting .306 with 41 home runs and 126 RBI, but could not duplicate the those numbers in an injury-filled 2002, hitting just 12 homers with 57 RBI and a .285 average.
New deal for Buehrle
CHICAGO, March 11 (UPI) -- Chicago White Sox lefthander Mark Buehrle has had his contract renewed after rejecting a five-year deal worth $27 million.
The deal was first reported Sunday by ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago.
He will make $445,000 this season, the highest ever paid by the White Sox for a one-year contract for a player with Buehrle's service time, surpassing the old team mark of Magglio Ordoñez.
A club spokesman said Buehrle had the chance for two option years that would have raised the contract's total to $27 million over five years when factoring in buyouts.
The first option year in 2006, according to MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, would have been triggered by his pitching 200 innings in 2005, which would have added $7 million to the contract. The White Sox then had a final year option with Buehrle for $10 million.
Buehrle collected $310,000 last season, his third in the major leagues. He further established himself as the team's ace, going 19-12 with five complete games, two shutouts, and a 3.58 ERA in 34 starts.
In 2001, he went 16-8 with a 3.28 ERA, finishing four games, two by shutout. In two full major league seasons, he has totaled 460 1/3 innings.
Buehrle is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in two spring appearances, allowing six hits while walking one and striking out five in seven innings.
enough of the losing in Cincinnati. In his five years there, the Bengals were 19-61.
LeBeau hired by Buffalo
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., March 11 (UPI) -- Former Cincinnati Bengals coach Dick LeBeau has landed a job with the Buffalo Bills.
He was named assistant head coach of the Bills on Monday, and will begin his 45th year in the NFL as a player and coach. The Bengals fired him in December after finishing with the NFL's worst record at 2-14.
LeBeau, 65, had been an assistant coach with the Bengals for 15 seasons before taking over after Bruce Coslet resigned following the third game of the 2000 season. He posted a 12-33 record during his tenure, the worst winning percentage of any of the eight head coaches in franchise history.
LeBeau played cornerback with the Detroit Lions from 1959-72, and was voted to three Pro Bowls. He also was an assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Steelers.
In Buffalo, he will be reunited with linebackers Takeo Spikes, who also will join the Bills next season after Cincinnati declined to match Buffalo's offer sheet.
Stars get Odelein from Chicago
DALLAS, March 11 (UPI) -- The Dallas Stars Monday acquired Lyle Odelein from Chicago for fellow defenseman Sami Helenius and a future draft choice.
Odelein has seven goals and four assists in 65 games with the Blackhawks, and will join his fifth team in four seasons.
Odelein, 34, has 46 goals, 189 assists, and 2,171 penalty minutes in 944 career games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 and has five goals, and 13 assists in 84 career playoff games.
"Lyle Odelein was going to be a free agent at the end of the season," said Blackhawks General Manager Mike Smith. "We picked up a defenseman and were also able to get another draft pick."
Dallas, which leads the Western Conference with 93 points, has won five straight division titles and a Stanley Cup in 1999 before missing the playoffs last season. The Stars are 15 points ahead of Anaheim for the lead in the Pacific Division, and three points in front of Vancouver for the top spot in the West.
The 6-6, 230-pound Helenius, 29, has appeared in just five games with Dallas this season, collecting 14 penalty minutes. In 145 games with Calgary, Tampa Bay, Colorado, and Dallas, he has two goals and three assists with 226 penalty minutes.
Chicago finished fifth in the West last season after missing the playoffs in four straight years, but the Blackhawks are 12th in the conference, nine points from the eighth and final playoff berth.
The pick Chicago receives is expected to be in the 2003 or 2004 draft, and between the sixth and eighth rounds.
Sabres send Ray to Senators
BUFFALO, N.Y., March 11 (UPI) -- Rob Ray, who has spent his entire 14-year career with the Buffalo Sabres, Monday was traded to Ottawa for future considerations.
Ray, a right wing whose 3,189 penalty minutes rank fifth all time in league history and the most ever with one team, does not have a point in 41 games this season, but he adds a toughness to the Senators, who lead the Eastern Conference with 94 points.
"Rob has been an invaluable member of our organization for the last 14 seasons," said Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier. "His contributions on and off the ice, and his leadership and dedication to the Buffalo Sabres have made him a team player in every sense. We wish him the very best as he joins Ottawa in their playoff push and quest for the Stanley Cup."
The NHL trading deadline is Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
In 889 games with the Sabres, fourth most in franchise history, Ray has recorded 40 goals and 50 assists for 90 points. He has led the team in penalty minutes in nine of his 14 seasons, leading the NHL in 1990-91 and 1998-99.
Sabres send Barnes to Dallas
BUFFALO, N.Y., March 11 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Sabres Monday sent captain Stu Barnes to the Dallas Stars for center Mike Ryan and a second-round pick in 2003.
The Sabres continued their housecleaning Monday, and are on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs.
Barnes, 32, has 11 goals and 21 assists in 68 games for the Sabres this season. The veteran center was acquired by Buffalo on March 11, 1999, and later became the 11th captain in team history.
In 310 games with Buffalo, Barnes had 67 goals and 172 points. He was especially effective in the postseason, scoring 14 goals in 39 career playoff games with the Sabres.
Ryan was the Stars' first choice, 32nd overall, in the 1999 draft. As a senior at Northeastern University, he led his team in scoring with 18 goals, 14 assists, and 32 points in 34 games.
Buffalo, which traded left wing Vaclav Varada in late February, sent longtime Sabre Rob Ray to Ottawa earlier on Monday.
faceoff man, a gritty player, and an intelligent player with a great work ethic," said Flyers