In Sports from United Press International
O'Leary resigns as Notre Dame coach
SOUTH BEND, Ind., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Notre Dame Friday began anew looking for a head football coach after the resignation of George O'Leary.
O'Leary stepped down only five days after accepting what he considered a dream job because of biographical inaccuracies.
He tendered his resignation, effective Thursday, in the wake of inaccuracies in his personal biography that Notre Dame director of athletics Peter White said "constituted a breach of trust that makes it impossible for us to go forward with our relationship."
He had been thrust immediately into the middle of controversy at Notre Dame because of information in the football media guide at Georgia Tech, where O'Leary had been the coach for eight seasons.
The biography stated that O'Leary earned three letters while playing football at the University of New Hampshire. But, he attended the school only two years and never played in a game. Notre Dame included the information in the news release announcing O'Leary's hiring.
O'Leary issued the following statement to the school on Thursday night:
"Due to a selfish and thoughtless act many years ago, I have personally embarrassed Notre Dame, its alumni and fans. The integrity and credibility of Notre Dame is impeccable and with that in mind, I will resign my position as head football coach effective December 13, 2001."
O'Leary, 55, accepted the job Saturday night after daylong negotiations in Atlanta.
"We are saddened by the news of the resignation of George O'Leary as the head coach at Notre Dame," said Georgia Tech AD Dave Braine. "We have the utmost respect for George and the job he did elevating our football program to one of national prominence, and we wish him the best.
"Meanwhile, we'll continue on our present course with our preparations for the Seattle Bowl under our interim head coach, Mac McWhorter, and we will continue our search for a new head coach. Coach O'Leary's resignation from Notre Dame has no effect on his relationship with Georgia Tech."
White issued the following statement on Friday after the school officially announced O'Leary's resignation.
"I have accepted the resignation of George O'Leary as head football coach at the University of Notre Dame. George has acknowledged inaccuracies in his biographical materials, including his academic background. I understand that these inaccuracies represent a very human failing; nonetheless, they constitute a breach of trust that makes it impossible for us to go forward with our relationship.
"I intend to restart our search for a new head football coach immediately."
BYU runner to miss Liberty Bowl
PROVO, Utah, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Any hopes that Luke Staley had of playing in the Liberty Bowl on New Year's Eve ended Friday.
Brigham Young announced that Staley, the winner of the Doak Walker Award as the best running back in the country, will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair damaged ligaments in his left ankle. Due to the surgery, he will be unable to play against Louisville on December 31.
Staley broke his left leg late in a 41-38 come-from-behind victory at Mississippi State and missed last week's 72-45 loss to Hawaii that ended the Cougars' quest of an undefeated season. He had hoped to return in time for the Liberty Bowl. But while X-rays showed that a fractured fibula was healing well, the ligament damage needed to be repaired to help stabilize the ankle joint.
Staley rushed for a school-record 1,582 yards, averaging 8.1 per carry. The 6-1, 218-pound junior led the nation in scoring, averaging 14.2 points per game.
Singh has a one-shot lead
THOUSANDS OAK, Calif., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Fiji's Vijay Singh, who earned more than $3.4 million this year without winning a tournament, carded a 6-under 66 Friday to take a one-shot lead over Tiger Woods midway through the $3.8 million Williams Open.
Woods followed an opening round 68 with a 5-under 67 and is two strokes ahead of Germany's Bernhard Langer, who posted a 68 and is at 7-under 137 at the Sherwood Country Club.
Couples is tied for fourth at 138 with Sweden's Jesper Parnevik after settling for an even-par 72. O'Meara, Woods' friend and occasional practice partner, posted a 1-under 71 and slipped to a tie for seventh, six shots behind Singh.
Parnevik fired a 7-under 65 -- the lowest round of the tournament--and climbed from a tie for 14th.
Raiders can clinch division title
The Oakland Raiders can repeat as AFC West champions Saturday for the first time since 1982-83 with a win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 14.
"We haven't won anything yet," said Joe Gruden, who coached the Raiders to their first division title since 1990 last season.
Oakland (9-3), which leads the Denver Broncos (7-6) by two games in the division, has won seven of the last eight meetings with the Chargers (5-8). The Chargers are mired in a six-game losing streak and have lost eight of 10 since winning their first three games.
The teams played an exciting game last month in Oakland. Jerry Rice caught eight passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead 20-yard score on a trademark slant with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter, as the Raiders posted a 34-24 victory. The NFL's all-time leader in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, Rice also caught scoring passes of 12 and 30 yards and has 38 receptions for 637 yards and nine touchdowns in five career games against San Diego.
The Raiders' defense did a good job shutting down Doug Flutie and rookie LaDainian Tomlinson in the victory. Flutie completed just 12-of-27 passes for 98 yards with an interception. Tomlinson was held to 68 yards on 22 carries.
In the first game on Saturday to kick off Week 14, the defending NFC champion New York Giants (5-7) seek to snap a three-game losing streak when they host the Arizona Cardinals (5-7). Both teams trail the first-place Philadelphia Eagles (8-4) by three games in the NFC East and are each two games behind the final wild card berth.
Judge upholds order to rehire umps
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A federal judge has upheld an arbitrator's decision that ordered Major League Baseball to rehire nine of the 22 umpires who had their resignations accepted two years ago following an unsuccessful labor ploy.
In a decision filed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle upheld a decision issued on May 11 by arbitrator Alan Symonette. The arbitrator had ordered the league to reinstate Drew Coble, Gary Darling, Bill Hohn, Greg Kosc, Larry Poncino, Larry Vanover and Joe West.
In August 1999 the umpires, led by union chief Richie Phillips, decided to pressure Major league Baseball with a mass resignation. But with half-hearted support from its union, the move failed miserably and 22 umpires lost their jobs.
Bartle also ordered that baseball take back umpires Frank Pulli and Terry Tata, who had opted for retirement rather than return to active duty. Pulli and Tata were crew chiefs who had a combined 55 years of experience.
Bartle also ordered that new arbitration hearings be heard for umpires Paul Nauert, Bruce Dreckman and Sam Holbrook.
The 13 who did not get their jobs back included Eric Gregg, Bob Davidson, Bruce Dreckman, Richie Garcia, Jim Evans, Tom Hallion, Ed Hickox, Paul Nauert, Sam Holbrook, Greg Kosc, Ken Kaiser, Larry McCoy and Mark Johnson.
The umpires resigned during July 1999, at Phillips' urging, as part of negotiations on a new labor contract. Phillips' attempt to strong arm the owners and land a new collective bargaining agreement will go down as one of the worst labor maneuvers in sports history. Major League Baseball had long been looking for a way to break the union and unify many of its rules and regulations.
As soon as the umpires offered their resignations, the league accepted and hired 25 replacements from the minor leagues.
A's get Justice from Mets
NEW YORK, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Seeking to replace Jason Giambi's left-handed power, the Oakland Athletics Friday acquired designated hitter-outfielder David Justice from the New York Mets.
Oakland received cash in the deal to somewhat offset Justice's $7 million price tag for the 2002 season and sent the Mets lefthanded reliever Mark Guthrie and minor league pitcher Tyler Yates.
Justice's tenure with the Mets lasted just one week. Last Friday, the Mets acquired him from the New York Yankees for third baseman Robin Ventura in a swap of high-priced veterans.
Mets General Manager Steve Phillips wasted little time shedding Justice's salary, finding a taker in the Athletics, who need to replace Giambi's 38 home runs and 120 RBI from the left side of the plate.
Justice likely will be part of the solution in filling the Giambi void in Oakland. Giambi signed a seven-year contract worth more than $118 million with the New York Yankees on Thursday.
With Justice off the payroll, the Mets may make a play for another free agent. Second baseman Roberto Alomar, who was acquired by the Mets on Tuesday, has recommended the team make an offer to free agent outfielder Juan Gonzalez. New York signed free agent outfielder Roger Cedeno to a four-year, $18 million contract on Thursday.
Justice, 35, was one of the Yankees' best players after being acquired in June 2000, batting .305 with 20 home runs and 60 RBI in 78 games and helping them win their third straight World Series title. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 2000 American League Championship Series with eight RBI in a six-game victory over the Seattle Mariners.
A three-time All-Star, Justice probably will become the Athletics' regular designated hitter or can be used in left or right field, the position he primarily played in his first eight major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves before he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in March 1997.
The all-time leader with 59 postseason RBI, Justice has appeared in six World Series, three with Atlanta, one with Cleveland and two with the Yankees. He also ranks first in postseason games with 107 and at-bats with 377. Justice has hit 20 or more home runs in 11 of his 13 years. He has hit 40 or more in a season twice in his career--in 1993 when he 40 for the Braves and in 2000 when he slugged 21 for the Indians and 20 for the Yankees.
Gutierrez reported joining Tribe
CLEVELAND, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Free agent Ricky Gutierrez, starting shortstop with the Chicago Cubs the past two seasons, reportedly has agreed to a three-year, $11 million contract with the Cleveland Indians.
Neither team had confirmed the report.
The Indians were believed ready to install Gutierrez at second base to succeed All-Star Roberto Alomar, who was traded to the New York Mets on Tuesday.
Cleveland already is set at shortstop with nine-time Gold love winner Omar Vizquel a fixture there.
Hayes reported critical
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Bob Hayes, only man to win both a Super Bowl ring and an Olympic gold medal, was reported in critical condition Friday in the intensive care unit at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.
Following a two-month hospital stay for prostate cancer earlier this year, the three-time Pro Bowl receiver with the Dallas Cowboys and two-time Olympic gold medallist spent the past few months taking part in ceremonies in his honor and autograph signings. He was readmitted to the hospital Tuesday with flu symptoms.
Hayes won gold medals in the 100-meter dash and 400-meter relay at the 1964 Tokyo Games following his junior year at Florida A&M University. He played for the Cowboys from 1965-74, and retired from the NFL after one season with the San Francisco 49ers.
MLS may fold two teams
CHICAGO, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Major league soccer may fold two teams, according to published reports in South Florida. The league said, however, there would be no decision on possible contraction until the end of the month.
The two teams reportedly in danger of being eliminated are the league-run Tampa Bay Mutiny and the privately operated Miami Fusion.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said, "Contrary to published media reports, Major League Soccer has not finalized any decisions regarding how many teams will compete in the league during the 2002 season.
"At the present time, there are no announcements planned. MLS is continuing the ongoing process of evaluating all team markets."
Indiana returns to soccer tournament
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Making its fifth straight trip to the College Cup, fourth-ranked Indiana will play No. 8 St. John's Friday night in the second semifinal game.
Third-ranked Stanford will meet No. 7 North Carolina in the first semifinal game at Columbus Crew Stadium.
The winners will meet in the NCAA soccer championship game on Sunday.
Ghedina wins downhill, sets record
VAL GARDENA, Italy, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Italy's Kristian Ghedina won the men's World Cup downhill Friday to collect his fourth career victory on the tough classic Italian course.
Ghedina, the winner of downhills here in 1997, 1999 and 2000, sped down the fast, icy Saslong course to win in two minutes, 1.47 seconds, equaling Austrian legend Franz Klammer's record for downhill victories at the Italian resort. The Austrian won here in 1975, twice in 1977, and in 1983.
It marked the 32-year-old's 13th career World Cup victory, his 12th in the downhill.
Ghedina, a native of nearby Cortina d'Ampezzo, will have the opportunity to topple Klammer's record by claiming a fifth victory in Saturday's downhill.
Norway's Lasse Kjus, the 1999 World Cup overall champion, was runnerup in 2:01.63. The powerful Norwegian, who started back in the 20th position, had looked poised to snatch the victory, building a lead over Ghedina midway down the course. But a little mistake on the tough Chazlat's-shaped bend cost Kjus the win, leaving him .16 seconds back at the finish.
The second-place finish marked Kjus' best result since 1999, when he won three races, including here in Val Gardena.
Kurt Sulzenbacher proved his second-place finish in Val d'Isere last week was no fluke, inflaming the loudly partisan at the finish with his third place finish in 2:02.20.
World Cup leader Stephan Eberharter of Austria, the winner of the season-opening downhill and super-G races last week, just missed the podium this time around, placing fourth in 2:02.36.