In Sports from United Press International

Feb. 28, 2002 at 3:06 PM
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Madden leaves Fox for MNF

NEW YORK, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- John Madden agreed Thursday to a four-year deal with ABC and will team with Al Michaels in the Monday Night Football booth.

The way was cleared when Fox released the popular NFL commentator from the final year of his contract after both sides could not agree on an extension.

"Every broadcaster would love an opportunity to be part of Monday Night Football," Madden said. "This is something that came very quickly."

Madden's arrival spells the end for Dennis Miller and analyst Dan Fouts in the Monday Night booth. Sideline reporter Eric Dickerson will also leave the show.

Madden, 65, who is known for his animated delivery, has been the top analyst at Fox since it took the NFC package away from CBS in 1994.

Madden's long-time on-air partner, Pat Summerall, has retired and Madden said he thought it was time for a change as well.

Last season, Monday Night Football's telecasts generated an average 11.5 rating, down 9 percent from a 12.7 in 2000. The 1999 rating was 13.7.

Report: Arkansas coach okays buyout

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Arkansas Basketball Coach Nolan Richardson, in the midst of criticism over harsh remarks to the media and a disappointing season, was reported Thursday ready to accept a $3 million buyout to leave the Razorbacks.

Richardson lashed out at the media earlier in the week, saying he is judged more harshly than the school's other coaches because he is black. He later apologized for his remarks.

The buyout report, carried in several publications and an internet magazine, Hawgs Illustrated, drew denials from the school chancellor and Richardson's agent.

"There's no buyout with Coach Richardson that I'm aware of," Chancellor John White told Fort Smith television station KFSM. "How could that happen and I not know about it?"

Richardson was to have met Thursday morning with Athletics Director Frank Broyles but the meeting was cancelled.

"There's going to have to be as very frank discussion of where we are and about going forward," White said. "There has been a lot of damage overall to the program. Coach Richardson recognizes that."

Arkansas is an uncharacteristic 13-14 this season. In his 17 seasons at Arkansas, Richardson has taken the Razorbacks to the NCAA tournament 14 of the past 15 seasons and won a national championship in 1994.

On his radio show Wednesday night after Arkansas lost to Mississippi State, 89-83, he said, "Whether the rumors are tru or not, I won't speculate. But, I always say, 'Where there's smoke, there's fire.'"

Ravens release Sharpe, Woodson

Owings Mills, Md., Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Baltimore Ravens completed their major salary reduction drive Thursday by waiving Pro Bowlers Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson and five other starters.

Sharpe is the NFL's all-time leader for tight ends in catches and yards and Woodson was named to the league's 75th Anniversary Team at cornerback before making the switch to safety. But age and high salary cap tags ended their days in Baltimore.

The Ravens also waived receiver Qadry Ismail, fullback Sam Gash, defensive end Rob Burnett, tackle Kipp Vickers and defensive tackle Larry Webster. Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa had already announced his retirement.

There was still more paring to do for the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago to get under the $71.1 million salary cap by Friday.

Ex-Ohio State coach joins Bengals

CINCINNATI, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Former Ohio State football coach John Cooper has joined the Cincinnati Bengals as a consultant and

special assistant to the player personnel department.

Cooper, author of a .715 winning percentage at Ohio State with a record of 111-43-4, will begin his duties Friday at the NFL's scouting combine in Indianapolis.

"John is an accomplished coach who is wired into the college football world," Bengals President Mike Brown said. "Year in and year out at Ohio State, he identified and signed the top talent. He knows what we're looking for, and he should be a great help to us."

Cooper plans to continue his role as a college football broadcaster for ESPN.

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