Gibbs joining Falcons as part owner
ATLANTA, March 15 (UPI) -- Joe Gibbs, who coached the Washington Redskins to three Super Bowl titles, is back in the NFL but in a different capacity.
New Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank announced Friday that Gibbs has reached a preliminary agreement to become a minority owner of the NFL franchise.
The plan calls for Gibbs, John P. Imlay Jr. and John A. Williams to purchase a five percent stake of the team, worth approximately $27 million. The deal is subject to NFL approval.
During his 12 years as coach of the Redskins from 1981-92, Gibbs took them to four Super Bowls, winning three, and had a postseason record of 16-5. He retired in 1993 and turned his focus to Joe Gibbs Racing, based in Charlotte, N.C.
In addition, former Falcons quarterback Steve Bartkowski was named to the team's board of directors. Bartkowski starred for the Falcons from 1975-85.
Researcher calls foul on refs
CHICAGO, March 15 (UPI) --A new study says those fingernail-biting finishes in college basketball games may not be as close as they seem.
NCAA Division I referees may make their calls based on the presence of the television spotlight, says the report by anthropologist Kendall Thu. The study is to be published in the spring edition of Human Organization.
A spokesman for the National Association of Sports officials said he would find it difficult to give the study any credence.
"Referees tend to keep nationally televised games close by calling a significantly higher number of fouls against teams that are ahead in the score," said Thu, a professor at Northern Illinois University.
Thu analyzed ref calls in games televised by the national networks. He found 58 percent of the fouls were called against the leading team, excluding calls made in the last two minutes of each half and in tie-game situations.
"This results in more competitive games that maintain an edge of suspense for viewers. Interestingly, we don't find the same pattern in games televised on a regional basis," Thu said.
Leafs get new goalie
TORONTO, March 15 (UPI) -- After the Toronto Maple Leafs lost star goaltender Curtis Joseph in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Hurricanes supplied the replacement.
The Maple Leafs on Friday acquired goaltender Tom Barrasso from Carolina for a fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft.
Barrasso, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, won a pair of Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992. Playing his 18th NHL season, Barrasso is 13-12-5 in 34 games this season with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.
The American Olympian is in 11th place on the NHL's all-time wins list for goaltenders. Among the league's active netminders, Barrasso is fifth in shutouts with 37 and third in wins with 366.
Joseph, perhaps the Leafs' most important player, suffered a broken bone in his left hand in a Feb. 26 game against the Hurricanes and will probably be sidelined for at least three more weeks
Eagle sends Scott soaring at Qatar
DOHA, Qatgar, March 15 (UPI) -- Australian Adam Scott eagled the 466-yard 15th, toughest hole at Doha Golf Club, to spring into a three-shot lead at the halfway pomt of the Qatar Masters Friday.
Scott eventually carded a flawless 66 for an 11-under-par 133 and a healthy advantage over nearest challengers Klas Eriksson of Sweden, Anders Hansen of Denmark and José Manuel Lara of Spain who carded 70, 68 and 69, respectively, for 136.
Ironically, the 21-year-old Australian did not get off a perfect drive on the 15th, his tee shot running out of fairway into the semi-rough. But, he more than made up for it with his second.
His crisply struck five iron from 200 yards out pitched perfectly in the center of the green 25 feet from the pin and rolled into the cup.
"You need a little bit of luck now and again," he said, "because I certainly didn't expect it to go in."
Sorenstam seeks to pull ahead
PHOENIX, March 15 (UPI) -- Annika Sorenstam sought Friday afternoon to take over sole possession of first place in the second round of the PING Banner Health golf tournament.
With winds gusting near 25 miles per hour, Sorenstam carded a 5-under-par 67 Thursday but that was only good enough for a five-way tie for the lead.
It was on this course that she made history last year when she became the first player in LPGA history to shoot a 59 en route to the title.
Friday's round opened with Sorenstam tied with Jackie Gallagher-Smith, Kelly Robbins, Emilee Klein and Shani Waugh of Australia. Fifteen others were within three shots of the lead.