In Sports from United Press International

Jan. 16, 2003 at 8:00 PM
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Del Rio becomes Jaguars coach

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Jack Del Rio accepted the head coaching position with the Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday.

A team spokesman confirmed the hiring to the Jacksonville Times-Union and said a news conference would be held Friday to introduce Del Rio.

Del Rio, a linebacker during his playing days, was hired off the staff of the Carolina Panthers. He was Carolina's defensive coordinator for one year and the Panthers finished this season with the second-ranked defense in the league.

He will replace Tom Coughlin, who had been the only coach in team history until being dismissed on Dec. 30.

Del Rio played collegiately at Southern California and then in the NFL with New Orleans, Kansas City, Dallas and Minnesota. He began his coaching career in 1997 as an assistant with New Orleans, moved to Baltimore in 1999 and joined the Panthers in 2002.

With Del Rio taking over in Jacksonville, the only the NFL team without a coach is San Francisco.

Agassi, Venus highlight Australian schedule

MELBOURNE, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Second-seeded Americans Andre Agassi and Venus Williams will be the highlight attractions Friday at the Australian Open.

Both will try to maintain their streaks of having reached the last 16 in every appearance at the tournament.

Agassi, a three-time champion at Melbourne, will try to advance to the round of 16 for the seventh time when he faces No. 29 Nicolas Escude of France.

Williams, meanwhile, will take on Anca Barna of Germany and attempt to reach the last 16 for the fifth time.

Agassi is coming off the easiest best-of-five-sets victory in his career. The Las Vegas native crushed Sydney champion Hyung-Taik Lee of Korea, 6-1, 6-0, 6-0, in the second round Wednesday.

The 32-year-old Agassi has the chance to become just the fourth player to win four Australian Opens. He captured the title at Melbourne Park in 1995, 2000 and 2001, made the semifinals in 1996 and reached the fourth round in 1998 and 1999.

Goosen takes early lead in Honolulu

HONOLULU, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Former U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen grabbed the early first-round lead at the Sony Open.

In the first full-field event of the PGA Tour season, Goosen fired a 6-under 64. Ernie Els, who won $1 million at the Mercedes Championship last week on the island of Maui, joined Aaron Baddeley, Chad Campbell, Robert Gamez and Shigeki Maruyama at 66.

There were 22 rookies in the field for this week's event, including Andy Miller. The son of 1973 U.S. Open champ Johnny Miller had a late starting time.

Yao Ming picked for rookie game

NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Yao Ming of China and Pau Gasol of Spain are among a record six international players selected for the NBA Rookie Challenge.

That game will be played Feb. 8 as part of All-Star Saturday in Atlanta.

Yao the first overall pick in the 2002 draft, would miss the rookie game if he is selected for the Western Conference's All-Star team. He led the latest fan balloting at the center position.

Yao is one of three international players on the rookie team while Gasol, the reigning Rookie of the Year, heads the squad of second-year players. Each team was selected by a panel of 14 former NBA players and broadcasters that cover the league.

Joining Yao on the rookie team are Memphis' Gordan Giricek of Croatia and Denver's Nene Hilario of Brazil. International players teamming with Gasol on the sophomore squad are Utah's Andrei Kirilenko of Russia and San Antonio's Tony Parker, who hails from France.

Jim Phelan announces retirement

EMMITSBURG, Md., Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Mount St. Mary's Jim Phelan, the nation's winningest active coach, will retire at the end of this season.

Phelan is fourth on the career wins list with 824, behind only Dean Smith (879), Adolph Rupp (876) and Clarence "Big House" Gaines (828). The 73-year-old Phelan is in his NCAA-record 49th season as a coach at Mount St. Mary's.

Known almost as much for his trademark bow ties as for his coaching, Phelan has coached in more basketball games than anyone -- 1,339 entering Saturday's meeting with Long Island.

"The decision to step down was made much earlier," Phelan said Thursday. "I had discussed it with several of my close friends and decided that the time was right. Certainly, healthwise, I feel fine, but the energy needed for the virtual year-round recruiting just isn't there."

Phelan has led the Mountaineers to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 1962 College Division national title, when the school competed at the Division II level. He led the team to five trips the semifinals of the Division II Tournament.

NBA reinstates Stanley Roberts

NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- More than three years after being banned from the league for drug use, Stanley Roberts was reinstated by the NBA Thursday.

A 7-foot center, Roberts was expelled Nov. 24, 1999 after testing positive for an amphetamine-based designer drug. He could not apply for reinstatement for at least two years.

Roberts, who turns 33 next month, was with the Philadelphia 76ers at the time of the expulsion. If the 76ers decide against signing Roberts, he will become a free agent.

The Sixers have an immediate need at center with Todd MacCulloch suffering from a condition that affects his nervous system. He sat out Wednesday night's 108-107 victory over New Jersey and is expected to miss at least two more games.

In five games during the 1999-2000 season, Roberts scored 10 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Also plagued by injuries during an eight-year career, Roberts has averaged 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds in 300 NBA games. He has battled weight problems as well, playing at 290 pounds three years ago.

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