In Sports from United Press International

March 5, 2003 at 12:17 AM
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Troubled Georgia beats No. 3 Florida

ATHENS, Ga., March 5 (UPI) -- What could possibly be Coach Jim Harrick's last home game at Georgia turned out to be a memorable one Tuesday night.

Jarvis Hayes' turnaround jumper with 15 seconds left lifted the 25th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs to an 82-81 victory over No. 3 Florida in a Southeastern Conference thriller.

Georgia continues to be dogged by the allegations of former Bulldog Tony Cole claiming illegal payments and academic fraud from Harrick and his son, who has been suspended from the coaching staff. Before the game, the embattled Harrick sat down for an interview with ESPN commentator Dick Vitale and denied the allegations.

The Gators' loss gave No. 2 Kentucky the SEC East division title.

Chest surgery for Robinson

LAS VEGAS, March 5 (UPI) -- John Robinson, the football coach at Nevada-Las Vegas, had an artery in his chest unblocked Monday after feeling discomfort during a routine examination.

Robinson, who also is the school's Athletic Director, mentioned he was experiencing discomfort in his chest during his exam, and was referred to a cardio consultation. A cardiogram was performed and some blockage was found in his right artery.

The blockage was opened successfully at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, which is on UNLV's Rose de Lima campus in Henderson, Nev., a suburb of Las Vegas. Robinson, who is 67, was resting comfortably Monday night.

"Everything went perfectly," said Dr. Joe Johnson. "Coach Robinson will make a full recovery, and is generally in excellent health. He should be released in two to three days."

Robinson is just 20-27 in four years at UNLV, but is 10th among active college football coaches with a lifetime winning percentage of .663, going 124-62-4 in two stints with Southern California and one with the Rebels.

He was the 1979 Coach of the Year on the college level, and also spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, compiling a 79-74 mark from 1983-91.

WAC bans Fresno State from postseason

ENGLEWOD, Colo., March 5 (UPI) -- The Western Athletic Conference agreed Tuesday to prohibit schools that are ineligible for postseason play from participating in the conference tournament.

That made Fresno State ineligible for this year's event.

The move came one day after Fresno State decided on a self-imposed postseason ban due to violations involving academic fraud committed under former coach Jerry Tarkanian. The Bulldogs captured the WAC regular-season crown.

The resolution, approved by the WAC Board of Directors, is effective immediately.

A joint investigation by the university and the NCAA found instances of academic fraud among former players, who received assistance in completing writing assignments by an individual who was paid.

The postseason ban means the Bulldogs, who captured the regular-season title in the Western Athletic Conference, cannot participate in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.

In addition, the entire athletic department was placed on probation for two years, and a total of three scholarships were taken away from the basketball team for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

Fresno State Monday imposed a one-year postseason ban on its men's basketball team for violations committed under Tarkanian.

"I regret that this severe action will affect student-athletes, staff, and coaches who were utterly unconnected to the problem," said school President John Welty. "However, it is important that this institution guarantee its academic integrity. We simply will not tolerate academic misconduct in any form."

Tarkanian resigned March 15, 2002 after a 38-year college coaching year, including seven seasons with Fresno State, his alma mater. He led the Bulldogs to the postseason every year, but saw his teams dogged by numerous off-the-court problems.

Tarkanian remains employed by the university as the Senior Development Consultant to the Save Mart Center, the Bulldogs' new arena that will open next fall.

Giovanni Lapentti upsets Srichaphan

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 5 (UPI) -- Giovanni Lapentti posted the biggest victory of his short tennis career Tuesday by upsetting fourth-seeded Paradorn Srichaphan 7-6 (7-2), 6-2.

The 6-5 Lapentti, an Ecuadorian ranked an obscure No. 311 on the tour, won his first career main draw match, dispatching the world 12th-ranked player in 73 minutesin the opening round of the Franklin Templeton Tennis Clasoc.

"I played unbelievable, it was a great day for me out there," Giovanni told Nicolas in a long distance telephone conversation afterward. "I felt very comfortable and I didn't think too much about. It just happened, and here I am now."

In other first round matches, Australian Open finalist and fifth seed Ranier Schuettler of Germany bounced qualifier Harel Levy of Israel, 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, and No. 6 Alex Corretja of Spain ousted Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-4, 6-2.

Heat place Jones on injured list

MIAMI, March 5 (UPI) -- Miami Heat guard Eddie Jones, the team's leading scorer, was placed on the injured list Tuesday for the third time this season.

The move came after Jones suffered a sprained ankle in practice on Monday.

Jones will wear a non-weighted brace cast for two weeks before being re-evaluated. He also spent time on the injured list this season with a thumb injury and sprained ankle.

Jones, who has started 47 games, is averaging 18.5 points and also leads the Heat in field goals made (291), 3-pointers made (98) and attempted (241) and minutes played (38.1).

The three-time All-Star also is averaging 4.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field and a team-high 41 percent from 3-point range.

Extension for Brown, Rice

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5 (UPI) -- The Oakland Raiders have signed star wide receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown to contract extensions.

The signings continues as the Raiders continued scrambling to create room under the salary cap.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that Rice, 40, and Brown, 36, signed nearly identical six-year cap-friendly extensions worth $30 million apiece.

By heavily backloading both contracts, the Raiders lessen the salary cap hit for 2003 and 2004.

Before the free agency period started last Friday, the AFC champions were more than $40 million over the salary cap. That forced them to release six players, including defensive starters Regan Upshaw, Sam Adams, and Anthony Dorsett, and renegotiate numerous others.

Upshaw already has signed a free agent contract with Washington.

After the reported moves with Rice and Brown, the Raiders are about $6 million under the NFL's $75 million salary-cap limit.

Rice, the NFL's all-time leading receiver, was named to his 13th Pro Bowl at the age of 40 last season after leading the Raiders with 92 catches for 1,211 yards. Brown had 81 receptions for 930 yards.

After 16 glorious years with the 49ers, Rice signed with the Raiders in 2001. He has 1,456 career catches for 21,597 yards and 202 touchdowns.

Brown, a nine-time Pro Bowler, has spent his entire 15-year career with the Raiders, and is one of only three players with 1,000 career receptions, compiling 1,018 catches for 14,167 yards.

New deal for Piller

NASHVILLE, March 5 (UPI) -- Zach Piller became the latest free agent guard to cash in this offseason, signing a seven-year contract worth $21.2 million with the Tennessee Titans.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said Piller got a $4 million signing bonus, and the Nashville Tennesseean reported that Piller re-signed with the Titans after rejecting an offer from Washington. In college, Piller played for Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier.

"Free agency is a scary thing," Piller told the paper. "I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I am here."

Big money for offensive linemen normally is reserved for tackles in the free agent market, but the Washington Redskins set the bar high for guards when they signed free agent Randy Thomas, a four-year starter with the New York Jets but never a Pro Bowler, to a seven-year deal worth $28 million with a $7 million signing bonus.

Piller, a 6-5, 315-pounder, turns 27 in May. He did not become a full-time starter for Tennessee until 2001, but is the team's best run-blocking lineman.

Texans retain Foreman

HOUSTON, March 5 (UPI) -- The Houston Texans Tuesday re-signed linebacker Jay Foreman, the team's leading tackler, to a five-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Houston Chronicle reported that the deal is worth $10 million.

Foreman started all 16 games at inside linebacker in Houston's inaugural season in 2002, and had a career-high 193 tackles. He also forced one fumble and had four passes defensed.

Falcons sign Cory Hall

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., March 5 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons have made their first free agent acquisition this offseason by signing safety Cory Hall.

Hall, 26, was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 1999 draft, and spent four seasons with them. The 6-0, 213-pounder had 71 tackles, two sacks, and one interception last season. He made two starts at strong safety and 13 at free safety.

the defense, we'll see how I can best be used, but I do like to mix it up a lot in the box."

The Falcons lost cornerback Ashley Ambrose, who signed with New Orleans after spending the previous three seasons with Atlanta. He began his NFL career with the Saints, his hometown team.

The Falcons also continue intense negotiations with Buffalo about a possible deal for wide receiver Peerless Price, who is upset about being labeled the Bills' franchise player recently.

The Falcons want a premier wideout for star quarterback Michael Vick.

Hill goes back to 76ers

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 5 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia 76ers have signed free agent forward Tyrone Hill to a contract days after he was cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Hill was in uniform Monday night in a 107-99 loss to Sacramento. In 12 minutes, had no points, three rebounds, and one assist.

Hill, 34, is making his second stop in Philadelphia. Originally acquired in a four-player deal with Milwaukee on March 11, 1999, he averaged 10.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per contest in 165 games with the Sixers.

After helping the 2000-01 Sixers win the Eastern Conference championship, Hill was traded to Cleveland on Aug. 11, 2001.

The Sixers made the move in the midst of their best stretch of the season. Before Monday night, they were 9-0 since the All-Star break, and pulled to within three games of first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. They are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Hill was talked into rejoining the 76ers by Shelly Brown, the wife of Coach Larry Brown,

Falcons trade linebacker to Eagles

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga., March 5 (UPI) -- The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that they traded linebacker Mark Simoneau to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Falcons got a sixth-round choice in the 2003 draft and a fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft.

Simoneau, 6-0, 234 pounds, was originally drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2000 draft out of Kansas State. During his three-year career, Simoneau has been a part-time player in the Falcons linebacker rotation in addition to being a contributor on special teams.

Last season Simoneau played in 15 games as a reserve. He finished the season with 11 tackles on defense and was second on the team with 10 special teams tackles to go along with one forced fumble and one recovered fumble. Simoneau has accumulated 107 tackles, 0.5 sack and five passes defensed in 45 NFL games.

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