Jets won't match Redskins for Coles
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y., March 19 (UPI) -- The New York Jets have decided not to match the offer sheet made to wide receiver Laveraneus Coles.
The Jets have deemed Coles too expensive. He turned out to be the favorite target of emerging quarterback Chad Pennington last season.
A restricted free agent, Coles last week agreed to a seven-year, $35 million offer sheet that includes a $13 million signing bonus.
By failing to match the offer after making a qualifying offer of $1.318 million last month, the Jets will receive the Redskins' first-round pick, 13th overall, in next month's draft. New York already has the 22nd pick.
"You never want to lose good football players, but we feel this is the best decision for our football team in the short term and the long term," said General Manager Terry Bradway. "At the same time, it was an easy decision and a hard decision. It was a little hard to swallow in terms of the signing bonus."
Coles had a breakout season in 2002, catching 89 passes for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns.
Last week, the Jets decided to match the Redskins' five-year, $8 million offer sheet to kick returner Chad Morton. The Redskins already have signed starting guard Randy Thomas and placekicker John Hall away from the Jets as free agents.
The Jets offered Coles a six-year, $24 million deal that included a $6 million signing bonus, far less than the Redskins offer. The 5-11 Coles became the standout receiver in an offense that also featured wide receivers Santana Moss and Wayne Chrebet.
In Washington, he should start alongside Rod Gardner, giving Coach Steve Spurrier another dimension in the passing game.
In his first two seasons in the league, Coles played in 29 games and started 19. He totaled 81 catches those two seasons for 1,238 yards and eight touchdowns.
Coles, who played college football at Florida State, is a speed receiver with good hands.
Vikings ink Jeff George
MINNEAPOLIS, March 19 (UPI) -- The Minnesota Vikings have signed veteran quarterback Jeff George as a backup to Daunte Culpepper.
George, 35, who visited with team officials Monday, was a backup in Seattle for part of last season. His desire to be a starter likely kept other teams at bay because experts do not think George, who had a rocket arm in his heyday, is a No. 1 anymore.
He was a member of the Vikings in 1999, when Coach Mike Tice was the team's offensive coordinator. Initially, he was a backup to Randall Cunningham
"It was good to come back and see a lot of familiar faces," George told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "They know my feelings and I know their feelings. It's exciting."
George said he would have no problems being No. 1 behind Culpepper.
"You've got to make your starter comfortable and let him feel like you'll do anything you can to help him out," George said. "I just want to get to a championship. If I can be part of this team, and they finally do it, and I've helped Daunte out in any way I can, I'm all for that. I want to get to a championship, in whatever role that might take."
George, who also has played for Indianapolis, Atlanta, and Washington, is 2,298-of-3,967 for 27,602 yards and 154 touchdowns and 113 interceptions in 131 games.
With the Seahawks last season, he never played a down.
Andersen signs with Chiefs
KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 19 (UPI) -- The Kansas City Chiefs have signed veteran placekicker Morten Andersen to a long-term contract.
Financial terms were not released, but the club said in a statement that Andersen signed for four years.
Andersen has appeared in 322 regular season games and eight postseason games during his 22-year NFL career that began in 1982. He has made 486-of 616 field goal attempts (.789), and 695-of-704 extra points for 2,153 career points.
"This was important for the Chiefs and it addresses the position for the next four years," said Kansas City President Carl Peterson. "Morten's longevity and records speak for themselves, and we believe he can continue to play at a high level for the remainder of his contract."
Over his career, Andersen has converted 319-of-347 field goal attempts from inside the 40-yard line, good for a 91.9 make percentage, including all 16 attempts in 2002.
He is the second-leading all-time scorer in NFL history behind Gary Anderson with 2,153 points.
Orlando activates Oyedeji
ORLANDO, Fla., March 19 (UPI) -- The Orlando Magic has placed center Pat Burke on the injured list with left knee tendonitis.
They have activated forward Olumide Oyedeji, a native of Nigeria.
Burke has played in 55 games this season. He is averaging 4.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 12.7 minutes per contest.
Oyedeji has been on the IL since Feb. 28 with a left ankle strain, and missed the last nine games. He has appeared in 22 games, averaging 0.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 5.8 minutes.
Orlando (34-33) hosts the Miami Heat Wednesday night.
Tampa Bay releases Stevens
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., March 19 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Devils Rays have released first baseman/DH Lee Stevens, who was trying to make the club after signing a minor league contract in the offseason.
Stevens, 35, was a victim of both a numbers game and age. The Devil Rays also nabbed Travis Lee, late of Philadelphia, who was squeezed out there when the Phillies signed slugger Jim Thome as a free agent.
"I knew I was fighting for a role job (after Lee was signed)," Stevens told the St. Petersburg Times. "They have a lot of guys here who are young, and they can swing the bats and they can play. I knew I was going to have to have a spectacular showing in camp, and even that wouldn't guarantee anything."
Stevens thinks he can get another look elsewhere.
"There are a lot of teams that don't have their rosters filled out yet," he said. "Hopefully it will be a good thing and I'll hook on somewhere else. Like I said, basically I was playing for 29 other teams. If I had a great spring, maybe they could trade me or get something for me."
In his 11-year career, he has played for California, Texas, Cleveland, and twice for Montreal. He has a .254 batting average with 144 home runs and 531 RBI in 1,012 games.
Stevens was hitting .120 (3-for-25) this spring, including two home runs.
"(Cutting players) is the thing I hate the most about being a manager," said Manager Lou Piniella. "Lee is a class guy and has been a productive player in the majors all these years. Hopefully, by letting him go now, it's still early enough that he can catch on with somebody else."
Dan Wilson goes to DL
PEORIA, Ariz., March 19 (UPI) -- Catcher Dan Wilson of Seattle will miss the start of the regular season after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained internal oblique muscle.
Wilson sustained the injury during batting practice on Feb. 28 and has not appeared in any exhibition games. He will be eligible to come off the disabled list April 5 against the Texas Rangers.
The 6-3, 215-pounder, who turns 34 on March 25, has spent the last the nine seasons with the Mariners. He batted .295 with six home runs and 44 RBI in 115 games last season.
Wilson, expected to back up Ben Davis this season, has a .266 batting average with 82 homers and 441 RBI in 1,089 career games with Cincinnati and Seattle.
The Mariners were scheduled to begin the regular season on March 25 against Oakland in Japan. On Tuesday, Major League Baseball canceled those plans because of the strong possibility of military action by the United States.
The games, both of which were Oakland home dates, were rescheduled for April 3 and June 30. The A's and Mariners instead open the season on April 1 in Oakland.
Mariners dump Jamey Wright
PEORIA, Ariz., March 19 (UPI) -- Veteran righthander Jamey Wright has been released by the Seattle Mariners.
Wright gave up six runs, seven hits, and walked six in 4 1/3 innings Monday in a 10-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. That raised his ERA to 8.35 in six spring appearances.
"We felt the fairest thing to do for Jamey was to give him an opportunity to catch on with another major league club," said Seattle General Manager Pat Gillick.
Wright, 28, was trying to win a job with Seattle after going 7-13 with a 3.98 ERA last season in 23 games, including 22 starts, with Milwaukee and St. Louis.
The seven-year veteran, who also has pitched for Colorado, is 50-67 with a 4.83 ERA in 174 games.
NIT continues Wednesday night
LUBBOCK, Texas, March 19 (UPI) -- A total of 14 games will be played at campus sites Wednesday as the National Invitation Tournament unfolds.
Among the first-round games on the schedule is Nevada at Texas Tech. There has been an outcry for the Red Raiders, who were bypassed by the NCAA Selection Committee in favor of teams thought to be less deserving, such as Alabama, which lost nine of its last 14, including the first round of the SEC Tournament, and Cincinnati, which lost eight of its last 12, including the first round of Conference USA.
Knight said he is not worried about a letdown.
"If you get into it and play well," Knight said, "it increases that sense of accomplishment for the players."
"We'll play our hearts out," star guard Andre Emmett told the Avalanche-Journal.
It will be Tech's first NIT appearance since 1995.
Illinois-Chicago (21-8) at Western Michigan (19-10)
College of Charleston (24-7) at Kent State (21-9)
Providence (16-13) at Richmond (16-12)
Wichita State (18-11) at Iowa State (16-13)
Ohio State (17-14) at Georgia Tech (14-14)
Brown (17-11) at Virginia (15-15)
Seton Hall (17-12) at Rhode Island (19-10)
Boston U. (20-10) at St. John's (16-13)
Louisiana-Lafayette (20-9) at UAB (19-12)
Minnesota (16-12) at Saint Louis (16-13)
Nevada (18-13) at Texas Tech (18-12)
UC Santa Barbara (18-13) at San Diego State (15-13)
Hawaii (18-11) at UNLV (21-10)
Because of a massive snowstorm, the Eastern Washington at Wyoming contest has been moved back a day. It will take place Thursday.
Stoglin released at Jackson State
JACKSON, Miss., March 19 (UPI) -- Officials at Jackson State University have decided not to renew the contract of men's basketball coach Andy Stoglin.
The announcement was made by Athletic Director Roy Culberson, who said Stoglin may be re-assigned within the athletic department. The search for his replacement will begin immediately.
Stoglin, who coach the Tigers 14 years, said recently that he felt he was on borrowed time.
"People have been wanting me fired for a long time," he told the Clarion-Ledger.
"It was the time to make a move for the betterment of the program," Culberson told the paper after the two met for 45 minutes Tuesday.
"President (Ron) Mason and Mr. Culberson are right, its time for me to move on," Stoglin said. "I had a ball coaching here for 14 years. I feel very good walking away from it. To borrow some words from Gladys Knight, the ride was much better than the fall. I was ready for this. I have no hard feelings toward Mr. Culberson or Dr. Mason. They've been very fair with me."
The Tigers went 197-216 during Stoglin's tenure. He guided them to six Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament finals, three conference titles, three SWAC tournament championships, and four postseason appearances.
Jackson State participated in an NCAA play-in game in 1991, the National Invitation Tournament in 1993, and the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 2000, but posted a 10-18 record overall with a 9-9 mark in the conference this season.
Stoglin, 61, compiled a 217-228 record in 14 seasons at JSU.
Kentucky hires DeMoss
LEXINGTON, Ky., March 19 (UPI) -- Kentucky has pried Mickie DeMoss away from Pat Summitt, hiring the long-time Tennessee assistant as its women's basketball coach.
DeMoss, 47, had been an assistant under Summitt at Tennessee for 18 years, helping her build the most powerful program in the history of the sport. She has turned down many head coaching offers in the past but took this one, which keeps her in the Southeastern Conference.
"The timing was just perfect," DeMoss said. "It's a time in my career when I am ready for a new challenge to have my own program to build. When Kentucky presented this opportunity, it was a very good fit."
"No one is more familiar with this league than Mickie," said Summitt, the all-time winningest coach in women's college basketball history, who has guided Tennessee to six national titles. "She is even more familiar than me. Mickie is regarded as a top recruiter from her peers, but I think what she has also brought to our program is her knowledge of the game, teaching skills, and excellence as a bench coach."
Terms of her contract were not disclosed.
DeMoss replaces Bernadette Mattox, who resigned March 10 after eight seasons. The hiring is pending approval by the school's Athletics Association Board of Directors.
"We are very excited to hire the top assistant coach from the most outstanding program in women's basketball history," said Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. "Having watched her coach for several years, I already was well aware of her coaching acumen and dynamic personality. I feel that Mickie is the best choice to lead our women's basketball program into national prominence."
DeMoss will remain with Tennessee through the NCAA Women's Tournament. She has been the Lady Vols' top assistant and recruiting coordinator for 18 years.
After helping Louisiana Tech become a national power as a player, DeMoss became an assistant at Memphis State in 1977. She became the first full-time women's coach at Florida in 1979, and compiled a 45-68 mark over four seasons.
DeMoss spent two years as an assistant at Auburn before being hired by Summitt. She takes over a team that went 11-16 this season, including 4-10 in the SEC.
Mattox was 91-135 with one NCAA Tournament appearance with the Wildcats. She spent 13 years at the school, and was the first female Division I bench coach for a men's team, working under Rick Pitino during the 1990-91 season.
Lemieux has faith in Penguins' leaders
PITTSBURGH, March 19 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Penguins Chairman Mario Lemieux says he will stick with General Manager Craig Patrick and President Ken Sawyer.
The comment comes in the wake of the recent disposal of numerous players for payroll purposes. Patrick, Pittsburgh's GM for the last 14 years, will continue to direct hockey operations and the rebuilding process that is underway.
Sawyer will still be responsible for the development and execution of the overall strategic plan and all off-ice responsibilities, including marketing, communications, finance, and administration. He also will continue to quarterback the Penguins' efforts to build a new arena, in conjunction with Lemieux.
"I feel very fortunate to be able to rely on Ken Sawyer and Craig Patrick," Lemieux said. "They have a complete grasp of the challenges ahead, and are well-respected by their peers throughout the NHL. They know the route that needs to be followed and how to lead the organization along this path."
Lemieux reiterated his commitment to provide Pittsburgh with a franchise that is competitive on the ice, and financially sound.
"I have made it clear to Ken and Craig that during the upcoming weeks and throughout the offseason, I want a thorough review of the entire organization," Lemieux said. "We will do whatever is necessary to assure the success of the Pittsburgh Penguins in reaching all of our goals."
The Penguins (25-38-5-5) are tied for 12th in the Eastern Conference, and will likely miss the playoffs for the second straight year.