In Sports from United Press International

April 1, 2003 at 11:55 PM
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North Carolina basketball coach Doherty quits

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., April 2 (UPI) -- North Carolina basketball Coach Matt Doherty resigned under pressure Tuesday, although school officials insisted he was not the victim of a "player revolt."

Doherty stepped down following several days of meetings between players and Athletic Director Dick Baddour.

"The resignation is not just a result of the meetings we had," Baddour said at a news conference Tuesday night. "It would be extremely unfair to those players and an unqualified mistake to say the resignation was only the result of their concerns and questions."

Baddour acknowledged there was turmoil over the past two seasons, adding, "I was concerned about transfers for this year. I was concerned about players' plans for next year and for the year after, as well. So that was paramount and in my focus."

With an influx of talented freshmen, Doherty improved the Tar Heels from 8-20 in 2001-02 to 19-16 this past season, winning two games in the National Invitation Tournament.

But after North Carolina was beaten at home last Wednesday in the quarterfinals by Georgetown, someplayers and their parents requested to meet with Baddour.

Sean May, one of the team's prized freshman, has supported Doherty but admitted his coaching tactics annoyed some players.

"He has a different style," May told the Charlotte Observer. "That's the way he is. Some guys don't like it. Me, I'm OK with it."

May's father, Scott, played for Bob Knight at Indiana in the mid-1970s.

Doherty had three years remaining on his contract and received a $337,500 buyout, school officials said.

The resignation was expected to bring the usual list of prospects for the Carolina job - Kansas coach Roy Williams, who turned it down three years ago when Doherty was hired, and NBA coaches Larry Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers and George Karl of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Baddour, however, said he would not limit his search to the "Carolina family."

Doherty was a starter on perhaps North Carolina's most beloved team - the 1982 squad that featured Michael Jordan, James Worthy and Sam Perkins and gave coach Dean Smith his first national championship. Williams was an assistant on that team.

Three years ago, Doherty became the second former Tar Heel player to be named coach of his alma mater. In his first season, he led North Carolina to 26 wins, a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

After becoming the first coach to win an ACC regular-season crown in his first year, Doherty presided over the worst season in school history in 2001-02.

Doherty recruited McDonald's All-Americans Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and May and the Tar Heels improved this past season. But they were just 6-10 in the ACC and failed to earn an NCAA Tournament berth for the second straight year.

Driver loses points, crew chief suspended

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., April 2 (UPI) -- Busch series rookie driver Chad Blount and his owner were stripped 25 points and crew chief Patrick Donahue was suspended for two races by NASCAR on Tuesday for using improperly modified rear hubs.

The violation was found during an inspection after Saturday's O'Reilly 300, in which Blount finished fifth in a Dodge Intrepid. According to NASCAR officials, the modifications are intended to reduce the weight of the vehicle and increase speed.

The sanctions reduced Blount's point total to 582 and left him 322 behind Busch series leader Todd Bodine. He had been leading the race for Rookie of the Year honors.

Todd Braun's point total was affected similarly in the owners' standings. Donahue also was suspended $5,000 and will miss the Aaron's 312 on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway and the Pepsi 300 on April 12 at Nashvile Superspeedway.

McCaffrey has hernia surgery

ENGLEWOOD, Colo., April 2 (UPI) -- The Denver Broncos announced Tuesday that receiver Ed McCaffrey underwent hernia surgery on March 18.

He is expected to return in two-to-three months.

The Broncos also announced that veteran quarterback Steve Beuerlein will return to the team for the 2003 season.

McCaffrey, 34, had a chronic groin condition commonly referred to as a "sports hernia." The surgery was performed in Philadelphia by world-renowned surgeon Dr. William Meyers, who specializes in the areas of adductor and abdominal surgical procedures.

"He will be resting for three to four weeks, and then the rehabilitation phase will begin," said Broncos trainer Steve Antonopulos.

McCaffrey had 69 catches for 903 yards last season.

Beuerlein, 38, will likely serve as a backup to Jake Plummer, who was signed to a seven-year contract worth more than $40 million last month.

Beuerlein started three of the eight games he played last season for Denver, completing 68-of-117 passes for 925 yards and six touchdowns with five interceptions.

Jeter suffers shoulder injury

TORONTO, April 2 (UPI) -- Derek Jeter, a key cog in the New York Yankees' run of seven straight postseason appearances, suffered a dislocated left shoulder Monday night.

He will be sidelined indefinitely, and the Yankees already are bracing for an extended absence, possibly for a minimum for two months.

Jeter is scheduled to have an MRI Thursday in Tampa, where the Yankees will play a weekend series against the Devil Rays.

Even Jeter himself is pessimistic.

"It's going to be a while, I guess," said Jeter, who wore a sling when addressing the media after Monday's game, an 8-4 win at Toronto.

The defending American League East Division champions were dealt the potentially devastating blow when their unofficial captain collided with Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby at third base in the third inning of the season-opening contest at SkyDome.

Jeter was trying to go from first base to third on a groundout by Jason Giambi in the third inning. Huckaby was covering third and landed on Jeter's shoulder after catching the throw from first baseman Carlos Delgado.

Entering his eighth season, Jeter has been a cornerstone of the Yankees' recent success, which includes four World Series championships, five American League pennants, and six AL East titles.

The normally durable Jeter has not missed more than 14 games in any of his first seven seasons. He has had more than 190 hits in six consecutive years, and has scored at least 100 runs in seven straight.

Jeter is a career .317 hitter.

NASCAR president Helton admits error

CONCORD, N.C., April 2 (UPI) -- NASCAR President Mike Helton admitted Tuesday to an error in a call made in Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

After a spin on the backstretch of lap 168 by Elliott Sadler, the yellow flag came out. Leader Matt Kenseth slowed to allow lapped teammates Kurt Busch and Ricky Rudd to get back on the lead lap, and as he did, Jeff Gordon blew past him to take the top spot.

NASCAR officials - apparently including Helton - returned Kenseth to the front and Gordon to second for the green flag restart. Gordon, who finished third, complained long and loud after the race, and his words did not fall on deaf ears.

"The biggest reason I'm here today is to tell you after the fact, if we had to do that call over again, we would do it different," Helton said in a teleconference Tuesday morning. "In other words, we made a mistake making the call in a scenario of something we had never seen before when someone took the lead of the race and then gave it back."

Helton believed Gordon was less interested in passing Kenseth and more interested in not allowing Busch and Rudd to pick up the lap they had lost simply through the generosity of their teammate.

"Once the 24 (Gordon) crossed the start-finish line - and before being picked up by the pace car - he fell back into line behind the 17 car (Kenseth)," Helton said. "As it unfolded, it appeared that the 24's intent was to keep lapped cars down (a lap), more than to lead the race."

Helton pointed out the need to make quick decisions when a caution comes out due to potential danger on the track. However, he said NASCAR would not reverse Sunday's decision, and the results remain official.

Helton also said NASCAR will look at other methods of scoring to make sure drivers are credited with the correct position each time the yellow flag comes out.

Kenseth placed sixth in a race Ryan Newman won by more than three seconds over Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Piazza suspension reduced to four games

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- The New York Mets learned Tuesday that the suspension of catcher Mike Piazza has been reduced from five games to four.

Piazza met with Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy following Monday's 15-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs to appeal his suspension, stemming from a bench-clearing brawl in a March 12 Grapefruit League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Naturally, I'm glad the suspension has been reduced," Piazza said. "I just want to put this all behind me so I can concentrate on baseball the rest of the season."

Piazza was suspended for charging Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota after being hit by a pitch. Mota also was suspended five games, but had it knocked down to four without having to appeal.

Piazza attempted to enter the Dodgers' locker room after both players were ejected, but Mota already had left the ballpark.

"I was able to reason my position," Piazza had said Monday. "I can't say I'm optimistic, but I do believe we argued my case effectively."

The 10-time All-Star will serve a suspension for the first time in his career.

He will miss games against the Cubs Wednesday and Thursday, and the first two games of the weekend series against Montreal.

The Mets kept three catchers on their 25-man roster.

Vance Wilson will start in Piazza's absence, and rookie Jason Phillips will serve as the backup.

Top seed Razzano ousted at Casablanca

CASABLANCA, Morocco, April 1 (UPI) -- Rossana Neffa De Los Rios of Paraguay snapped a five-match skid Tuesday with a rout of top seed Virginie Razzano of France.

Neffa De Los Rios eliminated Razzano, 6-3, 6-0, in the first round at the Grand Prix De S.A.R. La Princesse for her first victory since the first round at Hobart during the first week of January.

Razzano has lost three in a row and eight of 12 matches on the WTA Tour this season.

Another seeded player to lose Tuesday was No. 9 Conchita Martinez Granados of Spain, who endured a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Lubomira Kurhajcova of Slovakia.

Fifth seed Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic got past Yugoslavian qualifier Jelena Jankovic, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, and sixth-seeded Patricia Wartusch of Austria beat Maria Santangelo of Italy, 6-4, 6-3.

A pair of local wild card entrants failed to make the most of their opportunity as Morocco's Bahia Mouhtassine fell to Slovakia's Eva Fislova, 6-7 (3-7), 7-5, 6-4, and Tunisian Selima Sfar lost to Italian Antonella Serra Zanetti, 6-3, 6-3.

Also, Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus overcame lucky loser Maria Emilia Salerni of Argentina, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5; Gala Leon Garcia of Spain cruised by Martina Muller of Germany, 6-1, 6-2; and lucky loser Maria Elena Camerin of Italy got past Hungarian qualifier Rita Kuti Kis, 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4).

Clippers activate Brand from IL

LOS ANGELES, April 2 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Clippers activated forward Elton Brand from the injured list on Tuesday.

Brand has been sidelined for 18 games due to a stress fracture in his lower left leg. The 24-year-old was available for Tuesday's home game against Utah.

Brand, who spent his first stint on the injured list in his four-year NBA career, is averaging 18.4 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.64 blocks this season.

The 6-8, 265-pound Brand was acquired by Los Angeles from the Chicago Bulls in June 2001 for the draft rights to Tyson Chandler and is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Everhart gets contract extension

BOSTON, April 2 (UPI) -- Ron Everhart has been rewarded for leading Northeastern to its first winning season in eight years.

The school has signed its men's basketball coach to a two-year extension through the 2007-08 season.

Everhart, who had three years left on his contract before the extension, has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround from 7-21 in 2001-02 to 16-15 last season. It was the first winning season for the Huskies since the 1994-95 campaign.

Everhart came to Northeastern in April 2001 after six seasons at McNeese State, culminating with a 22-9 record in 2000-01 and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.

Alexander takes Tennessee State job

NASHVILLE, April 1 (UPI) -- Cy Alexander, who led South Carolina State to four NCAA Tournament berths in the last eight years, is headed to Tennessee State.

The school officially named Alexander as its men's basketball coach on Tuesday.

"I am excited to have someone of Cy's experience and integrity to become our men's basketball coach," said Tennessee State Athletic Director Teresa Phillips. "He brings immediate credibility to our program because of how successful and how well-respected he is in the college basketball community."

Phillips made history this past season, becoming the first woman to coach a men's Division I basketball team in a 71-56 loss at Austin Peay on Feb. 13.

The former women's coach at Tennessee State took over the team after suspending interim coach Hosea Lewis following a Feb. 11 game against Eastern Kentucky in which 19 players were ejected following a benches-clearing brawl.

That was just part of a disastrous 2-25 season for the Tigers.

Nolan Richardson III began the season as coach, but resigned Jan. 8, two weeks after Phillips suspended him indefinitely for bringing a gun into the school's gym.

Alexander spent the last 16 years at South Carolina State and built it into one of the winningest programs in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He compiled an overall record of 277-202, including a 191-79 conference mark.

The Winston-Salem, N.C., native led the Bulldogs to five MEAC Tournament titles, and the team finished first or second in the league every year but once since the 1991 season.

Redskins send Brandt to Packers

ASHBURN, Va., April 2 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers have acquired center-guard David Brandt from the Washington Redskins for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2004 draft.

Brandt, 25, left the Redskins before the start of the 2002 season, but now has decided to resume his playing career. The 6-4, 313-pounder was signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2001, and went on to play in 13 games for Washington as a rookie.

The Redskins also have re-signed guards Wilbert Brown and Alex Sulfsted.

Brown started nine of 14 games for the Redskins last season, mostly at right guard.

Sulfsted started three games and played in 14 for Washington in 2002, mostly at left guard.

Both likely will serve as reserves since the Redskins have signed free agent guards Randy Thomas and Dave Fiore in the offseason.

Red Wings assistant suspended, team fined

NEW YORK, April 2 (UPI) -- Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Joe Kocur has been suspended two games and the team was fined $5,000 on Monday for is behavior Sunday against St. Louis.

Kocur tossed a chair onto the ice during the fight-filled third period of Saturday's win over the Blues.

Referees Dave Jackson and Stephen Walkom handed out 243 minutes in penalties, including 219 in the third period. After a second round of brawls with 35 seconds remaining, Kocur received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing a folding chair onto the ice.

Kocur, who accumulated 2,519 penalty minutes during a 15-year playing career, missed Monday's game against Nashville, and will miss Thursday's game against the New York Islanders.

Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said the team will not appeal the suspension.

"Obviously, Robbie Ftorek threw a chair on the ice here at Joe Louis and basically got the same suspension," Holland noted. "It certainly was not a very nice way to finish the hockey game. Looked like 20 years ago. We had guys in fights that don't fight, it's not their game. The game was out of hand. We're happy nobody got hurt."

The Blues were fined $25,000 and Coach Joel Quenneville received a $5,000 fine for the conduct of his team in the final minute of the 6-2 loss.

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