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May 10, 2007 at 5:43 PM
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, May 10 (UPI) -- Earnhardt leaves DEI Enterprises

MOORESVILLE, N.C., May 10 (UPI) -- Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Thursday said he is leaving DEI Enterprises after the 2007 Nextel Cup season.

He has been trying to reach a suitable agreement about the future of DEI with his mother and DEI president Theresa Earnhardt.

"After a year of intense negotiation, we decided its time for us to move on and seek other opportunities for 2008," Earnhardt Jr. said at news conference. "We both want to get to the same place, but we have different visions on how to get there. At 32 years of age, the same age my father was when he made his final and most important career decision, it's time for me to compete on a consistent basis."

Earnhardt does not know which team he will drive for next season.

He is 12th in the latest Nextel Cup standings, and likely will be courted by many Nextel powerhouses, including Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Evernham Motorsports.

He has 17 Nextel titles.

B.J. Ryan undergoes left elbow surgery

TORONTO, May 10 (UPI) -- Toronto closer B.J. Ryan is done for the season after undergoing surgery Thursday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.

The 31-year-old left-hander was sidelined on April 14 because of elbow pain.

He was pain free at the beginning of the season, but blew two of five save chances in 4 1/3 innings.

In the 2006 season, the 17th-round selection by the Cincinnati Reds in the 1999 draft had a record of 2-2 with 38 saves and a 1.37 ERA.

He blew only four of 42 chances, and was in the first year of a five-year, $47 million contract, signed in the off-season.

His surgery was recommended by Cincinnati trainer Dr. Timothy Kremckek, who performed the procedure, and orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

Set-up man Jason Frasor is expected to continue in the closer role the remainder of the season.

Dee stepping down as Miami AD

MIAMI, May 10 (UPI) -- Paul Dee is resigning as the athletic director at Miami of Florida on June 1, 2008.

The 60-year-old Dee will have served in the position for 15 years when he steps down.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the athletic department, but I have always wanted to teach and be a member of the faculty," Dee said in a statement. "This way, I can transition to the faculty and teach at the University for a few years before I retire. When I look back, I think of a lot of great things that we have accomplished."

During his tenure, the school won one national championship in football, two in baseball, upgraded its basketball program, and joined the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Thursday its sources said school president Donna Shalala was not planning to extend Dee's contract beyond its 2010 expiration date.

"He decided to 'walk away gracefully,'" the source told the newspaper.

Former mascots sue University of Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., May 10 (UPI) -- Two University of Illinois students who formerly portrayed the school's Indian mascot added conspiracy charges and defendants to a lawsuit against the NCAA.

A Champaign County judge allowed Dan Maloney and Logan Ponce to make the alternations to their suit, which also targets the University's board of trustees, the Champaign (Ill.) News-Gazette reported Thursday.

The suit alleges the NCAA and the college conspired to eliminate the buckskin-attired mascot, Chief Illiniwek. The plaintiffs claim they were deprived of due process when the mascot was eliminated.

"The plaintiffs are entitled to a hearing on the merits of their suit," Judge Mike Jones ruled.

University spokesman Tom Hardy said the case is still in a very early stage.

"The plaintiffs are casting about for something on which to pin their hopes. The judge gave them permission to amend their original complaint but his doing so means nothing in terms of the merits of their case. Our attorneys believe their case is without merit and will defend the university vigorously," Hardy said.

Zions leads the Romano Open

MARBELLA, Spain, May 10 (UPI) -- Australia's Matthew Zions shot 7-under-par 65 for a one-shot lead after the first round of the European Tour's Romano Open de Andalucia at Marbella, Spain.

Zions is one of only six of 671 entrants who successfully negotiated all three stages of the 2006 European Tour Qualifying School, and has never been in contention in a European Tour event.

"Recently, I've made golf more difficult than it should be instead of just picking a target and seeing where it goes," Zions said Thursday.

Local favorite Alejandro Canizares is second at 6-under 66.

There is a tie for third at 5-under 67 among Spain's Fernandez-Costano, England's Chris Gane and Gary Lockerbie, Sweden's Joakim Haggeman, and Louis Oosterhuizen of South Africa.

The inaugural event is the second of five tournaments scheduled for Spain this season.

Fernandez-Costano won last week's rain-shortened Italian Open at Madrid in a two-hole playoff against Austria's Markus Brier.

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