Fisher no longer Titans' coach
The Tennessee Titans have parted ways with Jeff Fisher, who just completed his 16th full season as the NFL's longest-tenured coach. The team said in a release Thursday night that "Fisher will no longer be the head coach of the team." The Titans announced the move within an hour of a report by SI.com that they were negotiating Fisher's departure. Though Fisher, 52, had been derided locally as "Coach .500" or "Coacho Ocho," he seemingly had just survived a battle with quarterback Vince Young. Owner Bud Adams decided to either release Young or trade him on Jan. 5. He announced two days later that he would be keeping Fisher.
But the team's honoring of the coach's final year on his contract meant Fisher would be coaching for his future in 2011. Fisher has repeatedly said he wanted to finish his career with the franchise. A team spokesman did not immediately respond to messages from The Associated Press. Fisher and his agent did not respond to messages. More details could come out Friday when the team is expected to hold a news conference to discuss the first coaching change since the franchise relocated to Tennessee from Houston in 1997.
■ The Ravens fired quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who spent one year on the job after being dismissed as head coach of the Redskins. Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will work more closely with quarterback Joe Flacco next season.
■ An autopsy confirmed Thursday that a body pulled from the Mississippi River is that of the brother of Ravens safety Ed Reed. Authorities on Wednesday had tentatively identified the body as 29-year-old Brian Reed, who jumped into the river about 30 miles northwest of New Orleans after an encounter with a sheriff's deputy on Jan. 7.
Iowa to investigate cause of ailment
University of Iowa leaders promised Thursday to investigate what caused 13 football players to be hospitalized with an unusual muscle disorder following off-season workouts. Board of Regents President David Miles and Iowa President Sally Mason called the incident "a cause for grave concern." The university will have 90 days to complete an investigation analyzing events leading up to the hospitalizations, and the results will be presented to the board. The review will involve independent medical experts. The university acknowledged Wednesday that the players have rhabdomyolysis, a condition involving the release of muscle fiber into the bloodstream. The disorder, which can cause kidney damage and even failure in severe cases, can be caused by physical exertion. The players were participating in grueling workouts that started last week. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and Athletics Director Gary Barta did not attend Wednesday's news conference, and spokesman Phil Haddy said Thursday that there aren't any plans for Ferentz to meet with the media before signing day for recruits on Feb. 2.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Ex-KU official pleads guilty in ticket scam
A $2 million ticket-scalping scheme at the University of Kansas began when an athletics department official began stealing tickets and giving them to her husband and five other employees to sell, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Details about the five-year scam emerged when Charlette Blubaugh, the former associate athletics director, pleaded guilty to conspiracy during a hearing in Wichita and agreed to forfeit along with her co-defendants the $2 million in illicit proceeds. The charge carries up to 20 years in prison, though she will probably receive far less under federal sentencing guidelines.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway told the judge that beginning in 2005, athletics tickets were sent from the printer to Blubaugh, who was then in charge of the school's ticket office. She set aside a large number of season tickets that were initially requested by former associate athletics director Ben Kirtland, but she later began channeling them through her husband, Hathaway said. Blubaugh is the fifth person to plead guilty in a scam that reportedly involved nearly 20,000 basketball and football tickets before unraveling last year. Her husband, Thomas, 46, is expected to plead guilty on Friday. After his expected plea, only Kirtland still faces trial.
Mayo fails drug test, suspended 10 games
The NBA suspended guard O.J. Mayo 10 games without pay Thursday for violating the league and union's anti-drug program with a positive test. The league announced the suspension Thursday for Mayo's positive test for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Mayo's suspension will start Friday night when the Grizzlies visit Philadelphia, and he will be able to return Feb. 15 against the 76ers in Memphis. Mayo said in a statement released by the team that he is extremely disappointed he will miss 10 games as the Grizzlies are making a push for the playoffs. He blamed an over-the-counter supplement that he didn't know was banned by the NBA for the positive test.
"It was an honest mistake, but I take full responsibility for my actions," Mayo said in the statement. "I apologize to my fans, teammates and the Grizzlies organization for regrettably not doing the necessary research about what supplements I can put in my body."
Knicks end 6-game skid with win over Heat
Danilo Gallinari and Landry Fields made consecutive three-pointers in the final 1:18, and the Knicks took advantage of LeBron James's miserable shooting night to beat the Heat 93-88 Thursday. Amar'e Stoudemire scored 24 points for the Knicks. Gallinari finished with 20 points, and Fields added 19 to help the Knicks win their second straight after a six-game skid. Dwyane Wade, fighting migraines that forced him to wear goggles, had 34 points and 16 rebounds but missed all seven shots in the fourth quarter after he was 14-for-15 through three. James was 7-for-24 for his 24 points. The NBA rejected the tinted goggles that Wade planned to wear to protect his eyes from the bright lights, saying the tint was too dark and would give Wade an unfair edge because the opponent could not see his eyes. Wade had to wear another pair of goggles, which he hadn't tested in practice.
All-Star starters announced
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Heat are headed to the NBA All-Star game together, and Derrick Rose gave the Bulls their first starter since Michael Jordan, according to fan voting, the league announced Thursday. They will be joined in the Eastern Conference starting lineup by Amar'e Stoudemire, who will become the first Knick to start in nearly two decades, and Orlando center Dwight Howard, the leading vote-getter in the conference with nearly 2.1 million. Rose beat out Celtics guard and former Kentucky star Rajon Rondo.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant earned his 13th straight All-Star selection for the Feb. 20 game at his home arena. He is one shy of the record held by Jerry West, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone. Bryant, a three-time MVP of the All-Star game, was the overall leading vote-getter with more than 2.3 million. The other starters announced Thursday were Hornets guard Chris Paul, forwards Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and Carmelo Anthony of Denver, and Houston center Yao Ming, who is injured and will be replaced on the roster by a player of Commissioner David Stern's choosing.
All-Star draft part of league's resurgence
While the NFL and NBA are facing labor uncertainty, the NHL is taking a moment to puff out its chest as it heads into an All-Star weekend unlike any other. The league said it is on pace to break revenue records, expecting a rise for the fifth straight year to nearly $2.9 billion. And now the NHL is pushing the envelope to generate more interest in this weekend's All-Star Game. This year's teams will be chosen by a televised draft on Friday. Instead of dividing the players by conference or nationality, the All-Star teams won't be set until the captains make their picks. Eric Staal of the host Carolina Hurricanes will serve as captain of "Team Staal" and, along with his alternate captains, will stage a draft against Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and his assistants.
The last word
Asked what motivated her comeback from match point against No. 1 in the world Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open semifinals, Li Na deadpanned for reporters: