Fiesta Bowl fined $1 million but will stay in BCS system
The Fiesta Bowl will be allowed to remain part of the Bowl Championship Series, though it must pay a $1 million fine for apparent illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending. The BCS presidential oversight committee, which made the decision Wednesday, also attached several conditions as it let the Fiesta Bowl remain part of the system for deciding college football's national champion. The demands include strengthening the Fiesta Bowl's board and imposing greater supervision of bowl executives so the problems are not repeated, according to materials obtained by The Associated Press.
"The message is, they had cleaned house and addressed their problems, but our group doesn't believe they went far enough," Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS, said. He added that the $1 million fine was meant to reflect the "serious nature of the matter." The BCS called for the $1 million to be donated to charities serving Arizona youth. The bowl shouldn't have much trouble coming up with the cash. In a filing with the IRS this year, the Fiesta Bowl listed more than $15 million in net assets.
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■ Two Arkansas football players have been granted releases from their scholarships, while a third is working through the process of applying for a medical hardship. Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino confirmed Wednesday the release of backup kicker Eddie Camara and tight end Ryan Calender through a spokesman, who declined to say whether the two asked for their releases or were dismissed from the team. They are the second and third players to leave the team this week, following former receiver Lance Ray on Monday.
Hundreds attend Ballesteros' funeral
To the mournful wail of a lone bagpipe, some of Europe's greatest golfers joined family, friends and local residents of Pedrena, Spain, Wednesday at the funeral of Seve Ballesteros, paying an emotional final tribute to the dynamic Spaniard who revived the European game. Ryder Cup captains Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal and players including Miguel Angel Jimenez marched together in silence as part of the procession from Ballesteros' family home to the church of San Pedro de Pedrena. Ballesteros, a five-time major winner and Ryder Cup stalwart, died Saturday at age 54 from complications of a cancerous brain tumor.
■ Justin Tereshko followed up his first-round 71 with a 2-over 74, good enough for a tie for 19th individually, and Transylvania moved up two spots to 14th in the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship in Greensboro, N.C. Centre's Chris Morris, a senior from Maysville, led the individual standings after a 65 put him at 7-under for the tournament. The Colonels are in 10th place overall. After Wednesday's play, the field was cut to the top-15 teams and top-five individuals not on one of those teams. The championship runs through Friday.
Bayne to miss another race
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will miss his third straight race this weekend when Kevin Swindell fills in for him at Dover International Speedway. Bayne spent a week at the Mayo Clinic undergoing treatment for what doctors have called an inflammatory condition. He was released last Thursday. Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark said the team is encouraged by Bayne's progress but is being cautious in holding him out an additional week. Newmark said Bayne would probably drive in next week's All-Star race for the Wood Brothers.
Nadal drops first set, but beats qualifier
Rafael Nadal struggled past 148th-ranked qualifier Paolo Lorenzi 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-0 in his opening match at the Italian Open on Wednesday in Rome, looking far from the form that has helped him dominate on clay for six years. It marked the third consecutive match in which Nadal dropped the first set, including a loss in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in Sunday's finals. Djokovic stretched his unbeaten start this year to 33 matches with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot earlier. The Serb could take the top ranking if he wins the tournament and Nadal fails to reach the semifinals. The event at the Foro Italico is a key warmup for the French Open, which starts in 11 days. Roger Federer got off to a solid start with a 6-4, 6-2 win over former Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
LSU plans statue of Shaq
Louisiana State plans to unveil a bronze, life-size statue of a young Shaquille O'Neal dunking in his college basketball uniform outside of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center's new practice facility, said Herb Vincent, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications. The 900-pound statue would be the first on campus of a former LSU athlete. The tentative plan is to unveil the statue during the NBA off-season, Vincent said.
ESPN's Kordell Stewart arrested
Authorities say former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Kordell Stewart has been charged with driving with a suspended license. Fulton County sheriff's spokeswoman Tracy Flanagan said Stewart was booked into jail in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta Wednesday on that and a speeding charge. She said he was freed on a $3,000 bond about four hours later. The Louisiana native played in the NFL for 11 seasons, eight with the Steelers from 1995 through 2002.
■ Former ESPN commentator Jay Mariotti pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he stalked and assaulted his former girlfriend, the same woman he pleaded no contest to battering in another case last year. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says Mariotti entered not-guilty pleas Wednesday to three felony counts and two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a domestic court order. Prosecutors say Mariotti grabbed the woman outside a Venice restaurant last month, pulled out a chunk of her hair and took her cellphone away while shouting at her.
UK softball puts four on All-SEC teams
Four Kentucky softball players were named to All-Southeastern Conference teams, led by senior Megan Yocke, who became the second player in school history to receive the honor in each of her four seasons. The league also announced that senior Meagan Aull was named Scholar Athlete of the Year. UK's senior catcher, Yocke, was made first team for the second straight season. Aull and sophomore Kara Dill were named to the second team, and Emily Jolly made the freshman team. Aull is the first recipient of the SEC Scholar Athlete award in school history.
The sixth-seeded Cats kick off the SEC Tournament Thursday against No. 3 seed Tennessee. UK matched a program record with 36 wins this season and took two of three from the Lady Vols in its first SEC series. The tournament at Mississippi runs through Saturday.
Animal Kingdom stretches out after trip
Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom has settled into his new stall in Maryland, where he will reside until coming to Pimlico Race Course for the Preakness. Animal Kingdom got some exercise on the track at Fair Hill in Elkton on Wednesday. The horse jogged and appeared comfortable in his surroundings. In other news, beaten Derby favorite Dialed In returned to the track at Churchill Downs on Wednesday and jogged once around. Trainer Nick Zito said the horse, who finished eighth on Saturday, "came out of the race in good shape."
■ The New York Racing Association announced Wednesday there will be a $300,000 guaranteed Pick 4 every Saturday for the duration of Belmont Park's meet. On Belmont Stakes Day, June 11, there will be two wagers with $1 million guarantees: an all-graded-stakes Pick 4 and an all-graded-stakes Pick 6.
The last word
Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle on why Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's latest retirement might not stick, either:
"I don't know how long you can go to Montana and meditate and smoke peyote or whatever he does there. He's going to get bored."