Overdose suspected in Oklahoma linebacker's death
Police are investigating whether drugs had a role in the death Thursday of Oklahoma senior linebacker Austin Box, and a witness told authorities he believed his friend had overdosed. Authorities didn't immediately release an official cause of death, and Box's body was sent to the state Medical Examiner's office. Box was 22.
"We're all shocked and heartbroken," Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops said in a statement. "Austin was a great young man, a great young man to coach, and a great teammate." Stoops' defensive coordinator, Brent Venables, fought back tears and said he was numb.
Never miss a local story.
"You can't plan for this," Venables said. "There's no blueprint for it. I just know that a young man was tragically taken from us today."
El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown said officers and medics responded to a call at a house in the town about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City about 9:25 a.m. concerning an unresponsive man "with unknown medical issues." Brown identified the man as Box and said he first was taken to an El Reno hospital, then transferred by air ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.
According to the police report, El Reno police officer Todd Ward said that upon arriving at the house, he made contact with John Cobble III, who had identified himself to an emergency dispatcher as J.T. Cobble, who is the son of Tom Cobble, who was Box's high school football coach in Enid. Ward said in the report Cobble III was performing CPR on Box and that "Cobble told me when I entered the room Box was in, he believed he had overdosed."
Toms bounces back with 62
David Toms is starting to again feel the kind of confidence he had when he was winning tournaments and consistently ranked among the PGA Tour's best players. That disappointing near-miss before Colonial isn't shaking him. Four days after losing a playoff at The Players Championship, Toms shot his best score in more than five years and his best opening round ever. His bogey-free 8-under 62 on Thursday gave him a share of the first-round lead at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, with Chez Reavie.
■ Lee Westwood produced a blitz of birdies to defeat Anders Hansen 6 and 5 Thursday on the opening day of the World Match Play Championship, sending a message to two players trying to supplant him at No. 1. Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer, who could move to the top of the rankings by winning the tournament on the Costa del Sol in Spain, also eased to opening-round victories at the Finca Cortesin course. Second-ranked Donald defeated Ryan Moore of the United States 4 and 3, while Kaymer edged Y.E. Yang of South Korea 2 and 1.
■ Paula Creamer and Karrie Webb were looking forward to playing each other in the Sybase Match Play Championship, just not this early. Creamer and Webb had impressive first-round victories Thursday in leading nine of the top 11 seeds into the second round of the $1.5 million event at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J. Their wins only led to questions about how the world's No. 8 and 10 players are being forced to play this early instead of a later round. The answer is that the seedings are based on last year's earnings on the LPGA Tour, so forget that Webb has won twice this year and Creamer is the defending U.S. Open champion. Michelle Wie will be facing former U.S. Open champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden.
■ Travis Hampshire shot a tournament-record 12-under 60 on Thursday to take the first-round lead in the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am in Spartanburg, S.C.. The 30-year-old Hampshire birdied the final two holes on The Carolina Country Club course, one of three courses used in the event. He finished with an eagle and 10 birdies for the 15th 60 in Nationwide history.
Florida slugger leads rally over Cats
Southeastern Conference home-run leader Mike Zunino launched one to tie the game in the third inning and a second to erase a one-run Kentucky lead in the bottom of the sixth, lifting No. 4 Florida to a series-opening 9-6 win at home. Thomas McCarthy stayed hot for the Cats, finishing 3-for-4 with two RBI. McCarthy extended his team-best hitting streak to eight games and now has six consecutive games with three or more hits. Over his last six games, McCarthy has hit .704 (19-for-27) with a 1.111 slugging percentage and 12 RBI.
Vols add junior college transfer for 2011
Tennessee added forward Dwight Miller to its 2011 signing class Thursday. Miller is a junior college transfer from Midland College in Texas. He played one year at Midland after two seasons at Pittsburgh — where he was a redshirt freshman. He has two years of eligibility left. At Midland, he averaged 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 32 games as the Chaparrals went 33-4 and competed in the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship game.
Ebersol resigns from NBC Sports
Dick Ebersol, a TV industry giant who helped launch Saturday Night Live and built the network into the home of the Olympics over the past two decades, has resigned as NBC Sports Group chairman.
"I had a long run and loved every bit of it," Ebersol said Thursday.
He said he couldn't agree to terms on a new contract with Comcast, which merged with NBC earlier this year. The network said NBC Sports Cable Group President Mark Lazarus would take over for Ebersol. Ebersol ran NBC Sports since 1989, and his departure comes just three weeks before the International Olympic Committee opens bids on the next set of lucrative Olympic broadcast rights in the United States. IOC President Jacques Rogge said he was told Ebersol's resignation had "absolutely nothing to do" with the upcoming bidding on rights for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics. Rogge said the news came as a "shock."
700-page book describes 'party' at ESPN
A new book about ESPN mixes a detailed corporate history of the 24-hour sports network with off-camera gossip and after-hours tales about the personalities there. Called Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, the book is due for publication next Tuesday. Weighing in at well over 700 pages, the tome is an oral history, with co-authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales saying in the introduction that they interviewed more than 550 people for it. Miller and Shales also say that, at ESPN, "partying is a varsity sport."
Roddick, Ferrero withdraw from French
Andy Roddick and 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero withdrew from the year's second Grand Slam tournament Thursday night after failing to recover from right-shoulder injuries. Both spent time at No. 1 in the rankings in 2003, when Roddick beat Ferrero in the U.S. Open finals — the last time an American man won a major singles title. The 11th-ranked Roddick pulled out of the Italian Open doubles finals last weekend and the singles event at this week's Open de Nice to give himself a chance of recovering in time for Roland Garros. The French Open draw is Friday, and play starts Sunday. Roddick is mired in a four-match losing streak in singles dating to mid-March.
■ Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will not race this weekend, sitting out the All-Star race and the Nationwide Series event in Iowa. Bayne spent a week at the Mayo Clinic undergoing treatment for an inflammatory condition. He has not raced since April at Talladega.
■ Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro burned both hands during a crash at an Indy 500 practice Thursday, threatening her participation in qualifying Saturday and Sunday. HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins said there's an outside chance the team would bring in another driver to get De Silvestro's backup car qualified, then bring her back to start the May 29 race at the back of the field.
The last word
Former outfielder Willie Horton on Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew's home runs:
"It looked like it would be a pop-up. You'd come in for it. Then you'd have to look in the upper deck for it."