Wheldon died from head injuries after IndyCar crash at Las Vegas
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died of head injuries after a horrific 15-car wreck at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said Monday. The 33-year-old Wheldon was pronounced dead at 1:54 p.m. Sunday at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where he was flown by medical helicopter after the crash at the track about 12 miles away.
After an autopsy, Murphy ruled the death an accident, the result of blunt trauma to the head due to the crash, and offered condolences to friends and family of the married father of two from England.
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"We'll be working with family and IndyCar officials and the attending physicians to fully review the case in an effort to improve safety for drivers," he told The Associated Press.
Three other drivers were injured in the fiery Lap 11 crash, none seriously.
Pippa Mann, 28, had surgery on a burned right pinkie finger and was released Monday, as was 23-year-old JR Hildebrand, who had a bruised sternum. Will Power, 30, was evaluated and released Sunday.
The race was called off after Wheldon's death was announced, although drivers drove a five-lap salute to their colleague. The IndyCar Series is working out details for a public service in Indianapolis that fans can attend. GoDaddy.com, which had agreed to sponsor Wheldon's car next year, has announced it will create a Web site with links to a Facebook page where fans can post thoughts and see a photo retrospective of Wheldon's career.
Vanderbilt's Ezeli to miss six games
Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli was suspended for the first six games of the season for accepting a meal and hotel room from an alumnus of the university. School officials learned of the incident and self-reported the violation to the Southeastern Conference and NCAA in early August. The NCAA ruled Monday.
Ezeli was visiting friends on a trip this summer when he ran into the alumnus, who was not identified by Vanderbilt. Ezeli can practice with the team during his suspension before returning to play on Nov. 28 against Xavier, but he will miss the Commodores' games in the Legends Classic Finals in New Jersey against N.C. State on Nov. 19 and either Texas or Oregon State on Nov. 21.
"I am very sorry and would never want to jeopardize my college career over such a petty thing as a meal or a hotel room," Ezeli said in a statement posted on the school's Web site. "I would have been able to afford those things myself. I have always tried to do the right thing. I should have known better and am embarrassed that my mistake could affect my team."
Verdict against Minnesota, Smith upheld
The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld a $1 million civil verdict against the University of Minnesota and men's basketball coach Tubby Smith, denying their request for a new trial. The ruling Monday said the school must pay $1 million to Jimmy Williams, a former Oklahoma State assistant coach who quit his job at that school in 2007 because he believed Smith had offered him an assistant coaching job. The offer was apparently withdrawn after the university's athletics director discovered Williams had NCAA recruiting violations in his past. Last year, a Hennepin County jury found Smith misrepresented his authority by offering Williams the post.
Jurich earns honor from alma mater
Tom Jurich, Louisville's vice president and athletics director was named the Northern Arizona University Dwight Patterson Alumnus of the Year. Jurich will be recognized at his alma mater during homecoming activities on Oct. 22 in Flagstaff, Ariz. Jurich was a first-team Kodak All-American as a kicker in 1977.
"Tom is being recognized for his outstanding success and leadership in advancing collegiate sports and supporting student-athletes," said Neil Goodell, the school's director of alumni relations.
Ky. Wesleyan joining new conference
Kentucky Wesleyan and five Ohio schools have formed the Great Midwest Athletic Conference, which will compete at the NCAA Division II level. The Ohio schools are Cedarville, Central State, Notre Dame College, Urbana and Ursuline. The new conference will begin competition in the fall of 2013, pending approval from the NCAA. Kentucky Wesleyan is currently a member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, while the Ohio schools are Division II independents.
Dutrow gets 30-day stay on suspension
Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. received a 30-day delay of a ruling that revokes his license for 10 years. The stay was issued Monday by Judge Richard Giardino in Schenectady, N.Y., and allows Dutrow's lawyer, Michael Koenig, time to appeal the decision by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. Koenig said he's satisfied and is "prepared to move forward quickly" and is "looking forward to challenging last week's decision in court."
Dutrow's suspension was set to begin Tuesday. The postponement allows the New York-based Dutrow to continue training until the appeal is heard.
The New York Racing Association, which operates Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course, said it will abide by the court's decision. In suspending Dutrow, the state board cited the trainer's long history of rules infractions in New York and elsewhere, including numerous medication violations.
"I'm glad I still get to go to the barn," Dutrow told the Daily Racing Form on Monday. "I got a very positive attitude here, no negativism at all."
The 52-year-old Dutrow won the Derby and the Preakness with Big Brown in 2008 before the colt was pulled up and finished last in the Belmont Stakes in his bid for the Triple Crown. He also trained Saint Liam, who won the 2005 Breeders' Cup Classic and earned Horse of the Year honors.
Sassy Image out of Breeders' Cup
Multiple Grade I winner Sassy Image was taken out of consideration for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint after a chip in a hind ankle was discovered following her most recent work on Oct. 8 at Churchill Downs. "She's a filly that has always moved perfectly and, the next morning, when we saw that she was a little off, we knew that something was wrong," trainer Dale Romans said.
The injury will knock Sassy Image out of this year's Breeders' Cup, but she will still be offered at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on Nov. 6 as a racing/broodmare prospect.
"If the new owners wanted to remove the chip, then she could probably come back next year," Romans said.
Britain to review whip-rule changes
The British Horseracing Authority said the new whip rules that have angered jockeys will be reviewed by Friday.
Jockey Richard Hughes handed in his racing license after drawing his second suspension of the week Thursday. Five more jockeys were suspended on Monday.
The new regulations took effect Oct. 12. The BHA introduced them because it found the regulations in place a weak deterrent. Jockeys now are allowed a maximum eight whip strokes in jump races and seven in Thoroughbred races, about half as much as previously.
The last word
San Francisco 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh on the difference between coaching on the collegiate level and the NFL:
"The thing that excited me was the challenge, the opportunity to coach with the players who are the best athletes in the world, compete at the top level against the top coaches in the game. Kind of like going from the Wood Memorial to the Kentucky Derby. I mean, why do you want to go to the Kentucky Derby? 'Cause it's the toughest, highest, most challenging level."