Southern Cal dumps AD, will return Bush's Heisman
Embattled Southern California Athletics Director Mike Garrett will be replaced by Pat Haden next month, and the school will return its copy of Reggie Bush's Heisman Trophy in its ongoing effort to repair its reputation after last month's severe NCAA sanctions. In a letter to school supporters Tuesday, incoming USC president Max Nikias said Garrett will be replaced Aug. 3 by Haden, a respected member of USC's board of trustees and an NBC football analyst.
Garrett, 66, has been the Trojans' athletics director for 17 years, but he received caustic criticism for his handling of the scandals surrounding USC's football team and other programs over the past several years. The NCAA hit USC with major sanctions last month, including a two-year bowl ban and scholarship restrictions.
Nikias, who takes his own new job Aug. 3, also said USC will return Bush's trophy to the Heisman Trophy Trust next month, possibly indicating the trophy will be revoked in the future. The school will take down any jerseys or murals recognizing the former star tailback or basketball player O.J. Mayo, the other major figure in the four-year NCAA investigation. Garrett and Haden are former USC football players. Garrett won the Heisman Trophy in 1965, and Haden was the starting quarterback for three years under Coach John McKay.
Saban: Dareus might have broken rules
Alabama Coach Nick Saban told ESPN.com Tuesday that university compliance officials are trying to determine whether defensive end Marcell Dareus violated NCAA rules by attending an agent's party in Florida. NCAA investigators have reportedly interviewed North Carolina players and South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders regarding the same party in Miami's South Beach. The ESPN report says the NCAA is trying to determine who paid for the trip. An Alabama spokesman refused to comment to The Associated Press. Dareus emerged as a rising star after winning defensive MVP honors in the BCS title win over Texas. Saban told ESPN.com that it might be time to ban NFL teams from college campuses to get the league to crack down on rule-breaking agents.
■ Auburn safety Zac Etheridge has been cleared to return to the field this season. Etheridge sustained a serious neck injury against Mississippi on Oct. 31, spending two nights in a hospital and wearing a harness-like brace for several months.
■ Tennessee has chosen not to clear redshirt sophomore forward Amber Gray to play basketball with the Lady Vols. Gray underwent brain surgery last July to clip a brain aneurysm that had hemorrhaged and caused a stroke. She sat out the entire 2009-10 season as she continued her recovery. Tennessee officials consulted with medical experts and announced their decision Tuesday.
WKU's Slaughter to play in Italy
Former Western Kentucky star A.J. Slaughter has signed a professional contract with Angelico Biella of Lega Basket Serie A, Italy's top professional basketball league. The former Shelby County star will report to his team in early August and will remain in Italy until at least the end of May. "I'm very thankful for this opportunity," Slaughter said. "It's great to get to go to another country to play basketball and get paid for it. Not a lot of people get the chance to go overseas and do something they love professionally."
St. Xavier's Thomas 4th at Junior Am
St. Xavier star Justin Thomas shot a 5-under 67 Tuesday and finished 36-hole qualifying in fourth place at the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship in Ada, Mich. Thomas, a rising senior who will play at Alabama next year, finished his round with a bogey after four birdies and an eagle over his first nine holes. Curtis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., birdied his final hole Tuesday to take medalist honors by one stroke. Match play starts Wednesday. Thomas, who made the cut in a PGA Tour event last summer, won the state high school championship as a junior after finishing 13th as a freshman and third as a sophomore. The other Kentuckian in the event, Scott County's Kyle Wilshire, missed the cut after a 6-over 78 Tuesday.
Caldwell Co.'s Talley 10th at girls' event
Caldwell County standout Emma Talley finished qualifying in a two-way tie for 10th in the U.S. Girls Junior Championship in Pinehurst, N.C. Talley was the runner-up in this year's state tournament after signing an incorrect scorecard last October. After accepting her second straight trophy, she realized her mistake and owned up to it, giving the title to Sacred Heart senior Lindsay Gahm. Danielle Kang of Thousand Oaks, Calif., shot a 74 and earned medalist honors Tuesday at The Country Club of North Carolina. The tournament wraps up Saturday. Kentucky's other representative, Mackenzie Moir of Sacred Heart, missed the cut after shooting 88-82.
Wall on SEC honor roll
No. 1 overall NBA draft pick John Wall was one of 49 UK students named to the Southeastern Conference Freshman Academic Honor Roll, the league announced Monday. Four football players also met the criteria: a cumulative 3.0 grade-point average or above, being on scholarship or a letter winner, having completed 24 semester hours of non-remedial credit, and having been a member of the varsity team for the sport's entire NCAA Championship segment. The football players were Jordan Aumiller, Patrick Ligon, Ryan Mossakowski and Morgan Newton.
Kobe ties Tiger in fan survey
Tiger Woods has dropped into a tie with Kobe Bryant as the favorite American sports star. Woods had held the position alone since 2006, but the Lakers guard moved up from fourth last year to grab a share of the top spot, Harris Interactive said Tuesday. LeBron James dropped from third to sixth in the company's survey of 2,227 adults conducted online from June 14-21, before he left Cleveland to sign with Miami. Retired NBA star Michael Jordan fell from second to seventh.
NHL rejects 17-year contract
The NHL rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's 17-year, $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night after it was deemed to circumvent the league's salary cap. Just one day after Kovalchuk and the Devils came to an agreement on the longest contract in NHL history, the league determined that it was illegal, a person familiar with the issues told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The contract was rejected because years of low salary at the end of the contract were added for the sole purpose of lowering the cap hit.
■ Former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell pleaded not guilty to a charge of illegal drug possession Tuesday in Alabama. Russell, 24, is a former LSU star who was released by Oakland after being the No. 1 draft choice in 2007. He is charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, codeine syrup.
■ A French judge issued charges Tuesday against soccer stars Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema for soliciting an underage prostitute. Ribery and Benzema were questioned Tuesday as part of a probe into a suspected network of prostitutes that operated out of a nightclub on Paris' glitzy Champs-Elysees, a judicial official told The Associated Press.
■ Kentucky Christian University men's basketball coach Corey Mullins has resigned, the school announced Tuesday. Mullins is taking the women's head coaching position at Covenant College.
■ Olympic gold medalist Jennie Finch announced Tuesday that she will retire next month, bringing an end to a 10-year career in which she helped softball blossom in the United States.
■ Former University of Kentucky softball shortstop Molly Johnson and the USA Futures team will play Finch and Team USA at 11 a.m. Saturday, live on ESPN.
The last word
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. expects his team to be buyers at the trade deadline. But he says it won't do any good if Philadelphia's struggling offense doesn't come around:
"I could get Cy Young and Mariano Rivera, and it wouldn't matter."