Other Sports

Sports briefs: Jan. 8

College Football

Alabama stars Ingram, Dareus, Jones all entering NFL Draft

Alabama running back Mark Ingram, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus and wide receiver Julio Jones said Friday they are leaving early to enter the NFL Draft. However, linebacker Dont'a Hightower said he will return for his final year. Ingram, Dareus and Jones all are projected to be drafted in the first round.

"Each one of these guys, these young men, have made a very good decision based on all the facts that are available to them relative to what their future should be," Coach Nick Saban said.

Ingram won the Heisman during Alabama's 2009 national championship season, but he was hampered part of this season as he recovered from knee surgery. Ingram said he was leaving Alabama without any regrets. "It's been the best experience of my life," he said. "I will always bleed crimson."

The 6-foot-4, 306-pound Dareus was the star in Alabama's championship win over Texas last season and had 34 tackles this year as a premier pass rusher. Jones led all Tide receivers with 1,133 yards and seven touchdowns this season, both more than twice as many as Alabama's No. 2 receiver, Marquis Maze.

■ Wisconsin running back John Clay said he will enter the NFL Draft. Clay had 1,012 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns this season.

NCAA: Texas Tech broke recruiting rules

The NCAA put Texas Tech on two years of probation for a series of recruiting violations, saying 16 coaches or assistants sent nearly 1,000 impermissible text messages to football, softball and golf prospects. The NCAA said the school discovered the violations and reported them. It did not add punishments beyond the school's self-imposed probation, recruiting restrictions and scholarship reductions.

The football violations occurred between August 2007 and February 2009 under former coach Mike Leach, the NCAA said. Members of the football staff sent 234 text messages to 45 recruits, with Leach sending nine of them, according to the report compiled by the Division I Committee on Infractions. Leach, who was fired in December 2009 amid allegations he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion, told The Associated Press "the football program was found to have an atmosphere of compliance."

The NCAA report quotes Leach as saying he never deliberately sent text messages to recruits and that all the messages from his phone were inadvertent because he didn't know, or pay attention to, who sent them. "Somebody would say 'Merry Christmas' and I would say 'Merry Christmas' back or I would get, 'Nice win against A&M' and I would reply 'Thanks,'" he said.

■ Georgia mascot Uga VIII has a more serious medical condition than first thought. The school said Friday that the white English bulldog has been diagnosed with lymphoma, but is responding well to treatment. The dog took over as the team's mascot for Georgia's Oct. 16 game against Vanderbilt. Uga VIII is expected to continue appearances at athletic events as his health allows. He missed Georgia's Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida with what was thought to be a gastrointestinal condition. Georgia said Russ, Uga VII's half brother who filled in as mascot in 2009 and early in 2010, would again fill in for Uga VIII when necessary.

Eastern Washington wins FCS title

Bo Levi Mitchell led three straight late touchdown drives, the finale coming with 2:47 left, leading Eastern Washington to a 20-19 victory over Delaware and its first FCS championship. The Eagles (13-2) trailed 19-0 and had gained only 92 yards midway through the third quarter Saturday in Frisco, Texas. Facing the defense that gave up the fewest points per game in the FCS, their title hopes looked shot. But Mitchell took them on drives of 80, 89 and 69 yards. He converted a fourth-and-8 on the second of those series and needed two video replays to uphold a fourth-and-1 conversion a few plays before the winning touchdown. Delaware (12-3) — with Vice President Joe Biden, an alum, watching five rows behind the team's bench — had one last try, but turned the ball over on downs with 47 seconds left.

UK Gymnastics

Cats start season with Excite Night

The 24th-ranked Kentucky gymnastics team will open its season against No. 17 Illinois and Northern Illinois at its annual Excite Night at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Memorial Coliseum.

"We are ready to get things going," assistant coach Heather Hite said. "There will be a lot of new faces for us this year but I look for this team to be as strong and competitive as ever."

One of Kentucky's star returners is junior Whitney Rose, who qualified for nationals as an individual on vault last year.

The Fighting Illini were third in the NCAA Central Regional and sixth in the Big Ten last season. Northern Illinois was 13-10 and finished fourth in the Mid-American Conference.


Sources: Rays to trade Garza to Cubs

The Chicago Cubs have a tentative trade in place to obtain right-hander Matt Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays, according to two people familiar with the negotiations. The Rays would receive outfielder Sam Fuld, minor-league outfielder Brandon Guyer and several other prospects for Garza, who would be sent to Chicago along with prospects. The 27-year-old Garza pitched a no-hitter against Detroit last season, when he went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA.

Ryne Duren, an All-Star pitcher known for a 100 mph fastball, occasional wildness and Coke-bottle glasses that created a most intimidating presence on the mound, died Thursday at his winter home in Lake Wales, Fla. He was 81. An All-Star in three seasons, Duren helped the New York Yankees reach the World Series in 1958 and 1960. Duren's unique first name lives on in baseball history. Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg's plaque in Cooperstown includes this note: "Named after former Yankees pitcher Ryne Duren."


Nadal misses out on Qatar Open finals

A visibly ailing Rafael Nadal lost to defending champion Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-2 in the Qatar Open semifinals Friday. The fourth-seeded Russian won in 84 minutes against the top-ranked Nadal, who was uncharacteristically slow and sluggish after having a fever earlier this week. Moments before the start of the second set, a tired-looking Nadal called for medical assistance and said: "I don't have my game; I feel much more tired."

Davydenko, who beat Nadal in last year's finals in Doha, leads the Spaniard 6-4 in head-to-head meetings on the ATP tour. He will look to add to his 20 career titles against second-ranked Roger Federer of Switzerland in Saturday's finals. Federer beat third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-3, 7-6 (2) earlier Friday.

■ Former Michigan basketball star Rumeal Robinson was sentenced to 6½ years in jail for financial fraud. A jury found Robinson guilty in September of 11 charges, including bank bribery, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and making a false statement to a financial institution. Prosecutors say Robinson schemed between 2004-05 to borrow more than $700,000 from a bank in Ankeny, Iowa, with the help of a loan officer. They say he claimed the money was for a business but that he actually bought a condominium, cars, furniture and invested in an energy company. Robinson was also ordered to pay nearly $1.2 million in restitution.

■ Akron's Darlington Nagbe won the Hermann Trophy on Friday as the top men's college soccer player, and Stanford's Christen Press took the women's honor. Nagbe, a junior forward and midfielder, helped the Zips defeat Louisville to win the NCAA title, the school's first in NCAA competition in any sport. Louisville junior forward Colin Rolfe was third in the men's voting.

The last word

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson on the possibility of playing for another team next season:

"The grass isn't always greener on the other side, but it wasn't pretty green on this side, either."