Other Sports

Sports briefs: April 24

NFL

Saints deny ESPN's eavesdropping accusations

The New Orleans Saints denied an anonymously sourced ESPN report Monday that alleged that general manager Mickey Loomis' booth in the Superdome was wired so he could listen to opposing coaches' radio communications during games.

ESPN could not determine whether the system was ever used. The report on Monday's Outside the Lines said Loomis would have been able to eavesdrop on opponents from 2002 to 2004. The report also said the system was disabled in 2005, when the Superdome was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel called the report "1,000 percent false."

"We asked ESPN to provide us evidence to support their allegations, and they refused," Bensel said. "The team and Mickey are seeking all legal recourse regarding these false allegations."

 The NFL has expanded rosters for the off-season and pre-season to 90 players.

Previously, the limit was 80, but the league's Management Council voted to increase it Monday. The first cutdown, in late August, will be to 75, with the final cut after the last of four preseason games bringing rosters to 53.

Only the 51 highest-paid players count toward the salary cap.

 Veteran safety Brian Dawkins is retiring from the NFL after 16 seasons. Dawkins posted the news on his Twitter account Monday, thanking the teams he played for, his coaches and teammates and fans. Dawkins spent his first 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and his last three with the Denver Broncos.

He suffered a serious neck injury in December that sidelined him for the stretch run and the Broncos' two playoff games.

 The Green Bay Packers released veteran left tackle Chad Clifton on Monday, saying goodbye to a player who anchored their pass protection for more than a decade.

Clifton has been the Packers' primary left tackle since 2000, starting 160 games over 12 seasons

 Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer has signed the contract tender that goes with the franchise tag. Spencer is guaranteed to make about $8.8 million next season under the one-year deal announced Monday. Spencer had 66 tackles with six sacks and four recovered fumbles last season.

College basketball

UConn defections continue

Connecticut has confirmed that basketball players Michael Bradley and Roscoe Smith have both been granted releases from their scholarships, a move that will allow them to transfer.

The pair would become the fourth and fifth underclassmen to leave the program since the NCAA turned down a waiver request that would have allowed UConn to play in the 2013 NCAA tournament despite failing to meet academic qualifications.

Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward, averaged just over four points and three rebounds in 33 games during his sophomore season. Bradley, a 6-10 redshirt freshman, was injured in the preseason and didn't play.

 Virginia Tech has fired men's basketball coach Seth Greenberg.

Athletic director Jim Weaver made the announcement Monday, saying, "We need to go in another direction."

Greenberg spent nine seasons in Blacksburg, guiding the Hokies to a 170-123 record. They were 16-17 last season and missed postseason play for the first time in six seasons. Greenberg had four years left on his contract

Olympics

Women's basketball team finalized

Asjha Jones was added to the U.S. women's Olympic basketball team Monday as the final player, making half the roster former UConn Huskies.

Jones joins Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Swin Cash, Maya Moore and Tina Charles, who were among the 11 players originally announced at the Final Four in Denver. All six helped the U.S. qualify for the Olympics by playing on the 2010 world championship team that won the gold medal.

Joining the UConn contingent is two-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings. Also returning for a second straight Olympics are Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles. Lindsay Whalen and former Louisville Cardinal Angel McCoughtry will be in the Olympics for the first time and trying to help the U.S. win a fifth straight gold medal.

 The laboratory that will test athletes at the London Olympics has been declared ready by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The lab at King's College London Drug Control Center was accredited by WADA on Monday after a two-year testing program that examined the lab's equipment, staff and procedures.

Officials from WADA's science department made several visits to the lab in central London, with the site subject to three formal inspections and dummy sample testing.

The King's College lab usually deals with about 8,000 samples a year. It expects to handle more than 6,250 during the Olympics and Paralympics, with about half the competing athletes and every medalist set to be tested.

"Achieving WADA accreditation means that the London 2012 Anti-Doping Laboratory will operate to the highest standards of sample analysis during the Olympic and Paralympic Games," WADA president John Fahey said.

Etc.

Bo Bikes Bama for charity

Retired two-sport star Bo Jackson hopes to raise $1 million for tornado relief and increase awareness of lingering damage across Alabama with a five-day, 300-mile bicycle ride through the state that begins Tuesday.

Jackson, a native of Bessemer in Jefferson County, said he was on the West Coast when 62 twisters blasted the state last April 27, killing about 250 people and leaving a path of destruction that officials said was the equivalent of an area 1,000 miles long and 20 miles wide.

Jackson now lives in Illinois, but the 1985 Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn University said the intensity and devastation of the storms touched him deeply.

"This is home for me. It will always be home for me," Jackson said Monday at a news conference with Gov. Robert Bentley and House Speaker Mike Hubbard.

After finding out his relatives were OK, Jackson said he started thinking about ways to help. The result was "Bo Bikes Bama," in which Jackson will raise money by riding west across the state through some of the dozens of communities that were hit by storms.

American Idol champion Scotty McCreery didn't get the win while pitching for Garner High School in his latest outing, but he apparently came away unscathed after a scary moment on the mound.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that the country music sensation was pitching in the third inning against East Wake High School on Thursday when a one-hopper back to the mound hit McCreery in the throat.

McCreery retrieved the ball, threw out the batter and stayed in the game. Spokeswoman Beverly Keel of Universal Music Group in Nashville said McCreery wasn't injured.

McCreery pitched 41⁄3 innings, struck out six and allowed seven hits, including a home run. He left with a 2-1 lead, but East Wake rallied for a 3-2 victory.

The last word

After Washington acquired Brazilian center Nene, the Wizards have won five of the nine games he has played, and they haven't lost by more than four points in any of the losses. But Nene rejected the notion that he's the key to the team's recent success.

"I'm not the key. Who's the door if I'm the key?"

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