New York board calls out NYRA for 'inappropriate' hires
The Andrew Cuomo administration threatened Tuesday to replace the New York Racing Association after it named two new top executives in the midst of a state investigation.
The state Racing and Wagering Board said NYRA continues to act inappropriately and isn't serving the best interests of racing or taxpayers. NYRA, a private entity, has held the state Thoroughbred racing franchise to operate the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct tracks since 1955.
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"Unless NYRA immediately starts to act in the best interests of racing and the taxpayers of this state, we will pursue a course of action to re-establish the racing franchise with a qualified, ethical, and responsible steward for horse racing," Robert Megna, chairman of the Franchise Oversight Board, and John Sabini, chairman of the state Racing and Wagering Board, said in a letter released Tuesday.
NYRA spokesman Dan Silver said the association's attorney is reviewing the letter and a response will follow.
The regulators are angry that NYRA appointed a new president and secretary on Monday. They replace two top officers NYRA fired after the state began probing $8.5 million in winnings that wasn't paid to bettors, a shortfall found in an audit by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
Sabini and Megna said "there are unanswered questions" about which executives and, potentially, board members were aware of or participated in misconduct. The state could revoke NYRA's license if it doesn't live up to fiscal and ethical standards in its franchise contract.
On Monday, Chief Operating Officer Ellen McClain was named president to succeed Charlie Hayward. NYRA's board voted to name acting general counsel Kenneth Handal as secretary.
Sabini and Megna called the hires "entirely inappropriate" and violations of regulatory standards and NYRA's own rules.
"NYRA has established a pattern of activity which demonstrates that the association is not acting in the best interest of racing, but only in its own proprietary interest," said the letter from Megna and Sabini, which was released to reporters.
Steeplechase winner died from aneurysm
A post-mortem report said a pulmonary aneurysm killed the horse that won the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville. The preliminary necropsy obtained by The Tennessean concluded that the Arcadius was killed after the pulmonary artery just above the heart ruptured a few minutes after the race ended Saturday.
Kurt Busch fined after pit-road burnout
Kurt Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR on Tuesday for reckless driving on pit road at Darlington and a post-race altercation with Ryan Newman's crew members. Busch was also placed on probation through July 25 for his actions Saturday night, which began when a flat tire caused him to wreck with six laps remaining in the race.
He headed to pit road for repairs, and as he left, he did a burnout through Newman's pit box. There were crew members over the wall and on pit road at the time, and they complained they could have been injured by Busch's actions.
Busch also ran into Newman's car on pit road after the race, and several of Newman's crew members confronted Busch. NASCAR also placed Newman crew chief Tony Gibson on probation through June 27 for failing to control his team, and crew member Andrew Rueger was fined $5,000 and placed on probation for failing to comply with a directive from a NASCAR official.
It's the latest dust-up for Busch, who was fined $50,000 by NASCAR last November for making an obscene gesture and being verbally abusive to a TV reporter during the season finale. Busch parted ways with Penske Racing soon after, and said he's seeing a sports psychologist to help him better deal with adversity.
"To say it was a frustrating way to end the race doesn't even begin to cover it," Busch said in a statement on his Web site that was posted before Tuesday's fines were levied. "I had raced my butt off for 480 laps and then had issues at the end of the race and spun out in the process. I was upset and I didn't handle it very well on pit road. I would not have left my pit if I actually thought I was going to hit someone. I was only trying to get back out on the track on the lead lap to try to salvage something out of the race. I apologize to those guys, but I had no intention of trying to hurt anyone."
Hall of Fame driver and Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip told The Sporting News that he didn't think Busch should be fined.
"I don't see any reason for anybody (from NASCAR) to do anything," the Owensboro native said. "It's just part of the sport, and it's part of the sport I like. I like to see emotion. If it's in the pits, so be it. ... You're there all day long and then you race all night. You're tired and you're irritated."
Considering his past troubles, Busch needs to be extra careful, Waltrip said. "He has to guard what he says and he just can't do that," he said. "I empathize with him. I was my own worst enemy and I knew I was but I couldn't help myself."
Monk, Fulmer named to football Hall
Art Monk of Syracuse, Dave Casper of Notre Dame and Jonathan Ogden of UCLA were among 14 former players who were selected to the College Football Hall of Fame. Former coaches Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee, Jimmy Johnson, who coached Miami and Oklahoma State, and R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M also were selected.
It was announced Monday that Heisman Trophy winner and BYU star Ty Detmer was picked for the Hall of Fame.
The other players who will be inducted by the National Football Foundation into the hall in December are: Running backs Charles Alexander of LSU and Otis Armstrong of Purdue; quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski of California and Tommy Kramer of Rice; defensive backs Scott Thomas of Air Force and Greg Myers of Colorado State; split end Hal Bedsole of Southern California; defensive end Gabe Rivera of Texas Tech; linebacker Mark Simoneau; and guard John Wooten of Colorado.
Monk played receiver at Syracuse from 1976-79, leading the team in receiving three straight seasons. He is sixth in school history with 3,899 all-purpose yards. He went on to a long NFL career with the Redskins and New York Jets, catching 819 passes and making it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
VCU announces move to Atlantic 10
Virginia Commonwealth announced Tuesday it is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the Atlantic 10, a basketball-driven league and big winner so far in off-season realignment.
Butler, which beat VCU in the national semifinals in 2011, joined the A-10 on May 2. But while Butler won't come aboard until the 2013-14 school year, VCU is all-in come July 1.
Butler and VCU will replace Temple, which will join the Big East in all sports other than football in 2013-14, and Charlotte, one of five teams joining Conference-USA.
Centre women 4th in Division III golf
Centre College finished fourth in the NCAA Division III women's golf championships in Angola, Ind., last week. Centre senior Emily Bachert of Bowling Green was runner-up in the individual competition to Catherine Wagner of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Centre junior Whitney Miller, a Henry Clay graduate, tied for 12th. Methodist University in Fayetteville, N.C., won its 15th consecutive team title.
The last word
PGA Tour golfer Sunghoon Kang, who made an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole of the last tournament to keep his card last year, quietly altered his name the last two weeks without much notice. He now is Sung Kang. What happened to the last part of his first name? He told reporters this past weekend:
"It's hard for you guys to say it. You guys didn't even try to say it right, so I changed it for you guys."