Other Sports

Sports briefs: Jan. 24

COLLEGE SPORTS

NCAA says its staff acted improperly in probe of Miami

With the NCAA already under fire for its handling of recent investigations at USC and UCLA, officials announced Wednesday that they have uncovered potentially severe misconduct among enforcement staff in the high-profile Miami case.

The collegiate governing body said that staff members paid the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro — a former booster at the center of the Miami scandal — to "improperly obtain information" for their case. "This is obviously a shocking affair," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "It's stunning that this has transpired."

The Miami investigation has been put on hold while outside counsel conducts a review of the NCAA enforcement program. That review could encompass the two Los Angeles cases.

In the fall, a lead investigator examining UCLA basketball recruits was accused of prejudging Shabazz Muhammad's eligibility before all of the facts were in. More recently, a Los Angeles judge presiding over a defamation suit portrayed NCAA officials as potentially malicious for the way they dealt with former USC assistant coach Todd McNair, who was linked to the Reggie Bush sanctions.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o admitted to Katie Couric that he briefly lied about his online girlfriend shortly after he learned that she never existed and was part of a hoax against him. Te'o maintained that he was not part of the hoax.

Te'o taped an interview with Couric on Tuesday, portions of which aired on Wednesday on ABC's Good Morning, America. In the interview, Te'o says he found out that his online girlfriend Lennay Kekua — whom he never met but believed died of leukemia — was a hoax on Dec. 6. But on Dec. 8 he publicly mentioned his girlfriend when he was being interviewed as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. He again discussed her in interviews on Dec. 10.

"Katie, put yourself in my situation," Te'o said. "I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12.

"Now I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"

Te'o's father defended his son when Couric pointed out that many people don't believe the Irish star, suspecting he used the situation for personal gain. "People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid," Brian Te'o said with tears in his eyes.


NFL

Seau's family latest to sue league

Add Junior Seau's family to the list of people who are suing the NFL over the long-term damage caused by concussions.

Seau's ex-wife and four children sued the league Wednesday, saying the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.

The wrongful death lawsuit blames the NFL for its "acts or omissions" that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries. Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.


NBA

Forbes: Knicks pass Lakers in value

The New York Knicks have surpassed the Los Angeles Lakers as the most valuable team in the NBA, according to Forbes' annual study. Boosted by renovations to Madison Square Garden, the Knicks' value increased 41 percent to $1.1 billion. The Lakers were second at $1 billion. The report estimated the average NBA team's value at $509 million, a 30 percent increase from last year. The Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks round out the top five.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the least valuable at $312 million.

The New Orleans Hornets have decided to change their name to the Pelicans next season, people familiar with the decision say. Hornets owner Tom Benson has said since buying the Hornets last spring that he wanted a new name representing New Orleans and Louisiana. The brown pelican is the state bird and has become symbolic of efforts to restore Louisiana's fragile coast, which has been hit hard by the 2010 BP oil spill and erosion from major storms.

The Memphis Grizzlies beat Los Angeles 106-93 Wednesday night, handing the visiting Lakers their fourth straight loss and 10th in 12 games. Dwight Howard missed the second half after aggravating his sore shoulder in the first half.


TENNIS

Stephens jolts Serena; Sharapova falls

Sloane Stephens wiped away tears as she thought about hanging a poster of herself on a wall in the place of her childhood hero.

The 19-year-old American seemed to be in shock, barely able to compute how she'd produced the upset of the Australian Open by beating 15-time major winner Serena Williams in the quarterfinals Wednesday. It was her farthest advancement in seven Grand Slams.

A poster of Williams had adorned the wall on Stephens' bedroom as a child. Now, in her view, they're peers. "Oh my goodness. I think I'll put a poster of myself (up) now," Stephens said after rallying from a set and a break down against an injured Williams.

The 29th-seeded Stephens won 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Williams jarred her back trying to pull up before the net as she chased down a drop shot. Williams let out a loud scream and hopped away.

Sixth-seeded Li Na of China turned back second-seeded Maria Sharapova of Russia, 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals.


HORSE RACING

Turfway adds four February dates

Turfway Park will run four additional days in February, giving the track live racing on all four Fridays and Saturdays in February.

At the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's October meetings to award race dates, Turfway Park requested Feb. 1, 2, 8 and 9, noting that the reduced schedule would help the track increase average daily purses. At the request of horsemen, the request was amended to include Feb. 15, 16, 22, and 23 as optional race dates. "Our decision to race these dates was influenced by our continued strong field size, the response to our Friday night events, and the horsemen's preference to maintain the continuity of racing rather than take the two-week break," said General Manager Chip Bach.


ETC.

Motte, Cards seal two-year deal

Reliever Jason Motte and the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a $12 million, two-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. The 30-year-old right-hander had a career-high 42 saves in 49 chances last year, when he was 4-5 with a 2.75 ERA. He made $2 million. Motte is 17-13 with a 2.87 ERA and 54 saves since his major-league debut in 2008. He will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.

After earning the doubles point, the No. 9 Kentucky men's tennis team held strong in singles play to earn a 5-2 win over No. 22 Indiana in Bloomington. The Wildcats improved to 3-0.


The last word

The Reds started a countdown to a 2015 All-Star game after Commissioner Bud Selig awarded the midsummer game to Cincinnati on Wednesday. Mayor Mark Mallory said Selig awarded it despite his opening-day gaffe in 2007, when the mayor's ceremonial pitch stuck in his hand and bounded up the first base line. The toss is often featured in videos of worst ceremonial pitches. Said Mallory:

"(Reds owner) Bob Castellini tried to console me that day. He put his arm around me and told me nobody's going to remember this tomorrow. Nice try, Bob."

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