National sports briefs: Mills heads Hall of Fame class
SOUTH BEND, Ind. ó The late Sam Mills, along with former NFL stars Fred Dean and Rod Smith, head the newest divisional class of the College Football Hall of Fame.
The divisional class includes players and coaches from Division I-AA (now called the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision) and Divisions II, III and the NAIA.
Mills played linebacker for Montclair State and was the New Jersey Collegiate Writers defensive player of the year three straight seasons from 1978-80. He got his start in the pros playing in the USFL in 1983, then went on to play 12 years in the NFL with New Orleans and Carolina, making five Pro Bowls. He died of intestinal cancer in 2005 at age 45 while he was the linebackers coach for the Panthers.
LOS ANGELES ó A former associate of O.J. Mayo has told Yahoo! Sports that Southern Cal coach Tim Floyd paid a man who helped get Mayo to play for the Trojans.
In a story posted at Yahoo! Sports, Louis Johnson, the former associate of Mayo’s, said Rodney Guillory told him that Floyd had given Guillory “a grand.” Johnson said he was able to view $100 bills inside an envelope Guillory had.
* LOUISVILLE, Ky. ó Karen Cunagin Sypher, the estranged wife of a longtime aide to Rick Pitino, was indicted on federal charges of trying to extort money from the Louisville basketball coach and lying to the FBI.
Sypher, 49, faces a combined maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $500,000 fine if convicted of the two charges, federal authorities said. Sypher is the estranged wife of Louisville equipment manager Tim Sypher.
* FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. ó Michael Washington has reportedly decided to pass on the NBA and return to Arkansas for his senior season.
* INDIANAPOLIS ó Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon will be the head coach for the USA Basketball Under-19 World Championships team. Purdue’s Matt Painter and Southern Illinois’ Chris Lowery will be assistants.
* SALT LAKE CITY ó Utah has rewarded coach Jim Boylen with a raise and new contract after just two years.
* ORONO, Maine ó Mike Burden, the associate men’s coach at Maine, resigned after being charged with making sexual advances on a member of the women’s soccer team.
VIRGINIA WATER, England ó Europe has changed its criteria for making the Ryder Cup team, giving Colin Montgomerie three captain’s picks and taking only four players from a points list based on world rankings.
Europe has had only two captain’s picks since 1995.
MADRID ó Roger Federer began his final warmup for the French Open with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Robin Soderling at the Madrid Open, and third-ranked Andy Murray scored a 7-6 (11-9), 6-4 victory against Simone Bolelli.
Federer could lose his No. 2 position in the rankings to Murray without a good showing.
James Blake defeated Victor Hanescu 6-2, 6-4 for his first victory in the Spanish capital after six appearances. Blake next plays Ivo Karlovic, with the winner facing Federer.
On the women’s side, Venus Williams was upset 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 by Alisa Kleybanova. Jelena Jankovic overcame a challenge from Daniela Hantuchova to win 7-5, 6-2.
LEXINGTON,Ky.óKentucky racingofficials reluctantly agreed to slash seven lightly attended race days from this spring’s calendar at ChurchillDowns, one of the strongest signals yet about the decline of the racing industry.
MILAN, Italy ó The storied Ferrari team threatened to not race in Formula One next season unless the sport’s governing body revokes its new budget cap. The team has been involved in all 60 seasons of F1 competition.
NEWNAN, Ga. ó The personal doctor to a professional wrestler who killed himself, his wife and their 7-year-old son was sentenced to 10 years in prison for illegally prescribing painkillers and other drugs to patients.
Dr. Phil Astin, 54, had pleaded guilty to a 175-count federal indictment that accused him of writing illegal prescriptions to known drug abusers, some of them for years. Prosecutors said at least two of Astin’s patients died of overdose.
Prosecutors said Chris Benoit, a WWE wrestler, and his wife, Nancy, were not the two patients who died. Astin came to the attention of authorities in June 2007, when Benoit, his wife and son were found dead in their home. Police said Benoit strangled his wife and son and then hanged himself. A medical examiner couldn’t say whether the steroids Astin prescribed for Benoit played a role in the deaths.
SAO PAULO ó Julio Mazzei, who helped persuade Pele to play in the United States and coached the Cosmos to a North American Soccer League title in 1982, has died. He was 78. He died Sunday in a clinic in the coastal city of Santos after a nine-year fight with Alzheimer’s disease.
* TOKYO ó The Japanese women’s soccer team canceled a tour in the United States because of the swine flu outbreak.
AUSTIN, Texas ó Lawmakers in Texas, home of the nation’s biggest steroid-testing program for high schoolers, said they have reached a deal to slash the program by more than half.
The current $6 million program was designed to test up to 50,000 high school students by the end of the current school year. Texas, New Jersey and Illinois are the only states testing high school athletes for steroids and the Texas program is by far the largest.
The first 29,000 tests produced only 11 confirmed cases of steroid use, prompting some critics to say the program was a waste of time and money.