National Sports Briefs: Alabama on probation
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ó The NCAA placed Nick Saban’s Alabama football program and 15 other of the school’s athletic teams on three years’ probation for major violations due to misuse of free textbooks.
The NCAA said 201 athletes in 16 sports obtained “impermissible benefits” by using their scholarships to obtain free textbooks for other students. Alabama identified 22 athletes, including seven football players, as “intentional wrongdoers” who knew they were receiving improper benefits.
As a result, the NCAA ruled the football team must vacate any wins in which any of those seven players took part during 2005-2007. Alabama did not say how many victories would be affected.
Neither the football team nor any other sport lost postseason eligibility or scholarships.
BIRMINGHAM, England ó Maria Sharapova reached her first semifinal in more than a year by defeating Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 Friday at the Aegon Classic.
The former top-ranked player struggled with her serve in the second set, but regained her stride in the third to break her 19-year-old opponent twice.
Sharapova had 11 double-faults with a remodeled serve to protect her shoulder, which required surgery last year and sidelined her for 10 months.
– LONDON ó Andy Roddick stayed on track for his fifth title at Queen’s Club by defeating Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) Friday, advancing to the semifinals of the Aegon Championships.
In today’s semifinals, Roddick will face James Blake, who downed Mikhail Youzhny 7-6 (5), 6-3.
Top-seeded Andy Murray lost just five points on his serve in beating American Mardy Fish 7-5, 6-3.
SAN DIEGO ó Jeremy Tyler’s jump from high school to an overseas professional basketball league is progressing to the point that his agent is negotiating with a team in Haifa, Israel.
The 6-foot-11, 260-pound Tyler announced in late April that he was skipping his senior season at San Diego High to play overseas. He had hoped to be able to make a decision by Friday, his 18th birthday.
Tyler would become the first American-born player to leave high school early to play professionally overseas. When he’s eligible for the NBA draft in 2011, some see him as a potential No. 1 pick overall.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. ó A 49-year-old former model and auto glass saleswoman who is accused of trying to extort cash, cars and a house from Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino says she has been set up.
Karen Cunagin Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to extort Pitino and of lying to the FBI. If convicted on both counts, she could spend seven years in prison.
Cunagin Sypher tells The Associated Press she is frightened but she wants to show her children that the justice system works.
Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, says the notion that she has been set up is absolutely ridiculous.
– CHARLOTTE ó Gonzaga forward Austin Daye is confident he’ll be a first-round pick and is heavily leaning toward keeping his name in the NBA draft.
Daye declared for the draft after his sophomore season but didn’t hire an agent, leaving him the opportunity to change his mind by Monday’s deadline.
Despite questions about the lanky 6-foot-10 forward’s strength and toughness, Daye said after working out for the Charlotte Bobcats that “things look good” that he’ll turn pro.
– WICHITA, Kan. ó Former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton will be inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame on Oct. 4.
Sutton is the first basketball coach to lead four schools to the NCAA tournament and took three of his teams to the Final Four (Arkansas in 1978 and Oklahoma State in 1995 and 2004).
Sutton, who is from Bucklin, Kan., retired after the 2005-06 season.
– KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Tennessee forward Tyler Smith is withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning for his senior season with the Volunteers.
“unless the doctor says it’s a real stupid idea.”
SANTA CLARA, Calif. ó Michael Phelps has easily won the 200-meter butterfly at the Santa Clara International Grand Prix.
The superstar from the Beijing Olympics touched first in 1 minute, 54.31 seconds in Friday night’s final, beating the field by 5.67 seconds.