National briefs: All ACC games on TV
GREENSBORO ó The Atlantic Coast Conference will have a league-record 189 national television appearances this season, including all 96 league games.
The league released its 2011-12 basketball schedules Wednesday. It begins a 12-year agreement with ESPN with likely preseason No. 1 North Carolina facing Michigan State on Nov. 11 aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier in San Diego.
Some other notable nonconference games include: Duke and Michigan State in New York on Nov. 15, Duke at Ohio State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 30, North Carolina at Kentucky on Dec. 3 and Texas at North Carolina on Dec. 21.
Conference games will appear on an ESPN channel or online platform, as well as on regional broadcasts.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ó Hiring Bruce Pearl to coach a basketball team just got harder and messier for a school.
The NCAA announced Wednesday it had hit the former Tennessee menís basketball coach with a three-year show-cause penalty. What the ruling means is that before Pearl can be hired, a school must tell the NCAA why it wants him and be prepared to face its own penalties for giving him a job.
Former Pearl assistants Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes face the same sanctions, except they were only given one-year penalties.
The sanctions do not include further penalties against Tennessee beyond those self-imposed in response to the investigation. The NCAA concluded that violations committed by former Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, though troubling, were minor in nature and did not warrant punishment.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. ó Danica Patrick will hold a news conference Thursday and is expected to announce her 2012 move to NASCAR.
The Associated Press reported earlier this month that Patrick was finalizing a deal to drive fulltime for JR Motorsports in the second-tier Nationwide Series. She was also working on a limited schedule of elite Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Patrick and GoDaddy.com chairman Bob Parsons will be at Thursdayís announcement at company headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. An advisory said Patrick will announce her 2012 plans while ěputting the rumors to rest with the ëreal story in her own words.íî
She has refused each week to discuss her plans as speculation has mounted sheís leaving the IndyCar Series.
Patrick has driven 20 Nationwide races for JR Motorsports over the last two seasons and has five more scheduled this year.
She finished third in the 2009 Indy 500, the highest finish for a woman in open-wheelís most prestigious race. She has one career victory in IndyCar and currently is ranked 12th in the series standings. In 110 career starts, she has three poles and 20 top-5s.
Although sheís winless in the Nationwide series, she flirted with victory last month at Daytona, leading 13 laps before the last-lap chaos dropped her to a 10th-place finish.
ěSheís way ahead of the curve,î Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of the owners of JR Motorsports, has said. ěWeíve had the opportunity to put several drivers in that car, and her performance is right on par with all those drivers. We started out struggling and she had a steep, steep climb to go and sheís really come a long way. Iím excited about what the potential is with her going forward.î
NEW ORLEANS ó The future of the NBA in New Orleans is showing increasing promise, even though fans and businesses pouring money into Hornets tickets and sponsorships have no guarantee that games will be played next season.
As the Hornets introduced Chevron as their fifth million-dollar corporate sponsor on Wednesday, team president Hugh Weber said the franchise is closing in on several goals seen as necessary to ensure pro basketballís long-term presence in the Big Easy.
Weber said he has been encouraged by gains in community support even as the NBA lockout threatens to cancel parts or all of next season, and as sports fans increasingly turn their attention to the onset of the NFL and college football seasons.
ěMomentum is our most valuable commodity, and at a time when no one is talking about basketball, weíre still making progress,î Weber said. ěThat speaks to how the community feels about the team and how important they feel it is for the team to have a long-term legacy here in New Orleans.î
For now, the Hornets are owned by the NBA, which bought the team last December from founder George Shinn and former minority owner Gary Chouest. NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the league wants to improve the teamís revenue streams to the point where a buyer who is committed to operating the team in Louisiana will step forward.
The Hornets have never had as many as five seven-figure sponsors for a single season, Weber said, adding that the franchise also has prospects for adding a sixth.
Season tickets have reached 8,900, which already represents an increase of 2,600 over last season.
Meanwhile, the club is working toward a new TV contract and new arena lease.
Weber said the primary goal of a new TV deal, which would begin after next season, is to have games televised in more households throughout the region.
Currently, Cox Sports TV, which broadcasts most Hornets games, is not available on satellite provider DirecTV. Until a deal was workout out in middle of last season, viewers in relatively affluent suburbs on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain also could not see games on their local cable system.
ěAt end of the day, long-term, what weíre concerned about is exposure to fans and that they can follow the team no matter where they live,î Weber said.
The Hornetsí current lease of the state-owned New Orleans Arena runs through 2014 and includes a provision allowing the team to leave if attendance falls below an average of 14,735 over a two-year period. Weber said the team is talking with the governor about a lease extension that would remove those attendance benchmarks, which he added wonít be an issue anyway if the Hornets reach a season ticket base of 10,000.
In June, the Hornets launched a ticket initiative in which they planned to hold 100 promotional events in 100 days, many of them in the homes of season-ticket holders whoíve recruited friends or business associates to buy tickets as well.
They have held about 80 events so far, including some industry-specific mixers for those working in law, medicine, construction, finance, and oil and gas. One event was held at a law office on Tuesday, and more were scheduled through Sept. 14.
While the lockout makes it tough for Weber to promise fans and businesses entertainment value in the upcoming season, he has sought to tie New Orleansí prospects for sustained growth to its ability to retain its major pro sports franchises.
The Hornets have sought to win over fans off the court with contributions to the cityís ongoing recovery from Hurrciane Katrina. The team has rebuilt public basketball courts throughout town, helped rebuild homes, and also has worked with schools to give tickets and merchandise to students with good grades and behavior records.
Last year, the Hornets joined with Chevron to raise $200,000 to promote the recovery of the seafood industry and coastal habitats after the BP oil spill.
Warner Williams, vice president of Chevronís Gulf of Mexico business unit, said working with the Hornets on public service initiatives motivated him to do more to solidify the franchiseís footing in New Orleans.
ěItís really about supporting the economic sustainability of the region and ensuring the team stays in the city,î said Williams, who first came to New Orleans to work for Chevron in the mid-1970s, when the Jazz was New Orleansí team and Pete Maravich delighted fans in the Louisiana Superdome.
Now, with New Orleans still rebuilding from a disaster that destroyed his mother-in-lawís home six years ago, he doesnít want to see the NBA leave his adopted hometown again.
ěHaving two professional teams in the city is important,î Williams said. ěThereís a lot of morale building that goes on at these Hornets games.î
The Associated Press
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