Friday’s Sports In Brief
A wild brawl following a contentious game between Utah Valley and New Mexico State highlighted the risks when fans and players collide.
The Western Athletic Conference on Friday suspended New Mexico State junior guard K.C. Ross-Miller for two games and senior forward Renaldo Dixon for one for violating the league’s sportsmanship policy following its review of the melee Thursday night in Orem, Utah.
Ross-Miller hurled the ball at Utah Valley’s Holton Hunsaker seconds after the Wolverines’ 66-61 victory over the Aggies. The ball hit Hunsaker – the son of Utah Valley coach Dick Hunsaker – in the leg. Some of the fans who stormed the court following the victory got caught up in the chaos and punches were thrown.
While the brawl was touched off by Ross-Miller’s actions, it sparked renewed debate about player and fan interactions, and the dangers posed when fans rush the court. It was one of several incidents involving fans and players or coaches in recent months.
LOS ANGELES (AP) Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper surrendered to Los Angeles police after being named in a warrant involving a rape case in New Orleans.
Sharper, 38, also is under investigation in sexual assault cases in Florida, Nevada and Arizona and has pleaded not guilty to rape charges in Los Angeles.
In a bail motion filed in the California case, Los Angeles County Investigator John Maccharella described a pattern in which the former football star met women at clubs or parties and lured them to a hotel room, where they were allegedly drugged and raped.
Lawyers for Sharper, who played in the NFL from 1997 to 2010 primarily with the Green Bay Packers, have said they would prove that any sexual contact Sharper engaged in was consensual.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – The New Orleans Saints placed their franchise tag on Jimmy Graham in order to protect the club’s rights to its star tight end through next season.
The move means Graham, barring a holdout, will almost certainly play for New Orleans next season for no less than the tight end franchise tag of $7.04 million.
It is also possible, under the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, that Graham could be tagged as a receiver because of how often he lined up split wide from the line. That would carry a tag of $12.3 million.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Panthers used the franchise tag on Greg Hardy, preventing the outspoken defensive end from hitting the free agent market.
Hardy will make $12.45 million next season.
NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Jets placed the franchise tag on kicker Nick Folk.
Folk made $780,000 last season, but the franchise tag estimate for kickers is about $3.4 million for this season.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant were released by the Seattle Seahawks on Friday, giving the Super Bowl champions additional salary cap space as free agency approaches.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) – The Baltimore Ravens and tight end Dennis Pitta reached agreement on a five-year contract.
Pitta, Baltimore’s fourth-round pick in 2010, was set to become an unrestricted free agent when free agency starts March 11.
NEW YORK (AP) – The NFL’s salary cap for this season has been set at $133 million, the highest amount in league history.
Each team must be compliant with the cap number by March 11, when the league’s free agency period begins. The cap amount announced Friday, which applies to active players’ salaries, is up from $123 million last season and surpasses the previous high of $127,997,000 in 2009.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) – The Buffalo Sabres traded star goalie Ryan Miller and captain Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues for goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 third-round pick.
The Central Division-leading Blues shored up their goaltending in an attempt to avoid another disappointing playoff run after being eliminated by Los Angeles in successive seasons.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) – Golf is starting to feel easy again for Rory McIlroy, who bounced back from a sloppy start Friday in the Honda Classic for a 4-under 66 that gave him his first 36-hole lead on the PGA Tour in 18 months.
McIlroy recovered from two early bogeys by running off six birdies in a 10-hole stretch. He looked solid from tee-to-green, hit putts with growing confidence and wound up with a one-shot lead over Brendon de Jonge at 11-under 129.
Tiger Woods felt fortunate to still be playing. He was over the cut line after scrambling for a bogey on the 11th hole and wound up with a 69 to make the cut on the number.
SINGAPORE (AP) – Australia’s Karrie Webb opened a two-stroke lead in the HSBC Women’s Champions, shooting a 3-under 69 to reach 9 under on Sentosa’s Serapong Course.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Forward Danny Granger signed with the Los Angeles Clippers, adding veteran depth for the club’s playoff push.
The former All-Star joined the Clippers after his contract was bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired him in a trade with Indiana last week. Granger cleared waivers shortly before Los Angeles announced the deal.
Granger could play significant minutes for the Clippers (40-20), who lead the Pacific Division by four games over Golden State. He is coach Doc Rivers’ second major free-agent addition to the Clippers in the past week along with veteran big man Glen Davis.
NEW YORK (AP) – The NBA plans to donate proceeds from sales of Jason Collins jerseys to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
Collins became the league’s first openly gay player when he signed with the Brooklyn Nets last Sunday, and his No. 98 jersey has been the top seller on NBAStore.com. He chose the number in tribute to Shepard, who was killed in a gay hate crime in 1998.
MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
Vitor Belfort dropped out of his upcoming UFC middleweight title shot a few hours after the Nevada Athletic Commission banned testosterone replacement therapy.
Belfort was scheduled to fight 185-pound champion Chris Weidman at UFC 173 on May 24. His title shot was given to Lyoto Machida by UFC President Dana White.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – Trinidad and Tobago international soccer player Kevon Carter died of a suspected heart attack after training with his club team.
The Caribbean Football Union said the 30-year-old striker died Friday morning at a hospital. He had complained of chest pains following training at Macqueripe with the Defense Force Football Club in preparation for the CFU Club Championship.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) – Soccer’s governing body in Cyprus postponed all first division matches this weekend after a bombing damaged the car of a top referee in the country.
The move comes ahead of an exhibition game between the United States and Ukraine next Wednesday that was moved from Kharkiv because of violence in Ukraine.
HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
CHICAGO (AP) – Chicago Curie Metropolitan High School’s basketball team, ranked among the best in the nation, has forfeited this year’s games because several players were academically ineligible to compete.
Chicago Public Schools said seven players on Curie’s 24-1 varsity team were ineligible from the start of the 2013-14 season. Student athletes in the district must maintain a 2.0 GPA to participate in sports, or have an individual study plan in place to help them improve academically.
District CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says Curie’s head coach Michael Oliver has been suspended.
Bill Marolt will step down as president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association on Monday, to be replaced by former Alpine skier Tiger Shaw, who competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.
Marolt had been planning to step down after the Olympics. The USSA won 17 medals at the Sochi Games, and 21 four years ago in Vancouver.
When Marolt came to USSA in 1996, the federation had won four Alpine medals at the previous Olympics.