Monday’s Sports In Brief
By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — Rick Pitino capped the greatest week of his life with the prize he wanted most of all.
Luke Hancock produced another huge game off the bench, scoring 22 points, and Pitino became the first coach to win national titles at two schools when relentless Louisville rallied from another 12-point deficit to beat Michigan 82-76 in the NCAA championship game Monday night.
This title came on the same day Pitino was announced as a member of the latest Hall of Fame class, a couple of days after his horse won a big race on the way to the Kentucky Derby, and a few more days after his son got the head coaching job at Minnesota.
This was the best feeling of all. The Cardinals (35-5) lived up to their billing as the top overall seed in the tournament, though they sure had to work for it. Louisville trailed Wichita State by a dozen in the second half of the national semifinals, before rallying for a 72-68 victory. This time, they fell behind by 12 in the first half, though a stunning spurt at the end of the period wiped out the entire deficit.
Michigan (31-8) was in the title game for the first time since the Fab Five lost the second of two straight championship games in 1993.
Joining Pitino in the Hall of Fame class of 2013 are former NBA stars Bernard King and Gary Payton, former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell, former University of Houston coach Guy Lewis, former University of Virginia star Dawn Staley. The inductions will take place in Springfield, Mass. in September.
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers officials are scrutinizing practice videos of all sports to see if any coach engaged in behavior like the type that cost men’s basketball coach Mike Rice his job.
The inquiry into Rice and how university officials responded is also going deeper as the school announced that it plans to hire a consultant to conduct an independent review.
University President Robert Barchi, speaking during a town hall meeting on the school’s Newark campus, said he wants any instances of bullying or homophobic language to be reported immediately. He also reiterated that he wished he had viewed the video where Rice — whom Gov. Chris Christie on Monday called an “animal” — shoved players and called them gay slurs when it first surfaced in November, saying he would have fired Rice then.
Rice was fired last week only after the video became public. Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, an assistant basketball coach and the university’s top lawyer also resigned last week, while some Rutgers faculty members and others called for Barchi to step down, too.
Also, a source with knowledge of the appointment said Rutgers is turning to former dean Carl Kirschner to run its athletic department.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The $50 million settlement between the NFL and a group of retired players over publicity rights was given preliminary approval by a federal judge who likened some of the retirees to petulant children for complaining about the money now that it has been awarded.
The settlement of the class-action lawsuit was reached last month, but some of the plaintiffs opposed the agreement, arguing it’s not good enough. U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson said in his order that the contentious nature of the case and the complexity and expense of further litigation “weigh heavily in favor” of final approval of the settlement, which could take place this summer.
BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco, the Ravens’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback, will play the part of Baltimore’s greatest quarterback, former Colts star Johnny Unitas, in an upcoming movie entitled “Unitas We Stand.” The movie is being co-produced by Joe Unitas, the late quarterback’s son.
He told WBAL-TV that Flacco will portray Unitas in scenes of the 1958 NFL championship game, in which Unitas led the Colts to victory over the New York Giants. The game at Yankee Stadium ended in sudden-death overtime and has been called the greatest NFL game ever played.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Quarterback Kevin Kolb arrived in Buffalo to officially sign his two-year contract with the Bills and begin pursuing his latest shot at an NFL starting job.
The Bills announced the signing a little over a week after the sixth-year veteran agreed to a two-year contract potentially worth more than $12 million. Kolb spent the past two seasons in Arizona, where injuries hampered his opportunity to prove himself as a starter. The Cardinals were left with little choice but to release Kolb on March 15 in a move that came before they were set to pay him a $2 million roster bonus. The decision saved the team about $7 million in salary cap space.
HOUSTON (AP) — Jack Pardee coached in college, the NFL, the USFL, the CFL and the World Football League.
And each of those stops came after a playing career that began as one of Bear Bryant’s “Junction Boys” at Texas A&M and culminated in becoming an All-Pro linebacker. Pardee, who died of cancer last Monday at 76, was remembered as an innovator, teacher, and loving father and husband by hundreds who gathered to memorialize him.
OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Former Auburn defensive back Mike McNeil was sentenced to serve at least three years in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree robbery for an incident his attorney characterized as “possibly a prank.”
Lee County Circuit Judge Christopher Hughes accepted McNeil’s plea deal as his trial was set to begin. Under the deal, McNeil received a 15-year split sentence: He must serve three years, plus three years of supervised probation, and pay $2,000 in restitution. If he violates any terms, the judge could sentence him to the remainder of the 15 years.
McNeil, 24, and three teammates from the Tigers’ 2010 national championship team were charged with armed robbery and dismissed from the team in March 2011. Antonio Goodwin is serving a 15-year sentence while Dakota Mosley and Shaun Kitchens are awaiting trial.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A bus taking Tampa Bay players and staff from their hotel to Rangers Ballpark was in a minor accident that didn’t result in any injuries.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said the bus was making a left turn soon after leaving the team’s Fort Worth hotel when it was hit by another vehicle. Maddon described the impact as “innocuous” and “really little, to the point where you didn’t even know.” There was about a 15-minute delay while the bus driver got out and addressed the situation.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Sidney Crosby said he’s feeling pretty good but still isn’t certain when he’ll return from a broken jaw.
The Pittsburgh Penguins star addressed reporters for the first time since taking a redirected slap shot off his face in a win over the New York Islanders on March 30. Crosby underwent dental surgery and spent two days in the hospital. He’s not quite sure how many teeth were either lost or damaged.
Crosby is still on a liquid diet but isn’t concerned about weight loss. He has not been cleared to practice. Crosby can afford to take his time. The Penguins clinched a playoff spot on Sunday night and barring a massive collapse will lock up the Atlantic Division title.
OTTAWA (AP) — Mark Messier was one of three recipients of the Order of Hockey in Canada for his contributions to the game.
Messier, who won six Stanley Cups during a Hall of Fame career with Edmonton, the New York Rangers and Vancouver, was honored along with Paul Henderson and coach Dave King. During a two-hour ceremony held on Parliament Hill, Messier broke down as he spoke of the national pride he felt as a young boy watching Henderson score the goal that sealed Canada’s hockey supremacy over the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit Series.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Billionaire Ron Burkle will not be part of Sacramento’s bid to keep the Kings after all.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said a conflict of interest forced Burkle to back out. Instead, Johnson said the Southern California businessman and co-owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins will focus on the development around a proposed new downtown arena — and not the arena itself.
Burkle is part-owner of Relativity Sports, which manages some NBA players’ careers. Johnson said the conflict surfaced during a meeting with NBA Commissioner David Stern and league owners in New York last week and “it won’t slow us up.”
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Clemson has hired UAB’s Audra Smith as its new women’s basketball coach. Smith spent past nine seasons with the Blazers, where she went 138-138. Smith teams were 57-39 over the past three seasons, however, and finished in the top-50 nationally in scoring defense.
Smith takes over for Itoro Coleman, fired last month after going 25-63 overall and 10-38 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.