Sports Briefs 11/11

Posted Nov. 11, 2011, at 11:56 p.m.

 

Bus trip set for UMaine-UNH football game

Cyr Bus Lines is organizing a bus trip to the University of Maine’s Nov. 19 Colonial Athletic Association football game at New Hampshire.

The cost is $50 per person. Interested fans should contact Cyr Bus at 1-800-244-2335 and ask for Mike or Heather to make reservations.

Fans should indicate whether they need a ticket ($17) or already have one.

Federer gets win No. 800 to reach Paris semifinals

PARIS — Roger Federer earned his 800th career victory on Friday, beating Juan Monaco of Argentina 6-3, 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the Paris Masters.

Federer will next play Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who edged Andy Murray of Britain 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in a match that lasted more than three hours.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic pulled out ahead of his quarterfinal against 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, saying a nagging shoulder injury got worse after his third-round comeback win against fellow Serb Viktor Troicki on Thursday.

Tsonga will next face American John Isner, who defeated David Ferrer of Spain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Federer hit seven aces and 25 winners — compared to only eight for Monaco — to become the seventh player to reach the 800-win plateau. He joins Jimmy Connors (1,242), Ivan Lendl (1,071), Guillermo Vilas (923), John McEnroe (875), Andre Agassi (870) and Stefan Edberg (806).

“I knew going in today that this could be something special, something I could remember,” the third-seeded Swiss said. “So it’s just another win, but it’s a special one nevertheless, because 800 is definitely a big number.”

Federer won five straight games to rally from a 3-1 deficit and took the first set when Monaco netted a backhand. The 16-time Grand Slam champion broke for a 6-5 lead in the second when Monaco made a forehand error, winning the match with an ace.

Earlier, Berdych saved 15 break points to end Murray’s 17-match winning streak.

“It was really one of the best of three-set matches I played,” Berdych said. “It was so close … it could go the other way. We could be finished after two sets maybe.”

Murray broke Berdych in the seventh game and took the first set with a crosscourt forehand winner. The second-seeded Briton rallied from a 5-2 deficit in the second to force a tiebreaker, but Berdych hit a forehand winner to even the match at a set apiece.

In the final set, Berdych broke for a 5-4 lead when Murray double-faulted and held serve to clinch the victory.

“You obviously have to do a lot of running at times. He kind of dictates what happens,” Murray said. “At the end, I was just fighting.”

In the late match, Isner hit 34 winners to 26 for Ferrer to reach the semifinals of a Masters tournament for the first time. He is the only unseeded player left in the draw.

“I’m just thrilled to have won tonight, given that Ferrer is such a tough player,” he said.

Isner took a 4-1 lead in the first set, which he clinched with an ace, but sent a forehand wide at 3-2 to drop serve in the second. The fourth-seeded Ferrer leveled the match when Isner netted a forehand return.

In the final set, Ferrer sent a forehand long to let Isner break for a 5-3 lead, and the big-serving American sealed the win with an ace.

Magic Johnson donates $1M to Michigan State

DETROIT — NBA legend and Lansing native Magic Johnson has donated $1 million to the school he led to the 1979 college basketball national championship.

The Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News report that the gift was announced Friday by Michigan State University athletic director Mark Hollis.

The Spartans play No. 1 North Carolina Friday evening in the Carrier Classic aboard an aircraft carrier in Coronado, Calif. Johnson is serving as Michigan State’s honorary captain for the game.

Hollis said Johnson told him about the donation at breakfast and said “do with it as you see fit.”

The Detroit News reports the donation will go to the East Lansing school’s athletic department.

NCAA finds major violations in Sooners basketball

NORMAN, Okla. — Oklahoma had about one quarter of its recruiting days this season taken away by the NCAA on Friday as punishment for committing major violations while the men’s basketball program already was on probation.

The NCAA Division I infractions committee reduced the Sooners’ recruiting days from 130 to 100 and also put Oklahoma on probation for three years, vacated all 13 wins from the 2009-10 season, took away one scholarship and eliminated two of the school’s 12 allowed official visits this year.

Former assistant coach Oronde Taliaferro, who resigned during the investigation, also was prohibited from recruiting for two years.

However, the Sooners were not labeled a “repeat violator,” avoiding the possibility of more severe penalties.

“Importantly, this case did not involve any inappropriate action by the university or its staff, other than the cited assistant coach,” the university said in an unattributed statement.

“The case did not constitute lack of institutional control or failure to monitor. The University of Oklahoma has had and continues to have personnel and systems in place to promote and support an atmosphere of NCAA rules compliance within our institution.”

Most of the penalties had been proposed by the school, which said Taliaferro broke NCAA rules by failing to report that a player had received an impermissible extra benefit and by lying to investigators. The NCAA said its findings included unethical conduct by the former coach, extra benefits, preferential treatment and ineligible participation.

Oklahoma had proposed a reduction of only 10 recruiting days — an amount tripled by the infractions board — and two years of probation instead of three. The NCAA also tacked on a $15,000 fine — $500 for each of the 30 games the player, Keith “Tiny” Gallon, played while ineligible.

The violations occurred while the Sooners were still on probation for major rules violations involving recruiting phone calls by former coach Kelvin Sampson, a case that ended in 2006, and football players being paid for work they weren’t doing at a Norman car dealership in 2007.

Under NCAA bylaws, a repeat violator can face a minimum of having the sport dropped for one or two seasons with no scholarships provided for two seasons.

Oklahoma chose to settle the case through a summary disposition, in which the university and NCAA agree that major violations have occurred and work jointly to investigate the case and decide on penalties.

In reporting the Taliaferro case in July, Oklahoma admitted to two major rules violations but asked the NCAA for leniency despite its second serious infractions case in the last five years. The school conceded it does qualify under the description of repeat violator — having two major infractions cases within five years in the same sport — but said previous cases show those penalties “are not appropriate in this case.”

The NCAA agreed, saying “the violations in this case were serious, but limited” to Gallon and Taliaferro. Gallon has said in interviews that he took $3,000 from a Florida financial adviser to pay debts owed to his high school to allow transcripts to be released and clear the way for him to attend college.

The NCAA wrote in its public infractions report Friday that Taliaferro knew Gallon had received the impermissible benefit in August 2009 — before the season started — but failed to inform head coach Jeff Capel or other university administrators. By letting Gallon go ahead and play, it only compounded the issue.

Capel was not implicated in the violations. He was fired in March and replaced by Lon Kruger, who makes his debut with the Sooners on Friday night.

Oklahoma’s coaches now will be required to inform every recruit over the next three years of the rules that were broken and the probationary period that exists before the player can make an official visit or sign a letter of intent.

Because it went through the summary disposition process, Oklahoma cannot appeal the penalties. It said in its statement that it accepts the punishments.

“University of Oklahoma officials fully understand that however rules violations may occur, the NCAA requires institutional accountability,” the statement said. “As such, even in cases like this — where the violation is isolated to the actions of one former student-athlete and the failure of a former assistant basketball coach to disclose his knowledge of the violation — the NCAA imposes penalties upon the institution in addition to the individuals.”

Taliaferro is allowed to appeal his penalties. Although he consented to go through the summary disposition process, the NCAA said he did not agree with the penalties recommended against him when it ended.

Leslie to miss 3 games for improper benefits

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State forward C.J. Leslie will miss three games after he and a relative received $410 in improper benefits.

The school says Leslie borrowed a car from a friend and former N.C. State student for about a week after a wreck in May. The school says the former student paid $260 for apartment application fees for Leslie’s half-brother. The school reported the violations to the NCAA, which investigated with the school and determined the value of the borrowed car as $150.

The school also says the former student also provided $1,349 in improper benefits to a former student-athlete. The school says it won’t comment on the issue, which is being reviewed by the NCAA.

The news came shortly before coach Mark Gottfried’s debut against UNC Asheville on Friday night.

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