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Sports briefs, Feb. 1, 2012

From wire reports

NFL fines Umenyiora $20,000 for media absence

INDIANAPOLIS — A Super Bowl mistake cost Osi Umenyiora roughly the price of a championship ring.

The Giants defensive end was fined $20,000 by the NFL on Wednesday, a few hours after he missed a mandatory morning media session.

“I misunderstood the schedule,” Umenyiora said in a statement released by the team. “It won’t happen again, and I will be at tomorrow’s media session and available after the game. I apologize for any inconvenience my absence this morning may have caused.”

Umenyiora was supposed to be sitting at a riser answering questions after coach Tom Coughlin spoke, but his seat remained empty for the 45-minute session. The league announced its fine less than two hours later.

The rest of the Giants players and coaches attended the session, four days before the NFL title game between the Giants and New England Patriots.

Tebow cancels talk with Ohio prosperity pastor

Tim Tebow has canceled an appearance at a revival organized by a controversial Ohio preacher, a spokesman for the star athlete said Wednesday.

The Denver Broncos quarterback and dedicated Christian had been scheduled to speak at a three-day Columbus event in March led by televangelist Rod Parsley.

Tebow’s brother Robbie said in a phone interview that he was canceling the talk. Robbie Tebow said his brother’s speakers’ bureau hadn’t researched the event before saying yes to the invitation.

“I know for a fact that Tim is not going to be a part of it,” Robbie Tebow said. “That’s being resolved.”

Parsley teaches that God wants the faithful to be rich. Last year, he asked followers to donate more than $1 million to ward off satanic attacks. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican Sen. John McCain disowned an endorsement from Parsley after learning the pastor called Islam an “anti-Christ” religion.

Parsley’s gathering is called “Contending for the Faith Weekend.” Texas televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who also preaches the prosperity gospel, is another featured speaker, according to the event website.

Mark Youngkin, a spokesman for Parsley, said the quarterback has a contract with the event organizers, who have asked Tebow to reconsider. Youngkin said national advertising for the event had just been approved Tuesday.

Daytona 500 purse a record $19 million

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The Daytona 500 will boast a record purse of more than $19 million, and the winner of NASCAR’s biggest race is guaranteed a minimum $1.4 million.

Daytona International Speedway also announced Wednesday a $200,000 bonus for the driver leading at the halfway point of the race.

The “Daytona 500 Mid-Race Leader Award” will not be automatically awarded if the race is under caution at lap 100. The bonus will then be rolled over and paid to the driver leading the race at the completion of the fifth consecutive green flag lap following the caution.

Daytona president Joie Chitwood believes the bonus is incentive for drivers to race up front and not lay back in the Feb. 26 season-opening race.

Mayweather gets license for May 5 fight vs. Cotto

LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather Jr. said Wednesday he will fight Miguel Cotto on May 5 in Las Vegas.

Mayweather made the announcement after getting a conditional one-fight license and a lecture from Nevada athletic commissioners, who told the fighter, his manager-promoter and his lawyer they want a prefight report May 1 to ensure Mayweather abides by conditions set by a Nevada judge in a criminal domestic violence case that will have him begin serving 90 days in jail June 1.

The undefeated Mayweather, a seven-time world champion in five weight classes, will turn 35 this month. He’ll step up in weight to fight Cotto, 31, a three-division champion from Puerto Rico. The bout will be for the WBA super welterweight belt.

Mayweather defeated Victor Ortiz for the WBC welterweight title in September to go to 42-0 with 26 knockouts.

Cotto is 36-2 with 29 knockouts. He is coming off of the second defense of his title, a 10th-round technical knockout win over Antonio Margarito in December.

NCAA puts Nebraska on probation in books case

LINCOLN, Neb. — The NCAA has put Nebraska on two years’ probation and agreed to a self-imposed fine of $38,000 as part of an impermissible benefits case involving textbooks and school supplies.

The NCAA announced the penalty Wednesday, sparing Nebraska a stiffer punishment for what were determined to be major infractions across multiple sports over multiple years.

Nebraska reported the problem. Last July, the school acknowledged that it had improperly distributed nearly $28,000 in textbooks and other school supplies to athletes from 2007-10.

The school proposed a fine of $28,000 payable to charity. The probation will run through Jan. 31, 2014.

NBA average ticket prices up, 1st time in 3 years

CHICAGO — The NBA’s average ticket price increased for the first time in three years, up 1.7 percent to $48.48, the Team Marketing Report said Wednesday in its annual survey.

New York Knicks’ tickets cost more than double the league’s average and five times as much as seats for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Knicks tickets averaged $117.47 after a 32.5 percent increase — and these figures don’t even include premium seats.

The Los Angeles Lakers were second at $99.25 after a 4.2 percent hike, and Boston third at $68.55 while leaving its average flat. Chicago was fourth at $68.37 with a 3.3 percent increase, followed by the Miami Heat at $67 following a 10.7 percent jump.

Memphis has the lowest average at $22.95, just below Washington ($23.64). Thirteen teams cut their average, and seven were flat.

The average non-premium ticket price was $77.36 in the NFL last season, $26.91 in Major League Baseball last year and $57.10 in the NHL this season, according to TMR’s surveys.

TMR’s Fan Cost Index for the NBA, which includes four average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, two programs and two adult-size caps, averaged $301.46 for the league, up 4.5 percent. The FCI ranged from $608.78 for the Knicks to $192.80 for the Grizzlies.

Carlos Guillen back in Seattle on minor league deal

SEATTLE — Carlos Guillen is returning to Seattle after agreeing to a minor league contract with the Mariners.

The 36-year-old spent the past eight seasons in Detroit where he was a three-time All-Star and hit .308 in his career with the Tigers playing five positions: left field, third base, shortstop, second base and first base. Guillen started his career with the Mariners from 1998-03, playing in 488 games in Seattle. Guillen is likely to compete for a reserve utility role with the Mariners.

Seattle announced the deal on Wednesday. The Mariners pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 11 while the first full-squad workout will be on Feb. 18.

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