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Sports briefs for March 15, 2013

By BDN Staff and Wire Reports, Special to the BDN

UM’s Conner, Cullenberg gain academic honors

ORONO, Maine – University of Maine women’s and men’s track and field standouts Corey Conner and Kelton Cullenberg have been named to the America East All-Academic teams.

Conner, a senior from West Townsend, Mass., was a second team All-American after finishing 12th at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She also won a pair of America East titles and broke her own school record in the 5,000 meters this season.

A nursing major, Conner was one of just two unanimous selections to the women’s all-academic team.

Cullenberg, a junior from Chesterville, won the America East title in the 5,000 meters and took third in the 3,000 meters. The kinesiology and physical education major qualified and competed at the IC4A Championships as well.

Gonzalez signs two-year deal with Falcons

Tight end Tony Gonzalez made his return for the 2013 season official on Friday by signing a two-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons.

The two-year deal is worth $14 million, according to NFL.com. He is guaranteed to receive $7 million in 2013, but there is no indication he will return for the 2014 season. The second year of the deal was included for bookkeeping purposes, according to the report.

Gonzaga had said after the Falcons lost to the 49ers in the playoffs that he was 95 percent certain he would retire. However, he said earlier in the week that he would return for a 17th season, although he was still officially a free agent before signing a new deal.

The Falcons made accommodations for Gonzalez under the salary cap by releasing veterans Dunta Robinson, John Abraham and Michael Turner.

Dumervil cut after paperwork mistake

Denver Broncos president John Elway called on defensive end Elvis Dumervil to accept a salary reduction or face the possibility of being released. Dumervil agreed to the reduction, but was shockingly released when paperwork for the adjusted contract wasn’t filed by 3:59 p.m. ET Friday.

The Denver Post reported Dumervil informed the Broncos he would lower his 2013 salary to $8 million. Under the terms of his previous six-year, $61.5 million deal signed in 2010, Dumervil was set to receive a base of $12 million for this season.

But the Broncos did not receive the signed documentation until several minutes after 4 p.m. ET, when his contract would have become fully guaranteed, the Post reported.

If the Broncos attempt to re-sign him, they’ll have to take the cap penalty for releasing him into account as well as any new figure that would arise from a new deal.

The pass-rushing specialist made $14 million each of the past two seasons and was scheduled to receive $10 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2015.

UFC champ St. Pierre accused of steroid use

Nick Diaz has accused UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre of taking steroids as he prepares for his title challenge on Saturday night.

St. Pierre (23-2) will be going for his eighth straight title defense against Diaz at UFC 158 in Montreal. The champion hasn’t lost since 2007.

Speaking with Sportsnet Radio on Thursday, Diaz said, “I believe he is on plenty of steroids, and I don’t think they test around here, either. I doubt I’ll be tested. I don’t care what they’re saying or marketing to the media — and if so, he’s probably got a bottle of (expletive) in his pocket. I doubt they’re standing over him making sure he’s not on steroids.”

Diaz (28-6) said he didn’t think UFC president Dana White would have a problem with St-Pierre’s alleged steroid use. “Sure, why not?” Diaz said.

“He’s never been busted for anything,” White said of St. Pierre. “The guy’s fought a million times in title fights, and mostly guys in title fights are the ones that get tested.”

St. Pierre also defended himself, saying, “I’ve never cheated once in my life.”

Diaz, meanwhile, has failed two drug tests for marijuana use and was suspended for a year by the Nevada commission.

Mets’ Wright not expected to return for WBC

A rib injury that prevented New York Mets third baseman David Wright from playing in Team USA’s game Thursday night likely will sideline him for the remainder of the World Baseball Classic.

Wright was prepared to play against the Dominican Republic when he was scratched from the lineup. The U.S. team faces Puerto Rico on Friday in an elimination game. Should the U.S. advance, the WBC semifinals are Sunday and Monday in San Francisco.

“I’m optimistic that they’ll allow me to come back and rejoin these guys,” Wright said before Team USA lost 3-1 to the Dominicans. “I wanted to play tonight, but I understand the decision. I’m disappointed. That goes without saying. But I completely understand the direction that they’re going.”

The rib discomfort started about a week ago during Team USA workouts in Arizona. The Mets were concerned enough Friday to send Wright to New York for an examination by team doctors. He is scheduled to return to Florida on Saturday.

Cardinals release QB Kolb

Quarterback Kevin Kolb was released Friday by the Arizona Cardinals in a expected move that saved the team $7.5 million in salary cap space.

Kolb’s base salary was $9 million for 2013, and a $2 million roster bonus that would have been due Saturday forced the Cardinals’ hand. The two sides reportedly attempted to restructure his contract but couldn’t reach an agreement.

Releasing Kolb leaves the Cardinals with Brian Hoyer and Drew Stanton, who agreed to a three-yar contract Wednesday, as the the quarterbacks on the roster.

The New York Jets, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns are among the teams mentioned as possible landing spots for Kolb, 28.

Reports also indicated that there is a chance that Kolb could return to Arizona later in the offseason.

Kolb joined the Cardinals in 2011 after four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started 14 games for Arizona in his two years there and threw for 3,124 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

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