Sports briefs for Dec. 29, 2013

Posted Dec. 29, 2013, at 3:29 p.m.

Chapman: Nuggets player high during 2010 game

Former Denver Nuggets executive Rex Chapman told the Denver Post that a Nuggets player was high on marijuana in practice during the 2010 playoffs.

Chapman said the player was so high that he had to pull him aside to get him to focus.

“Across all walks of life and in every profession, people smoke (marijuana),” Chapman said. “This is no secret, and pro sports are not exempt. But employers deserve and pay for A-plus employees. There is a time and place for everything. As a member of a team, guys owe it to their teammates to put their best foot forward.”

Chapman, a 12-year NBA veteran, did not name the player.

The Post published the story as part of the wide-ranging status of marijuana in American society, including sports. A ballot initiative made marijuana legal for retail sale in Colorado last year.

The NBA started testing for marijuana in 1999.

AAC withholding $1.5 million from Rutgers

The American Athletic Conference is withholding the $1.5 million Pinstripe Bowl payment from Rutgers, the Newark Star-Ledger reported Sunday.

According to the report, the AAC informed Rutgers officials that it plans to keep the money because of the legal dispute between the two sides regarding the school’s buyout from the conference.

Rutgers is disputing that it owes the conference $10 million to leave for the Big Ten.

The school and conference will not publicly comment on the dispute.

Notre Dame defeated Rutgers 29-16 in the Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday.

O’Brien close, but Texans talking with other coaches

Penn State coach Bill O’Brien may be the favorite to be the next coach of the Houston Texans but negotiations are still ongoing and owner Bob McNair may interview other candidates next week, a source close to the team told The Sports Xchange.

And in O’Brien’s case, money is an issue. Although Penn State reduced his buyout from $19.33 million to about $6.48 million, the coach and the NFL team are seeking common ground on salary, according to the source, who also adds that a deal may be close anyway.

Meantime, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported Saturday that interviews with other candidates are scheduled next week.

“The process continues,” McNair told McClain. “We have other interviews schedule next week. It isn’t over.”

The Texans have also already interviewed former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith and current interim head coach Wade Phillips.

Irish to hire Jets’ assistant as defensive coordinator

New York Jets linebackers coach Brian VanGorder is set to take over as Notre Dame defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports on Saturday.

VanGorder would fill the vacancy left when defensive coordinator Bob Diaco took the head coaching job at Connecticut earlier this month.

The 54-year-old VanGorder has bounced around frequently during his career. Before joining the Jets this season, he was the defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2012. From 2007 to 2011, he worked as a assistant and defensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons.

VanGorder has ties to Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly. Both were on the staff at Grand Valley State from 1989 to 1991 before Kelly was elevated to head coach in 1992. VanGorder moved on to Wayne State as head coach for three seasons, posting a 16-17 record.

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