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Sports Briefs, Nov. 9, 2011

Bloomquist returning to D-backs

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed infielder Willie Bloomquist to a two-year, $3.8 million deal.

Bloomquist became a free agent when he turned down his end of a $1.1 million mutual option on Nov. 1. He signed with Arizona last offseason and became the everyday shortstop when Stephen Drew broke his ankle on July 20.

Bloomquist hit .266 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 97 games last season.

Arizona also signed right-hander Chris Jakubauskas to a minor league deal. The 32-year-old pitched 32 games for Baltimore last season, including six starts, and went 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA.

Jakubauskas is 8-10 with a 5.58 ERA in three major league seasons with Seattle, Pittsburgh and the Orioles.

Ibrahimovic says Onyewu broke his rib in brawl

STOCKHOLM — AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he broke a rib in a brawl with American defender Oguchi Onyewu that could have “ended badly” had they not been separated by teammates.

In an autobiography sent to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Ibrahimovic says the two players “wanted to destroy each other” in the fight which started after the hot-tempered Swede launched a dangerous tackle on Onyewu during a training session with Milan on Nov. 5 last year.

Staying true to his bad-boy image, Ibrahimovic describes a series of rows with other players and coaches during his career, including an expletive-ridden outburst at Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.

Ibrahimovic, who left Barcelona in 2010, says he felt like an outcast among the clean cut “school boys” on the team.

Steelers S Clark fined $40,000 for hit vs Ravens

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark is angry about being fined $40,000 for an illegal hit against Baltimore’s Ed Dickson.

Clark was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness Sunday night late in the first half of Baltimore’s 23-20 win for launching himself into Dickson just after the ball glanced off Dickson’s hands.

Clark was fined a week earlier for hitting New England tight end Rob Gronkowski out of bounds. Clark says he knows why he was fined for that play, but doesn’t understand what he did wrong against the Ravens.

Clark says he did everything he could to avoid hitting Dickson the wrong way and added referees offered no explanation.

Clark, the team’s player representative, says he plans on appealing but doesn’t think it will do any good.

Alaska runner missing for several days found alive

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An All-American cross country runner from the University of Alaska Anchorage who went missing over the weekend just as two snowstorms moved into the city was found alive early Wednesday but extremely hypothermic.

Marko Cheseto, 28, disappeared a day after the university cross-country team’s triumphant return to Anchorage after the NCAA Division II West Region championships in Spokane, Wash., where the Seawolves won every championship up for grabs.

He was last seen at the university’s social sciences building shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday, and his roommates reported him missing Monday morning. Authorities looked for signs of him on every major trail in Anchorage, and divers were preparing to search lakes around the campus on Wednesday when he walked into a hotel near campus at about 3:30 a.m.

Cheseto, a long-distance runner from Kenya working toward a nursing degree, was taken to a hospital, according to the Anchorage Daily News. There was no immediate explanation for his disappearance.

Cheseto used his final season of cross-country eligibility a year ago, but had one season of track eligibility left after taking last season off following the suicide of teammate and fellow Kenyan, William Ritekwiang.

Cheseto was the winner of the West Region the two previous seasons. He made last week’s trip to Spokane as team manager.

Another $15 million needed for College Hall

ATLANTA — The site for the new College Football Hall of Fame has been identified.

Atlanta also has architects ready to work on plans for interactive and immersive exhibits to make the facility more than a collection of statues, photos and videos.

But before construction can begin in February as scheduled, another $15 million must be raised. In this economy, that’s a major challenge and Gary Stokan says that’s the reason he is stepping down as president and CEO of the Atlanta Hall Management.

Stokan says he needs to focus on his duties as the head of the Chick-fil-A Bowl. He says Atlanta needs an expert in corporate fundraising for the city to complete its drive to have the Hall of Fame move from South Bend, Ind.

Cubs interview Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux

CHICAGO — One of Mike Maddux’s first calls when he learned the Chicago Cubs were interested in talking to him about their managerial opening was to his brother, Greg. Just to get some updated information and a bit of background on the team that might want to hire him.

“It’s kind of cool to be considered,” Maddux said Wednesday after interviewing with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, scouting/player development head Jason McLeod and assistant GM Randy Bush.

“I enjoyed it, man. Pretty neat. Something I’ve never done before, so it was a learning experience on both ends,” Maddux said. “I think I got to know them and they got to know me, see what our values are. We share a lot of values, share passion. We share the inner drive to win.”

Maddux, the pitching coach of the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers, is the third person to officially interview for the position created when Epstein fired Mike Quade last week.

The Cubs have also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., will have his turn Friday.

Maddux flashed a sense of humor during a meeting with reporters. Especially when asked how he would handle the moody, one-time ace Carlos Zambrano, who was suspended for 30 days last season when he cleaned out his locker and threatened to retire shortly after giving up five homers in a game against the Braves.

“First thing you got to do is get to meet him. I heard he’s a big teddy bear,” Maddux said. “I might pick him up and just burp him.”

Turning more serious, Maddux said several years ago he considered Zambrano to be the best pitcher in the National League with his work on the mound, in the field and at the plate, where he is a respectable hitter. “I’ve seen him dominate,” Maddux said.

Zambrano, who is pitching winter ball, has a year left on his five-year, $91.5 million contract signed in 2007, and it’s still not known if the Cubs will bring him back.

As pitching coach for the Rangers, Maddux played a key role in back-to-back World Series appearances for Texas.

The Rangers had an American League-high 5.37 ERA in 2008, the year before Maddux arrived. They have improved each year since, including a 3.79 ERA this season that was their lowest since 1983.

Maddux’s ability to get the most out of the Rangers’ staff — even after the loss of Cliff Lee from the 2010 AL championship team — is certainly appealing to Epstein.

“Maybe it’s a message, maybe it’s giving guys the opportunity to perform, maybe giving them an opportunity to fail,” Maddux said. ‘Maybe that’s it, too. You don’t put the weight of the world on your shoulders. You encourage guys. It’s not life or death. It’s win or lose, but it’s not life or death. And keep it that way.”

In 15 major league seasons, Mike Maddux pitched for Philadelphia (1986-89), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1990, 1999), San Diego (1991-92), the New York Mets (1993-94), Pittsburgh (1995), Boston (1995-96), Seattle (1997), Montreal (1998-99) and Houston (2000).

He became pitching coach of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003, then took the same job with Texas before the 2009 season and has helped the Rangers win back-to-back pennants.

The name Maddux will always resonate around Wrigley Field.

Greg Maddux’s departure from the Cubs as a free agent after winning the first of his four straight Cy Young awards in 1992 is still considered one of the worst episodes in the franchise’s long history of futility.

Maddux went on to star with the Braves and establish himself as one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. He returned to the Cubs in 2004 and before he was traded to the Dodgers in 2006, he got his 300th win with Chicago. He retired with 355 victories and is a shoo-in Hall of Famer when he’s eligible.

Mike Maddux wouldn’t go into detail but said he discussed with his brother the possibility of coaching, should he get the job. Greg Maddux was an assistant to former Cubs GM Jim Hendry and is one of the most respected pitching minds in the game.

“We talked about it, yeah. Sure did,” Mike Maddux said.

Mike Maddux withdrew his name from consideration for the Red Sox’s managerial opening, citing family considerations brought on by the distance between Boston and Dallas.

He didn’t want to talk about the Boston situation Wednesday, but did say that family matters are a huge consideration, especially since he and his daughters and wife are together now in Dallas. The family had been apart at times while he was the pitching coach of the Brewers.

“It’s pretty special. There does come a time when you have to stop and smell the roses,” he said.

English runner Radcliffe can keep marathon record

BRUSSELS — The IAAF has decided to let Paula Radcliffe keep her marathon world record from 2003, after previously saying it would reduce one of athletics’ outstanding performances to a world best because the English runner set the mark in a race with men.

IAAF Council member Helmut Digel told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the governing body will keep the mark in the books despite an August decision to only recognize records achieved in all-women races from now on.

“The record will stay. Nobody will cancel the record of Paula. That is sure,” Digel said in a telephone interview after an IAAF meeting in Monaco. “Her record will never be diminished.”

The rule change is still set to come into effect next year, but Digel said Radcliffe’s existing record will now be allowed to stand.

The rule change had led to several calls for Radcliffe’s record to be kept since the plans were announced at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Digel said the IAAF was taken aback by the vehemence of the protests, and that the rule wasn’t meant to diminish previous performances.

“It was not against old records at all,” he said. “We realize that these performances were excellent performances.”

Radcliffe ran a time of 2 hours, 15.25 minutes at the London Marathon in 2003, a stunning performance which is still 1 minute, 53 seconds faster than the second-best time in history, which Radcliffe also holds.

The second-fastest runner of all time is Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba, who was 3:22 slower in 2001.

The issue for the IAAF is that Radcliffe ran the London race with male pacemakers, which the governing body says makes for an unfair edge compared to all-women races. Now, the IAAF is expected to work out a system where the records in mixed races could stand side-by-side with records in all-women races.

“The terminology has not been decided yet,” Digel said.

Many in the sport agree that women run marathons faster when paced by men, since keeping up with men can provide a target to aim for. Running in a group of men can also be less tiring if they shield the athlete from incoming wind.

UCF AD resigns amid recruiting allegations

ORLANDO, Fla. — Central Florida athletic director Keith Tribble resigned Wednesday amid allegations of recruiting violations in the school’s football and basketball programs.

School President John Hitt announced the move at a news conference to discuss a notice of allegations the school received this week from the NCAA. The notice details a list of infractions the NCAA says Tribble and other athletic department employees engaged in with reputed agent runners and several players.

UCF received an inquiry letter in August for violations in its football program that occurred between 2007 and 2009 and involved a relationship with Ken Caldwell, a recruiter for a professional sports agency, and his associate, Brandon Bender.

The notice of allegation said that Caldwell and Bender “assisted the institution in the recruitment of six men’s basketball players and five football perspective student-athletes.”

“The conduct detailed by the NCAA’s report falls far short of our university standards and my own expectations of how our athletics program should operate,” Hitt said.

Al Harms, a vice president of communications at the school, has been appointed interim athletic director.

Assistant coach David Kelly, the football program’s top recruiter, also has resigned, Hitt said.

The school also suspended basketball coach Donnie Jones for three games and gave him a letter of reprimand. Hitt said Jones “failed to maintain a culture of compliance” in the recruitment of two players. UCF football coach George O’Leary was not cited for wrongdoing in the NCAA report.

Tribble took over as UCF AD in 2006 after serving as the director of the Orange Bowl Committee. He oversaw the construction and opening of UCF’s first on-campus football stadium in 2007.

Hitt said the allegations are not expected to affect the school’s anticipated move from Conference USA to the Big East. UCF has yet to receive an official invitation, but Hitt said he spoke with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto on Wednesday about the allegations and understood that the matter won’t affect the move.

“I think it’s moving around rather nicely,” Hitt said. “It’s not a game-changer. It doesn’t delay or impede our entry into the Big East.”

The school has 90 days from Nov. 7 to respond to the report. University general counsel Scott Cole said the school will work with the NCAA to “get a consensus on appropriate penalties.”

“But for the most part we think most of the investigation is done,” he said.

Cole said that because of the nature of the infractions and because UCF is a repeat offender it can’t undergo summary disposition and will have an infractions hearing with the NCAA in April.

“But for the most part we think most of the investigation is done,” he said.

UCF is on probation until February of 2012 because football staff members placed impermissible calls to perspective recruits between 2007 and 2009.

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