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FSU turnaround benefits Hamilton

BRIAN LANDMAN
Published May 20, 2004

Coach Leonard Hamilton, who led Florida State to its first postseason appearance since 1998 with last year's NIT, received a three-year extension Wednesday.

His base pay increases modestly, from $144,899 to $152,144 (no other part of his compensation package changes), but his deal now runs through the 2009-10 season.

Athletic director Dave Hart said this rewards Hamilton for "outstanding leadership" and reinforces "the message that we view him as the right person to lead our men's basketball program to a level of excellence within a 12-team Atlantic Coast Conference and nationally as well."

After five straight losing seasons, the Seminoles were 19-14 in Hamilton's second season in Tallahassee. That included ACC home wins against nationally-ranked North Carolina, Wake Forest, Maryland and Georgia Tech, which reached the Final Four.

Hamilton's team also created a buzz in the football-crazed town. FSU averaged more than 7,500 fans; attendance at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center was as low as 5,200 in 2001-02.

"I appreciate the confidence that the Florida State administration has shown in our staff," Hamilton said in a statement. "The university and athletics department have made a strong commitment, which shows that having a successful basketball program is important. ... We believe FSU can achieve at the very highest level of college basketball and we are glad to have ample time to continue to reach our goals."

USF LANDS BOILERMAKER: The Bulls added transfer Melvin Buckley, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound forward-guard from Purdue. He is the sixth player to sign with USF for 2004, which is allowable since the 5/8 rule recently was rescinded.

As a sophomore in 2003-04, Buckley averaged 5.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in 17.8 minutes. As a freshman, he averaged 4.1 points in 11.1 minutes, including a team-high 20 points on 5-of-6 3-pointers in an 80-56 win over LSU in the opening round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Buckley, a Chicago native, has to sit out the 2004-05 season and has two years of eligibility starting in 2005, when USF begins Big East play.

"Melvin did a fine job academically (at Purdue), and he also showed flashes of his capabilities on the court," USF coach Robert McCullum said. "He can shoot the 3 in transition, he can get the ball to the basket and finish. He will sit out a year, get stronger, and he has the ability to develop into an outstanding player in the Big East."

SUPPORT FOR CU COACH: Members of the governing board of Colorado strongly backed football coach Gary Barnett and university president Elizabeth Hoffman despite a study that held the school's administrators responsible for the use of "sex, alcohol and drugs ... as football recruiting tools."

As the university's Board of Regents met to review an investigative report on the school's recruiting scandal, board chairman Peter Steinhauer said, "This crisis has proven that we have great leadership ... including the coaches, the chancellor and our president."

Other members of the board echoed the praise for the coach and president, even while they called for major changes in the way the Big 12 powerhouse recruits. Hoffman has said she will decide by the end of May whether to reinstate Barnett or fire him.

Members of the special commission that produced the report said they were disappointed by the board's response to their findings.

"It's pretty clear they don't want to talk about the sexual abuse problem," said commission member Jacqueline St. Joan, a former Denver judge. "It's disappointing that they could read our report and then announce that the leadership is doing a great job."

ACC TV: The ACC continued to reap the benefits of adding football powers Miami and Virginia Tech for this fall and Boston College in 2005. The league reached agreement with its longtime syndicators, Jefferson-Pilot Sports and Raycom Sports, on a seven-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed. The deal, which includes an increased financial commitment for men's basketball that runs through the 2010-11 season, comes a week after ABC and ESPN announced a seven-year deal to televise ACC football.

PRICE LAWSUIT: Fifteen news media organizations filed a brief supporting Sports Illustrated's bid to protect the confidentiality of sources it used in an article about former Alabama football coach Mike Price. The brief backed the magazine's petition to a federal appeals court over a federal judge's ruling that Alabama's shield law does not apply to magazines, though it does apply to newspapers and radio and TV stations.

GOLF: UCLA took a one-stroke lead over top-ranked Duke in the NCAA Women's Championship in Opelika, Ala., shooting 5-under 283 in the rain-delayed second round. Only 12 of the 24 teams completed the round, with UCLA leading the finishers with 572. FSU was eighth at 602.

TENNIS: FSU coach Lise Gregory surprisingly resigned after eight seasons and seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including the second round of this year's postseason, to pursue a new career. Gregory was the ACC and South Region's coach of the year in 2004 and her team has won the school's Golden Torch Award as the varsity sport with the highest GPA seven straight years. FSU will conduct a national search for her replacement.

- Times staff writer Pete Young contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

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