Veteran AD returns to lead FAMU

By wire services
Published December 22, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Mired in financial and NCAA difficulties, Florida A&M changed athletic directors for the fourth time since 2002, turning to a veteran administrator who led its program nearly 20 years ago.

Nelson Townsend returns to Florida A&M where he was athletic director in 1986 and 1987. This time, however, the challenges are far greater.

"He has the kind of experience that is going to make a difference for us at this point," interim president Castell Bryant said.

"Our fate right now is in the hands of the NCAA enforcement staff," said Townsend, 64, noting the nearly 200 violations the school has acknowledged.

An announcement from the NCAA on the infractions is expected soon, sports information director Alvin Hollins said.

The school's athletic programs have been in a downward spiral since an ill-fated effort three years ago to take the football program to Division I-A.

TRIATHLON: Local race a quick sellout

St. Anthony's Triathlon officially closed registration for individuals after just five hours, a record sellout for one of the premier multisport events in the United States. A combination of 3,500 individual triathletes and 100 relay teams will compete Sunday, April 30, in downtown St. Petersburg. Applications are still being accepted for professionals competing on Sunday and for the Meek & Mighty Triathlon, a short-distance race for ages 7-14 and novice adults held Saturday, April 29.

TENNIS: 8-year ban for Puerta

Argentinian Mariano Puerta is facing the longest doping ban in the sport's history. Puerta, 27, was banned for eight years for his second doping offense, effectively ending his career. He is the first tennis player to receive a ban of more than two years. Puerta tested positive for the cardiac stimulant etilefrine after losing to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final in June. The three-man International Tennis Federation tribunal said the drug apparently came from effortil, a medication Puerta's wife takes for hypertension. Puerta was banned for nine months in 2003 for using clenbuterol, an asthma medication with some steroid-like properties, and faced a possible lifetime ban for a second infraction. But the ITF tribunal said he was given a lighter penalty because the positive result in Paris was inadvertent.

COLLEGES: FSU soccer star picked

Florida State junior midfielder India Trotter, who helped lead the team to the national semifinals, is one of 28 players invited to the U.S. national soccer team's camp Jan. 3-9 in Carson, Calif. She is the first Seminole to make the prestigious pool. Twenty players will be chosen to go to China for a tournament Jan. 18-22 featuring the United States, ranked No. 2 in the world, Norway (No. 3), France (No. 5) and China (No. 9).

- BRIAN LANDMAN, Times staff writer


OLYMPICS: Preston Griffall and Dan Joye won a close raceoff for the final doubles spot on the U.S. luge team, edging Christian Niccum and Patrick Quinn by 0.12 seconds in a two-run competition at Lake Placid, N.Y. They will join two-time Olympic medalists Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin.

SKIING: Benjamin Raich won the giant slalom on the tough Kranjska Gora slope in Slovenia to become a threat to American Bode Miller for the World Cup overall title. Both Miller and Hermann Maier fell, lifting Raich from ninth to third with 430 points, 12 behind Miller and seven back of Aksel Lund Svindal. ... At Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, Croatian Janica Kostelic, whose latest of many knee operations occurred in June, got her first victory of the season and her first ever in giant slalom. She is a multimedal favorite heading into the Turin Olympics.

SOCCER: The United States will play Poland on March 1 at Kaiserslautern, Germany, in preparation for next year's World Cup, Poland's soccer federation said.

OBITUARY: Ak Miller, a pioneer drag racer who had a career as a driver and car builder in many facets of motor racing for six decades, died Dec. 15 of a heart attack in a rest home in Pico Rivera, Calif. He was 84.