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Sports briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001


FBI enters Memphis payoff probe

The FBI has begun a probe of allegations that a Memphis high school football coach was paid to influence a star player's choice of college.

"We have initiated a preliminary investigation to determine if any federal violations have occurred," special agent Kelli Sligh said Friday.

She declined to say what laws could be involved because the inquiry is just getting under way.

Besides the FBI, the SEC, the NCAA and Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association are investigating how colleges recruited Albert Means, a defensive back from Trezevant High School.

An assistant football coach at Trezevant, Milton Kirk, has gone public with claims that coach Lynn Lang solicited $200,000 to get Means to sign a letter of intent with the University of Alabama.

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four Connecticut players, including one of the Huskies' top receivers, quit the team, coach Randy Edsall said. Flanker Stephen O'Connor, defensive ends Davion Dixon and Paul Hurley, and linebacker Mike Ziccardi will not return.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Jason Sullivan squeezed L.J. Biernbaum home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give Florida Atlantic an 11-10 win against Miami. Dwight Edge and Mike Rabelo had back-to-back two-run hits to highlight a seven-run fourth inning as Tampa beat Lynn 10-5 in Boca Raton in the season opener for both schools.

FIGURE SKATING: Irina Slutskaya took the lead in the women's short program at the European Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia, overtaking teammate Maria Butyrskaya. Slutskaya had the top marks of the day, from 5.6 to 5.8 for required elements and 5.7 to 5.9 for the technical phase. Butyrskaya, who fell on a triple flip and had shakylandings on two other jumps, was second. An Italian couple -- Fusar Poli and Maurizo Margaglio -- for the first time won a European ice dance title, helped by a fall by the defending European champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat.

SOCCER: Midfielder Jim Rooney signed a multiyear contract with MLS, enabling Miami to keep its captain. Terms were not disclosed.

AUTO RACING: The Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Dr Pepper will sponsor a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series team this season featuring a black owner and black driver. Morty Buckles will drive a Pontiac for Philadelphia-based Miller Racing Group.

HORSE RACING: A friend of the late jockey Chris Antley and another man pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of trespassing at the home where Antley was found dead last month from an overdose of drugs. Timothy Wyman Tyler Jr., 24, who was a friend of Antley, and Jeffrey Robert Jones, 22, were charged Jan. 16 with one count of first-degree residential burglary.

BOXING: Former heavyweight champion Tony Tubbs chose jail instead of a treatment program, telling a judge in Cincinnati he didn't have a drug problem. Tubbs, 42, was sentenced to six months in jail, but will have to serve two months and 10 days. He has spent nearly four months in jail since his arrest for trafficking in cocaine, and the time was counted.

Tubbs was the WBA champion from April 1985 to January 1986.

BROADCASTING: NBC Sports host Hannah Storm gave birth to a 7-pound, 3-ounce girl named Riley Kathryn. She is the third child for Storm and her husband, NBC Sports golf host Dan Hicks.

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