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State not open to a lesser plea


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000

Former Florida State All-America placekicker Sebastian Janikowski hasn't played his first down for the Raiders, let alone signed a contract, but his first NFL action might be in the league's drug program.

Janikowski, 22, was arrested Wednesday and charged with possession of the trendy but dangerous "date rape" drug GHB. That's a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of five years and a $5,000 fine.

Assistant state attorney Robin Freeman, meanwhile, said her office treats use or possession of designer drugs, including GHB, as serious crimes.

"We have taken a pretty hard line (in those cases)," she said, indicating that there may be little chance Janikowski will be allowed to plead to a misdemeanor.

The state attorney's office won't receive the complete police file for at least a week, and it likely will need another week to 10 days before deciding what, if anything, should be the official charge.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said a union-approved action, such as entering a drug program, doesn't require a criminal conviction.

"If an individual is showing symptoms of a potential problem, the doctors can move forward; let's try to treat it," he said. "It's not viewed as punitive."

But disciplinary action -- a fine or even suspension -- could follow if Janikowski is convicted or pleads guilty to a drug charge. Aiello said a first-time offender could be suspended if the violation is serious. It's unlikely Janikowski, a Polish citizen, would be deported if found guilty. Immigration and Naturalization Service officials said Thursday that a resident alien with five years' residency, such as Janikowski, probably would not face deportation until a second drug offense. Janikowski has no prior drug record.

Possession of a controlled substance is a crime of moral turpitude under federal immigration law, for which expulsion is a possible penalty for some aliens, INS spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar said.

UCF: The school wants to find a home for its football program in a major conference. So it recently launched a campaign aimed at aligning with Conference USA or the Big East. UCF has unveiled a Web site devoted to the goals of the program and invited decisionmakers from the leagues to log on And recently it began mailing slick videos and brochures detailing the aims of the school academically and athletically. Football is the only school sport without a conference affiliation. The other programs belong to the Trans America Athletic Conference.

CINCINNATI: Running back DeMarco McCleskey, acquitted of charges he raped a university student in her dormitory room, has been reinstated to the team.

VIRGINIA TECH: Quarterback Michael Vick has balked at a pro baseball career. Vick told told the Roanoke Times this week he will stick to football for the rest of his Tech career. The Rockies selected Vick in the 30th round of the major-league draft this month, even though Vick hasn't played baseball since the eighth grade. He led the Hokies to the Sugar Bowl and finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting last season.


WAKE FOREST: Barry Sanderson, who led NAIA member David Lipscomb to a 34-4 record last season, will become an assistant, coach Dave Odom announced. Sanderson, 32, is the son of former Alabama and Arkansas-Little Rock coach Wimp Sanderson.

DRAFT WITHDRAWALS: Freshmen Jason Kapono of UCLA and Kenny Satterfield of Cincinnati have withdrawn their names from the early entry list for the NBA draft. Junior Brian Merriweather of Texas-Pan American was also on the list. The others are sophomores D.A. Layne of Georgia, Karim Shabazz of Providence and Joe White of Texas A&M.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Linda Hill-MacDonald, who coached the WNBA's Cleveland Rockers for three seasons before being fired in 1999, has been named an assistant women's coach.


MIAMI: USA Baseball announced that freshman pitcher Kiki Bengochea was one of 22 players to make the cut at the US WEST national team trials in Tucson, Ariz

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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