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Notre Dame gets a new sponsor

In a deal announced in September, Notre Dame has signed Chevrolet as a major sponsor of its athletic programs. The automaker will now be one of five corporate sponsors with an ongoing presence at university athletic events. The deal was set to commence with the Irish football home opener against Michigan State on Sept. 22. Terms of the one-year deal were not revealed by either the university or Chevrolet. Notre Dame's other corporate sponsors are Adidas, Gatorade, FANSonly Media, Verizon and Meijer Inc.

Seminoles and Cyclones appear slated to play in next season's Robinson Classic

Iowa State and Florida State are supposedly set to play in next year's Eddie Robinson Classic at Arrowhead Stadium. The game would be the season opener for both teams and would most likely be played on Aug. 24, 2002 according to reports.

The match up would be the culmination of efforts of the Kansas City Chiefs who have been aggressive in recent years making the stadium available for marquee college matchups. Two previous college games (Nebraska-Oklahoma State, 1998; Kansas State-Iowa, 2000) each drew at least 77,000 fans in 78,000-seat Arrowhead Stadium.

Memphis school board takes action against one coach involved in recruiting scandal and federal grand jury indicts both coaches

The Memphis, Tennessee school board permanently revoked the coaching privileges of a former assistant football coach who testified that an Alabama booster paid his colleague $200,000 for getting a star linebacker to sign with the Crimson Tide. The board permanently revoked Milton Kirk's coaching privileges, but sympathized with him because he was a "whistle-blower," and suspended him without pay for a year. He will be able to teach again in March 2002. Kirk had been recommended for firing on March 19, 2001, when he disclosed his involvement in the recruiting of linebacker Albert Means.

In January, Kirk told the Memphis newspaper, The Commercial Appeal, that he helped former Trezevant High School football coach Lynn Lang shop the talents of Means for $200,000. Lang resigned from the Memphis school system following the allegations, but has denied wrongdoing.

Means, who was highly recruited after high school, played for Alabama last year. He has since transferred to the University of Memphis and was cleared by the NCAA to play football this season and not forced to sit out a due to his transfer. He is accused of no wrongdoing himself.

A federal grand jury, on August 29, indicted Kirk and Lang. The two were charged with conspiracy, bribery and extortion, and warrants were issued for their arrests.

"The indictment alleges that it was a principal object and purpose of the conspiracy to wrongfully obtain money and other things of value from universities, or fans known as boosters associated with the universities, seeking to recruit" Means, federal prosecutor Terry Harris said.

Samford coach dismissed

Samford football coach Pete Hurt was fired on October 17, with his team off to a 1-4 start in his eighth season. Offensive coordinator Bill Gray will coach the team through the end of the season. Athletic director Bob Roller said Hurt had been "placed on leave." Hurt had one year left on his contract after this season. Hurt was 42-39 with the Bulldogs, leaving him three wins shy of Terry Bowden's mark as the school's winningest coach.

NCAA games rescheduled due to tragedy

The weekend of September 15 was one of national mourning and remembrance as all NCAA Division I-A games were cancelled. Most schools were able to make new arrangements for later in the year, but some games, like UTEP and Texas Tech, had to be completely forgotten and many others schools were left scurrying for make-up opponents. Conferences were also faced with the task of deciding how to best handle the cancellation situation and the numerous national title implications associated with the BCS.

The SEC race is now virtually assured of a dramatic conclusion. The three September 15 regular-season SEC games were rescheduled for Dec. 1. The conference also pushed back its championship game to Dec. 8.

Dec. 1, already a monster final Saturday, now gets bigger. Oregon-Oregon State, Miami-Virginia Tech and, for now, the Big 12 championship game were already scheduled to play that day and night. Add to that day Georgia Tech-Florida State, Purdue-Notre Dame, Arizona State-UCLA, Auburn-LSU and Tennessee-Florida. Miami's game against Washington was postponed until Nov. 24. That means the Hurricanes face a finish that includes Boston College, Syracuse, Washington and Virginia Tech.

Oklahoma will play its postponed game against Tulsa on Nov. 3. Tulsa moved its Nov. 3 game against Louisiana Tech to Nov. 24 to accommodate the Sooners.

The NFL did not play games on Sunday September 16 following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington

In a move that was met with approval by virtually everyone in the game, the NFL and Commissioner Paul Tagliabue cancelled its slate of games on September 16, in light of the worst act terrorism in US history. The league later moved to reschedule the games. The NFL will go with a 16-game schedule, making up the games lost on Jan. 6. "We believe that a full 16-game regular-season schedule is vital to our fans and the integrity of our season," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "Each team needs to be guaranteed the same number of home and away games plus an equal number of divisional games. The NFL Competition Committee was unanimous on that point."

The league also pushed the Super Bowl back one week to February 10, 2002 and kept intact the 12-team playoff format.

The postponement was the first ever for non-strike reasons by the NFL. The league was widely criticized when then-commissioner Pete Rozelle decided to allow the games to be played two days after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963. Rozelle later lamented it was the worst decision he made in 29 years in office.

High school coaches in Alabama disciplined after fight erupts during game

The Mobile, Alabama School Board took severe action after fisticuffs broke out during a high school game. Forty-four players from Blount and LeFlore high schools were suspended for three games and two coaches - including Blount head coach Wendell Washington - were suspended from coaching for the remainder of the season as a result of a bench-clearing fight during the annual Heritage Classic. The brawl occurred at Prichard Stadium shortly after a late hit on a punt.

"I personally believe that when adults acted in a certain way, that really perpetuated it," Mobile County School System Superintendent Harold Dodge said of the fight, which resulted in the game being called with 1:26 to play and one player being sent to the hospital. "Our role models let us down."

The actions taken by Dodge went over and above penalties levied against the schools by the Alabama High School Athletic Association earlier. AHSAA Executive Director Daniel Washburn on Wednesday suspended 11 Blount players and 10 LeFlore players for three games each, suspended LeFlore assistant coach Kirven Lang for the rest of the season, fined each school $1,000 and placed each school on a one-year probation.

The suspensions begin immediately, Dodge said, and the coaches' suspensions will include any playoff games, although they will continue in their teaching jobs.

Saints reach agreement to stay in the Dome

The New Orleans Saints and the state of Louisiana have worked out a new deal to keep the team playing in the Superdome for the next 10 years.

The deal will provide the team with a series of inducements beginning with $12.5 million this year and escalating to $23.5 million in 2010, according to documents released by the team and local and state officials.

The new agreement will supplant one worked out earlier between Gov. Mike Foster and Saints owner Tom Benson aimed at keeping the NFL franchise in New Orleans. That deal's financial inducements were designed to keep the Saints in the Superdome through the 2003 season.

The new deal would give the Saints a one-time opportunity to break their lease, allowing them to leave after the 2005 season. It would impose a $75 million penalty instead of the current $25 million.

Paterno wins 2002 Stagg Award

Penn State University Head Coach Joe Paterno has been selected as the 2002 recipient of the American Football Coaches Association's Amos Alonzo Stagg Award. Paterno is also the first active coach to receive the award since 1982, when Grambling's Eddie Robinson was honored.

The award, which honors those "whose services have been outstanding in the advancement of the best interests of football," will be presented to Paterno at the Sears/AFCA Awards Luncheon on January 8 during the 2002 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Paterno is the third coach with Penn State ties to receive the AFCA's most prestigious award. Richard Harlow, who coached at Penn State from 1915-17, received the award in 1949 and Rip Engle, who coached at Penn State from 1950-65, and was Paterno's coach at Brown University and the man who hired Paterno as an assistant coach at Penn State, received the award in 1969.

Paterno is just one of eight coaches in NCAA history to record 300 wins (five in Division I-A), reaching the milestone faster than anyone (380 games). He is the only Division I-A coach with 300 wins at one school. He has been instrumental in Penn State's 426-140-7 record since 1950, with its .750 winning percentage the nation's best over the past 52 seasons and has guided the Nittany Lions to 18 top-10 finishes in the AFCA Coaches' Poll since 1966.

He is the only four-time winner of the AFCA's Division I-A National Coach of the Year Award (1968-78-82-86) and the only man to win the award in three different decades at any level. Paterno has also won a record 10 AFCA District/Regional Coach of the Year Awards (1967-68-71-72-73-77-78-82-85-94). In 1986, he became the first football coach to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year.

Along with these accomplishments, Paterno has posted 11 or more wins in a season 12 times, coached 31 first team All-America selections, sent more than 250 players to the NFL (including 25 first round draft picks), been selected as the first active coach to receive the National Football Foundation's Distinguished American Award, coached players who have won all of the major college awards - Heisman, Maxwell, Lombardi, O'Brien, Outland, Butkus and Biletnikoff and coached 14 Hall of Fame Scholar Athletes, two NFL Hall of Fame players and five College Football Hall of Fame honorees. A sixth College Hall of Fame enshrinee will be inducted in December.

Paterno began his coaching career by accepting a part-time coaching position during his last semester at Brown University in 1950, under his old coach, Rip Engle, while he waited to begin law school at Boston University in the fall. But Engle accepted the head coaching position at Penn State and asked Paterno to accompany him to State College, Pa. After 16 years as an assistant under Engle, Paterno was named the head coach at Penn State in 1966, one day after Engle's retirement.

Cal State Northridge may drop football

Citing budget deficits that are nearing $1 million a year, Cal State Northridge's athletic department has proposed dropping football after this season. Athletic director Dick Dull made the recommendation in a report submitted to university president Jolene Koester. She said a final decision will be made by Thanksgiving.

"The extraordinary costs associated with running a football program, without any significant contribution from the sport to offset its expenditures, make the continuance of the sport problematic," said Dull, who was asked by Koester in June to ensure future balanced budgets.

Oregon player forced to quit after neck injury

Oregon backup cornerback A.K. Keyes decided to give up football on the advice of team doctors after hurting his neck for the second time, according to Duck coach Mike Bellotti.

Keyes, the backup to starting right cornerback Rashad Bauman, spent the night in the hospital after teammate Kevin Mitchell accidentally kicked him in the head on a play during the first quarter of the Ducks' 24-22 win over Southern California.

Keyes lay near the sideline for about 10 minutes before being lifted onto a stretcher and taken off the field on a golf cart. He had full sensation and movement in his arms and legs, and an MRI showed no fractures. He was diagnosed with a narrow spinal during summer camp, after he had complained of tingling in his hands and feet following a tackle. He missed nearly a week of practice after team doctors refused to clear him to play. Keyes returned after seeking further opinions from specialists. According to Bellotti, the two injuries appeared to be related.

Keyes, a sophomore from Los Alamitos, Calif., had played his way into top reserve spot in the secondary. He had two tackles and one pass deflection in three games this season.

Badgers receive probation

Wisconsin was put on five years' probation and lost some football and basketball scholarships after an investigation found a shoe store gave discounts to athletes.

The NCAA said the university failed to adequately monitor its athletic programs, especially since this was the school's third major rules violation in eight years.

"Given the institution's recent history of major violations of NCAA legislation, the committee believed that the university should have had a heightened sense of vigilance with respect to strict adherence to NCAA legislation," the NCAA said in its report.

In April, the university put itself on three years' probation, penalized itself $150,000 and stripped five scholarships over the next three years - four from football and one from men's basketball.

In addition, the NCAA ordered the school to cut five football scholarships in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years. It also ordered the school to cut a men's basketball scholarship in 2003-04. The university's investigation found that 157 athletes in 14 sports violated NCAA rules by accepting at least $23,000 in unadvertised discounts from The Shoe Box, a store 25 miles from Madison in Black Earth.

The university has since banned athletes, coaches and athletic administrators from shopping at the Shoe Box.

Orlando will have two postseason bowls

A second college football postseason bowl game will be held in Orlando this season. The Tangerine Bowl, featuring the Atlantic Coast Conference's No. 4 team vs. the fifth-place finisher from the Big East, will kick off Dec. 20. Orlando also is host of the Florida Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. That 56-year-old game was called the Tangerine Bowl until 1983.

The Tangerine Bowl replaces the Bowl, which had been held at Pro Player Stadium in Miami. Attendance was a major problem for the game, which had three title sponsors in its 11-year history and drew an announced crowd last year of just 28,359.

Alabama gets letter from NCAA

The long-awaited letter finally arrived for Alabama. The Crimson Tide now have the official list of alleged wrongdoings from the NCAA. Alabama will appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions on Nov. 17 to answer charges of major rules violations in the Crimson Tide football program.

A written response to the NCAA's letter of official inquiry was due by Oct. 24, and will likely contain an offer of self-imposed penalties.

In August, the NCAA accused Alabama of 11 major rules violations and five minor infractions, most of which involved recruiting under former head coaches Mike DuBose and Gene Stallings, neither of whom was charged with wrongdoing.

Stringer's family examining legal alternatives

According to reports, the relatives of late Minnesota Vikings lineman Korey Stringer, who Stringer died Aug. 1 after suffering heatstroke during training camp in Mankato, Minnesota, have hired a lawyer to review the death and the team's handling of the case. Stringer's widow and parents have retained Stanley Chesley, a Cincinnati lawyer with a history of handling high-profile personal-injury cases, Stringer's agent James Gould said.

Gould said legal help was sought after the Vikings failed to fulfill promises given to Stringer's widow, Kelci. He did not give specifics on what the Vikings have not done. Gould said the family has not committed to legal action, pending what Chesley finds. The review should take about a month, he said.

NFL and referees reach and agreement

On Tuesday September 18, The NFL and its locked-out officials agreed to a new six-year contract. The deal includes an option to extend it after the fourth year.

The referees returned to work on September 23, when the league resumesd play following the cancellation of Week 2 in the wake of this past Tuesday's terrorist tragedies.

The new deal calls for the officials to receive 50-percent raise this season and a 100-percent raise by the fourth season. The deal also includes an increased benefits package for the officials, something they had been seeking.

Replacement officials, who had worked the final week of the preseason and the regular-season opener, were being paid $2,000 a game. Every official was given a four-game deal worth $8,000, whether they worked the games or not.

Former Northern Illinois coach dies

Howard W. Fletcher, who coached Northern Illinois to the college division national championship in 1963, died. He was 88.

"He was the man who initiated the modern era of football here," current Huskies coach Joe Novak said Friday in a statement. "He was a real innovator, the forerunner of today's wide-open offenses."

Fletcher was 74-48-1 at Northern Illinois from 1956-68, including the 10-0 season in 1963 when the Huskies won the Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title and went on to beat Southwest Missouri State 21-14 in the Mineral Water Bowl.

Eastern Kentucky legend Kidd joins the 300 club

Roy Kidd became the seventh Division I coach to reach 300 victories as Eastern Kentucky beat Liberty 30-7 on September 8. Kidd joins Grambling's Eddie Robinson, Alabama's Bear Bryant, Pacific's Amos Alonzo Stagg, Temple's Pop Warner, Penn State's Joe Paterno, and Florida State's Bobby Bowden as coaches with 300 or more victories.

"There's been so much talk about it," Kidd said after the game. "I'm just glad we got the win. We've been trying to get it for two years now."

In addition to his 300-117-8 record - third behind Paterno and Bowden among active Division I coaches - Kidd has won two Division I-AA national championships (1979, 1982) and has been honored as the Ohio Valley Conference coach of the year 10 times.

I-AA playoffs to be delayed as a result of the terrorist acts

The NCAA will delay the start of the Division I-AA football playoffs, giving schools an extra week to reschedule games postponed because of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

First-round playoff games will begin Dec. 1, one week later than originally scheduled, an NCAA committee decided Wednesday.

Schools will have the option of rescheduling games on Nov. 24, the original starting date for the playoffs.

The quarterfinals will be played Dec. 8 and the semifinals on Dec. 15. The championship game will be Dec. 21, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

FAU gets first win

Howard Schnellenberger needed just two games to get the first-ever victory for his Florida Atlantic Owls, with a 31-28 upset of host Bethune-Cookman College on September 8. After a season-opening loss to Slippery Rock, the Owls rebounded with a victory over the ranked BCC Wildcats.

No Expansion for Conference USA

Members of Conference USA voted on October 15 to put off any decision on expanding the league at its fall meeting. The vote by the presidents of the members of the conference means Marshall's football program will not be switching conferences next year - at least for now.

"Expansion remains an agenda item for the conference," Conference USA Commissioner Mike Silve said. "There are several matters that need to be addressed in the coming months. The Board discussed expansion at length, but decided that it was not ready to proceed at the present time."

The conference was explored the concept last spring with the idea of adding Marshall, which has dominated the Mid-American Conference in football since 1997. Marshall had been under consideration to have all of its other sports join the Horizon League, but that conference decided last week against expansion.

Chargers make coaching moves as interim DC resigns

Citing "personal reasons, Joe Vechiarella, the linebackers coach for the San Diego Chargers since 1997, resigned after the teams loss to New England on October 14. Vechiarella, 64, has spent 36 years in coaching, including 20 in the NFL.

"This is a decision I needed to make. It's time," Vechiarella said. "I've been in this business a long time and there comes a point when I had to do what's best for me personally."

The loss came as a surprise to head coach Mike Riley and the Charger since Vechiarella had been calling the defensive plays in the absence of coordinator Joe Pascale, who just underwent his third back surgery and is expected to miss an extended period.

"We're saddened at Jim's decision," Riley said. "But I understand he must do what he has to do. He's an outstanding football coach and person. We'll miss him around here."

Riley announced that Dick Roach will coach the linebackers for the remainder of the season.

Roach, 64, last coached in the NFL as a defensive assistant with the Seattle Seahawks. From 1987-97, he served as a defensive assistant with the Buffalo Bills, who reached four straight Super Bowls in that span.

Defensive corners coach Mark Banker will assume the play-calling duties for the defense. Rod Perry will coach the secondary, including cornerbacks and safeties.

"I don't think this will be a detriment to the team," Vechiarella said. "There are very capable people there that can carry on. I feel the organization is still in a very good situation and I wish them the best for a successful year."

Celebration at Auburn turns ugly

Police made 51 arrests during the celebration and melee that followed Auburn's victory over then-No. 1 Florida on October 13. A university spokesman said that all 51 cases were going to court, but no dates were immediately set. Most of the arrests were for criminal trespassing while others were arrested for resisting arrest, public intoxication or disorderly conduct, and one person was arrested for assault. Several thousand fans rushed the field after the 23-20 win and some helped tear down a goal post. Late in the game, the public address announcer asked fans several times not to go on the field and warned that they would be arrested.

West Texas A & M coach reassigned

West Texas A&M reassigned football coach Stan McGarvey, effective at the end of the season. McGarvey, who came to the school from Missouri Western, will become an assistant to the president for special projects, according to the university.

At the time of his reassignment, McGarvey was 25-25 in five seasons at the school.

North Carolina A & T back has record day

Maurice Hicks, a running back at RB North Carolina A&T, broke the Division I single-game rushing record with 416 yards in a 52-42 loss to Morgan State in a I-AA game.

It was the fourth highest total in NCAA history behind the 441 yards by Dante Brown (Marietta, D-III), 436 yards by A.J. Pitirino (Hartwick, D-III) and 417 yards by Carey Bender (Coe, D-III). The I-AA record was 409 yards by Charles Roberts (Sacramento State, 1999). The I-A record is 406 yards by LaDainian Tomlinson (TCU, 1999).


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