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Georgia Replaces Smith With Top Assistant Jirsa

May 20, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

Tubby Smith has moved to Kentucky, but his legacy remains at the school he left behind. Ron Jirsa, the top assistant at Georgia under Smith, was named his successor as basketball coach Monday.

Georgia Athletic Director Vince Dooley conceded that Jirsa was not his first choice for the job, but declined to say who was. Speculation had centered on Dave Odom of Wake Forest or Tulane's Perry Clark. Jirsa, 37, was the only candidate interviewed by Dooley, who said he never formally asked for permission to talk to his first choice when he learned that person wasn't interested in coming to Georgia.

"I felt that Ron would serve this situation better than any coach I know of," Dooley said. "I think continuity is the theme here. I like the direction we've been going."

This is Jirsa's first head coaching job after 15 years as an assistant, the last six of those years under Smith.


After suffering a leg injury, Pete Sampras quit in the middle of a World Team Cup match against Australia's Mark Philippoussis in Duesseldorf, Germany, leaving Sampras' status for next week's French Open up in the air.

Boris Becker announced he was withdrawing from the French Open because of an unspecified injury. Becker's season has been hampered by a lingering wrist injury that has allowed him to play in only three tournaments in the past three months. It is the second year in a row and the fourth time since 1992 that the three-time Wimbledon champion will not play in the French Open.

Sampras, the world's No. 1 player, took a 1-0 lead in the third set after splitting the first two, but then quit because of pain in his left thigh.

Philippoussis won by default, 4-6, 6-4, 0-1. That tied Australia with the United States in the Red Group, 1-1.

"I'm not sure what my plans are and if I'll play on Wednesday," Sampras said. "It's a pretty significant injury. But the good news, if there is any, is that it's not a pull. It's a strain. There's time before the French and, hopefully, I can get it cleared up and be ready to go."

Thomas Muster rebounded from a disappointing loss in the Italian Open by crushing Sebastien Grosjean of France, 6-3, 6-3, in the first round of the $425,000 Raifeissen Grand Prix in St. Polten, Austria.

Patricia Hy-Boulais of Canada defeated Helena Sukova, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the first round of the Strasbourg Open and will next face Steffi Graf in the French tournament.

Pro Football

In a last-ditch effort to win voter approval for a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, Mayor Willie Brown plans to guarantee that taxpayers will never foot the team's bills, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

On June 3, San Franciscans will vote on a $100-million bond issue to help build the 49ers' $525-million stadium-mall complex at Candlestick Point, and polls show the measure is in trouble.

Safety Gary Jones, a seven-year veteran who spent the last two seasons with the New York Jets, announced his retirement.


Major League Soccer, essentially adopting the rules of the European Union, said it will not pay transfer fees for players who have finished their contracts.

MLS Commissioner Doug Logan said the league will only sign players who have completed their contracts with other teams or who had been released from their contracts. He made the pledge in a seven-page affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston as part of the league's response to an antitrust suit filed by 10 of its players.


Jerry Walz, an attorney for World Boxing Organization junior bantamweight champion Johnny Tapia, said the boxer's arrest last Thursday in Big Bear on a gun possession charge should not affect his Las Vegas bout against Danny Romero.

But an Albuquerque prosecutor said the process for determining whether Tapia has violated probation could take a few weeks, threatening a scheduled July 18 bout with Romero, the International Boxing Federation junior bantamweight champ. Tapia is on probation in New Mexico for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Tapia was charged Thursday with being a felon in possession of a weapon. Walz says the boxer didn't know two guns were in an apartment where they were found.

Names in the News

Robert Hiegert, former athletic director and baseball coach at Cal State Northridge, was appointed commissioner of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. . . . After leading the Dallas Stars to the NHL's Central Division title and a franchise-record 48 wins, coach Ken Hitchcock was given a one-year contract extension.

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