The U.S. team secured a berth into the 2006 Olympics without playing Monday at the hockey world championships in Prague, Czech Republic.
Finland ousted Russia, 4-0, to give the Americans a boost into the tournament quarterfinals and guarantee that they will be ranked among the world's top eight countries when the championships are over. Latvia also advanced to the quarterfinals after defeating Austria, 5-2.
By reaching the quarterfinals, the U.S. team will finish ahead of either Germany, Switzerland or both -- thus maintaining its top-eight world ranking. Entering the tournament, the three countries were vying for two spots that would clinch automatic Olympic berths.
The top eight teams in the world rankings after the tournament qualify for the Turin Games.
The U.S. team has one qualifying game left -- today against Denmark -- and is sure to finish in fourth place in Group F. The quarterfinals are Wednesday and Thursday.
In other qualifying-round games, former Pittsburgh Penguin winger Josef Beranek scored twice, leading the Czech Republic to a 6-2 victory over defending champion Canada.
In Ostrava, Slovakia and Sweden, last year's runner-up, played to a scoreless tie.
Bob Cantu, USC's administrative assistant for the last three years, was promoted to assistant coach.
Cantu, 30, replaces Marvin Menzies, who left after one season for Nevada Las Vegas, and becomes Coach Henry Bibby's eighth assistant since 2001.
Cantu's new responsibilities include serving as recruiting coordinator -- he has been recruiting since Menzies left -- while handling scheduling and assisting on team defense.
"I'm just embracing the opportunity and looking forward to next year. We need to do a good job recruiting in Southern California, in L.A. as best we can and move out from there. Let's keep these kids home," Cantu said.
A federal judge denied the University of Arkansas' final request to dismiss former basketball coach Nolan Richardson's lawsuit against it. The denial clears the way for Richardson's non-jury trial against the university, its leaders and the Razorback Foundation to begin Wednesday in front of U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson Jr.
Former U.S. Olympic Committee drug czar Wade Exum was denied promotions by a USOC hierarchy of white males because he is African American, his attorney told a federal appeals court in Denver.
Exum, who sued the organization shortly after resigning in 2000, is asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate his lawsuit, which a lower court dismissed last year.
Exum's lawyer, John McKendree, told a three-judge panel of the Denver-based 10th Circuit that Exum was passed over repeatedly for positions he was qualified for, including chief medical officer of the USOC.
McKendree said that for the nine years Exum was USOC drug control director, white males were consistently promoted ahead him.
USOC officials have said the allegations are baseless.
The president of the Australian Olympic Committee has appealed to the International Olympic Committee to intervene in a dispute with Greek organizers over security for the Olympic torch relay.
New South Wales state Premier Bob Carr said today he was in negotiations with Athens officials over their insistence on using Greek security staff throughout the torch's world tour. Carr insisted the tour was not in danger of being scrapped.
"We're negotiating vigorously of course," Carr told reporters. "We want it here and we'll do anything reasonable to get it here."
Sydney, site of the 2000 Olympics, is scheduled to be the first city outside Greece to receive the torch.
NHRA Funny Car ace John Force got the 110th victory of his career, winning the rain-delayed Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tenn. It was the first victory at Bristol Dragway for the 12-time champion, who now has won at every venue on the circuit.
Tony Schumacher and Greg Anderson won their divisions. Force beat Whit Bazemore with a run of 4.781 seconds at 322.88 mph.
UCLA was selected as one of eight host sites for the NCAA softball regionals May 20-23. The defending champion Bruins are expected to remain at home as one of the eight teams in the regional when the 64-team tournament is announced May 16. Other sites selected were Arizona, Stanford, Baylor, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska and Georgia.
Limehouse, the fourth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, likely will not run in the Preakness, Dogwood Stables President Cot Campbell said. His next race is expected to be the Belmont Stakes on June 5 or the Ohio Derby on June 12. Meanwhile, trainer John Servis said Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones would return to Philadelphia Park today.
Ohio State football players Louis Irizarry, a second-team tight end, and Ira Guilford, a backup tailback, pleaded innocent Monday to charges they assaulted a fellow student and took his wallet. Coach Jim Tressel has suspended the players indefinitely.
Washington State volleyball Coach Cindy Fredrick, who has more wins in women's sports than any other coach in school history, is leaving to become coach at Iowa, replacing Rita Buck-Crockett.