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Lane Kiffin's recruiting remark draws reprimand from SEC

The new Tennessee coach falsely accused Florida Coach Urban Meyer of breaking the rules.

February 06, 2009|James Wagner | Staff and Wire Reports

Tennessee football Coach Lane Kiffin was reprimanded by the Southeastern Conference on Thursday for falsely accusing Florida Coach Urban Meyer of a recruiting violation, and the new Volunteers coach has apologized for his remarks.

Kiffin told fans attending a breakfast to celebrate his first recruiting class that Meyer violated recruiting rules by phoning wide receiver prospect Nu'Keese Richardson, WVLT-TV reported.

"I love the fact that Urban had to cheat and still didn't get him," Kiffin said.

NCAA and Southeastern Conference officials said it is not against recruiting rules to contact a prospect while he is on an official visit to another school.

Kiffin later issued a statement apologizing, and said he was trying to excite the crowd of donors and alumni.

Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said the comments were slanderous and violated SEC rules against publicly criticizing another coach and school.

Richardson, a Pahokee, Fla., native, signed with the Volunteers, despite having indicated he would sign with the Gators.

Jawanza Starling, a defensive back from Lincoln High in Tallahassee, Fla., became the 18th recruit to sign a letter of intent to play football at USC. He is the seventh out-of-state player to sign with the Trojans in the class of 2009.

SWIMMING

Phelps draws suspension

Michael Phelps has been suspended from competition for three months by USA Swimming, the latest fallout from a photo that showed the Olympic great inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

The sport's national governing body also cut off its financial support to Phelps for the same three-month period, effective Thursday.

"This is not a situation where any anti-doping rule was violated, but we decided to send a strong message to Michael because he disappointed so many people, particularly the hundreds of thousands of USA Swimming member kids who look up to him as a role model and a hero," the federation said in a statement.

Also, Kellogg Co. said that it would drop its endorsement deal with Phelps.

PRO FOOTBALL

Franchise tag put on Cassel

The New England Patriots put the franchise tag on quarterback Matt Cassel. The move means he remains a free agent, but the Patriots can match any offer made by another team or allow him to sign with that team in exchange for two first-round draft picks.

If or when he signs the one-year franchise tag designation, worth $14.65 million for 2009, he will be under contract to the Patriots, who could keep him or trade him.

Teams are allowed to put the franchise tag on one player per season. Without it, Cassel would have become an unrestricted free agent Feb. 27 and could have signed with any team without compensation to the Patriots.

The NFL Players Assn. is appealing a federal court decision ordering the union to pay $28.1 million to retired players for allegedly cutting them out of lucrative marketing deals.

BASEBALL

Padres, Floyd agree to deal

Outfielder Cliff Floyd agreed to a $750,000, one-year deal with San Diego, giving the Padres a veteran to come off the bench. Floyd batted .268 with 11 homers and 39 runs batted in for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. To make room for Floyd, Matt Bush, the No. 1 pick in the 2004 amateur draft, was designated for assignment. . . . Free-agent right-hander Ben Sheets could be headed for elbow surgery after contract negotiations with the Texas Rangers fell through because of the injury, a source told the Associated Press. . . . Left-hander Odalis Perez and the Washington Nationals agreed to a non-guaranteed minor league contract. . . . Outfielder Jacque Jones and first baseman-outfielder Daryle Ward agreed to minor league contracts with the Cincinnati Reds.

ETC.

Unbeaten Calzaghe retires

Former super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe has decided to retire from boxing with a 46-0 record. The 36-year-old Welshman outpointed Roy Jones Jr. in November in his last fight of a 16-year pro career.

Calzaghe held the WBO super-middleweight world title for more than 10 years, unifying the title against Mikkel Kessler in April 2007, before moving up to light-heavyweight to fight Bernard Hopkins and Jones.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission says it is considering punishment for Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Georges St. Pierre after his corner illegally applied petroleum jelly to his shoulders and upper back during his victory over B.J. Penn last week.

The final two rounds of match play at the Denny's Dick Weber Open, a Professional Bowlers Assn. event, end today at the Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley.

PBA heavyweights Norm Duke, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Chris Barnes and Pete Weber were among the top 24 finishers in Thursday's final qualifying round. Jason Belmonte, a young Australian bowler who uses an unorthodox two-handed technique, finished 12th to also advance.

The top five bowlers from match play then move on to a stepladder final on Sunday. It will air live on ESPN at 10 a.m.

-- James Wagner

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