- Associated Press - Thursday, March 27, 2014

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

CHICAGO (AP) - In a stunning ruling that could revolutionize a college sports industry worth billions of dollars and have dramatic repercussions at schools coast to coast, a federal agency said Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation’s first union of college athletes.

The decision by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board answered the question at the heart of the debate over the unionization bid: Are football players who receive full scholarships to the Big Ten school considered employees under federal law, thereby allowing them to unionize?

Peter Sung Ohr, the NLRB regional director, said in a 24-page decision that the players “fall squarely” within the broad definition of employee.

JEFFERSON, La. (AP) - Hank Lauricella, the 1951 Heisman Trophy runner-up at Tennessee who went on to serve more than three decades as a Louisiana state legislator, has died. He was 83.

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PRO FOOTBALL

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - The NFL will place a heavy emphasis on enforcing its player conduct rules, something Rams coach Jeff Fisher calls “a front-of-the-book issue.”

As the league’s spring meetings wrapped up with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying expansion of the playoffs next season is possible, sportsmanship - and lack thereof - was a prime topic.

In other moves, the owners approved an experiment in which extra-point kicks will be taken from the 20-yard line for two weeks in the preseason. They also adopted proposals to extend the length of the goalposts 5 feet to 35 feet to better determine if kicks are good, to no longer stop the clock on sacks and to allow video reviews on plays with a recovery of a loose ball on the field even though the play had been whistled dead.

The owners tabled proposals to raise the number of active players for games not played on a Sunday or Monday, except for opening week, from 46 to 49 and to raise the practice squad maximum from eight to 10 players.

CHICAGO - The Chicago Bears replaced one accomplished veteran pass rusher with another when they agreed to terms with Jared Allen on a four-year contract.

A person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press that Allen will get $15.5 million guaranteed on a deal that could be worth as much as $32 million. The person requested anonymity because the terms have not been announced.

The 31-year-old Allen spent the previous six years with the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. He will take over for Julius Peppers, who signed with Green Bay

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Doctors treating Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly said he will not immediately undergo surgery for a recurrence of cancer.

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