- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 24, 2015


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Former NFL star Darren Sharper removed all doubt that he drugged and raped women, taking the first of several steps to own up to sex assaults in four states that will send him to federal prison for about nine years.

In two separate court cases, Sharper pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Arizona and no contest in California to raping two women he knocked out with a potent sedative mixed with booze.

Sharper, 39, said it was in his best interest to enter the pleas.



COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - A threat against President Barack Obama’s niece, a player on Princeton’s women’s basketball team, prompted increased security at the Tigers’ NCAA Tournament game at Maryland.

Hours after Maryland beat Princeton 85-70, the University of Maryland police department released this statement:

“On March 23, 2015 at approximately 3pm UMPD received a call stating that the caller had received a text from a third party indicating that a male that she knew had a gun and mentioned president Obama’s niece.

UMPD officers began an immediate investigation into this call and notified the United States Secret Service. As a precautionary measure, security at tonight’s Maryland vs. Princeton game was increased. Our investigation reveals at this time that these details that were passed on from this third party are unsubstantiated.”



Mississippi State hired former UCLA coach Ben Howland to lead its basketball program. He will be introduced at a news conference on campus Tuesday.

The 57-year-old Howland coached at UCLA for 10 years, leading the program to three straight Final Fours from 2006-08. But the Bruins never made it past the second round of the NCAA Tournament during the next five seasons and he was fired in 2013 despite winning the Pac-12.

Howland takes over for Rick Ray, fired on Saturday after three losing seasons.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Virginia coach Tony Bennett was named the U.S. Basketball Writers Association national coach of the year.

Bennett guided Virginia to a 30-4 record, including a 28-2 mark in the regular season. The award is based on the regular season.

Bennett also won the award named for Hall of Fame coach Henry Iba at Washington State in 2007 and is the ninth coach to win it twice. He and Roy Williams - Williams at Kansas in 1990 and North Carolina in 2006 - are the only coaches to win the award at two schools.



JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - The Marlins took another step toward keeping their young talent in Miami, finalizing a $49.57 million contract with outfielder Christian Yelich.

Miami has two-thirds of its young outfield under long-term deals. Giancarlo Stanton is starting a $325 million, 13-year agreement.

The 23-year-old Yelich hit .284 last year in his first full major league season. He had nine homers and 54 RBIs and also won a Gold Glove. He is the latest homegrown product Miami has secured for the long term.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - In a surprise move, Colorado released right-hander Jhoulys Chacin after the former Rockies ace struggled this spring.

After going 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA last year, Chacin had a 6.52 ERA in four appearances in Cactus League games, two starts. He walked four and struck out five in 9 2-3 innings.

Chacin was 38-48 in six seasons with Colorado with a 3.78 ERA, including 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 2013.

He had a $5.5 million salary this year that was not guaranteed and will receive 45 days’ termination pay: $1,352,459.



Missy Franklin has bid farewell to college swimming and is turning pro.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist went out with a bang, winning three individual events and helping her California team win the NCAA championship last weekend.

Now, Franklin can start competing for money and endorsement deals, and she’s signed with a sports agent connected to Hollywood.

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) - Former Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan of South Korea was banned 18 months for doping after testing positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition drug test, the latest in a series of high-profile doping cases in swimming.

The ban will begin retroactively the day of the positive test in early September and expire March 2, 2016 - putting Park’s participation in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in doubt.

It will also prevent him from competing in this year’s world championships in Kazan, Russia.

Swimming governing body FINA said that Park’s results from Sept. 3 onward will be annulled and prize money forfeited, meaning he will have to return the three individual medals and three relay medals he won at last year’s Asian Games.

The 25-year-old Park won the 400-meter freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also took silver in the 200 free in Beijing and silvers in both events at the 2012 London Games. No other South Korean swimmer has won an Olympic medal and he is one of the most popular athletes in the country.



PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis has been ruled out of the regular season and the playoffs while getting treatment for blood clots.

The 35-year-old Dupuis hasn’t played since beginning treatment for blood clots in November. The team initially held out hope Dupuis could return in time for the postseason. He is prohibited from contact while taking blood thinners to treat the condition.

Coach Mike Johnson said in a video message posted on the team’s website that it will be up to Dupuis and the team doctors to determine when he will be cleared for contact, but that it won’t be in time to play this season.

General manager Jim Rutherford said he is “confident” Dupuis will be back in time for the 2015-16 season.



JOHANNESBURG (AP) - A judge in South Africa on Monday convicted Bob Hewitt, a former Grand Slam tennis champion, of raping and sexually assaulting three girls whom he had been coaching. The assaults occurred decades ago, according to the victims who are now grown women.



CALELLA, Spain (AP) - Maciej Paterski of Poland won the opening stage of Spain’s Volta a Catalunya, outsprinting Pierre Rolland and Bart De Clercq to the finish.

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