Fanfare 3/11

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Briefly

College

  • Ricky Stokes was fired as Virginia Tech's men's basketball coach Monday, two days after the Hokies failed to qualify for the Big East Conference tournament for the third straight year. The school called a news conference to announce that Stokes was being released from his contract and that the final year of the deal would be bought out. Terms of the buyout were not immediately available. Stokes, a Richmond native who starred at Virginia during the Ralph Sampson era and spent 13 seasons as an assistant before taking over in Blacksburg in 1999, lasted through only four seasons of a five-year contract.

    Football

  • Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe still hasn't decided whether he will return for another season.

    "Until you hear it come out of my mouth, nothing is etched in stone,'' Sharpe told The Denver Post Monday.

    Last week, Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said Sharpe would play again, but the 34-year-old tight end said that was premature.

    "All I've committed to is that the next two months, I'm going to work out, see how I feel and then make my decision,'' he said.

    He is the NFL's all-time leader for catches by a tight end and yards receiving. Sharpe also has three Super Bowl rings.

    The Washington Redskins have decided that Laveranues Coles is better than anyone they can get with the 13th overall pick in the draft. So they have offered Coles, the New York Jets' outstanding young receiver, a seven-year contract worth about $35 million, including a $13 million signing bonus. The Jets confirmed the offer Monday. The Jets have a week to match the offer for Coles, a restricted free agent who had 89 catches last season. If they don't, they will receive Washington's first-round pick.

    Hockey

  • The Philadelphia Flyers acquired three-time 40-goal scorer Tony Amonte from the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday for two draft picks and a minor leaguer.

    In exchange for Amonte, the Coyotes get left wing Guillaume Lefebvre, Philadelphia's second-round draft pick in the 2004 draft and Atlanta's third-round pick this season, which the Flyers got in a trade last season.

    Amonte has 13 goals and 23 assists in his first season with Phoenix. The 32-year-old right wing signed a $24-million, four-year contract with the Coyotes last offseason after spending 8 1/2 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.

    Sabres enforcer Rob Ray was traded to the Senators on Monday for future considerations after a 14-year career with Buffalo.

    The 34-year-old forward drew 3,189 penalty minutes during his career, fifth most in the NHL and the most with any one team. He was one of the team's most popular players among fans.

    The Sabres continued their housecleaning later in the day, sending captain Stu Barnes to the Stars for center Mike Ryan and a second-round pick in 2003.

    The Los Angeles Kings for the last month have allowed a season ticket holder to review their books on behalf of the team's fans.

    "You cannot ask for the fans to invest both their emotions and their cash without keeping them in the loop as to what's happening with the team," said Phillip Propper, a Kings season ticket holder.

    Amoney manager, Propper, 42, said the access is part of a movement on behalf of sports teams who are being pushed to come clean with the fans they charge $8.50 for a beer and $4,300 for season tickets.

    Propper's access is highly unusual for the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which traditionally closely guards details of its private ownership of the Kings and Staples Center. The access also is believed to be unprecedented for a professional sports franchise in any league.

    Former NHL goalie John Vanbiesbrouck quit as coach and general manager of a junior league hockey team Monday after using a racial slur to describe a black player. Vanbiesbrouck will retain his 25 percent ownership of the team a team spokesman said.

    Miscellaneous

  • For news and entertainment companies, owning a sports franchise can help build interest in other divisions, particularly fledgling cable channels. Once achieved, analysts say, there's not much reason to hold on to the teams. Such is the case for AOL Time Warner Inc., the latest industry giant to seek a buyer for its sports teams. The company says it wants to sell the Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers to help pay down its $25.8 billion debt.

    -- From wire reports

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