Sports briefs 1/7/05

Friday, January 7, 2005


* Two of new Illinois football coach Ron Zook's assistants have left the school after less than a week.

Offensive coaches Larry Fedora and Joe Wickline will take jobs at Oklahoma State under new coach Mike Gundy. Fedora, who was Zook's offensive coordinator at Florida and had accepted the same job at Illinois, worked with Gundy at Baylor in 1996 and the two have maintained a close friendship, Zook said.

Wickline, who was to be offensive line coach at Illinois, and Fedora have worked together for eight years.

Gundy was promoted from offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State on Monday to take over from Les Miles, who was hired by LSU.

* New Mexico State coach Lou Henson was hospitalized Thursday with pneumonia and he won't return to the sideline this weekend in a wheelchair as planned.

Henson, stricken in September with viral encephalitis, was scheduled to coach for the first time this season on Saturday night when New Mexico State hosts North Texas.


* Phil Savage was hired as general manager of the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, inheriting one the NFL's least talented teams desperate for someone to fix years of errors in free agency and the draft.

Savage spent the past two seasons as the Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel. He finalized his contract with the Browns, who are coming off a disastrous 4-12 season that included a nine-game losing streak and coach Butch Davis' resignation on Nov. 30.


* The NHL canceled next week's meeting with its board of governors on Thursday because the league has nothing new to report in the stagnant collective bargaining process.

The board of governors, representing the 30 clubs, hadn't met since September when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman imposed the lockout that reached its 113th day on Thursday and has already forced the cancellation of 571 regular-season games and the 2005 All-Star game.

There was speculation that Bettman might emerge from next Friday's meeting either with an announcement that this season had been called off, or with a drop date for saving the hockey year.

No North American sports league has lost an entire season to a labor dispute, but the NHL is moving dangerously close to becoming the first.


* The South Asian Games, scheduled to be hosted by Sri Lanka in August, has been postponed as the Indian Ocean island nation concentrates on rebuilding after the recent tsunami tragedy, the sports minister said Thursday.

Jeewan Kumaratunga, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, said the eight-nation games would be pushed back by a year. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka participate in the games.


* Roger Federer breezed into the semifinals of the $1 million Qatar Open with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Felciano Lopez on Thursday.

The world's No. 1 player, preparing to defend his Australian Open title, was flawless in extending his winning streak to 19 matches since his loss at the Olympics in August. Federer won in 53 minutes.

In the semis, Federer will play Nikolay Davydenko, who rallied from a set down to beat Sebastien Grosjean 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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