Sports digest 12/7/01

Friday, December 7, 2001

Sailing great Blake killed by pirates

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- Peter Blake, who headed the New Zealand crew that won the America's Cup in 1995 and 2000, was shot and killed by pirates during a robbery of his boat on the Amazon River.

Blake was killed late Wednesday during a holdup aboard his 119-foot yacht, the Seamaster, anchored on the Amazon in the jungle state of Amapa, some 1,600 miles north of Sao Paulo, state police chief Rosilene Martins de Sena said.

Three or four assailants approached the Seamaster in a rubber dinghy commonly used by pirates on the Amazon and shot Blake, 53, when he tried to resist the holdup, Sena said Thursday.

Two crew members were treated for minor injuries in the hospital in the nearby town of Macapa.

According to local media, the killers took a spare engine and several watches.

Blake's boat was anchored off Macapa in the mouth of the Amazon, awaiting customs clearance to leave Brazil after a two-month expedition as part of a program to monitor the effects of global warming and pollution.

New college basketball award to honor senior

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Standout college basketball players who buck the trend of leaving school early will have an award all their own.

The "Senior CLASS Award," announced Wednesday, will be presented about three weeks after the Final Four to the male and female senior who best exemplifies good moral character, outstanding citizenship and a will to succeed.

The honor, to be given each year in Kansas City, started with television sports broadcaster Dick Enberg. Enberg, who will be the award's honorary chairman, said during last year's NCAA tournament that there should be an award for players who complete their eligibility.

"We heard that, thought it was a good idea and followed up with him," said Gary Heise, president of Kansas City-based Premier Sports Management, the company behind the award. "Leaving school early is a trend that's been going on for years, and this is a way to honor those who remain in school."

A list of award nominees will be reduced to 10 finalists in February, and the winner will be announced during the Final Four.

Alabama announces self-imposed sanctions

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama will cut 15 football scholarships over the next three years in response to NCAA charges of rules violations.

The university also said Thursday it had severed ties with three athletic boosters accused of offering money to high school stars and would cut back on recruiting. The school said it will not give up a postseason bowl or televised game.

The self-imposed sanctions were part of Alabama's 750-page response to the NCAA.

The documents showed the university admitted to some key violations -- including that an athletic representative made "substantial cash payments" to a high school recruit in the mid-'90s.

But the university disagreed with other allegations, and it pointed the finger at rival Auburn for turning in the Crimson Tide five years ago on an alleged violation.

The documents were in response to 11 major charges and five minor charges leveled against the university by the NCAA.

The NCAA is expected to impose penalties on its own in January or February. The sanctioning organization could accept Alabama's self-imposed punishments in whole or in part or impose other, harsher measures.

SEMO gymnastics to hold event tonight

The Southeast Missouri State University gymnastics team will hold an intra-squad meet today at Parker Gymnasium.

The meet, which begins at 5 p.m., will feature 'Red' and 'Black' squads.

-- From staff, wire reports

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