Arizona fires football coach |

Arizona fires football coach

Arizona coach John Mackovic was fired on Sunday, five games into the third season of his tumultuous tenure in Tucson.

Defensive coordinator Mike Hankowitz will take over as interim coach for the remainder of the season. A national search was planned to find a successor for next season.

Athletic director Jim Livengood announced the firing at a news conference in Tucson.

“John is a good man and a good coach and a good friend,” Livengood said. “It’s not a decision that was made without an awful lot of thought put into it.”

Livengood offered no specific reason for the firing.

“There’s no one single event, no one happening, that all of a sudden had a weight to it,” he said.

Mackovic, who turns 60 on Wednesday, survived a player mutiny last season after tearfully promising to do a better job of communicating. But this year’s team lost to LSU, Oregon and Purdue by a combined score of 166-30.

The Wildcats (1-4) played their best game of the season in a 13-10 overtime home loss to No. 19 TCU on Saturday night, but pressure from boosters and unrest among the players led Livengood to let the coach go.

Livengood had insisted that Mackovic’s status would not be evaluated until the end of the season but changed his mind. The athletic director met with Arizona’s players for about an hour on Sunday morning, then spoke with Mackovic.

“I felt that at this particular point in time it warranted making a decision right now,” Livengood said. “That’s going away from what I’ve normally done.”

Mackovic was 10-18 at Arizona. The Wildcats currently have lost 12 consecutive Pac-10 home games.

Mackovic signed a five-year, $4 million contract in December 2000, and the buyout of his deal will cost $909,000. He had been out of coaching since 1998, serving as an ESPN commentator.

Last November, more than 40 players asked for and were granted a meeting with university president Peter Likins to air their complaints about the coach.

For some 90 minutes, the players told Likins of what they believed was Mackovic’s unwarranted verbal abuse, and the misery that was Arizona football. The team was 0-6 in the Pac-10, and 3-7 overall at the time.

Mackovic held a lengthy team meeting, then apologized at a news conference.

“I’m terribly sorry for my part in this turmoil and unrest,” he said at the time. “I accept full responsibility for my actions and pledge to work tirelessly to mend any fences.”

Later, Mackovic indicated that “outside forces,” apparently boosters and players’ parents, had instigated the unrest.

Livengood stood by his side then, but the pressure got to intense as problems between the players and coach continued this season.

Mackovic coached at Texas, Illinois and Wake Forest, and has a 95-82-3 collegiate record. He also coached the Kansas City Chiefs from 1983-86.

Mackovic hired Hankowitz just before the start of spring practice this year. Hankowitz had been defensive coordinator at Texas A&M for the previous six seasons and is a 33-year veteran of coaching. He was defensive coordinator for Colorado from 1988 to 1994, and at Kansas in 1995-95.

Hankowitz will appear at a news conference on Monday.


  • Connecticut lost leading rusher Terry Caulley for the season because of a knee injury he sustained in the Huskies’ 47-13 loss at Virginia Tech.

    An MRI confirmed what team officials had feared. The sophomore tailback tore his interior cruciate ligament in his right knee, coach Randy Edsall said.

    Edsall said Caulley will undergo surgery Wednesday at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.

    “It will be a prolonged rehabilitation, but odds are strongly in his favor that he’ll recover totally from the procedure,” Edsall said.

    Caulley went down on his second carry of the game. Edsall said after reviewing game tape Caulley was not hit, but the injury occurred as he planted his right foot during the run.

    “We’re going to be there to support him, to help him through the process physically and mentally,” Edsall said.

    Caulley entered Saturday’s game leading the nation with 601 rushing yards and was second in averaging 150.2 yards per game.

    The 5-foot-7 Caulley, out of Lusby, Md., was the workhorse in the UConn backfield, accounting for eight of 18 touchdowns this season. His loss means more snaps for backup tailback Cornell Brockington, a redshirt freshman who finished with 53 yards on Saturday.

    Edsall had hoped to redshirt Connecticut prep star freshman Matt Lawrence, out of Bloomfield High, but that ended on Saturday as well. After Caulley’s injury, Lawrence entered the game and rushed 18 times for 48 yards.

    “Those two guys have to go out and play to the best of their ability,” Edsall said. “You can’t dwell on what’s happened. We’ve got to move forward.”

    The Huskies (3-2) are in their final year as a Division I-A independent and will enter the Big East in 2004.


  • SuperSonics center Predrag Drobnjak was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for a second-round draft choice.

    Drobnjak, 6-foot-11 and 272 pounds, averaged 9.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 82 games last season. He was Seattle’s starting center for most of the season.

    Drobnjak became a restricted free agent after last season. The Sonics decided not to match the Clippers’ offer and he signed Sunday with the Clippers.

    The Sonics, who opened their training camp Saturday, have three other centers — Jerome James, Calvin Booth and Vitaly Potapenko.

    During the offseason, Drobnjak was a teammate of Clippers guard Marko Jaric on the Serbia-Montenegro team at the European championships. He was also a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 2002 world championships in Indianapolis.

    Drobnjak was acquired by Seattle from the Washington Wizards in 2001. The Wizards drafted him in the second round in 1997.


  • In Madrid, Spain, Roberto Heras won the Tour of Spain for the second time, a day after he ousted Spanish countryman Isidro Nozal from the leader’s position he held for 15 days.

    Heras finished 34th in the Tour de France that was won for a fifth straight year by U.S. Postal Service teammate Lance Armstrong. Heras also won the Spanish race in 2000, finishing second in 2002 and third in 1999.

    “To win it twice is incredible,” Heras said. “The team has been brilliant this season.”

    Heras claimed the yellow jersey Saturday after a 7-mile time trial. He entered the last day with a 28-second lead over Nozal of the ONCE team.

    That margin did not change Sunday. Spain’s Alejandro Valverde was third overall as Spaniards took the top six spots.

    Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi won the 21st and final stage, a 91-mile leg finishing in the heart of the Madrid. He was timed in 3 hours, 51 minutes, 19 seconds. Germany’s Erik Zabel was second with the same time. U.S. cyclist Fred Rodriguez was third.

    The 1,965-mile Tour of Spain is among the top three events in the European cycling season, joining the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.


  • The Minnesota Wild cut six players to trim their training camp roster to 29.

    Center Dan Cavanaugh, left wing Mika Hannula, goalie Johan Holmqvist, defenseman Zbynek Michalek, center Rickard Wallin and right wing Kyle Wanvig were assigned to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Houston.

    The Wild’s roster must be whittled to 23 by Oct. 8, when their season opens at Chicago.


  • Azeri’s streak is over.

    The Horse of the Year had her 11-race victory string end Sunday when Got Koko won the $300,000 Lady’s Secret Handicap at Santa Anita.

    Azeri crossed the finish line third behind Elloluv, but was moved up to second when Elloluv was disqualified for interference.

    Carrying a career-high 128 pounds, Azeri broke last and was fourth in the five-horse field most of the way. She made a move in the final turn, but could not overtake the two at the front and lost for only the second time.

    Azeri carried 10 pounds more than Got Koko and 14 more than Elloluv. Azeri has won three times while carrying 127, including the 2002 Lady’s Secret.

    Azeri’s only other loss was in her first time out. She finished a length behind Summer Colony in the La Canada Stakes in February 2002, then began her winning streak a month later in the Santa Margarita Handicap.


  • In Budapest, Hungary, Russia won two group events to finish with six gold medals on the final day of the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.

    The Russians won the five-ribbon event and then came back to capture the three hoop-two ball event. Bulgaria and Italy were second and third in each competition.

    This year’s worlds qualified individuals and groups for the 2004 Athens Olympics.

    Mary Sanders was 10th in the all-around Saturday, the highest placing ever for an American. By finishing in the top 20 she secured a U.S. spot in the Olympics. This is the first time an American earned a berth rather than as a participant for the host country — Atlanta (1996) and Los Angeles (1984).

    Russia won its fifth consecutive group all-around event earlier in the week. It captured three team and three individual golds. Ukraine won the other two golds in individual events.

    In the main event, Russia’s Alina Kabaeva regained the world all-around title after she lost it because of a doping offense at the last worlds in Spain in 2001.

    “What happened in Madrid had to happen,” Kabaeva said. “What happened in Madrid was a mistake and had to be corrected.”

    She won her first world title in 1999. Then she captured four of five events in Madrid but had to give the medals back after she had tested positive for a diuretic at the Goodwill Games. Her year’s ban ended in April.

    This time she edged Ukraine’s Anna Bessonova. Bessonova had the highest individual event score with a balletic routine in the hoop. She and Kabaeva split the four individual apparatus events.

    Bessonova was barred from competition for two months last year when she failed a test because her sample contained a high concentration of the stimulant norephedrine.

    The next world championships will be in Azerbaijan in 2005.


  • In Berlin, Paul Tergat broke the marathon world record by 43 seconds, his only mistake coming when he ran between the wrong pillars at the landmark Brandenburg Gate.

    That cost the Kenyan several seconds late in the Berlin Marathon, but it didn’t stop him from obliterating Khalid Khannouchi’s record, as he ran through the heart of the German capital.

    Tergat’s time of 2 hours, 4 minutes, 55 seconds easily topped the mark of 2:05:38 set by Khannouchi on April 14, 2002. In that race, Tergat finished 10 seconds behind the Moroccan-born American, then the second-fastest marathon time.

    “That upset me a little at the time,” Tergat said. “I feel lucky that I could take away the record today. I focused my whole preparation on that.”

    Among the women, Yasuko Hashimoto won in 2:26:32, the fourth straight for a Japanese. Kenya’s Emily Kimuria was second in 2:28:18, 10 seconds ahead of Italy’s Ornella Ferrara.

    Tergat finished just one second ahead of pacemaker Sammy Korir, who made a late spurt as his countryman lost time in front of the gate. Titus Munji, Tergat’s second pacemaker, finished third in 2:06:15.

    Tergat, often second in big races, kept Korir on his shoulder and threw up his arms in triumph as he broke the tape after going through the pillars of the historic gate. He then hugged his wife, Monica.

    “This time I wanted to try for the record,” Tergat said. “I’m very happy.”

    Tergat was confused when the lead cars melted away, leaving him standing in front of the 65-foot high gate with enough space between the pillars to drive a truck through. In the end, he darted through the central columns instead of the right ones, where the finish line was located.

    “There was nobody there to show me,” Tergat said.

    Fortunately for him, Korir followed him the wrong way through the gate. Otherwise, Tergat may have been stuck with another second-place finish.

    In addition to the London loss to Khannouchi, he was twice beaten by Haile Gebrselassie at the Olympics — in the second one the Ethiopian star broke Tergat’s world record.

    Tergat’s record wasn’t unexpected. Many predicted the two-time Olympic silver medalist and five-time cross country world champion most likely would lower the mark on the flat course where three world bests had been set in recent years.

    On the women’s side, no one was expected to challenge Paula Radcliffe’s 2:15:25 set in London.

    Hashimoto, running just her third marathon, took the lead for good over the final third of the race when Russia’s Alina Ivanova faded.

    On a cool, cloudy morning with hardly a breeze, Tergat and his two pacemakers ran the first half in 1:03:01. Then the pace quickened.

    With a third of the race left, the threesome was running at a 2:04 pace. Munji fell back, but over the final few miles it was clear the record would be broken by Tergat or Korir, barring a collapse by both Kenyans.

    “I knew that we were headed toward a great time, and made sure the pace didn’t get too fast,” Tergat said. “That paid off at the finish.”

    Tergat and Korir matched strides over the final miles, their arms and legs swinging in rhythm. In the stretch run, the pacemaker fell 20 yards back. As Korir closed in again, Tergat kept swinging his head sideways to eye his countryman.

    Tergat, despite owning two of the 10 fastest marathon times, hadn’t won any of the five he entered. The worst loss was when compatriot Ben Kimondiu, his pacemaker, beat him in Chicago in 2001.

    “I wasn’t paying attention,” he said. “I try never to let anyone get away now in the second half.”

    Tergat earned appearance money, plus $36,000 for winning and $56,000 for the record.

  • In Lisbon, Portugal, Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa won the Portuguese Half-Marathon, and Olympic 10,000-meter champion Derartu Tulu of Ethiopia retained her women’s title.

    Ramaala, a runner-up last year, covered the 13.1-mile course in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 10 seconds.

    After running shoulder-to-shoulder with John Kurir from the start, Ramaala outraced the Kenyan to the finish to win by three seconds in a race with more than 14,000 runners. Mitei Enoch of Kenya was third in 1:02:41.

    Tulu won in 1:11:30, with Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya 14 seconds behind. Beata Rakonzczai of Hungary was third in 1:15:06.


  • In Columbus, Ohio, Sweden beat Nigeria, 3-0, behind two goals by Hanna Ljungberg and moved into position for a quarterfinal spot in the Women’s World Cup.

    The victory gave Sweden temporary possession of second place in Group A, pending the outcome of the U.S.-North Korea match in the second game of the doubleheader at Crew Stadium.

    Ljungberg, who set a league record with 39 goals for her Swedish team last year, broke a scoring slump with her first goals of the first round.

    Malin Andersson helped set up Ljungberg’s first goal in the 56th minute with a long kick to the right of the goal. Victoria Svensson kept the ball in play, kicking it back in front of the goal. Ljungberg headed it in before Nigerian goaltender Precious Dede could react.

    Ljungberg raised her hands in celebration and was surrounded by teammates as a sellout crowd cheered. There was a sparse turnout at the outset but most of the seats were filled as the U.S. game neared.

    The Swedes sealed the victory with two goals in a one-minute span. Ljungberg scored in the 80th minute on an assist from Therese Sjoegran, who beat defender Ifeaniyichukwu Chiejine. Malin Moestroem scored on a breakaway seconds later for a 3-0 lead.

    Dede had dominated until Ljungberg’s goal, making diving stops and leaping high to deflect high shots over the bar. She had nine saves in the first half.

    Nigeria, outscored 11-0 in its three first-round matches, seldom pressured the Sweden defense. Goaltender Caroline Joensson stopped shots by Perpetua Nkwocha twice in the first half and then grabbed a header by Nkwocha in the 75th minute to preserve the shutout.


  • In Nonthaburi, Thailand, Taylor Dent upset top-ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero, 6-3, 7-6 (5), to win the inaugural Thailand Open for the American’s second title of the year.

    Dent beat Andy Roddick in February to capture the St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn. This was his third career title.

    “It couldn’t be better,” Dent said. “It’s the first time I beat the No. 1 player in the world and the first time I won two titles in a year. Hopefully, I could continue like this for the rest of the year.”

    Ferrero lost the U.S. Open final to Roddick this month and was bidding for his fourth title of the year.

    “I was a little bit disappointed because I lost two finals in short time,” the Spaniard said. “But being in the final means I had to play well also. Now I am a little bit sad but tomorrow I will be No. 1 again.”

    Dent, seeded eighth in Thailand, was beaten by Ferrero in Cincinnati last year.

    “He’s the best player in the world, and he fights and makes me work for it,” Dent said. “Even when I was up a set and a break, I didn’t expect an easy match.”

    Both players held serve until Dent applied pressure at the net to take the first set. Dent jumped to a 5-3 lead in the second-set tiebreaker. Ferrero evened it at 5-5 but Dent took the match when Ferrero made an error on a backhand slice.

    Dent received His Majesty the Kings trophy for winning the $550,000 tournament.

  • In Shanghai, China, Wimbledon runner-up Mark Philippoussis capitalized on his big serve to beat top-seeded Jiri Novak, 6-2, 6-1, for the Heineken Open title.

    The match took just 45 minutes.

    “I was aggressive out there today,” Philippoussis said. “I kept the pressure on him. I didn’t allow him to play his game and that was part of my strategy today.”

    The pair traded games early on before third-seeded Philippoussis took control in the first set. Novak won the second game of the second set but was blanked the rest of the way.

    Philippoussis had three aces in the last game.

    “Today was just a bad day in the office,” Novak said. “The serve is so fast. He was playing so quick.”

    It was Philippoussis’ 10th career title and eighth on hard courts. His last tournament championship came at Memphis in 2001.

    = In Leipzig, Germany, Justine Henin-Hardenne lost to Anastasia Myskina, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, in the Sparkassen Cup final, ending the Belgian’s 22-match winning streak.

    Henin-Hardenne, the U.S. Open and French Open champion, was beaten for the first time since the Wimbledon semifinals. Her winning streak was the longest on the tour since Venus Williams had 24 in 2001-02.

    “I was always on defense, and that’s not my style,” Henin-Hardenne said. “I had problems with her serves. She deserved to win this time.”

    Myskina picked up victories against the Nos. 1 and 2 players on consecutive days. In her semifinal, top-ranked countrywoman Kim Clijsters quit against the Russian because of a sprained ankle.

    Henin-Hardenne can still take the No. 1 ranking from Clijsters at the Filderstadt tournament, starting Oct. 6.

    “If it’s this year it’s great, but if it’s next year it’s great, too,” Henin-Hardenne said.

    She was playing in her first tournament since adding the U.S. Open to her French Open title. She lost for just the second time in a final this year.

    “In the second set I started to get tired,” Henin-Hardenne said. “For sure, I didn’t play my best tennis today.”

    Myskina, seeded third and ranked 10th, won her fifth career title. Henin-Hardenne was chasing her eighth title of the year but Myskina ran her all over the court and won when the Belgian hit a backhand into the net.

    “If you’re really confident in yourself you can win anything,” Myskina said. “I’ve been stuck at the No. 10 ranking for a while now and I want to move up.”

    Myskina gained a break to lead 4-2 in the third set, but Henin-Hardenne broke back. The Russian then reeled off the last two games to win the title and $93,000.

    Myskina raised her record to 3-2 against Henin-Hardenne, dropping their previous match in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. She was last year’s losing finalist in Leipzig, falling to Serena Williams.

  • In Palermo, Sicily, top-seeded Nicolas Massu of Chile recovered from a poor first set to beat Paul-Henri Mathieu of France, 1-6, 6-2, 7-6 (0), in the final of the Palermo Open, the year’s last ATP event on clay.

    Massu was appearing in his third final in three weeks and has won 14 of his last 15 matches. He was coming off final-ound appearances in Romania and Poland.

    Mathieu was playing for the third time in two days after rain Friday forced organizers to schedule his quarterfinal and semifinal matches for Saturday.

    A massive power failure early Sunday hit most of Italy, including Sicily, but there were no delays in the match.


  • Althea Gibson, the daughter of a South Carolina sharecropper who became the first black champion at Wimbledon, died. She was 76.

    Gibson, who won consecutive titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. tennis nationals in 1957 and 1958, had been ill for several years and died after a week at East Orange General Hospital, the U.S. Tennis Association said on its Web site.

    A woman who answered the phone at the hospital said she could not give any information. She wouldn’t identify herself.

    Gibson was born in 1927 in Silver, South Carolina, a few months before her parents moved the family to the Harlem section of New York City.

    She took up paddle tennis at 9, won a city championship three years later and began to play tennis at 13. She was the first black player to compete at the U.S. nationals in 1950, nearly upsetting reigning Wimbledon champ Louise Brough in the second round.

    Gibson won the 1956 French Championships among 11 major titles in singles and doubles before retiring from amateur tennis in 1958 and turning to acting. She appeared with John Wayne in the 1959 film, “The Horse Soldiers,” and recorded an album, “Althea Gibson Sings,” the same year.

    Besides writing her autobiography, “I Always Wanted to Be Somebody,” in 1958, she toured with the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team playing exhibition tennis matches and then played on the Ladies Professional Golf Association circuit.

    She served as manager of the East Orange recreation department before taking the job as athletic commissioner of the state of New Jersey from 1975-77, resigning from that post in an unsuccessful bid for the state Senate.

    There was no immediate word of survivors or funeral services.

  • Penn State-Behrend announced five selections for induction into its athletic Hall of Fame: Pam Allshouse, Darcie Bradley, Jim Camp, Natalie Kuhn and Rick Nese.

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