Pirates fire volatile Gonzalez
after NIT loss, 19-win season

Fed up by his antics, Seton Hall fired basketball coach Bobby Gonzalez on Wednesday after a 19-win season.

The dismissal came about 12 hours after the coach known as “Gonzo” endured an 87-69 loss in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament, a game in which Seton Hall forward Herb Pope was ejected for hitting Texas Tech player Darko Cohadarevic below the belt and Gonzalez picked up his seventh technical foul of the season.

Gonzalez has had run-ins with other coaches and officials, threw forward Robert Mitchell off the team Sunday after being criticized by the player and also had players get in trouble on and off the court. Mitchell was arrested Tuesday and charged with entering a house in South Orange, N.J., on Monday and robbing eight people at gunpoint.

The Pirates went 19-13 this season, including 9-9 in the Big East, both four-year highs for Gonzalez.

Also: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is pushing a proposal to bar men’s college basketball teams from postseason play if they fail to graduate 40 percent of their players.

If put into practice this year, 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament would be ineligible, based on an annual study from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. That includes No. 1-seeded Kentucky, which graduated 31 percent of its players.

The other 11 teams that would be barred are: Maryland (8 percent), California (20), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (29), Washington (29), Tennessee (30), Baylor (36), Missouri (36), New Mexico State (36), Clemson (37), Georgia Tech (38) and Louisville (38).

The NBA’s Board of Governors unanimously approved Michael Jordan’s $275 million bid to buy the Charlotte Bobcats from Bob Johnson. The former NBA star immediately will take over the team after functioning as a minority investor with the final say on basketball decisions since 2006.

The Bobcats are on pace to lose about $30 million this season. Jordan will assume about $150 million in debt in the deal, which makes him the second black majority owner of a major pro sports team.


ITF closes case against Agassi,
says he can’t be punished

Tennis officials have closed the book on Las Vegan Andre Agassi’s drug revelations.

International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti said that despite appeals from the World Anti-Doping Agency, the statute of limitations in the case expired eight years ago and no retroactive punishment was possible.

In Agassi’s recently published autobiography, “Open,” he wrote that he took crystal meth in 1997 and lied to the ATP to avoid a suspension after failing a doping test.

Also: Third-seeded Rafael Nadal restored order on a day of upsets with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over American John Isner in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.

Before Nadal’s match, No. 2 Novak Djokovic lost 7-5, 6-3 to No. 20 seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia. And No. 4 Elena Dementieva struggled with her footwork in a 6-4, 6-3 quarterfinal defeat to Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, the fifth seed.

No. 7 Andy Roddick defeated 22nd-seeded Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (5), 6-4, improving to 10-0 against the Austrian. He’ll next face No. 18 Tommy Robredo.

Andy Murray led Nicolas Almagro 6-2, 1-0 when the Spaniard retired with a left ankle injury. Murray will play sixth-seeded Robin Soderling, who defeated No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-3, 6-4.

No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki beat 18th-seeded Zheng Jie of China for the first time in three meetings, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

The UNLV men’s tennis team defeated Iowa 5-2 at the Fertitta Tennis Complex. Luca Barlocchi (No. 2), Johannes Markel (No. 3), Attila Toth (No. 4) and Kasper Konyves (No. 5) earned singles wins for the Rebels (10-7), who have won five of their last six matches. Mehdi Bouras and Barlocchi (No. 1) and Markel and Bernard Schoeman (No. 2) won in doubles.


Wranglers take four-game win
streak into series with Alaska

The streaking Wranglers will host the Alaska Aces at 7:05 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday at the Orleans Arena, where they’re 20-8-2 this season.

Las Vegas (30-26-7, 67 points), riding a four-game win streak that vaulted it four games over .500 for the first time, trails first-place Bakersfield (32-25-5) by two points in the Pacific Division with nine games remaining.

Aside from league-leading Idaho (43-13-5), the only team from the National Conference to clinch a playoff spot, the other seven squads in the conference are separated by six points. All but one will advance to the playoffs.

Since falling a season-worst five games under .500 (9-14-1), the Wranglers are 21-12-6.

Also: Vancouver Canucks winger Mikael Samuelsson will be out up to three weeks with an undisclosed upper body injury sustained in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders.

Florida football coach Urban Meyer returned to practice after a leave of absence that turned out to be shorter than everyone expected.

His time off came as a result of chest pains, a hospital stay and brief resignation. He had planned to step away after Florida’s bowl game in early January, but stuck around to hire four assistant coaches and lock up the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class.

The March 26 IBF championship doubleheader card at Treasure Island has been canceled. ESPN and Don King Productions could not come to an agreement on a contract to televise the cruiserweight title fight between Steve Cunningham and Matt Godfrey, and the junior middleweight title fight between Cory Spinks and Cornelius Bundrage.

Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, 44, won’t play in next month’s Masters because he is suffering again from rheumatism, his manager said.

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