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UNR forward Babbitt declares
for NBA Draft, will hire agent

UNR forward Luke Babbitt, who averaged 21.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game this season, said Tuesday he will hire an agent and forgo his final two years of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-9-inch, 225-pound sophomore, named an honorable mention All-American by The Associated Press, said he made the difficult decision after praying and discussing his options with family and coaches.

Wolf Pack junior guard Armon Johnson announced earlier this month he too intended to hire an agent and enter the June draft.

Also: Louisville center Samardo Samuels declared for the draft but will not hire an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning for his junior season.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino said Samuels and his family approached Pitino about testing the draft and that he supports Samuels “100 percent.”

The 6-9, 265-pound sophomore has until May 8 to withdraw from draft consideration. He averaged 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds last season for the Cardinals.

Northern Colorado moved quickly to replace Tad Boyle, promoting assistant B.J. Hill, 36, to lead the men’s basketball program.

Boyle left Monday to take over at Colorado after leading Northern Colorado to a school-record 25 wins last season.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said he is not expecting the Big Ten to notify him this week that it will be pursuing his members as part of a plan to expand.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in December the league will explore options for expansion in the next 12 to 18 months. Several Big 12 schools have been speculated to be targets, including Missouri and Texas.

The commissioners of all 11 major college football conferences are gathered in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week for BCS meetings.

A new study suggests that a statistical flaw relied upon by the NCAA means that graduation rates for major college football and men’s basketball players lag behind those of other students — not the other way around.

The NCAA’s most recent report on Division I graduation, known as the Graduation Success Rate, shows that athletes who entered college in 2002 graduated at a record rate of 79 percent. Even using the federal graduation rate, which does not account for transfer students, athletes posted a 64 percent graduation rate, a mark two points higher than in the general student body.

But a new report by North Carolina’s College Sport Research Institute calls those numbers misleading. The NCAA data for non-athletes includes students who begin their academic careers as full-time students but later become part-timers. As a group, those students take longer to graduate.

The U.S. Department of Education is repealing a Bush-era policy that some critics argue was a way to avoid complying with federal law in providing equal opportunities for female athletes.

Under the move, schools and colleges must now provide stronger evidence that they offer equal opportunities for athletic participation under the federal Title IX gender equity law.

It reverses a 2005 policy under former President George W. Bush that allowed schools to use just a survey to prove a lack of interest in starting a new women’s sport and encouraged schools to consider a non-response to the questionnaire as disinterest.

Jaci Hull hit three home runs — giving her 50 for her college career — as the UNLV softball team dropped a 6-5 nonconference game to Missouri-Kansas City at Eller Media Stadium.

Hull drove in four runs for the Rebels (26-16). Traci Odegard (5-7) took the loss.


Wimbledon singles champions to earn record $1.54 million

The winners of the men’s and women’s singles titles at this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament will each earn a record $1.54 million.

The All England Club said it has increased the winners’ prize money by $231,348 to help offset the decrease in the value of the British pound against the dollar and euro.

Rafael Nadal’s French Open preparations are being guided by his delicate knees.

Nadal is skipping this week’s Barcelona Open, where he is a five-time champion, after injuries to both knees last year hampered his goal of a fifth straight title at Roland Garros and forced him out of Wimbledon.

“I’m in perfect shape,” Nadal said. “I feel very good, but I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year. For my tennis to be at the right level, I have to be physically well, and that’s my principal objective.”

Serena Williams will not play for the United States against Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals this weekend. Venus Williams still needs to decide whether she’ll be on the team.

Both sisters have been dealing with leg problems, and U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez has been holding open a spot for the matches at Birmingham, Ala.

Belgian rivals Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin will play an exhibition match in Brussels and attempt to beat the record crowd of 30,492 that assembled for the 1973 Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs match at the Houston Astrodome.

The exhibition will be held at the 40,000-capacity King Baudouin Stadium on July 8.


Stewart, Kyle Busch give their
approval to Goodyear’s tires

Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch gave Goodyear’s tires their approval.

Two of NASCAR’s top drivers were among 14 testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and both said the tires worked more like they did during last year’s Brickyard 400 than the caution-plagued 2008 race.

That’s good news for drivers, who are testing with NASCAR’s new spoiler.

Stewart brushed off suggestions that the new spoiler would have much impact this week at Talladega, Ala., but Busch said he believes the change is helping on Indy’s oval.

Busch said the new spoiler makes him feel more comfortable when the car gets sideways on the 2.5-mile oval.

Also: Former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch was in “very serious” condition in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Barcelona, Spain.

The 89-year-old Spaniard was admitted after experiencing heart trouble, and about 20 minutes later went into shock, Quiron Hospital chief of internal medicine Rafael Esteban said during a news conference. Samaranch was sedated and put on a respirator, although his prognosis is poor.

“We cannot be optimistic,” Esteban said.

The mother-in-law of former boxing champion Edwin Valero said the fighter was addicted to drugs and had grown increasingly violent before he was arrested in his wife’s murder and hanged himself in jail.

Mary Finol said at her daughter’s funeral in western Venezuela that Valero had used cocaine for most of his life. He also struggled with alcohol abuse.

Finol said her daughter had told her family recently “that (Valero) didn’t sleep, he didn’t eat, he used drugs every day, and he was growing more violent all the time.”

Valero was arrested Sunday in the stabbing death of his 24-year-old wife, Jennifer Carolina Viera. Police said the former lightweight champion hanged himself in his cell early Monday.

Noble’s Promise put together a sharp workout, but trainer Ken McPeek said it’s “60-40” whether the 3-year-old colt will run in the Kentucky Derby on May 1.

Noble’s Promise covered five furlongs in 59.80 seconds at Churchill Downs, a move McPeek found encouraging. The horse is still dealing with a mild lung infection, as well as cuts sustained during a fifth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby on April 10.

Wesley Sneijder, Maicon and Diego Milito scored to lead Inter Milan over defending champion Barcelona 3-1 in the first leg of the European Champions League semifinals in Milan, Italy.

Barcelona, seeking to become the first repeat champion since AC Milan in 1989-90, went ahead in the 19th minute, but Sneijder tied the score in the 30th minute and Maicon put Inter ahead in the 48th. Milito scored the final goal on a header in the 61st.

Ronaldinho, left off Brazil’s roster in recent matches, said he’s sure he can persuade coach Dunga to include him for the World Cup.

Ronaldinho played in the last two World Cups but has been bypassed by Dunga, who has been emphasizing team play above individual skills.

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Sports on TV in Las Vegas

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Odds, horse-by-horse analysis for Belmont Stakes

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