National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Spurs' Parker apologizes for 'quenelle' gesture

SAN ANTONIO (AP) San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker is apologizing for a photograph that shows him making the same gesture with anti-Semitic connotations also made by French soccer star Nicolas Anelka this weekend.

The photograph shows Parker and a French comedian making a gesture known in France as a "quenelle," which critics describe as inverted Nazi salute. Parker said Monday in a statement released by the Spurs that the photograph was taken three years ago.

Parker, who is French, said he didn't know at the time that "it could be in any way offensive or harmful." He said he thought it was part of a comedy act.

The photo surfaced after Anelka made the same gesture celebrating a goal in an English Premier League game Saturday, causing an outcry in France.

No. 14 Louisville dismisses F Behanan from team

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville dismissed junior forward Chane Behanan from the team on Monday for another violation of university policy.

Cardinals coach Rick Pitino did not specify what rule was broken but expressed disappointment that the 6-foot-6 forward had another setback just a month after being reinstated from a 26-day suspension for violating school policy. The coach said Behanan and the Cardinals (11-2) were informed of the decision on Monday morning.

Behanan was a key member of Louisville's national championship squad and was named to the Final Four all-tournament team. He had averaged 8.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and shot 67 percent from the field in 11 games this season backing up sophomore power forward Montrezl Harrell.

Pitino said "away from the lines he just did not do the right things. ... It sets our basketball team back immensely."

Behanan went scoreless with seven rebounds in Saturday's 73-66 loss to No. 15 Kentucky. The Cincinnati native averaged 9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during his Louisville career.

"I want to apologize for letting down my family, teammates, coaches, (athletic director) Tom Jurich, this university and the Louisville fans," Behanan said in a statement released by the school.

Behanan's exit leaves the Cardinals thin in the frontcourt entering Tuesday night's American Athletic Conference opener at Central Florida and jeopardizes their hopes of repeating as champions.

After 6-8 Harrell, 6-5 junior small forward Wayne Blackshear and 6-10 redshirt freshman center Mangok Mathiang, Louisville's bench consists of 6-6 perimeter threat Luke Hancock; 6-9 senior reserve Stephan Van Treese; and 6-8 freshman Akoy Agau. On top of losing Behanan, Pitino also suggested that junior guard Kevin Ware could be redshirted after struggling to come back from last year's devastating leg injury sustained in the Midwest regional final against Duke.

Louisville's frontcourt problems were exposed by Kentucky, which outrebounded the Cardinals 44-36 and outscored them 42-24 in the paint. Behanan missed all three shot attempts and committed three turnovers in the game, and Pitino suggested he might have been distracted "because he knew without us knowing the hammer was about to fall."

Louisville's challenge now is avoiding further collapse without Behanan.

"Our front court, It's obvious from the North Carolina (loss) as well as the Kentucky game is the weak part of our basketball team right now," Pitino said. "Now, we have to jump up on the fly and play a very good Central Florida team on the road that presents a lot of problems up front. They are a team that shoots the 3(-pointer) great.

"Rebounding has been a problem for us from the beginning of the year, anyway. Now you're going to have to try to play a freshman, Agau. ... A lot of things we have to do, but we have no time to do it right now. We have to do it on the fly."

Behanan's dismissal ends a tumultuous early season for him. He was coming off the bench after starting 37 of 39 games during the Cardinals' title run last year.

Pitino announced on Oct. 17 that Behanan was suspended indefinitely following the unspecified violation. He was reinstated on Nov. 11 and returned the next day against Hofstra after meeting conditions that surprised his coach.

However, troubles continued to follow Behanan.

After returning from his suspension, Behanan's name came up again after his 2012 Final Four ring turned up for sale on a sports memorabilia late last month. The player's mother said he gave the jewelry to his grandmother and that it had been stolen from her home without her or Behanan's knowledge.

The website quickly removed the ring and returned it to the family. A university and police investigation later cleared Behanan from any involvement in the process.

Since then Behanan had been trying to regain the aggressive form that helped lead Louisville to its third NCAA title. He posted season highs of 13 points and 12 rebounds in his second game back against Cornell on Nov. 15 but now must choose between transferring to another school or turning professional.

Said Pitino, "I'm just worried about his future. I want him to overcome his problems and be successful in life."

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AP Freelance Writer J.J. Hysell in Louisville, Ky., contributed to this report.

Duke's Cutcliffe is Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year

ATLANTA (AP) David Cutcliffe, who led Duke to its first 10-win season and spot in the ACC championship game, was named the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year on Monday.

Eight former coach of the year winners attended the announcement: Bill Curry, Fisher DeBerry, Vince Dooley, Ralph Friedgen, Fred Goldsmith, Jim Grobe, Ken Hatfield and Dick Sheridan.

"There are a lot of great parts of this," Cutcliffe said. "I would have to say the greatest part is being on stage with men like these coaches.

"This is the most meaningful thing that has happened to me. When these gentlemen walked into the room, the meaning of the Bobby Dodd Award just took hold of me."

Cutcliffe's No. 22 Blue Devils will play No. 20 Texas A&M in Tuesday night's Chick-fil-A Bowl. This is the first time Duke will play in back-to-back bowl games. Duke is playing for its first bowl win since 1961.

Kansas State's Bill Snyder won the 2012 award, named for the former longtime Georgia Tech coach.

Cutcliffe also has been named the Walter Camp and Maxwell Award coach of the year honors this year.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl is taking over management of the Bobby Dodd Award in 2014 and arranged a dinner for the former winners.

"We aim to make this similar to the Heisman Trophy for players," said Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary Stokan. "We want this to be the Heisman Trophy for coaches."

Redskins fire coach Shanahan after 3-13 season

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Mike Shanahan's plan to restore order, professionalism and consistent success to the Washington Redskins disintegrated quickly in 2013, costing him his job Monday a day after the team finished a 3-13 season.

Shanahan was fired after a morning meeting with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen at Redskins Park, a formality expected for several weeks as the losses mounted and tension rose among Shanahan, Snyder and franchise player Robert Griffin III.

Shanahan went 24-40 in four seasons in Washington and had one year remaining on his five-year, $35 million contract.

Snyder will now be seeking his eighth head coach for his 16th season as an NFL owner - a span that includes just four winning seasons, two playoff victories and seven last-place finishes in the NFC East.

"Redskins fans deserve a better result," Snyder said in a statement. "We thank Mike for his efforts on behalf of the Redskins. We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs."

Shortly after his meeting with Snyder, Shanahan made a five-minute statement thanking fans, players, reporters and Snyder. Shanahan did not take questions, and he defended his efforts in rebuilding the Redskins while repeating his assertion that an NFL-levied salary cap penalty hindered his ability to improve the roster even more.

"We're better off today than we were four years ago," Shanahan said.

Shanahan's career regular-season record is 170-138 over 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos and Redskins, but his two worst years have come in Washington - 5-11 in 2011 and this year's 3-13. He captured Super Bowls titles with quarterback John Elway and the Broncos after the 1997 and 1998 seasons, but he won only one playoff game over his final 10 years in Denver and was fired after the 2008 season.

The selection of Heisman Trophy winner Griffin with the No. 2 overall draft pick and a season-ending seven-game winning streak propelled the Redskins to 10-6 record in 2012, their first division title in 13 years.

But Griffin was injured in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks and required major knee surgery days later, setting the stage for a year of conflict as the quarterback vowed to return in record time and felt empowered enough to openly challenge some of his Shanahan's decisions.

Griffin returned for Week 1 of the regular season - just as he said he would - but he wasn't the same dynamic player who won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012.

The Redskins also struggled on defense and special teams, with Shanahan repeatedly citing the handicap of the two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the league for the way Washington restructured contracts during the uncapped year of 2010.

Shanahan eventually benched Griffin for the final three games of the season. Even though Griffin was medically cleared to play, the coach said the move was best for the organization because it was important for the quarterback's development that he be healthy for the upcoming offseason. Griffin was clearly unhappy with the decision.

Snyder's search for a new coach presents plenty of intrigue. He's tried nearly every angle: the hot college coach with no NFL experience (Steve Spurrier), the franchise icon (Joe Gibbs), the promising youngish coordinator (Jim Zorn) and the established demand-control-over-everything big names (Marty Schottenheimer and Shanahan).

Snyder's hands-on reputation and history of developing close relationships with star players have made candidates wary of the job, and his ties with Griffin did nothing to help matters this year.

"We are going to take a smart, step-by-step approach to finding the right coach to return the Redskins to where we believe we should be," Allen said. "We will analyze accurately and honestly all of the decisions that were made over the past year."

Shanahan demanded - and received - contractual control over all football matters when he joined the Redskins, and he repeatedly emphasized the need to run a disciplined organization with a sense of decorum. Snyder met Shanahan's requests to upgrade the Redskins Park facility, spending millions on a new practice bubble and other amenities.

Shanahan weeded out the disgruntled players - most notably Albert Haynesworth - but ultimately was unable to stymie what he called the "circus atmosphere" that has permeated the Redskins under Snyder.

Leaks, rumors and power struggles were just as bad as before, as were the losses. The Redskins' 2013 record was their worst since 1994, and the season-ending eight-game losing streak is their longest in more than 50 years. Shanahan leaves with the same regular-season winning percentage (.375) in Washington as Spurrier and Zorn.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

NFL says officials erred on KC's missed field goal

SAN DIEGO (AP) The NFL says referees erred in not penalizing the San Diego Chargers for an illegal formation on a missed 41-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Succop of the Kansas City Chiefs with four seconds left in regulation on Sunday.

Succop was wide right on the kick, and the Chargers went on to win 27-24 in overtime to claim the AFC's final playoff spot.

The NFL says in a statement released Monday that had the penalty been assessed by referee Bill Leavy's crew and the ball moved up 5 yards, it would have allowed the Chiefs to attempt a 36-yard field goal.

San Diego lined up with seven men on one side of the snapper. The rule says no more than six players can be on the line of scrimmage on either side of the snapper.

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