National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Seahawks lock up coach Pete Carroll with extension

SEATTLE (AP) The first major contract extension finalized by the Seattle Seahawks following their Super Bowl title was a commitment to coach Pete Carroll - and to an ideology that finally proved successful at the professional level.

While getting stars such as Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman locked up remains important, the focus for the Seahawks was making sure Carroll was sticking around.

"This was a huge priority for us coming into the offseason," Seattle general manager John Schneider said Friday. "We knew it was around the corner and it was, quite honestly, we're trying to take care of our own people and keep our young players together. But where do you start? You start at the top."

The Seahawks locked up Carroll through the 2016 season with a three-year extension announced Friday. The new contract rips up the final year of the original five-year deal Carroll signed in January 2010, and cleared up any uncertainty whether the 62-year-old coach wanted to stick around after his original deal expired.

Carroll is staying. So are the ideas and beliefs he brought with him when he arrived from Southern California. Back then, there was skepticism whether his style and attitude would work in the NFL.

Now, there's no question.

"Whether this came about or not I was going to keep busting it and going for it. It wasn't going to matter in that regard. But I think the statement, that they wanted to validate the commitment to what we're doing and how we're doing it, was extraordinary," Carroll said. "It was an extraordinary effort on their part and I'm just humbled and thrilled they see it that way."

Carroll is 38-26 in four regular seasons with Seattle and 5-2 in the playoffs. He's the second-oldest head coach in the NFL - yet rarely acts his age - and one of seven current coaches with a Super Bowl title. The championship was a crowning achievement for Carroll after struggles in his two previous stints as an NFL head coach with the New York Jets and New England.

Carroll was lured to Seattle because of something he didn't have in his previous NFL stops: control. Seattle gave him the reins to the franchise, and hired him before adding Schneider to the mix, and creating a relationship that has been marked by stability and success.

After nearly a decade of winning with the Trojans and having say over a program, that level of control was crucial if he was going back to the professional ranks. The Seahawks were willing.

"I loved my time at USC and I was having the time of my life being part of that wonderful school and all the things that we were doing," Carroll said. "But I knew there was another challenge out there and that was coming to the league."

The challenge Carroll inherited included tearing down and rebuilding the Seahawks roster and treading water through a pair of 7-9 seasons his first two years. The breakthrough came in Year 3 when Seattle drafted Russell Wilson, who gave them stability at quarterback. Seattle went 11-5 in Carroll's third season and reached the divisional round of the playoffs.

Carroll followed that by guiding the Seahawks to 13 regular-season wins, the 2013 NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Seattle knocked off New Orleans in the divisional round then edged San Francisco in the NFC title game before routing Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl in February.

Part of the allure for Carroll now is Seattle's potential. The Seahawks are still young and have the likes of Wilson, Sherman, Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Percy Harvin and Michael Bennett, among others, returning from the title team.

"Fortunately we've had a pretty good little run and we're in the middle of something pretty special," Carroll said. "There's no reason that either one of us think, 'OK, we did this one time and that was it and that was our shot.' We think we're right in the middle of a great opportunity here."

Busy mind of Tom Watson, Ryder Cup captain

KANSAS CITY –- So you will ask: What is Tom Watson thinking about as captain of the Ryder Cup team? Tiger’s injury? The emergence of young players like Jordan Spieth and Billy Horschel and others? The United States’ inability to win on European soil since the last time Watson was captain in 1993?

Not really, no.

Clothing. These days, he’s thinking a lot about clothing.

“You’re doing all the stylings and patterns and material and all that,” he says. “And then you have to get it fitted right, make sure everyone is comfortable in it. We’ll have a fitting for as many as 25 players and their caddies at the Memorial. ... We’ll say to them, ‘You have a chance on making the Ryder Cup team, come in and get fitted.' That’s part of the process to get them comfortable in their stuff.”

Well, how the clothes fit might seem like a pretty insignificant detail to many of us, but this is Tom Watson, eight-time major champion, a man who almost won the British Open just months before his 60th birthday. Details are not insignificant. Preparation is not insignificant. He says Jack Nicklaus was better than anyone in golf history at preparing for an event. And that –- not his great talent –- was what made him Jack Nicklaus.

Watson is 64 now -- he just shot his age for the first time -- and he’s a grandfather, and he admits that for the first time last year he saw a significant drop in distance of his drives. He admits that he doesn’t dissect and analyze a golf course the way he once did. He says his game isn’t bad (he just hit one of the most astonishing recovery shots you will ever see) but he says he just isn’t as driven as he used to be.

But anyone who knows Watson does not underestimate the competitive spirit he brings to this job as Ryder Cup captain. That competitive spirit has been the driving force of his golfing life. He came on the Tour as a relative unknown and promised himself only that he would work harder than anyone else. He did that and within a few years was the best golfer in the world.

Though he will downplay his role on the team -– see below -- he has already looked into the inspirational tactics of people like Kansas basketball coach Bill Self. He is slowly getting to know the players -– he is going to play five Tour events this year (Masters, Heritage, Greenbrier, British Open and PGA) and says he will get to know them better.

And as for Tiger Woods –- he says he just hopes Woods recovers from his back surgery and can play the game freely again.

“I’ve been asked a little bit about, ‘What if he doesn’t make the team?’ ” Watson says. “I’ll pick him for the team. I just hope he gets well and starts to play again without pain. That’s all that matters.

“Everybody’s been in pain before, every golfer. For some, it’s ended their careers. For others, they’ve beat it and corrected with surgery. Obviously I hope this is corrected with surgery. Obviously, I hope that he can recover and again swing the club without any pain."

Watson has been critical of Woods in years past -– particularly his behavior on the golf course -– but he says, “We all change.”

Woods was the U.S. Junior Amateur champion the last time that Watson coached the Ryder Cup team ... that was at The Belfry in England, 1993, and the United States needed a last-day comeback that was capped when Davis Love III beat Costantino Rocca on the final hole. Watson has always said that victory is one of the proudest moments of a golf career that included perhaps the most famous shot in golf history (his chip-in at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach) and what is almost certainly the most famous duel in golf history (his “Duel in the Sun” matchup with Jack Nicklaus at the 1977 British Open at Turnberry). Bringing the Ryder Cup back to the United States after five losses in the last six matches is very much on his mind.

But when I asked him if he has already started his coaching, he dismissed the question.

“I don’t have to coach,” he said.

“Really? You won’t coach a little bit?”

“No, I don’t have to coach,” he said.

I smiled. I’ve known Tom Watson for more than 20 years. This is a man who once glared at me when I told him that the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) team I was sponsoring would beat the one he was sponsoring. He snapped: “We’ll kick your (bleep).” This is the man who started a local tournament in his hometown for local pros called the “Watson Classic” and then pronounced he had no intention of losing it. This is the man who stared down Trevino and Player and Ray Floyd and Seve Ballesteros and, mostly, Jack Nicklaus.

I said, “Wait, so you’re saying that you won’t set a tone? You won’t try to create team chemistry? You’re saying that’s not true at all?”

He kind of looked up sheepishly. “Well, it’s true ... to a certain degree. But that won’t happen until later.”

A's beat Mariners on Crisp's homer in 12th

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Coco Crisp homered leading off the bottom of the 12th inning to lift the Oakland Athletics to a 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.

Crisp, who scored the tying run with two outs in the eighth inning, hit a towering home run off Seattle reliever Hector Noesi (0-1) on an 0-1 pitch. The ball landed just above the out-of-town scoreboard in right field. It's the sixth game-ending hit of Crisp's career.

Yoenis Cespedes and Sam Fuld also drove in runs for Oakland, which rallied from two runs down for its first walkoff win of the season.

Drew Pomeranz (1-0), the fifth A's pitcher, worked one scoreless inning for the win.

Abraham Almonte had two hits and an RBI for Seattle.

Mavericks beat Clippers 113-107 behind Nowitzki

LOS ANGELES (AP) Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points, Jose Calderon added 19 and the Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time this season, 113-107 on Thursday night.

Blake Griffin had 25 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in his first triple-double of the season for the Clippers, who had won 17 of their previous 19, including four straight. They beat the Mavs in their first three meetings of the season, coming from behind each time.

A night earlier, the Clippers came back from a 17-point deficit to beat Phoenix on the road, clinching their second straight Pacific Division title and third consecutive playoff berth.

They nearly pulled it off again.

Trailing by 12 points, Los Angeles scored 10 in a row, including six by Darren Collison, to trail 109-107 with 1:26 left. The Mavericks missed four straight shots and had a turnover before Griffin fouled Nowitzki near mid-court.

Nowitzki made both for a 111-107 lead with 17 seconds left. Collison fouled Shawn Marion and he made both to keep the Clippers down by six.

Samuel Dalembert and Monta Ellis added 12 points each, and Vince Carter had 16 for the Mavs, who won their third straight on a road while battling Memphis for the eighth and last Western Conference playoff spot.

Dallas had the Clippers trailing for much of their last matchup of the season against each other. Los Angeles rallied to tie it 89-all early in the fourth on two free throws by J.J. Redick, who finished with 12 points in his first game since Feb. 3. He missed 25 games with a bulging disk in his back.

Nowitzki led a 10-0 run, sandwiching 3-pointers around a basket by Carter, to put Dallas back in front 99-89.

A 3-pointer by Carter extended the Mavs' lead to 104-93. Dallas clamped down on Chris Paul and Griffin for a stretch before the Clippers got hot. Paul finished with 17 points and nine assists.

DeAndre Jordan added 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Collison had 22 points for the Clippers.

The Clippers rallied to start the third, using a 13-7 run to take a 69-65 lead. Jordan scored six points and four others scored. But their lead was short-lived.

Dallas outscored the Clippers 21-12 to end the third leading 86-81. Calderon scored 10 in a row, Dalembert and Ellis had four each, and Carter and Devin Harris hit 3-pointers to keep the Clippers from regaining the lead.

The Mavericks led by 11 twice in the first half, and were up 58-56 at halftime.

NOTES: Clippers backup G Jamal Crawford missed his third straight game with a sore left Achilles' tendon. F Danny Granger sat out with a strained left hamstring. Coach Doc Rivers said he'd be surprised if either of them return before the playoffs begin in two weeks. ... The Mavs avoided getting swept by the Clippers for the first time since 1993-94. ... It was Griffin's fourth triple-double of his career.

Report: Seahawks reach extension with Carroll

RENTON, Wash. (AP) The Seattle Seahawks have called a news conference for Friday morning amid a report they have reached a contract extension with coach Pete Carroll.

NFL Network reported Thursday night, citing a "source," that Carroll and the Seahawks had reached agreement on a contract extension. Carroll's original five-year deal with Seattle was set to expire after the 2014 season.

The Seahawks announcement did not specify the nature of the news conference and team officials would not confirm the report of an extension for Carroll.

Carroll reached the top of the NFL last season, leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl title. Lured away from USC in 2010 with the chance at complete control over the football operations, Carroll tore down then rebuilt the Seahawks roster into one of the best in the NFL. He's 38-26 in four regular seasons with Seattle and 5-2 in the playoffs.

Carroll has made competition the benchmark of his time in Seattle. It's why quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman have become stars - because they were given opportunities in Carroll's system.

Carroll, 62, is the second oldest coach in the NFL, but rarely appears his age. He came to Seattle because of the chance he didn't have in his two previous stops as an NFL head coach: control. Seattle gave him the reins to the franchise, and hired him before adding general manager John Schneider to the mix, a relationship that has been marked by stability and success.

Carroll lacked control in his previous positions with New England and the New York Jets. But after a decade of winning with the Trojans and having that control, it was something Carroll demanded if he was going to get back into the professional ranks and the Seahawks were willing.

Seattle also let Carroll imprint his attitude on the locker room. He wanted a fun atmosphere filled with accountability. Competition was at the crux of everything Carroll did from the day he inherited a 5-11 team. Carroll took Seattle to the playoffs in his first season despite a 7-9 regular season record.

The Seahawks plateaued in 2011 going 7-9 again but took a jump in 2012 after drafting Wilson. The Seahawks went 11-5 in the regular season and reached the divisional round of the playoffs. The roster turnover had been completed and there were massive expectations going into 2013.

Seattle matched and surpassed those expectations. Carroll guided Seattle to 13 wins in the regular season, the NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Seattle knocked off New Orleans in the divisional round, then edged San Francisco in the NFC title game to reach its second Super Bowl.

At the Super Bowl, Carroll got to celebrate the way he did watching USC's run of dominance in the mid-2000s. Seattle's defense stifled the highest scoring offense in NFL history, humbling Denver in a 43-8 beating to give Seattle its first title. After the season Carroll sounded as if he was locked in to a long future with the Seahawks.

"We're trying to do something really good for a really long time and we want to see how far we can go and someday, we look back and see what we accomplished," Carroll said.

Pitino leads Minnesota past SMU 65-63 to win NIT

NEW YORK (AP) Richard Pitino held his 3-year-old daughter in his arms as his Minnesota team cut down the net at Madison Square Garden.

"Richard, get up there!" yelled his famous father, Rick, the Hall of Fame coach at Louisville.

First, the kid had others in mind.

"The assistants!" he shouted back.

Spoken like a coach who listened closely at the dinner table eating up every last lesson.

Austin Hollins hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 46.1 seconds left and Minnesota won the NIT championship Thursday night, beating SMU 65-63 to give the Pitino family its latest postseason tournament title.

Hollins scored 19 points and Andre Hollins had 14 for the Golden Gophers (25-13), who took home the trophy for the third time. They also won the National Invitation Tournament in 1993 and `98, though the second one was vacated because of an NCAA rules violation involving player eligibility.

"We made some big-time plays," Richard Pitino said. "Austin made a big-time 3. We gutted it out. That is a very good team. They're a really good team. They deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. I'm really proud of our guys. I'm so happy for our seniors."

With Rick Pitino sitting - sometimes standing - right near his son's bench, Minnesota made up for a blowout loss to Stanford in the NIT final two years ago and finished with a flourish in its first season under 31-year-old Richard Pitino.

"I think it's one of the highlights of my life," Rick Pitino said on the court after giving his boy a hug. "He's a brilliant young man."

After dad was knocked out of the NCAAs last week when the defending champion Cardinals were beaten by rival Kentucky in the Sweet 16, it was left to the younger Pitino to bring home a title in April.

That's exactly what he did, defeating SMU and Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown - old enough to be his grandfather.

"It was a character win," Richard Pitino said, his boyish face still looking focused on the postgame tasks at hand.

Nic Moore had 17 points and Nick Russell added 15 for the Mustangs (27-10), who led by seven with 5:52 left after a 9-1 spurt.

Pitino called a timeout and his players quickly responded. DeAndre Mathieu had a three-point play, a steal and an assist to key a 7-0 run that tied the score just more than a minute later.

"Got to give a lot of credit to Richard and his team," Brown said. "They were really well prepared. Got down seven and I thought he got their kids to dig in a little bit. We didn't handle prosperity very well. Had some terrible turnovers in the guts of the game, and I think it turned the game around."

Andre Hollins hit three of four free throws in the final 16.3 seconds to help keep Minnesota in front. Mathieu scored all 13 of his points in the second half and finished with seven assists for the Gophers.

Austin Hollins shot 8 for 12, including 3 of 6 from behind the arc, and was selected the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

"Ah, man it feels great," he said. "It's a blessing to be able to finish the season on a win. Few teams get to do that."

The 73-year-old Brown has turned things around in two seasons at SMU, and his latest reclamation project was the favorite going into the NIT after being one of the last teams snubbed by the NCAA tournament.

Minnesota also shrugged off the disappointment of being left out of the 68-team field. Both schools received a No. 1 seed in the NIT and made the most of it, winning three home games apiece to advance to New York.

The championship game matched two coaches with boyhood roots in the Big Apple. Just like Brown, Pitino's father once coached the Knicks, leading them to a division title and two playoff appearances from 1987-89.

Brown flopped with the hometown team, going 23-59 as Knicks coach during the 2005-06 season. But that didn't seem to bother the New York crowd, which gave him a warm hand before the opening tip Thursday.

Brown is in his 39th season as a head coach, nine in college. He won an NCAA crown at Kansas in 1988 and an NBA title with the Detroit Pistons in 2004. He has guided a record eight NBA franchises to the playoffs.

Looking to tie the school record for wins set during the 1987-88 season, SMU was playing in only its third NIT and first national tournament final.

"I'm proud of my team," Brown said. "We picked ourselves up and we competed at the highest level against quality teams and gave ourselves a chance to win."

Solarte's 3 hits lead Yankees over Astros, 4-2

HOUSTON (AP) Rookie Yangervis Solarte had three hits and an RBI in his first major league start and Derek Jeter drove in a run to give the New York Yankees their first win this season, 4-2 over the Houston Astros on Thursday night.

Solarte singled in a two-run third inning which put New York up 2-1. He doubled in the fifth and scored on a single by Jeter to push it to 3-1.

Houston cut the lead to one in the bottom of that inning before Solarte came through again, this time with a single that drove in Ichiro Suzuki.

Solarte, the third baseman, also had a nifty defensive play when he grabbed a bullet hit right at him by Jose Altuve for the third out in the eighth.

Ivan Nova allowed six hits, two runs and walked five in 5 2-3 innings. He was helped by a defense which turned four double plays with him on the mound. David Robertson, who took over as closer for Mariano Rivera, pitched a perfect ninth for his first save.

Houston, the league's worst team the past three seasons, came back to earth after taking the first two games of the series. But Dexter Fowler continued to shine in his first season with the Astros, getting two singles to become the second player in franchise history - and first since Ken Caminiti in 1987 - to begin his Houston career with three straight multi-hit games.

Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer also went 5 2-3 innings, allowing five hits and three runs while fanning five.

Suzuki doubled with two outs in the seventh before scoring on the RBI by Solarte. Solarte's hit was a high pop-up which dropped right between three Astros players assembled directly in front of home plate.

Solarte doubled with one out in the fifth and scored on a two-out single by Jeter to make it 3-1. Jeter was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

Houston got within 3-2 when Jonathan Villar doubled and scored on a single by Fowler in the bottom of the inning. The fourth double play by the Yankees got the first two outs before Chris Carter grounded out to end the inning.

Oberholtzer retired the first seven batters he faced before running into trouble. Suzuki and Solarte hit consecutive singles before a third one by Brett Gardner scored Suzuki to tie it at 1-all.

Jeter walked and Carlos Beltran's sacrifice fly scored Solarte to give New York a 2-1 lead.

Fowler and Grossman hit back-to-back singles to start the first before Nova plunked Castro to load the bases. Altuve grounded into a forceout that left Castro out at second and scored Fowler to make it 1-0.

Carter walked to load the bases again, but the Yankees turned a double play to limit the damage. The Yankees also used double plays to get out of the third and fourth innings.

Castro was also hit by a pitch in the third inning to become the first Astro since Brad Ausmus on April 7, 2007, to be hit twice in a game. He remained in the game before being replaced by Carlos Corporan in the top of the sixth with a bruise on his right foot. X-rays were negative and he is day to day.

NOTES: A replay was initiated by umpires on the field to check the count on an at-bat by Solarte with two outs in the ninth and it was confirmed it was a 3-1 count. ... Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is scheduled to make his major league debut against right-hander Dustin McGowan when the Yankees open a three-game series at Toronto on Friday. ... Houston right-hander Lucas Harrell opposes left-hander Tyler Skaggs when the Astros begin a series with the Los Angeles Angels. ... The Astros observed a moment of silence before the game to remember the victims on Wednesday's shooting at Fort Hood, which left three dead and 16 wounded.

Florida State under investigation by feds

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State University is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possible Title IX violations in its response to sexual violence complaints.

USA Today first reported the investigation by the Office for Civil Rights. It stems from a complaint filed with it by the accuser in quarterback Jameis Winston's sexual assault case.

No charges were filed by State Attorney Willie Meggs against the Heisman trophy winner.

"Our client is particularly gratified by the OCR's decision to investigate and look for discrimination and find remedies to it," the accuser's lawyer Baine Kerr said, "because her primary goal, from the beginning, has been affecting change that will make women at Florida State safer on campus."

Winston was accused of sexual assault from an incident in Dec. 2012. Police decided not to press charges in Dec. 2013. The OCR will investigate all sexual assault complaints at the university during the last three years.

The accuser received a letter from the university in February stating that it met with Winston on Jan. 23 to investigate possible Code of Conduct violations. Winston led the Seminoles to the national championship on Jan. 6.

"We can confirm that we have been notified of the OCR investigation; however, due to federal and state privacy laws the university cannot comment," university spokesman Browning Brooks said in a statement.

The OCR tells schools that "Conduct may constitute unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX even if the police do not have sufficient evidence of a criminal violation. In addition, a criminal investigation into allegations of sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably."

It is unclear if the accuser will pursue a civil case against Winston or the university. Her family accused the Tallahassee Police Department of delaying the investigation and discouraging her from going forward with the case because of the public attention it would receive. Tallahassee police have defended their handling of the case.

A civil case can still be filed after the OCR investigation.

The woman told police she had been drinking at a bar with friends and went home with a man she didn't know. She said the alleged assault took place at an off-campus apartment, but she couldn't remember where it was.

A month later, she identified her alleged attacker as the quarterback. Winston's attorney Tim Jansen said the sex was consensual.

Kerr confirmed a Deadspin.com report that football players Chris Casher and Ronald Darby were recently charged with violations of the school's Code of Conduct. Both Casher and Darby told police they witnessed the sex between the Winston and the accuser. Casher told police that he attempted to join, but was told to leave by the accuser.

Punishments under the code include expulsion from the school. Darby is a starting cornerback on the team.

Durant, Thunder end Spurs' 19-game win streak

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Kevin Durant scored 28 points to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat San Antonio 106-94 on Thursday night, ending the Spurs' winning streak at 19 games.

Russell Westbrook scored 27 points and Serge Ibaka added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, who won the matchup between the top two teams in the Western Conference. Oklahoma City is three games behind with eight games remaining.

Durant scored at least 25 points for the 39th consecutive game, the longest streak since Michael Jordan did it 40 consecutive times during the 1986-87 season. He reached 25 on a free throw with 3:31 remaining.

Patty Mills scored 21 points and Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan each added 17 for the Spurs. San Antonio had won its previous four games by an average of 23.5 points.

Spurs reserve Manu Ginobili didn't play. He was not listed on the injury report, and coach Gregg Popovich did not explain why Ginobili was out.

Oklahoma City trailed 51-43 in the second quarter before Westbrook drained a 3-pointer, then made a layup with 2.6 seconds left in the first half to cut the deficit to 51-48 at halftime.

The Thunder continued their surge in the second half. Rookie Andre Roberson hit a 3-pointer gave the Thunder a 57-56 lead. A lob from Reggie Jackson to Durant for a dunk gave Oklahoma City a 75-65 lead. Durant hit a running jumper in the closing seconds of the third quarter to put the Thunder up 80-71. He scored 12 points on 6-for-9 shooting in the period.

Oklahoma City pushed its lead to 16, but San Antonio went on an 8-0 run to pull to 91-83.

The Thunder regained control. Westbrook got into the open court, clutched and threw down a reverse dunk to bump Oklahoma City's lead back up to 95-83 with 5:25 to play.

NOTES: Jackson played after sitting the previous two games with a mid-back sprain. ... Thunder C Kendrick Perkins returned to action after missing the previous 17 games with a left groin strain he suffered against the Miami Heat. ... Duncan and Perkins got tangled up early in the third quarter, and both were issued technical fouls. Perkins had his arm around Duncan, Duncan threw it off, and Perkins shoved Duncan. ... Thunder reserve F Nick Collison left the game in the third quarter after he took an elbow to the head from San Antonio reserve F Jeff Ayres and was bleeding. He got four staples and was ready to play early in the fourth quarter. ... Westbrook was issued a technical with 1:07 remaining after arguing with the officials.

Ricketts considering selling share of Chicago Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) The owners of the Chicago Cubs could sell minority shares in the team to help finance renovations at century-old Wrigley Field.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green confirmed published reports Thursday that the Ricketts family is considering selling non-controlling shares to pay for a proposed $500 million upgrade of Wrigley and redevelopment of the surrounding area. The Ricketts own 95 percent of the Cubs, with the Tribune Co., which sold the team to the family, owning the rest.

Forbes, in its recent valuation of major league teams, ranked the Cubs as the fourth-most valuable at $1.2 billion. The Ricketts reportedly bought the team for $845 million

Progress on renovating the ballpark has been stymied by opposition by surrounding rooftop owners. They believe changes to Wrigley may block views of the field.

Mets' Murphy, Collins defend paternity leave

NEW YORK (AP) Daniel Murphy is proud he put fatherhood ahead of baseball, and New York Mets manager Terry Collins thinks criticism his second baseman received for taking paternity leave this week was unfair.

Murphy made his season debut in Thursday's 8-2 loss to Washington, three days after the birth of son Noah. He called staying in Florida an extra day "the right decision to make" following wife Victoria's cesarean section and said "we felt the best thing for our family was for me to stay."

He learned Sunday that his wife's water broke, then traveled to Florida and missed Monday's 9-7 opening loss to Washington and Wednesday night's 5-1 defeat. He said his son was born at 12:02 p.m. Monday.

Major league rules allow up to three days of paternity leave, and WFAN broadcaster Mike Francesa said on the air Wednesday that Murphy should not have skipped the second game.

"One day I understand. And in the old days they didn't do that," Francesa said. "But one day, go see the baby be born and come back. You're a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help."

Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason also was critical during his show on WFAN.

"Quite frankly, I would have said C-section before the season starts. I need to be at opening day, I'm sorry," he said. "This is what makes our money. This is how we're going to live our life. This is going to give my child every opportunity to be a success in life. I'll be able to afford any college I want to send my kid to because I'm a baseball player."

A day later, Collins bristled after learning of the comments.

"If you're accusing Dan Murphy of not wanting to play - this guy played 161 games last year, wore himself out, played through all sorts of discomfort," he said. "You know, the man had his first child. He's allowed to be there. The rules state that he can be there, so he went. There's nothing against it. There's nothing wrong with it. You know, he missed two games. It's not like he's missed 10. You know, when you start attacking Dan Murphy's credibility, you need to look in the mirror a little bit."

Murphy said he received text messages about the criticism. He was applauded before his first at-bat, singled and scored the Mets' first run against the Nationals. Murphy went 1 for 3 but also made a throwing error and a fielding error.

"Pretty good at the plate, not so much in the field," he said. "A little sluggish on defense. It was frustrating."

Minnesota Twins left-hander Brian Duensing also returned Thursday after three days on the paternity leave list, and Tampa Bay put outfielder Sean Rodriguez on the list.

"Little did I know I was going to start a national dialogue," Francesa said on the air Thursday. "I never attacked Daniel Murphy," he added, saying his distinction applied if "you have the wherewithal to maybe afford care that some people may not."

"I think two days is plenty, and get back to work," he said.

Murphy said he was happy to hear about people who backed his choice to spend time with his wife and won.

"I appreciate it, anyone who supports me," he said. "My wife and I, we made a decision, and we were excited about it."

Murphy said his son was named after the Biblical character Noah, not for Mets teammate Noah Syndergaard.

"People are going to say you named him after the monstrosity that throws like 1,000 miles an hour," Murphy said. "We didn't. Noah came from Noah's Ark. Peace and rest is what it means."

Baby Noah kept his parents awake at 3 a.m. Wednesday.

"We had our first panic session. It was dark. She tried to change a diaper, couldn't do it. I came in," he said. "It was just the three of us, 3 o'clock in the morning, all freaking out. He was the only one screaming. I wanted to."

NOTES: Murphy took the roster spot of OF Chris Young, who was put on the 15-day disabled list because of tightness in his right quadriceps.

Sampson introduced as Houston's basketball coach

HOUSTON (AP) Houston introduced Kelvin Sampson as their men's basketball coach on Thursday, confident that he can bring the once-proud program back to prominence and undeterred by his past improprieties with the NCAA.

Sampson committed numerous NCAA violations regarding impermissible calls to recruits at both Oklahoma and Indiana, resulting in a five-year show cause order from the NCAA in 2008 which effectively barred him from coaching in college. That order expired last year.

On Thursday, Sampson vowed that NCAA compliance will be his staff's highest priority and didn't shy away from his checkered past when he was introduced as the successor to James Dickey, who resigned last month citing family issues.

"Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, while I don't agree with all the conclusions that the NCAA made, I respect their decision and respect the NCAA as an institution," Sampson said in his opening comments.

Though Sampson touched on his past troubles on Thursday, he wasn't exactly thrilled at repeated questions about his NCAA violations.

"I'm excited about the future," he said. "That stuff is in the past - all of it."

He takes over a program with a rich history that has fallen on tough times in the last two decades. The Cougars have made 19 NCAA tournaments, but just one of those appearances has come since 1992 and they finished 17-16 this season. These Cougars are far removed from the Phi Slama Jama teams starring Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and Clyde Drexler in the 1980s which made five Final Four trips, including three in a row from 1982-84.

Sampson, who has been an assistant with the Houston Rockets since 2011, coached Oklahoma from 1994-2006 and Indiana from 2006-08. He made 11 NCAA tournaments during his tenure at Oklahoma, reaching the round of 16 in 1999, the Final Four in 2002 and the round of eight in 2003.

The 58-year-old Sampson has a 500-270 in 25 seasons as a head coach with stops at Washington State and Montana Tech in addition to Oklahoma and Indiana. His success on the court is undeniable; the problems came from what happened off the court.

Athletic director Mack Rhoades said they fully vetted Sampson and have no concerns about him because of his checkered past with the NCAA.

"Not after we sat down and talked and did all the research we did and we got to know him," Rhoades said. "He was completely honest, candid, transparent, remorseful. (He) knew that he'd made mistakes and we've got great, great comfort with Kelvin Sampson being our head coach."

He believes that Sampson can help get the program back to where it once was.

"It was one of those cases where it was just a perfect match," Rhoades said. "We hit it off and I think he believes in what we're trying to get done at this university."

Sampson was an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks before joining the Rockets and some thought he'd never coach in college again after the show cause order.

"I didn't know if I wanted to coach in college again," he said. "I don't think the question should be did I expect to, it's rather if I wanted to our not? I enjoyed every minute of the six years I spent in the NBA."

Sampson is popular with players and fellow coaches alike and Rockets' All-Star James Harden and point guard Pat Beverley were on campus Thursday for his introduction at Houston.

"To see him going back to what he loves in a head coaching job is amazing," Harden said. "He's a great coach, tremendous head coach and I'm glad he has another opportunity at it."

Warren's father: NBA decision could come Tuesday

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolina State's T.J. Warren will take a little longer to decide whether he'll enter the NBA draft as a sophomore.

Warren's father said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press that the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year could be ready to announce his plans Tuesday. Former Wolfpack player Tony Warren says he wants his son to take his time and "be 100 percent sure," though he expects the 6-foot-8 forward could be a top-20 pick.

Warren averaged 24.9 points and shot 52.5 percent to become the third player to lead the conference in scoring and shooting percentage in the same year. Warren was named a second-team All-American earlier this week.

Marshall, McDermott take home AP yearly awards

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall is growing accustomed to being center stage at the Final Four. He just wishes his team was with him this time around.

After leading the Shockers to the national semifinals a year ago, Marshall deftly guided them through a perfect regular season, earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. While they were done in by Kentucky in the third round, by then the votes had already been tabulated.

Marshall was the runaway winner of the AP coach of the year award.

He accepted his hardware during a news conference Thursday at AT&T Stadium, where the Wildcats will play Wisconsin and UConn will meet Florida in the national semifinals Saturday night.

"I'm truly honored," Marshall said. "It's amazing what our young guys and our program were able to accomplish this year, with the tremendous win streak and the run they took us all on. I've been coaching for a long time, but when you have a group like this, they make it really special."

Speaking of special, Creighton star Doug McDermott was a near-unanimous pick as the AP player of the year after a senior season that left him the fifth-leading scorer in Division I history.

McDermott received all but one vote from the 65-member panel that votes for the Top 25. Russ Smith of Louisville received the only dissenting vote.

"This is a huge honor," said McDermott, who was joined at the news conference by his father, Creighton coach Greg McDermott, along with his mother and sister.

"It's been a heck of a ride," McDermott said. "It has been a great four years."

The award ceremony was also a reunion for Marshall and McDermott, who became familiar with each other when Wichita State and Creighton tussled for Missouri Valley supremacy.

But when the Bluejays skipped to the Big East, it cleared the way for Marshall's Shockers to romp through a weakened league and have one of the finest seasons in Division I history.

Wichita State won its first 35 games, a record for a men's major college program, and became the first team to enter the NCAA tournament with a perfect record since UNLV in 1991. With his motto of "play angry," the Shockers embodied the intense nature of their blue-collar coach, who came up through tiny schools such as Randolph-Macon to reach the pinnacle of his sport.

Along the way, the Shockers captured their first Missouri Valley tournament title since 1987 and landed forward Cleanthony Early and point guard Fred VanVleet on the AP's All-America teams.

"I tell you what, they made it easy to coach," Marshall told AP. "You enjoy going to work every single day. Even with the loss to Kentucky, they never wavered. They wanted to be a special group, and they wanted to do things that have never been done."

That loss to the Wildcats still stings, though. The heavyweights from the SEC were given a No. 8 seed in the NCAA tournament, meaning Wichita State had to face them in the opening weekend, and the two teams waged a thrilling game that came down to VanVleet's missed shot at the buzzer.

"Ultimately, some point down the road, we'll look back on this season, and look back fondly," Marshall said, "but at this point, gosh, I wish we were still playing."

Marshall received 44 votes for coach of the year. Tony Bennett of Virginia got 13, followed by Florida's Billy Donovan with six and Michigan's John Beilein and SMU's Larry Brown with one each.

There wasn't nearly as much indecision in voting for McDermott, who led the Bluejays to a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. And while their season ended in a loss to Baylor, it was only a blip on an otherwise remarkable career that left his proud pop feeling nostalgic.

"It's hard to believe on a lot of levels," Greg McDermott told AP. "As his father, I still see him as a little scrawny kid in a lot of ways."

One that blossomed into a dynamic, 6-foot-8 forward who led the nation in scoring at nearly 27 points per game and finished with a staggering 3,150 for his career.

Earlier this year, he was voted a first-team All-American, the first player since Patrick Ewing and Wayman Tisdale in 1985 to earn the nod three straight years.

"I knew Doug was going to be player of the year much sooner than I thought I could be coach of the year," Marshall said. "He can certainly play on any level and he proved that this year."

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