Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, February 04, 2001

Chmura acquitted of sex assault charges

WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Former Green Bay Packers tight end Mark Chmura was acquitted Saturday of sexually assaulting a former baby sitter at a drunken party.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for 2 hours, 15 minutes before finding Chmura innocent on charges of third-degree sexual assault and child enticement. The charges carried a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

Chmura cried as Waukesha County Circuit Judge Mark Gempeler read the verdicts. A group of about 50 people waiting outside the courtroom broke into cheers when Chmura left the courtroom.

''We're on top of the world,'' defense attorney Gerald Boyle said. ''He was despised over night. Now he has the people back.''

Chmura made a brief statement, his wife Lynda at his side, thanking the jurors. He planned a news conference Sunday afternoon.

''I'd like to thank the jury for taking in all the evidence, seeing what happened and then rendering their decision,'' Chmura said.

North America gets first skills victory

DENVER -- By normal standards, Phoenix Coyotes goalie Sean Burke was pathetic. Under fabricated All-Star circumstances, he was worthy of a new car.

Burke won a 2001 Dodge Stratus after stopping 11 of 15 shots Saturday night in the goaltending event at NHL SuperSkills competition. His reaction was a mix of gratitude and incredulity.

''I win a car just for that?'' he said. ''I let in, what, four goals in 15 shots? If that was a regular-season game, I would have got pulled and my confidence would have been shaken. I might not even get to start the next game. Out here, I give up four goals and they give me a car.''

In addition to having the top goalie, North America boasted the swiftest skater and most accurate shooter to capture early bragging rights over the World All-Stars.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ray Bourque, who will play in his 19th All-Star game Sunday, won his eighth accuracy title to help North America defeat the World team 15-13 in the overall competition.

Coker to succeed Davis at Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Spurned by Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez, Miami stayed home to find its new coach, hiring Larry Coker on a permanent basis Saturday to run one of the country's top programs.

The 52-year-old Coker signed a three-year contract to replace Butch Davis, who resigned Monday to take the head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns.

A university source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Coker's deal is worth $650,000 annually.

''Even if there had been 500 people, I knew I was going to get this job,'' Coker said.

Mickelson enjoys a sunny view from the top

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The last time Pebble Beach enjoyed such spectacular sunshine for the National Pro-Am, Phil Mickelson was the winner.

Maybe he won't have to wait until August this year.

On a day when John Daly and Matt Gogel collapsed and Tiger Woods failed to get on track, Mickelson had a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach on Saturday to share the 54-hole lead with Olin Browne.

Mickelson won the tournament three years ago under bizarre circumstances. It rained so much that the final round was pushed back nearly seven months to the day after the PGA Championship.

''It was a weird tournament,'' Mickelson said. ''The way I look at it is instead of 16 tour wins, I have 17 because of it.''

Browne made an eagle on his first hole at Poppy Hills and finished off his 65 by nearly chipping in for eagle on his last hole. He and Mickelson were at 14-under 202.

Masters champion Vijay Singh had a 70 at Spyglass Hill and was two strokes behind. Mike Weir of Canada, who has managed to catch a nasty cold in such glorious weather, made two eagles at Poppy for a 65 that put him at 11-under 205.

Woods, playing Pebble Beach for the first time in competition since his 15-stroke runaway victory in the U.S. Open last June, bogeyed his first two holes and had to settle for a 69 when a 3-foot birdie putt made a horseshoe around the cup.

Race for lead tightens at halfway point

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A Ferrari 333SP prototype overcame a series of mistakes to move back into contention halfway through the Rolex 24-Hours sports car endurance race.

The pole-winning Ford Riley & Scott Mark III prototype of Englishmen James Weaver and Andy Wallace and American Butch Leitzinger saw its six-lap edge over the Ferrari shrink to three as the race moved past midnight.

Meanwhile, the leader's team car from Dyson Racing ran into transmission problems, forcing a long pit stop for repairs and dropping it from second all the way to sixth on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road circuit.

Tszyu adds WBA title to WBC crown

LAS VEGAS -- Kostya Tszyu added a second piece of the 140-pound title to his collection Saturday night, beating WBA champion Sharmba Mitchell in a bout that at times looked more like a wrestling event than a fight.

Mitchell quit on his stool at the end of the seventh round after apparently aggravating an injury in his left knee during one of many clinches with Tszyu in a fight that didn't win any marks for style points.

''It wasn't a nice fight,'' Tszyu said.

Tszyu, the WBC super lightweight champion, landed the more effective and harder punches and had Mitchell down on the canvas five times in the fight. Most of them came when Tszyu threw Mitchell down in clinches, and none were counted as knockdowns.

Heisley to meet with Stern at All-Star break

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley will meet with NBA commissioner David Stern during the All-Star weekend to discuss options for his struggling franchise.

He said moving the team is ''a consideration.''

''I talked to David Stern today,'' Heisley said saturday. ''I told him we continue to have some serious problems with the team and with financial aspects with the team and so on.''

He wouldn't go into details about what would be discussed, saying it would be a free-form discussion with give and take on both sides. He promised to hold a press conference after the meeting to tell the fans what his thinking is at that time.

As for relocation of the team, Heisley said, ''There are not a lot of places, quite frankly, contrary to people's belief, that you can go with an NBA franchise.''

Heisley cited attendance and a poor won-loss record as areas of concern, but said it goes deeper than that.

''If I thought an improvement of the record would solve all of the problems I have in Vancouver, then I wouldn't be calling Mr. Stern,'' he said. ''Do I believe the people in Vancouver have a reason not to come to the game in large numbers? Absolutely. We're not putting a winning team on the floor.''

He claimed the team would lose somewhere between $25 and $50 million and that the situation has deteriorated every month for the last two or three months.

''I think we've had a number of situations that have gone against us,'' he said. ''The exchange rate has continued to deteriorate since last April, for example. We've had difficulty attracting people to the stadium. We just have not made the connection we should make. We were never able to get a real huge response from the business community.

''I could see myself walking away from it,'' he said. ''But if I have to make this move, it's going to be a very, very traumatic situation for me. Most people may not believe that, but it's going to be very difficult for me.''

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