National briefs: L.A. council OKs framework for NFL venue

August 10, 2011


— The developers seeking to build an NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles were granted a City Council endorsement Tuesday that they had long stressed was necessary to prove to league officials that their plan has public support.

Anschutz Entertainment Group president and chief executive Tim Leiweke said that the council’s 12-0 vote in favor of a framework deal on the project’s funding and timeline sends a strong message to the NFL that the city is behind the proposal for a 72,000-seat NFL stadium on the city’s convention center campus.

“Today proved we have a vision (and) they’re behind it,” he said. “We just got through the politics.”

The agreement anticipates the issuance of $275 million in tax-exempt bonds for the relocation of a convention center hall to accommodate the proposed $1.2 billion football venue known as Farmers Field. It would require AEG to extend a series of financial guarantees over the course of the project as a safeguard against shortfalls and other risks.

The Los Angeles council members are set to take up the additional binding votes over the next nine months, with groundbreaking on the new venue possible as early as June.

College football

Records: Tressel made $21.7M

Columbus, Ohio — Jim Tressel made $21.7 million as Ohio State football coach over his decade-long tenure before being ousted for breaking NCAA rules, records from the publicly funded school show.

Tressel earned more than $3.5 million in 2010, the year he covered up an improper benefits scandal that has led to Ohio State being forced to appear before the NCAA’s committee on infractions this Friday.

The figures, released Tuesday to the Associated Press by Ohio State, show that almost a quarter of Tressel’s pay — $4.6 million — came from an exclusive deal under which Ohio State directed a portion of its exclusive deal with apparel-maker Nike to the coach.

During his career with the Buckeyes, Tressel was provided football game tickets valued at $104,800, more than $10,000 in Ohio State basketball tickets and over $21,000 in bowl tickets. His contracts also called for him to receive a $200,000 signing bonus in 2003, national-championship game bonuses worth a total of $835,000 (the Buckeyes played for the BCS title after the 2002, 2006 and 2007 regular seasons) and another $155,000 in bonuses for OSU players hitting certain academic standards.

OU linebacker Lewis breaks foot

Norman, Okla. — Oklahoma defensive captain and leading tackler Travis Lewis will miss up to eight weeks due to a broken bone in his left foot, leaving the Sooners without one of their best defensive player for a few crucial early-season games.

Athletic trainer Scott Anderson said Tuesday that Lewis’ injury will not require surgery, and will be treated with rest and immobilization. Lewis, chosen as the Big 12’s preseason defensive player of the year by the media, was injured Monday during Oklahoma’s first practice in pads of training camp.

“We’re disappointed for Travis,” coach Bob Stoops said in a statement. “He has worked very hard and I know he’ll want to get back as quickly as possible.

“We’ll adapt in the meantime. We’ve recruited very well and have some excellent athletes in those positions. I’m confident that those players will perform well.”

If Lewis is out eight weeks, he would miss Oklahoma’s first four games — including a Sept. 17 trip to Florida State and a Sept. 24 rematch against Missouri, which beat the Sooners last season to knock them out of the top spot in the BCS standings. The Red River Rivalry game against Texas on Oct. 8 is 81⁄2 weeks away.

JoePa released from hospital

State College, Pa. — Joe Paterno was released from the hospital Tuesday, two days after getting blindsided at Penn State practice by a player and injuring his right shoulder and pelvis.

The school said in a statement the 84-year-old coach was looking forward to returning to practice today.

“It’s time for everyone to turn the attention to the team,” Paterno said in the brief statement. “We have a lot of hard work ahead in order to be as good as we think we can be.”

Penn State confirmed Tuesday afternoon that no surgery was required for Paterno, and that “precautionary measures” were complete. The team did not offer any more details about the injuries.

He was back home by late morning. The Hall of Fame coach spoke with his assistants Tuesday as they prepared to lead two-a-day sessions.


Ochocinco still getting adjusted

Foxborough, Mass. — Chad Ochocinco has found a new NFL home.

He’s still looking for a place to stay.

The veteran wide receiver Tuesday said he still has a lot of work to do, but is starting to feel comfortable with his new teammates in the New England Patriots’ offense.

He gave fellow receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch and quarterback Tom Brady credit for his progress.

“I’ve been able to assume a lot of information in a short period of time,” he said, while adding “there’s still a lot of work to do.”

His play during training camp has been inconsistent — a sensational catch followed by a drop — but he has had to get used to Brady and a new system without the benefit of offseason workouts.

Off the field, he still hasn’t found a home in the Foxborough area, but is toying with a novel way of getting to know the area.

“I’m going to do something different, I’m actually going to stay with a fan for the first two, three weeks of the season,” he said. “That should be fun, until I get myself acclimated and learn my way around.”


Woman ends record swim attempt

Key West, Fla. — The currents in the Florida Straits finally proved stronger than the determination that had pushed Diana Nyad across vast stretches of open water before.

Nyad, 61, stroked through shoulder pain and floated on her back when asthma made it difficult for her to breathe on the attempt to swim from Cuba to Key West that she began Sunday.

She said she pictured herself emerging from the water onto the beach and vowed to doggy-paddle there, if that was what it took. She swam right through a smack of stinging jellyfish. But by early Tuesday, trembling in the water, the record-setting marathon swimmer knew she had to stop, even though it meant giving up on her dream.

According to her Twitter feed, she was pulled from the water after swimming for 29 hours. Later Tuesday, Nyad said her captain told her she had roughly 53 miles to go when she stopped. The swim had been expected to take about 60 hours to cross 103 miles.

“Sometimes the will is so strong. That’s the whole point of this sport in general, that the mind is stronger than the body,” she said after her support boat docked in Key West.


New scholarship rules called for

Indianapolis — NCAA President Mark Emmert wants to cash in on the appetite for change that has been sweeping through major-college athletics.

He believes scholarship funding should include more money for athletes. He expects universities to spend revenue more efficiently. He’s even willing to shrink the NCAA’s rule book.

And he contends all of it should be done now.

“There is a clear commitment on my part and on behalf of all of the presidents that we convert these conversations into action and we do so rapidly,” Emmert said Tuesday, after the first day of a two-day presidential retreat. “People are really in the mood to make changes, and I think that’s what you’re going to see. We want to do things thoughtfully. But doing them thoughtfully doesn’t mean that they cannot be done rapidly, and doing them rapidly doesn’t mean they can’t be done thoughtfully.”

If Emmert can pull this off, it would mark a dramatic turn in the NCAA’s legislative cycle, where proposals can take a year or more to become rules and some simply fade into oblivion.


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