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Sports briefs

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 24 2010 11:03 p.m. MST

Titans' assistant diagnosed with cancer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger has been diagnosed with cancer and is expected to start chemotherapy treatment almost immediately.

Coach Jeff Fisher announced Wednesday that Heimerdinger has been very sick the past three weeks but learned the diagnosis Wednesday morning. Heimerdinger wasn't at practice. Fisher declined to specify what type of cancer Heimerdinger has but asked for prayers for both the coach and his family.

"Mike is going to be, potentially as early as today, undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment," Fisher said. "I don't know whether Mike will be back tomorrow, whether he'll be here Friday or Saturday or whether or not he'll be able to participate in coaching this game. I want you all to pray for Mike, like we have been doing all morning."

The Titans (5-5) visit Houston (4-6) on Sunday, just a game back in the AFC South despite a three-game skid.

"What he's done over the last couple of weeks considering how he felt is absolutely remarkable, it is remarkable," Fisher said of Heimerdnger, 58, who's is in his second stint as the Titans' offensive coordinator.

Chow's new contract approved at UCLA

LOS ANGELES — UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow's two-year contract extension finally has been approved by the University of California Board of Regents.

The school announced Wednesday that Chow's deal was approved late last week. Chow agreed to the extension in July, several months after USC approached him about a return to the Trojans.

The veteran coach has been criticized this season with the Bruins' offense mired in 111th place out of 120 FBS teams, averaging just 300 yards per game. UCLA is 117th in passing offense. Coach Rick Neuheisel hasn't confirmed Chow will return next season, saying only he'll evaluate every aspect of his program.

UCLA (4-6, 2-5 Pac-10) must win its final two games, against Arizona State and USC, to secure bowl eligibility.

Leach files lawsuit against ESPN, PR firm

LUBBOCK, Texas — Former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach sued ESPN Inc. and a public relations firm on Wednesday, accusing them of libel and slander after he was fired amid accusations that he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion.

The suit filed in Texas district court claims the network's coverage of Leach's firing last year was "willful and negligent defamation" and that it failed to "retract false and damaging statements" it made from "misinformation" provided to ESPN by Craig James, the father of the Texas Tech player.

The university fired Leach last Dec. 30, two days after suspending him amid allegations he mistreated Adam James. Leach has denied the claim. Adam James has said his coach twice ordered him to stand for hours while confined in a dark place during practice. On Wednesday, Leach attorney Ted Liggett claimed that Adam James under oath said he thought it was "humorous" what Leach told him to do and that he didn't think Leach should have been fired.

Cyclist accepts ban for drug use

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — U.S. cyclist Charles Coyle has accepted his two-year ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for possessing and using prohibited performance-enhancing drugs.

USADA announced the suspension Wednesday, saying Coyle violated anti-doping rules by purchasing and using EPO and insulin growth factor. EPO is a synthetic hormone used to increase oxygen transport in the blood. Insulin growth factor helps build lean muscles and aides recovery from workouts.

As part of the ban, all of Coyle's results from June 13, 2007 — the date of his violation based on USADA's evidence — and beyond are wiped out. He must also forfeit of any medals, points and prizes from those races.

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