TOCCHET BAN DECIDED: Rick Tocchet's role in an illegal gambling ring will keep him out of the NHL until at least next February.
Tocchet, who partnered with a New Jersey state trooper and another man in a sports betting venture they ran for five years, pleaded guilty to promoting gambling and conspiracy to promote gambling. As part of a plea deal, Tocchet was sentenced by a New Jersey court to two years' probation in August and avoided jail time.
He has been on an indefinite leave from his job as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes under Wayne Gretzky and had his ban extended Thursday by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman until Feb. 7, 2008 two years after the leave began.
"Employment and participation in the National Hockey League is an honor and privilege that can not be taken for granted," Bettman said. "Those in our game who engage in conduct detrimental to the game or its good reputation will be held strictly accountable for their decisions to engage in such conduct."He has paid an extremely high price for his conduct, which although perhaps not as bad as originally suggested, was nevertheless highly inappropriate and illegal."
IU, COACH AGREE: Kelvin Sampson just wants to coach basketball. Embroiled in the second investigation into improper telephone calls to recruits since his arrival at Indiana last year, Sampson said Thursday that he is satisfied with a university report to the NCAA that has already led to the resignation of an assistant coach, the forfeiture of one scholarship and new restrictions on recruiting.Sampson, who also gave up a scheduled $500,000 pay raise, said he didn't know whether the self-imposed penalties would satisfy the NCAA.
MATCH-FIXING ADDRESSED: The head of men's tennis would ban players for life if they are caught match-fixing, but would give a second chance to players who had doped.
ATP president Etienne de Villiers told a sports business conference in London on Thursday that tennis was being threatened by match fixing and gambling syndicates.
The threat of match-fixing in tennis emerged in Poland in August. The online gambling company Betfair voided bets when fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko withdrew against 87th-ranked Martin Vassallo Arguello in the third set, citing a foot injury. Unusually large amounts were wagered on the lowly ranked Argentine throughout the match, even after he lost the first set 6-1. The ATP is investigating the match.Since then, players have said they have been approached about influencing a match.
HAYES IN LEAD: J.P. Hayes is feeling much better about his health than the last time he was in these parts on the PGA Tour. And thanks to a 7-under 65 on Thursday at Disney, his prospects for keeping his card are looking good, too.
Hayes turned a sloppy hole into a birdie on the par-5 10th at Magnolia, then ran off four more birdies in wet and windy conditions to build a one-shot lead in the Children's Miracle Network Classic.
Cameron Beckman, who secured his card last week, played with a sore back but raced out to a bogey-free 66 in the morning on the longer, tougher Magnolia course. He was joined by Scott Verplank and Ryuji Imada, who played the Palm Course.