MAYO TICKET MESS: Southern California freshman standout O.J. Mayo might have violated an NCAA rule by accepting free tickets to Monday night's NBA game between Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers from Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony. Mayo told reporters Tuesday he had received the tickets, which were located behind courtside seats near midcourt at Staples Center and had a face value of $230 each. NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199.3 states that student-athletes may not receive "free or reduced-cost admission to professional athletics contests from professional sports organizations, unless such services also are available to the student body in general."
JOHNSON JOINS FULHAM: Fulham signed forward Eddie Johnson on Wednesday, making him the fifth American at the Premier League club. The 23-year-old Johnson signed the 3 1/2-year contract after he was granted a work permit to play in England. No financial terms were given.
JARRETT JOINS BOOTH: Dale Jarrett will replace Rusty Wallace in the booth this season for ESPN's coverage of NASCAR, while Wallace will become the lead analyst for the network's studio programs. "We now have the opportunity to provide our viewers with analysis from a pair of former NASCAR Cup champions," Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, said of the switch.
FLASH MOVES: The Utah Flash have reacquired guard Garry Hill-Thomas and waived guard Aleksandar Ugrinoski, Flash general manager David Fredman announced Wednesday. Hill-Thomas was Utah's ninth-round selection in the 2007 D-League Draft and was the last player waived coming out of training camp. At 6-4, 200-pounds, Hill-Thomas played collegiately at the University of Nevada where he averaged 10.8 points and 3.6 rebounds in 124 career games.
A native of Oakland, Calif., Hill-Thomas will begin his second stint in the D-League, having averaged 13.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 14 games for the Roanoke (Va.) Dazzle in 2004-05. He also played professionally in New Zealand, averaging 25.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 29 games for Taranaki in 2006 and 2007.Ugrinoski played in 16 games for the Flash before fracturing a bone in his right hand during a practice session. The Croatia native averaged 8.8 minutes, 2.3 points and 0.4 rebounds. The D-League has no injured or inactive list, but the Flash will have first rights to Ugrinoski when he is ready to play again. He is expected to be in uniform when the Flash host Sioux Falls at the McKay Events Center on Friday at 7 p.m.
ATLANTA DREAM TEAM: The newest WNBA team will be called the Atlanta Dream. Atlanta unveiled the nickname Wednesday along with its red and blue logo with stars and a basketball.
SHOELESS COACH: For once, Ron Hunter won't be able to kick. Hunter will coach barefoot in IUPUI's game against Oakland University today to raise awareness for needy children. His goal is to send 40,000 pairs of shoes to Africa in honor of the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hunter is working through a Charlotte, N.C. charitable organization called Samaritan's Feet, which was founded four years ago.
CHANG HONORED: French Open winner Michael Chang was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and IMG creator Mark McCormack and Tennis Week magazine founder Eugene Scott were selected posthumously. Chang was only 17 when he won the 1989 French Open the youngest male player to win a Grand Slam title. He was the first U.S. champion at the clay-court Grand Slam since Tony Trabert in 1955.
SHARAPOVA DEBUT: Maria Sharapova is set to make her Fed Cup debut for Russia next month in Israel, while Venus and Serena Williams will skip the U.S. match against Germany. The fifth-ranked Sharapova leads the Russian team announced Wednesday for the series Feb. 2-3 at Ramat Hasharon. The U.S. team of Lindsay Davenport, Laura Granville, Ashley Harkleroad and Lisa Raymond will play Germany in La Jolla, Calif.