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NFL

Saints see Vitt fit for interim: Assistant takes the reins

NEW ORLEANS – Sean Payton handed over control of his team to Joe Vitt once before, and the Saints have decided to do it again.

The Saints on Thursday named Payton’s trusted second-in-command their interim coach, despite the fact Vitt will miss a third of the season for his role in New Orleans’ bounty system.

For his part, Payton received a season-long suspension – which will begin Monday; Vitt, who will take over Monday, was handed a six-game suspension.

Saints’ general manager Mickey Loomis said in his announcement the team will address at a later time how to divvy up Vitt’s responsibilities during his six-week absence.

Vitt, who carries the titles of assistant head coach and linebackers coach, briefly stepped in as acting head coach last season when Payton broke his leg. Vitt also was interim coach with St. Louis in 2005 before joining New Orleans as part of Payton’s very first staff in 2006.

NBA

Benson buys the Hornets, plans for Saintly turnaround

NEW YORK – Tom Benson brought stability to the Saints nearly three decades ago and now plans to do the same for the Hornets in small-market New Orleans.

The Saints’ owner agreed Friday to purchase the Hornets from the NBA. A person familiar with the deal said the purchase price is $338 million.

The NBA has been trying to sell the Hornets since buying the club from founder George Shinn in December 2010. While preparing the team for sale, the league negotiated a new lease for the Hornets to remain in the state-owned New Orleans Arena through 2024.

The sale of the team to Benson has to be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors, which met in New York on Friday.

Maloofs back out of deal, so Kings’ future again uncertain

NEW YORK – The Kings’ future in Sacramento is uncertain again.

A tentative deal for a new arena has fallen through, leaving open the possibility the team’s owners again could try to move from California’s capital.

The Maloof family said Friday it intended to remain in Sacramento, and Commissioner David Stern said he believes them. But Stern also said it was the Maloofs’ right to re-examine the deal that had been agreed to last month, and he said there is nothing more the league can do to broker a new one.

Stern stressed the deal was “always nonbinding,” and he supported the Maloofs’ decision to say they were no longer comfortable with its terms.

Tennis

Lose early, and win more: French Open gets pay bumps

PARIS – Prize money at the French Open is going up significantly this year for players who lose in the early rounds.

Roland Garros organizers said the overall purse for the tournament is going up 7 percent to $24.6 million, with the men’s and women’s singles champions each getting $1.64 million – an increase of 4.17 percent.

Proportionately, the biggest increases are for those who get knocked out early. First-round losers get a 20-percent boost, from $19,700 to $23,670.

Organizers said more than 300 players who lose between the second round of qualifying and the third round of the main draw will see their prize money increased by between 10 and 20 percent.

Capriati’s capricious road will end in the Hall of Fame

NEWPORT, R.I. – Jennifer Capriati went from teen prodigy to off-court troubles to Grand Slam champion, and now she’s headed to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Capriati’s election was announced Friday, joining a 2012 class that includes Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Randy Snow and Mike Davies. Capriati retired in 2004 with a career record of 430-176, including 14 singles titles.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is July 14.

Associated Press

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