Sports Extra

NFL

Patriots break the bank for their All-Pro tight end

NEW YORK – All-Pro Rob Gronkowski agreed Friday to a $54-million deal with the New England Patriots, the richest contract for a tight end in NFL history.

The six-year deal includes $18.17 million guaranteed. It is a stunning move by the team for a player entering just his third NFL season, but the Patriots recognized the game-breaking skills of the record-setting Gronkowski.

Gronkowski, 23, set a league record for the position with 17 touchdown catches in 2011. He also had a record 1,327 yards and made 90 receptions.

Auto Racing

Tagliani bumps Franchitti from the pole in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas – Alex Tagliani won the pole for the IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Tagliani turned a lap at 215.691 mph late in Friday’s qualifying session to bump Dario Franchitti from the top starting spot. Franchitti went 215.646 to qualify second.

Graham Rahal qualified third, and Scott Dixon was fourth to give Honda the top four qualifying spots for tonight’s race.

College Basketball

Staley headlines the 2012 Hall of Fame Class of 6

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Dawn Staley heads the 2012 class of inductees into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

The South Carolina women’s coach and three-time Olympic gold medalist just keeps finding plenty to celebrate in Tennessee. In February, Staley led the Gamecocks to their first-ever road victory over the Tennessee Lady Volunteers.

On Friday, the two-time national player of the year at Virginia was back in Knoxville with the other inductees: broadcaster Robin Roberts, All Americans Nikki McCray, Pamela McGee and Inge Nissen and coach Nancy Fahey.

Golf

Summitt’s 7-iron aces a 112-yard, par-3 in Tenn.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Though Pat Summitt may be retired, the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach ever just keeps finding ways to score.

Tennessee’s head coach emeritus notched her first hole-in-one Friday playing at the Sevierville Golf Club with Hall of Fame coach Billie Moore, former Lady Vols player Lisa McGill Reagan and TV analyst Debbie Antonelli.

Summitt used a 7-iron on the 112-yard, par-3 No. 17 for the milestone.

Cycling

Wiggins fends off Evans, keeps Dauphine lead

RUMILLY, France – Bradley Wiggins retained the overall lead of the Criterium du Dauphine by fending off a downhill attack by Cadel Evans in a mountainous fifth stage won by Frenchman Arthur Vichot in a late breakaway.

Vichot finished 26 seconds ahead of a seven-rider bunch led by Spain’s Egoi Martinez, with the main title contenders crossing in a larger pack 59 seconds back.

Contador renews his deal with the Danish Saxo Bank

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Alberto Contador extended his contract with his Danish cycling team for three years after the Spanish rider was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title for failing a doping test.

Team manager Bjarne Riis said Contador will return to Saxo Bank in August when his two-year suspension ends.

Last week, the Court of Arbitration for Sport gave the 2010 yellow jersey to Luxembourg rider Andy Schleck. Contador, who also won the Tour in ’07 and ’09, lost the 2010 title in February when the sport’s highest court rejected his story that contaminated meat caused the failed drug test.

CAS backdated the ban, allowing Contador to return to competition Aug. 6. He will miss this year’s Tour de France, which will start June 30, and the London Olympics.

Associated Press