McIlroy goes to Nike for reported $200 million
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Nike reported it has signed a sponsorship deal with No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy for a reported $200 million.
The deal was announced in a lavish ceremony in the United Arab Emirates ahead of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, which begins this week.
Nike now represents golf’s two biggest stars in McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has been with the sportswear company since turning pro in 1996.
In October, McIlroy cut ties with Acushnet Co., which had supplied him with Titleist and FootJoy gear since he turned pro five years ago.
And this month, Jumeirah Group announced it was not renewing its five-year sponsorship deal with the Northern Irishman.
O’Neill fired at USC after 3½ years on bench
LOS ANGELES – Kevin O’Neill was fired as Southern California basketball coach on Monday after 3½ years during which he failed to turn around a program weighed down by NCAA issues that preceded his arrival and a string of player injuries.
O’Neill had a 48-65 record, including 7-10 this season after going 6-26 last year, setting a school record for losses.
Veteran assistant Bob Cantu will serve as interim coach while USC searches for a successor. Cantu took over for O’Neill during a Pac-10 tournament semifinal game against Arizona in 2010-11 when the coach was suspended after getting into a verbal confrontation with a Wildcats booster.
He has remained on the staff through four coaching changes and is the longest tenured assistant in the Pac-12.
Athletic director Pat Haden said it became evident to him that the program needed new leadership.
“Despite a nice road win in our last game, I felt it was best to make a change now, with most of the Pac-12 season still ahead of us, in order to re-energize our team,” he said.
The Trojans are 2-2 in the Pac-12 after a road split last weekend. They lost at Colorado before winning at Utah to snap a 14-game road skid. USC has lost nine of its last 13 games, which included a five-game skid.
British gold medal cyclist Cooke announces retirement
LONDON – British cyclist Nicole Cooke, the gold medalist in the 2008 Olympic road race, is retiring.
The 29-year-old rider from Wales also won the world road race title in 2008, the first person to win both events in the same year.
She said Monday she is “very happy” with her career, and she leaves with “many, many happy memories over what has been my life’s work since I was 12. I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win.”
Cooke’s win at the Beijing Olympics was one of eight gold medals by Britain’s cyclists at the 2008 Games. Her title defense in London ended with a 31st-place finish.
Vonn to skip slalom to focus on Italian speed events
FLACHAU, Austria – Lindsey Vonn will skip a World Cup night slalom tonight because she has not been able to practice enough in the event.
Vonn, the defending overall champion, was missing from the list of 68 competitors published Monday by skiing’s governing body.
“It’s her goal to race where she has the chance to win,” U.S. women’s head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. “And without any slalom training, there is no chance to win a slalom.”
The American returned for speed races in St. Anton, Austria, last weekend, placing sixth in the downhill and fourth in the super-G.
Hoedlmoser said Vonn is now fully focusing on speed races in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, this weekend.