Big changes announced for the new Big East conference
NEW YORK – Butler, Creighton and Xavier are moving to the new Big East.
They will join the so-called Catholic 7 basketball schools who left to start a new conference and are keeping the Big East name. The league also announced Wednesday its completed broadcasting deal with Fox.
Butler and Xavier are leaving the Atlantic 10. Creighton departs the Missouri Valley Conference.
They join Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence, Seton Hall and DePaul.
Bears fumble Brian Urlacher after 13 years in Chicago
CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears are parting ways with veteran linebacker Brian Urlacher after 13 years.
General manager Phil Emery said Wednesday that the team couldn’t agree on a contract with Urlacher, for years the heart and face of the franchise. He is now a free agent after missing the last four games of the season with a hamstring injury.
The eight-time Pro Bowler started 180 games from 2000 through 2012, recording a team-record 1,779 tackles. The ninth overall selection in the 2000 draft has 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles. He was the AP’s defensive player of the year in 2005.
U.S. Open serves up a much bigger pool of prize money
The U.S. Open tennis tournament will increase its annual prize money to $50 million by 2017 – nearly double what it was last year – and switch back to a Sunday men’s final in 2015, The Associated Press has learned.
The tournament also is adding an extra $4.1 million to this year’s prize pool, on top of a $4 million jump already announced in December, bringing 2013’s payout to $33.6 million. It was $25.5 million in 2012.
James Blake outpaces fellow American in Sony Open
James Blake advanced to the second round of the Sony Open, beating fellow American Ryan Harrison 6-2, 6-2 on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Blake, a former top-10 player now ranked 95th, was far more active than the 20-year-old Harrison, ranked seven spots higher, in the 57-minute match.
Harrison won his first two service games at take a 2-1 lead, but Blake won the next five games to take the first set. In the second set, Blake raced to a 4-1 lead.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt also won his opening match, topping Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-1, 7-6 (3). Hewitt made his first start in the event since 2009.
12-year-old Chinese boy to play in European Tour record
CHENGDU, China – A 12-year-old Chinese boy will become the youngest player to compete in a European Tour event after qualifying for the Volvo China Open.
Ye Wocheng finished third Wednesday in one of the four 36-hole regional qualifiers for the China Open, which starts May 2 and is jointly sanctioned by the European Tour.
He carded a 68 despite three-putting his last two holes on Tuesday at the Wolong Valley Country Club, and had a 2-over 74.
Ye, a member of the Hillview Golf Club in Dongguan, is set to break the record held by Guan Tianlang, who was 13 when he played in the China Open last year.
Watson trades in a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup
ORLANDO, Fla. – Tom Watson is giving back one of his captain’s picks for the Ryder Cup.
In his first big move since he was appointed U.S. captain last year, Watson says he would take the top nine players off the Ryder Cup standings and select three players as captain’s picks. For the last three matches, only eight Americans qualified for the team and the captain had four picks.
The next Ryder Cup is in 2014 at Gleneagles in Scotland.