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Task Force Meets on Recruiting

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

College recruits could face curfews, limits on off-campus activities and fewer paid visits next fall, if recruiting changes are approved by the NCAA next month.

An NCAA task force on recruiting debated all three changes Monday in its first meeting in Indianapolis. A formal proposal is expected to be submitted to the NCAA’s management council by April 20.

“We discussed all those kinds of things,” said David Berst, the task force’s chairman. “We’re trying to come up with a principle-based approach.”

Berst declined to discuss which specific changes may be in the task force’s draft proposal, which he expects to complete within 10 days.

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Berst, an NCAA vice president and former head of enforcement, said there was unanimity among the task force’s 18 members that changes were needed after several highly publicized recruiting scandals.

In the most prominent case, three women are suing the University of Colorado after claiming they were raped during or just after a December 2001 off-campus party for football players and recruits.

At Miami, Willie Williams, the team’s top recruit this year, has been arrested 11 times since 1999 -- a record school officials said they were unaware of when he signed to play at the school.

Hurricane Coach Larry Coker said this month he was partly aware of Williams’ criminal past. The school has suspended the processing of Williams’ admissions application, leaving his future with the Hurricanes clouded.

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Those cases prompted NCAA President Myles Brand to form the task force in February, hoping new recruiting rules could be in place before next fall.

Berst said that Monday’s discussion included the possibility of eliminating paid visits entirely, although it was unclear if that would be among the proposed changes.

Among other possible changes are shortening campus visits from 48 hours to 24 hours, reducing from five to three the number of visits a student can take and capping university spending on travel, meals and lodging.

Pro Football

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The Chicago Bears acquired fullback Bryan Johnson from the Washington Redskins for a sixth-round draft pick.

Johnson, a converted linebacker and a three-year starter, caught nine passes for 71 yards and had two carries for five yards. In 2002, he led Washington with 21 special-teams tackles.

Also, the Redskins waived linebacker Armegis Spearman.

Defensive tackle Oliver Gibson and the Buffalo Bills agreed to a two-year contract, the team confirmed. A nine-year veteran, Gibson spent the last five seasons in Cincinnati, where he had 57 starts in 73 games before being released this month.

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Miami signed tight end John Jones to a two-year contract.... Green Bay re-signed defensive tackle Larry Smith and signed punter Nathan Chapman, who had been playing football in his native Australia.

Super Bowl champion New England will play host to the Indianapolis Colts in a rematch of the AFC title game to open the NFL season Sept. 9.

The league’s third Thursday night opener will be televised by ABC as part of its “Monday Night Football” package.

Miscellany

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The jury in former basketball All-Star Jayson Williams’ manslaughter trial saw part of a banned computer animation that illustrates how the shotgun that killed Costas “Gus” Christofi may have accidentally discharged.

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman, who ordered defense attorneys not to show that portion of the animation because it may be prejudicial, admonished Williams’ attorneys after a few seconds of it was shown.

Williams’ attorneys were allowed to show a section of the video that explained how the shotgun works. They were banned from showing the end, which illustrates their theory that a wood chip settled on the firing mechanism and caused it to fire. Defense attorney Billy Martin said the video was edited, but the original may have been played by mistake.

Saint Joseph’s Phil Martelli and Tennessee’s Pat Summitt were honored as the Naismith college basketball coaches of the year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

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Amy Hung of Taiwan and former USC player Linda Ishii, who played at Westlake High, qualified for the final two spots in the 144-player field for the LPGA Tour’s Office Depot Championship Hosted by Amy Alcott at El Caballero Country Club in Tarzana. The tournament begins Friday.

Paul Bravo was hired as an assistant for the UCLA men’s soccer team, filling the vacancy left after Jorge Salcedo was promoted to coach. Bravo was a three-time All-Star in Major League Soccer and was an assistant with the Colorado Rapids from 2002 to 2003.


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