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Rose may be focus of Memphis probe

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Staff and Wire Reports

Derrick Rose, who led the Memphis men’s basketball team to the 2008 national title game, appears to be at the center of an NCAA investigation of major violations during that season.

In a letter to the school, the NCAA says an unknown person took the SAT for a player, who then used that test to get into Memphis and prove his NCAA eligibility.

The letter, obtained by the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, says the athlete in question played for the Tigers in the 2007-08 season and the 2008 NCAA tournament. The only person who played just that season was Rose.

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Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson defended the program Thursday, saying the school checks out all potential players.

“We wouldn’t play anybody if we hadn’t checked it out pretty thoroughly,” Johnson told the Associated Press.

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The University of Kentucky countersued fired men’s basketball coach Billy Gillispie, claiming it doesn’t owe him pay because he never signed a contract.

Kentucky’s lawyers are asking the court to rule that a two-page memorandum of understanding Gillispie signed after his hiring in 2007 was not the equivalent of a full contract. Gillispie says it is and that he is entitled to $1.5 million a year for four of the five years left on the deal.

GOLF

Singh trails by one stroke

Vijay Singh shot a six-under 64, leaving him one stroke behind Steve Stricker, Woody Austin and Tim Clark midway through the opening round of the PGA Tour’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Fort Worth.

Singh played this event in 1996, then from 1998 to 2002, but hadn’t played since after making comments critical of the decision to allow Annika Sorenstam into the field in 2003.

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North Carolina State’s Matt Hill made three birdies on the homeward nine holes and held off his closest pursuers to win the individual title in the NCAA Division I men’s golf championship at Toledo, Ohio.

AUTO RACING

Earnhardt has new crew chief

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s deep slump this season reached the breaking point as team owner Rick Hendrick replaced Tony Eury Jr., chew chief and cousin of NASCAR’s most popular driver. Hendrick named Lance McGrew, who has worked with several NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series drivers over the years, as Earnhardt’s interim crew chief starting with the Cup race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on June 7.

Pressure on Hendrick to make the change had been building in recent weeks, but he didn’t act until after Earnhardt finished 40th in the 43-car field Monday in the rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600.

-- Jim Peltz

BASEBALL

Cubs’ Zambrano is suspended

Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano was suspended for six games by Major League Baseball, a day after his tirade during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Zambrano said he won’t appeal the penalty, which included an undisclosed fine. Barring rainouts, he is eligible to return Thursday.

ETC.

USC’s Johnson remains eligible

USC forward Marcus Johnson has been granted another year of eligibility. Coach Tim Floyd said that the NCAA granted a “season of competition” waiver for Johnson on the condition that he be withheld from the first two games of the 2009-10 season, when he will be considered a senior.

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The San Diego Chargers rejected a developer’s proposal to build a $1-billion stadium as part of a redevelopment of the land surrounding Qualcomm Stadium, saying the project would be too big for the Mission Valley site.

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Arizona State began its defense of its college softball World Series title with a 7-3 victory over Missouri at Oklahoma City. In other opening day games of the double-elimination tournament, Washington defeated Georgia, 3-1, Michigan beat Alabama, 6-1, and Florida beat Arizona, 3-0.

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NBA referee Violet Palmer was hired as coordinator of women’s basketball officials for the West Coast Conference and will stay with the NBA, where she has worked for 12 seasons.

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Michele Scarponi won the 18th stage of the Giro d'Italia, while overall leader Denis Menchov drew a day closer to victory. All the overall leaders -- as well as seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong -- crossed with the main pack, 3:37 after Scarponi. Menchov retained a 26-second lead over Danilo Di Luca in the overall standings. Armstrong remained 12th overall, 12:17 behind Menchov.


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