Michael Phelps is AP's top male athlete

Michael Phelps has added another triumph to his list of accomplishments: the Associated Press male athlete of the year.

The retired swimmer edged the Miami Heat's LeBron James in voting announced Thursday, a fitting payoff for winning four gold medals and two silver medals at the London Games, as well as recognition for becoming the most decorated Olympian ever.

Phelps finished with 40 votes in the media balloting, winning the award for the second time. James had 37, followed by track star Usain Bolt with 23. Carl Lewis is the only other Olympic-related star to capture AP male athlete of the year more than once, taking the award in 1983 and '84 for track and field. The only men honored more than twice are golf's Tiger Woods, cyclist Lance Armstrong and basketball's Michael Jordan.


Utah State promotes Wells

Utah State promoted offensive coordinator Matt Wells to head coach, replacing Wisconsin-bound Gary Andersen.

Andersen took the Wisconsin job Thursday, taking over for Bret Bielema. Bielema left to take the Arkansas job.

Utah State President Stan Albrecht and Athletic Director Scott Barnes said hiring the 39-year-old Wells allows the football program to continue to build on the tremendous progress made by Andersen over the last four years.

The 48-year-old Andersen just completed his fourth and best season at Utah State. The Aggies were 11-2, won the Western Athletic Conference and defeated Toledo on Saturday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.


A person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press that the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a four-year, $52-million contract with right-hander Edwin Jackson.

The person spoke Thursday on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.

The Cubs will be the eighth team in 11 years for the 29-year-old Jackson. He is 70-71 lifetime with a 4.40 earned-run average. He was 10-11 with a 4.03 ERA for Washington last season.


Former All-Star third baseman Placido Polanco agreed to a $2.75-million, one-year contract with the Miami Marlins, plugging the final hole in the team's projected lineup following a payroll purge.

The 37-year-old Polanco, who can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses, battled injuries this year and batted .257 with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 90 games with the Philadelphia Phillies. The 15-year veteran is a career .299 hitter.


Just when Josh Howard appeared to be carving an important niche in the NBA for himself again after battling back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the 32-year-old forward is right back where he started.

The Timberwolves waived him Thursday after an MRI exam revealed a torn ACL in Howard's right knee. He was injured Dec. 14 at New Orleans.


U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst was elected to a second term.

Probst, also the chairman at Electronic Arts, took over for Peter Ueberroth in 2008 during a period of turmoil for the USOC.


Prized prospect Jabari Parker of Chicago's Simeon Career Academy, one of the most highly touted basketball recruits in years, is headed to Duke.

Parker can't sign his letter of intent until April 17, but he made his intentions clear with his highly anticipated commitment.

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