July 26, 2012

By TIM TALLEY | Associated Press

 

A suspended Okla­homa State basketball player broke down in tears as he was convicted on charges that accused him of sexually assaulting two women, then turned to jurors and yelled “I didn’t do it.”

Darrell Williams was convicted July 23 of two counts of rape by instrumentation and one count of sexual battery, though the jury acquitted him on two other counts of rape by instrumentation. Prosecu­tors accused the 22-year-old of groping the women and reaching inside their pants without their consent at a party in December 2010.

Williams, whose attorneys raised the possibility that he could have been misidentified, cried as the verdicts were read, saying “Oh my Jesus God” as he bent over and banged his hands on the defense table. Several of his teammates left the packed courtroom without commenting, and an inconsolable female relative was helped out as Williams was taken away by sheriff's deputies.

Jurors, who deliberated for about eight hours, recommended that he be sentenced to a year in prison for each of the two rape by instrumentation counts. His formal sentencing is set for Aug. 24.

With little physical evidence to bolster prosecutors’ case, Assistant District Attorney Jill Tontz had to rely on testimony from the two women.

“ ‘No’ means just that: It means ‘no,’ ” Tontz said during closing arguments. “These girls felt dehumanized, embarrassed.”

Both women testified during the trial and said they identified Williams as their attacker after police showed them a photo of the Cowboys basketball team. One woman said Williams held her against her will and dragged her in a yard. She said the attack happened in the basement of the house and that no one came to her aid.

“It made me feel violated and sick to my stomach,” she testified.

After the verdicts, Tontz said the women “waited 16 months to tell a jury what Darrell Williams did to them. This verdict represents justice.”

Defense attorneys had tried to cast doubt that Williams was the perpetrator. Witnesses testified that several players at the party wore similar Oklahoma State warm-up suits, and his attorneys claimed that could have led to a misidentification.

Defense attorney Cheryl Ramsey referred to the case as a “he said, she said situation.” She noted during closing arguments that no one heard anyone scream at the party, saw any struggles or reported anything inappropriate. Neither of the women suffered any cuts or scratches, and no clothing was torn after the alleged incident.

After the verdict, Ramsey said she was “very disappointed” with the outcome. She had asked the judge to release Williams pending his sentencing, but the judge denied the request, noting Williams’ sudden outburst as the verdicts were read.

The outburst prompted Tontz to quickly move to the other side of the prosecutors’ table and cry as she clutched a sheriff’s deputy. The prosecutor later said she felt intimidated.

Williams has long denied the allegations, and did so in a recorded interview with police that attorneys played at the trial last week.

“I don’t know what happened in the basement,” Williams said on the audio recording. “I was probably misidentified.”

Oklahoma State basketball coach Travis Ford testified on Williams' behalf Wednesday July 25, saying he believed the young man was innocent. The coach declined comment after the verdicts Monday.

Williams was suspended from the team in February 2011. Before that, he led the team in rebounding and averaged 7.1 points per game.

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July 26, 2012

Associated Press

 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have ended at least one contract distraction before training camp starts.

The team and coach Mike Tomlin agreed to an extension on Tuesday July 24, that will keep him on the sideline through at least 2016. Financial terms were not disclosed. Tomlin’s previous deal expired at the end of the 2013 season.

The 40-year-old Tomlin, a surprise choice to replace Bill Cowher following the 2006 season, is 55-25 with the Steelers, winning three AFC North titles, two AFC championships and the 2009 Super Bowl.

“Mike is one of the top head coaches in the National Football League and we are thrilled he will continue to lead our team as we pursue another Super Bowl title,” team president Art Rooney said in a statement.

Under Tomlin’s guidance the Steelers have consistently been among the best teams in the league. Pittsburgh has ranked first in defense three times during his tenure and averaged seven Pro Bowl selections a year.

“I am grateful to the Steelers organization for the opportunity I have been given over the past five years to work and live in this great city,” Tomlin said. “I am excited to continue to work to bring another championship to the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh.”

The Steelers began camp July 25 and will likely do it without wide receiver Mike Wallace, who has yet to sign his one-year tender.

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July 26, 2012

By MATTIAS KARE,

Associated Press

 

Serena Williams has had enough rest, a week away from the courts. She’s also spent enough time away from Centre Court, and is more than ready to go for another title at Wimbledon.

But whether it’s for three Olympic golds or just two remains to be seen.

Less than three weeks after winning her fifth Wimbledon trophy, Williams is back in London, looking for the only major singles title to escape her. And even though she pulled out of a World Team Tennis match in Washington recently to rest her back before the Olympics, she insisted Tuesday July 24 she's fully fit and ready for a quick return to the All England Club.

“I feel really good going into these Olympic Games, and wanting to do really well,” Williams said at a news conference with the rest of the U.S. team. “I think it’s exciting to be back so soon. Usually we have to wait 12 months to walk back on Centre Court and kind of feel that moment that we felt (at Wimbledon). So for me, I'm going to be really excited with such a quick turnaround and get back on the grass where I love to play.”

The Williams sisters will be defending their gold medal in doubles as well, but it’s still unclear whether either will play mixed doubles. The mixed teams will not be decided until July 30.

Venus said she and Serena have the ability to win all three tournaments, but “we know we have to be in the ultimate fitness level to do so.”

“At the end of the day it’s really up to what our team captains want, and obviously being realistic and seeing who really has the best chance to win because we really want to bring medals home,” Venus said. “So it’s just about the betterment of the team and where we can do the best for USA, so I think that’s what it will boil down to.”

Venus was eliminated in the first round of Wimbledon and is still dealing with the effects of an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain. However, she and Serena still partnered to win the doubles title and are favorites to win a third gold medal together next month.

Serena, for her part, seems to have limitless energy these days, having recovered from her own injury and illness problems that kept her out for nearly a year following her 2010 Wimbledon title. Right after her latest title at the All England Club, she flew back to California to successfully defend her Stanford title the following week. While she then pulled out of her World Team Tennis match, she referred to that on Tuesday as simply “taking a little time off.”

“In order to play a tough schedule you have to kind of prepare your body,” she said. “I was pretty fit at Wimbledon, and (am) continuing that fitness.”

Serena has won 14 major titles and a career Grand Slam, to go with Olympic doubles gold with Venus in 2000 and 2008. A singles gold medal would add even more luster to her collection.

“I think growing up as tennis players we always dream of winning Grand Slams and doing well at tournaments like Wimbledon,” Serena said. “But to have the opportunity to win a gold medal and be mentioned among the great athletes ... it’s an honor. And for me, of every tournament that I won, I really enjoy my (doubles) gold medal probably the most.”

The All England Club will look a lot different, with the traditional all-white dress code not in place. Venus is already doing her best to flaunt some red and blue as well.

She also arrived in London with her hair done up in thin braids, with extensions inserted in various variations of red, white and blue. To that she added plenty of blue eye makeup and bright red lipstick, completing a distinctly patriotic look.

“I’m here to represent the U.S., from head to toe basically. Hair right down to the finger nails,” Williams said. “It’s just so much fun. I think we all find how proud we are of where we come from when these weeks come around. It’s just fun and amazing to just represent, we all feel that way.”

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July 26, 2012

Associated Press

 

Former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez was traded from Miami to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday July 25, part of what appears to be the third big fire sale in Marlins’ history.

Left-handed reliever Randy Choate also was dealt to the Dodgers. The Marlins received right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and minor league pitcher Scott McGough.

The trade came two days after the Marlins sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for pitching prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.

“We weren’t winning with the group we had and we want to make changes,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.

As the team prepared to move into its new $634 million retractable-roof ballpark, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria hired Ozzie Guillen as manager and committed $191 million in a five-day span during the offseason to sign All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. The team agreed to star in a Showtime reality series, “The Franchise.”

In their colorful new uniforms, the Marlins were 31-23 through June 3, just percentage points out of first place, then lost 17 of their next 20 games. They started Wednesday 45-52, fourth in the NL East and 12½ games out of first place.

“These are tough trades, but when you underachieve at the level this team has underachieved and has not won at the level we expected it to — we have talked about restructuring and this is part of it,” Beinfest said.

Miami might not be done, with pitcher Josh Johnson and Bell also trade possibilities before a July 31 deadline to make swaps without waivers.

“Be careful with what you think, what you say, and how you smile because you might be next (to get traded),” Guillen said. “That’s the way it has to go if you don’t perform. That’s business.”

After winning the 1997 World Series, the Marlins jettisoned high-priced stars Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Jeff Conine and Devon White. They won the Series again in 2003, then allowed Ivan Rodriguez, Ugueth Urbina, Derrek Lee, Mark Redman, Braden Looper and Juan Encarnacion to depart.

The 28-year-old Ramirez is hitting .246 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs, far from his big season in 2009 when he hit a league-leading .342 with 24 homers and 106 RBIs.

“I am sad to go,” Ramirez said. “This will be always be my home, but it will just be a little different.”

A three-time All-Star, he shifted from shortstop to third base this season to make room for Reyes.

“It’s sad to see Hanley go to another team,” Reyes said. “We developed a great relationship. I feel he was one of my real good friends on the team. Anytime someone close to you goes to another team it kind of surprises you a little bit and you get sad a little bit, but still need to go out on the field and play the game.”

He joined several other stars who changed teams in recent weeks, including Ichiro Suzuki, Wandy Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis.

“He meant a lot to this organization, a premium talent, an uber talent in a lot of respects,” Beinfest said.

Los Angeles is 2½ games behind NL West-leading San Francisco. After a 32-15 start, the Dodgers are just 21-30 since.

“You never know what a change of scenery will do for somebody,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. “We see him as one of our main guys.”

After filing for bankruptcy in 2011, the Dodgers were bought from Frank McCourt for $2 billion on May 1 in a move that led to Stan Kasten becoming team president.

Ramirez has a $15 million salary this year and is owed $15.5 million next year and $16 million in 2013.

“We’re not going to let money stand in the way of a true baseball deal. And if we can improve the club, the financial piece of it will always be there,” Colletti said. “It’s kind of a liberating thing because we’re able to make a baseball trade. We found a player that we really like, that we think can add to our lineup and at the same time show the guys who have been busting their tail for the last three months that we acknowledge how hard they’ve played and to get them the support that we can. It’s good to not have to worry too much about what it’s going to cost you from a financial standpoint. This (ownership) group is in to win.”

Ramirez will play shortstop for now for the Dodgers. Dee Gordon is on the disabled list with a torn ligament in his right thumb that could sideline him until mid-August and is batting only .229 with 17 RBIs.

“I look at it as he has a clean slate,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Anything that’s happened in his past has nothing to do with me, has nothing to do with the Dodgers. It’s basically moving forward.”

Choate, a 36-year-old lefty, is 0-0 with one save and a 2.49 ERA in 44 games. He began his big league career with the New York Yankees in 2000 and also has pitched for Arizona and Tampa Bay.

Eovaldi, a 22-year-old righty, is 1-6 with a 4.15 ERA. He made his major league debut last season. Eovaldi made his Marlins debut on Saturday in a start against San Diego.

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July 26, 2012

By Kenneth Miller

LA Watts Times Correspondent

 

Just as the Joe Paterno statue was being removed in the middle of the night from Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley and while the NCAA was leveling the Penn State football program with the most severe penalties in the history of collegiate sports, officials in the small town of Grambling, La were petitioning to restore the legendary Eddie Robinson as the all time victory leader in college football.

 

According to a recently published article in USA Today, Cynthia Breedlove, an attorney for the city of Grambling, petitioned to the NCAA to vacate some of Paterno’s wins in hopes of getting Robinson restored as the recordholder. She did so with the backing of Grambling Mayor Edward Jones.

 

Then on Monday, when the NCAA wiped out 111 wins from Paterno, Jones said the city was "elated" that Robinson has the record back. But he said the city's foremost thoughts were with the victims of the abuse, adding, "It's our prayer that everyone involved will heal."

 

The mayor said the petition was never meant to alter the NCAA process, just to voice the city's position.

 

Robinson led Grambling for 57 seasons to 408 victories before his final game in 1997. He died gracefully as he had lived at the age of 88 in 2007.

 

The coach affectionately called Coach Rob is responsible for 200 players making it to the NFL, but his legacy is not that he just won football games it is how he molded boys to become men and productive citizens of society.

 

Coach Robinson did not have an unlimited budget, the best equipment and the most sophisticated facilities during his illustrious reign as his white contemporaries such as Paterno and Florida State’s Bobby Bowden had.

 

Paterno was considered as the winningest coach until the NCAA hammered Penn State for the cover-up during the horrific Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal that has since tarnished his legacy.

 

Even Bowden had victories vacated for NCAA sanctions, but Robinson’s sterling legacy has--- at a historically Black college where many of his players were not recruited at major white universities---  never been questioned or tarnished.

 

He simply did more with less.

 

Former Grambling star Doug Williams who became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins and is currently the head coach at his alma mater did not celebrate in the demise of Paterno.

 

"Today doesn't change any player's opinion of Coach Rob," Williams said. "Players like Franco Harris that played for (Joe Paterno) held him in high esteem, and players that played for (Robinson) feel the same way.

 

"I don't think (Robinson) would be happy today."

 

"Today is mixed emotions for me," Robinson’s son, Eddie Robinson Jr. said. "I've talked to a lot of people who've asked me if I was happy. I can't truly say that I am.

 

"I've known Coach Paterno for years, and the only thing I can say that I knew about him … is that to me, he was a great coach and a class individual.

 

"As far as what has happened, I don't have all the investigative facts and I'm not close enough to it to say what it should be and what it shouldn't be."

 

Grambling President Frank Pogue said he didn't think Robinson would have been celebrating Monday, either.

 

"Eddie Robinson would have been the first to express regret at this situation," Pogue said. "We at Grambling State University will always feel that Eddie G. Robinson was the smiling face of this university.

 

"The reason he will be known as the winningest Division I coach here is larger than football. He took men largely from small towns with virtually no equipment to play with compared to Penn State and most of the larger universities.

 

"He was able to say to those men that you are somebody and you are attending Grambling and Grambling is the winning spirit of football and athletics."

 

In 2006 the NCAA during reorganization renamed a separate Football Championship Subdivision to only include colleges that qualified under the Bowl Championship Series format, thus separating the records of both Paterno and Bowden from the record of Robinson.

 

Therefore, many consider Bowden as the winningest college football coach now because of the grouping, but the record is clear as far as Division I victories and Robinson is the all time leader.

 

Following Robinson’ s death the Football Writers Association of America

 

Named its coach of the year award for Robinson. The first recipient was Joe Paterno.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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