Sports Briefs


Published April 8, 2001

Bulls" Crawford might get chance to return

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Jamal Crawford is a rookie with the Chicago Bulls and making a lot of money.

But Crawford still wishes he was playing basketball at Michigan.

"I miss college a lot," he said. "I live in a college area now because I like to be around college kids."

Crawford felt trapped last year when he decided to leave Michigan following his freshman season.

He already had served an eight-game suspension for one mistake sending the NBA a letter that said he intended to enter the 1999 draft before he enrolled in college. He had missed six other games and was ordered to repay $15,000 in benefits to a Seattle businessman, whom he had lived with for three years during high school.

The NCAA later said he could give $11,300 to the charity of his choice. If he didn"t pay, Crawford would lose his eligibility.

Today, the NCAA Management Council will consider a proposal that would give players, like Crawford, an opportunity to continue their college careers without penalty.

"It"s new territory," Charles Harris, chairman of the Management Council, said. "I think it is something we"d like to fix. It"s not whether kids should get paid, but whether the rules should be more flexible and more responsive and that"s always the desire."

The changes would be sweeping and controversial.

If approved, high-school athletes could accept prize money, sign contracts, compete with professionals and earn money following graduation, even enter the draft and keep their eligibility.

It also would allow college athletes to obtain bank loans based on future earnings.

Harris said today"s environment has forced the NCAA into this position.

"The absoluteness has changed," he said. "So we need, to the extent we can, not to be punitive against people who are doing the normal things in their life."

Crawford"s case is one example.

After discovering the letter, the NCAA first ruled Crawford forfeited his college eligibility, even though he wrote a second letter six days later withdrawing his name. Current NCAA rules allow college athletes a one-time exception for players who put their name on the NBA draft list to retain their eligibility if they aren"t drafted. That does not apply to high-school players yet. Michigan appealed, and the NCAA reduced Crawford"s penalty to an eight-game suspension.

But even if the changes are approved, they wouldn"t take effect immediately.

Arizona"s Jefferson to enter NBA draft

TUCSON (AP) Forward Richard Jefferson, a key to Arizona"s drive to the national championship game, decided to skip his senior season and enter the NBA draft.

Jefferson averaged 11.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 35 games as the Wildcats reached the NCAA final before losing 82-72 to Duke. He shot 47.9 percent from the floor and 34.4 percent from three-point range.

Martinez K"s 16 in win over Devil Rays

BOSTON (AP) The Tampa Bay Devil Rays couldn"t do anything to Pedro Martinez, and neither could the weather.

Fighting 42-degree temperatures and intermittent rain, Martinez struck out 16 in eight innings to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 3-0 victory over Tampa Bay for his first win of the season.

"You just have to understand what"s happening to your body," said Martinez (1-0), who his first six outs on strikeouts and brought a no-hitter into the sixth. "It"s different. But the cold weather is affecting the hitters, too."