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SPORTS TODAY

Big East officially adds football conference

The Big East Conference, long known as a basketball powerhouse, said Thursday it would add football next fall and was courting four eastern schools to join the four already playing at the major college level.

Meetings would be held next month with Rutgers, Temple, Virginia Tech and West Virginia "to discuss potential membership in the Big East only in the sport of football," the conference said in a statement.

The Big East's current four Division I-A football schools -- Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Boston College and new member Miami -- agreed in an eight-hour meeting Wednesday to add football to the conference's 17 sports.

Commissioner Michael Tranghese said he was confident the Big East would be able to work out agreements with the four additional schools.

The Big East needs only two of the four for an NCAA-regulation conference. Tranghese, who said he had "absolutely no intention of going out and searching" for other schools, expected to land at least two.

Play in a post-season bowl will be an important item on the agenda, Tranghese said.

Ismail, Georgia Tech's Ross honored by Sporting News

Notre Dame junior Raghib Ismail is player of the year and Bobby Ross of Georgia Tech the coach of the year on the Sporting News' All-America football team.

Editors of the weekly newspaper selected the 25-member squad.

Top-ranked Colorado and Notre Dame, which will meet in the Orange Bowl Jan. 1, each was represented by three players.

Brigham Young, Michigan, Miami and Tennessee landed two players apiece on the squad.

Five of the players, including Brigham Young Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Ty Detmer, are juniors.

Offense: Wide receivers -- Herman Moore, Virginia; Ismail, Notre Dame. Tight end -- Chris Smith, Brigham Young. Tackles -- Stacy Long, Clemson; Antone Davis, Tennessee. Guards -- Joe Garten, Colorado; Dean Dingman, Michigan. Center -- John Flannery, Syracuse. Quarterback -- Detmer. Running backs -- Eric Bieniemy, Colorado; Greg Lewis, Washington.

Defense: Linemen -- Chris Zorich, Notre Dame; Russell Maryland, Miami; Kenny Walker, Nebraska; Mitch Donahue, Wyoming. Linebackers -- Michael Stonebreaker, Notre Dame; Maurice Crum, Miami; Alfred Williams, Colorado. Defense backs -- Ken Swilling, Georgia Tech; Darryl Lewis, Arizona; Tripp Welborne, Michigan; Jesse Campbell, North Carolina State.

Specialists: Kick returner -- Dale Carter, Tennessee. Kicker -- Philip Doyle, Alabama. Punter -- Brian Greenfield, Pittsburgh.

Spartans win at buzzer on Smith's rebound basket

Steve Smith scored 34 points and converted an offensive rebound at the buzzer to give No. 21 Michigan State a 65-63 victory over host Cincinnati.

Smith rallied Michigan State (3-2) from a 15-point halftime deficit by hitting four three-pointers and scoring all of the Spartans' final nine points.

Cincinnati (2-3) had led the entire game, and Smith's layup brought Michigan State within 62-61 with 2:34 left.

Smith hit a 13-foot jumper to tie it, 63-63, with four seconds left. Mark Montgomery stole an in-bounds pass and missed a three-pointer, but Smith was in position to follow the miss with a layup at the buzzer. The officials huddled for a few seconds before deciding Smith's shot counted.

Chang, Sampras reach Grand Slam semifinals

Michael Chang sailed and Pete Sampras struggled, but each advanced to the semifinals of the $6 million Grand Slam tennis tournament in Munich.

Chang thrashed Henri Leconte of France, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, and Sampras overcame Yugoslavian Goran Ivanisevic, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (5-7), 8-6. Both Americans have already earned $450,000 and will be competing to reach the final Sunday, where the winner earns $2 million.

Sampras was plagued by blisters on his right foot in the third set, but managed to fight off four break points with the score 4-4. The tournament rules did not allow for a tie-breaker in the third set, and Sampras finally prevailed when Ivanisevic double-faulted.

Leconte, after playing strongly in the first set, began to make more unforced errors in the second.

Chang won on his first match point when Leconte -- who underwent knee surgery only a month ago -- dumped the ball into the net.

Tennis legend Marble dies; won U.S., Wimbledon titles

Alice Marble, one of the greatest American women tennis players, died at 77 in Palm Springs, Calif.

Marble was admitted to Desert Hospital on Saturday for an undisclosed illness, a hospital spokesman said, but no other details were released.

Marble won the U.S. National Championship in 1936, 1938, 1939 and 1940, defeating Helen Jacobs three times in the finals. She also captured the 1939 Wimbledon crown. Marble won six times in Grand Slam doubles and seven times in mixed doubles.

After retirement, she became a full-time tennis instructor and developed future champion Billie Jean King, among others.

USA Today mulls publishing a weekly baseball tabloid

USA Today announced it will decide by the end of the year whether to publish a weekly baseball tabloid.

Tom Curley, president and chief operating officer of USA Today, said such a publication might be launched during spring training, preceding the 1991 season. The tabloid, he said, would carry more statistics than can be published in the regular sports section of the national newspaper.

Cathy Johnston leads mixed pro golf tourney

Cathy Johnston became one of the few women to ever lead a mixed professional golf event when she birdied the final three holes for a 5-under-par 67 and a one-stroke lead in the opening round of the $300,000 Spalding Invitational Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Johnston, who finished 21st on the LPGA money list this season with $156,240, had her six-birdie, one-bogey round on Poppy Hills, the most demanding of the three courses in the only tournament that pairs men and women in head-to-head competition.

Rick Rhoads, a club pro at San Francisco Golf Club, was second after a four-birdie, no-bogey round of 68 at Pebble Beach.

Women players receive distance advantages off the tees on each of the three courses.

In Hong Kong, Nick Faldo shot a 9-under-par 62 to take a three-stroke lead over Ronan Rafferty after the third round of the Johnnie Walker Classic.

Faldo had a three-round total of 11-under 202 on the 6,732-yard Royal Hong Kong Golf Club course. He had seven birdies and an eagle on the 535-yard par-5 12th hole in the third round.

Rafferty, the second-round leader, carded a 69 for a 205 total.

CAGE CALENDAR

The University at Buffalo will host Kutztown (Pa.) State tonight at Alumni Arena at 8:00. The Bulls (7-2) have won six straight, their longest winning streak since the 1972-73 season. Kutztown State is 2-7.

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