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SPORTS TODAY

Conner's Stars & Stripes pulls out key semifinal win

Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes rolled out of the repair shed 3 1/2 hours before race time and convincingly beat America3's women-dominated team aboard Mighty Mary in a crucial America's Cup semifinal matchup off San Diego Tuesday.

The battle then headed to the protest room, where America3 planned to fight a decision that allowed Stars & Stripes to replace its damaged keel.

Sailing with a keel it had retired weeks ago, Stars & Stripes played the first wind shift to its advantage and led on all six legs of the 18.55-mile Pacific Ocean course to win by 1 minute, 31 seconds.

The victory followed round-the-clock repairs required after Stars & Stripes took on water due to keel and hull damage and had to drop out of its race with Kevin Mahaney's Young America Sunday.

Citing International America's Cup Class rules, the defense committee gave Conner permission to swap keels, providing the new one was similar to the damaged appendage.

Stars & Stripes was re-launched at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

America3 officials apparently felt they should have had a say in the matter, and protested.

Stars & Stripes took a 3-2 lead over Mighty Mary in the battle to join Young America in the Citizen Cup final for defenders.

In important match, John Bertrand's oneAustralia came from behind on the first leg and beat Chris Dickson's NZL-39 by 1:43 to take a two-point lead in the battle for the spot opposite Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton finals for challengers.

No question, Tyson ready to talk on Thursday

Mike Tyson, his boxing future the subject of great speculation, will read a statement, but not answer questions, at a news conference Thursday.

Cynthia Case, a spokeswoman for Gund Arena in Cleveland, said the former heavyweight champion contacted the arena.

"He told us he is going to read a statement and walk off," she said. "There will absolutely be no Q and A."

Tyson was released Saturday from an Indiana prison where he served three years of a six-year sentence on a rape conviction and returned to his residence at nearby Southington.

Earlier, when asked about a news conference, promoter Don King said: "I don't know. I won't be involved. If there is a Mike Tyson news conference I have not been informed yet."

Imola track gets OK on course revisions

Formula One safety inspectors expressed satisfaction with changes made to the Imola race track where three-time world champion Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were killed last year.

The SAGIS company that runs Imola said that FIA inspectors surveyed the circuit to see if it conformed to safety improvements required for the San Marino Grand Prix on April 30.

SAGIS has modified the Tamburello, Villeneuve and lower Variante curves and reconstructed some 50 percent of the track to bring it into line with new safety standards.

Fairfield seeking to join MAAC on football field

Football is coming back to Fairfield.

The university said it plans to field a Division I-AA team in time for fall 1996, and will seek membership in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Fairfield started a club team in the mid-1960s, but the program was disbanded in 1986.

The school will not offer football scholarships.

The conference, which introduced football as an official sport in 1993, plays what is known as cost-containment football, which in addition to prohibiting scholarships, places limitations on travel and coaching staffs. Canisius, a fellow MAAC member in basketball and other sports, is already a football member.

Elsewhere, Utah football coach Ron McBride, who last fall led the Utes to their best season in school history, agreed to a new five-year contract. During McBride's past five years as head coach, his teams had a 34-26 record and went to three straight bowl games.

Baby rattler takes a bite out of Binghamton coach

Golf's toughest one-footer, a baby rattlesnake with potentially-fatal venom, bit an assistant coach from Binghamton, N.Y., during a practice round for a collegiate tournament.

"He kept saying, 'I can't believe I did that,' " Simi Hills (Calif.) Golf Course general manager Ron Cox said of the bite victim, Pete Atwater, who told Cox he approached the snake to take a photograph.

"It was the first time ever for a rattlesnake bite here," Cox said.

"Baby rattlesnake venom has more neurotoxin in it than adults. It can cause your lungs to stop working, and you to suffocate," Gary Wilson, director of Moorpark College's Exotic Animal Training and Management program, told the Star newspaper of Ventura County.

Atwater was bitten on the index finger of his left hand. However, he was carrying a bee-sting kit because of allergy to bee venom, and injected himself with anti-toxin shortly after he was bitten.

TRANSACTIONS
BASEBALL
American League
BOSTON--Named Rick Wise pitching coach for Pawtucket of the International League and Bill Maloney pitching coach for Battle Creek of the Midwest League.

SEATTLE--Named Joaquin Contreras coach for Wisconsin of the Midwest League.

TEXAS--Named Tim Lang major-league and organizational conditioning coach.
BASKETBALL
National Basketball Association
NBA--Fined Atlanta F Ken Norman $4,000 for his actions after he was ejected during Saturday's game against Chicago.
FOOTBALL
National Football League
CAROLINA--Signed DE Gerald Williams.

INDIANAPOLIS--Signed TE Ed West.

PITTSBURGH--Signed P Rohn Stark.
HOCKEY
National Hockey League
NHL--Suspended New Jersey RW Claude Lemieux for three games and fined him $500 for an incident in the March 26 game against NY Islanders, and Winnipeg RW Teemu Selanne for two games and fined him $500 for an incident in the March 25 game against Toronto.

PITTSBURGH--Assigned F Markus Naslund to Cleveland of International Hockey League. Reassigned D Steve Bancroft from Detroit of IHL to St. John of the American Hockey League.
International Hockey League
CHICAGO--Added G Rich Tabaracci to roster on loan from Washington of NHL.

SOCCER
American Professional Soccer League
COLORADO FOXES--Signed Ted Eck, forward, and Robert Lipp, defenseman, to two-year contracts.
COLLEGE
SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE--Suspended Sam Weaver, men's basketball coach, for one game at the start of next season, and fined him $250 for his refusal to leave the court after being ejected from a game on Feb. 13.

BALL STATE--Extended the contract of Ray McCallum, men's basketball coach, through the 1999-2000 season.

MARSHALL--Extended the contract of Jim Donnan, football coach, through the 1999 season.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE--Named Scott Hammond men's and women's swim coach.

UTAH--Agreed to terms with Ron McBride, football coach, on a five-year contract.

WISCONSIN-MILWAUKEE--Named Ric Cobb men's basketball coach.

ON AIR
Television
NBA: New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m., MSG.

IHL: Atlanta Knights at Houston Aeros, 8 p.m., Empire.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NIT Championship, Virginia Tech vs. Marquette, 8:30 p.m., ESPN.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Chicago Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2.
Radio
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canisius vs. Penn St., 6:30 p.m., 1230.

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