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SPORTS TODAY

Jones leads strong U.S. track team

Marion Jones joked that she will be shirking her job at track's world championships in August.

After all, she'll be aiming for only four gold medals instead of the five she sought at the Olympics last year.

This time, she'll "be cutting back a bit," Jones said.

Four, however, is the number she tried for at the last world championships in 1999 -- and she came up well short.

Jones had hoped for victories in the 100 and 200 meters, the 400 relay and the long jump. After opening with her second world title in the 100, she finished third in the long jump, then was forced from the championships with a severe back injury in the semifinals of the 200.

Now, her priorities are a little different. Instead of the long jump, which she is skipping this season, Jones has substituted the 1,600 relay.

"I have fallen in love with the 1,600 relay," said Jones, adding that she enjoys running a 400-meter leg within a team concept but dislikes running the 400 in open competition.

As defending champion, Jones has a bye into the 100 into the Worlds at Edmonton. She qualified for the 200 again by winning her fourth straight national title at the USA Championships Sunday.

For the relays, Jones has to be selected by the coaches. That's a given for the 400 relay, and U.S. women's coach J.J. Clark said Sunday that Jones would be part of the 1,600 relay, too.

In addition to Jones in the 100, the women's team will have three defending champions -- Inger Miller in the 200, three-time champion Gail Devers in the 100 hurdles, and Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder Stacy Dragila in the pole vault.

Bills' Moore cleared of assault charge

Buffalo Bills linebacker Corey Moore has been cleared of aggravated assault in Brownsville, Tenn.

Moore, 24, was charged in May after a fight in which another man, Jeremiah Taylor, was hit with a beer bottle. The charge was dismissed Monday in Haywood County General Sessions Court at the request of the district attorney's office, said Jim Haywood, Moore's attorney.

An aggravated assault charge remains against Taylor with a preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 14.

"Some of (Moore's) family had charged this guy, and a few days later he charged Moore and his family," Haywood said.

Steelers reward punter with big deal

Josh Miller became one of the NFL's highest-paid punters, agreeing to a $5.6 million, five-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The deal includes a $1.1 million signing bonus and locks up Miller through the 2006 season. He was already signed through 2001, when he will make $650,000.

Minnesota punter Mitch Berger and Cleveland punter Chris Gardocki -- the Browns' MVP last season -- are playing under $6 million contracts. Berger got a $1.65 million signing bonus when he re-signed last year.

Miller, entering his sixth season with the Steelers, is fifth among active punters with 130 punts inside the 20-yard line. Last season, Miller averaged 43.8 yards and was second in the league with 34 punts inside the 20.

In other NFL news, Jacksonville Jaguars center John Wade underwent surgery on his broken right foot.

Also, the New York Jets claimed former Hofstra wide receiver Steve Jackson off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers. Jackson, who turns 24 Thursday, signed with the 49ers in April as an undrafted rookie, but was released June 12.

Pistons go retro, revive 'Bad Boys' colors

The Detroit Pistons might no longer be the "Bad Boys" team that won two NBA championships a decade ago, but they are bringing back the old uniform colors.

Red, white and blue are returning for the 2001-02 season on all team uniforms, practice attire, retail merchandise and the playing surface at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

"We are excited to return to our original colors," Pistons president Joe Dumars said in a statement. "This is a change that our fans called for, and, as a result, we listened and delivered."

The color change will replace the scheme of teal, black, yellow and red that was introduced before the 1996-1997 season.

The team also announced on Monday that Kevin O'Neill -- who served as an assistant under New York's Jeff Van Gundy last season -- has been hired as an assistant coach with the Pistons.

O'Neill is a former head coach at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern.

CART to end races at Michigan Speedway

CART will not return to Michigan International Speedway next season.

Speedway president Brett Shelton said the facility and its parent company, International Speedway Corp., decided to pursue other alternatives.

"The CART races at Michigan International Speedway have provided our fans with some terrific racing over the years," Shelton said in a news release. "And although this is a difficult decision, we believe it is in the best interest of both CART and ISC's long-term growth strategies."

Championship Auto Racing Teams also runs its Champ cars at California Speedway, which is owned by ISC.

The Michigan 500 is scheduled for July 22, marking the 33rd CART event held at the Brooklyn race track. It is unclear whether CART will come back to the facility in the future.

CWS champion coach Morris signs extension

Jim Morris, whose Miami Hurricanes won their second College World Series in three years, signed a contract extension through the 2006 season.

"Coach Morris has been highly successful in all aspects of this program, including this year's national championship," UM athletic director Paul Dee said.

Details of Morris' renewal were not released.

"I'm very excited about the new contract," Morris said. "Miami is the place most coaches dream of being, and at this stage of my career, I can't imagine being anywhere else."

UConn, Syracuse avoid basketball meeting

For the first time in 25 years, Connecticut and Syracuse are not on each other's basketball schedule.

Connecticut will play 16 games against Big East opponents during the 2001-02 season, but Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are not on the Huskies' conference schedule, which the school released Monday.

It will be the first time UConn and Syracuse have failed to meet during the regular season since the 1976-77 season.

Around & About

The borough that never got over losing the Dodgers celebrated the return of professional baseball to Brooklyn on Monday with the home opener of the New York-Penn League Cyclones, who rallied for a for a 3-2 win over the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in 10 innings on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the ninth, the Cyclones stormed back from a 2-0 deficit, with a two-run, two-out homer by Edgar Rodriguez that tied the game and forced extra innings.

Dave Magarity received a four-year contract to remain as Marist's men's basketball coach through the 2004-2005 season. Last season, Magarity guided the Red Foxes to their best year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, going 17-13, 11-7 in the conference. Magarity was selected the National Association of Basketball Coaches District II coach of the year as well as the MAAC Coach of the Year.

Kentucky power forward Jason Parker is expected to miss the 2001-02 season after injuring his knee in a pickup game with teammates Sunday night. The 6-foot-8, 255-pound Parker started all 34 games for Kentucky last season. He was Kentucky's third-leading scorer (8.6 points) and its second-leading rebounder (4.7).

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