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TIGER SAYS VIEWS ON AUGUSTA UNCHANGED

Tiger Woods hasn't changed his mind about playing at the all-male Augusta National Golf Club despite a New York Times editorial calling for him to skip the Masters.

"As I've said before, everyone is entitled to their own opinion," Woods said in Miyazaki, Japan, where he's preparing for this week's Dunlop Phoenix tournament.

"I think there should be women members," Woods said. "But it's not up to me. I don't have voting rights, I'm just an honorary member."

The editorial, published Monday, suggested that Woods not play at the Masters next year because of Augusta's all-male membership.

"A tournament without Mr. Woods would send a powerful message that discrimination isn't good for the golfing business," the editorial said.

Augusta National declined comment.

Miami barely moves ahead
of Buckeyes in BCS

Miami finally moved atop the Bowl Championship Series standings -- by the slimmest of margins.

The defending national champion Hurricanes squeaked past Ohio State, which needed overtime to beat Illinois, 23-16, Saturday, in the latest standings released Monday. They edged the Buckeyes by 0.01 points, and the top two BCS teams have never been closer.

Miami, No. 1 in the AP media and coaches' polls, has 3.69 points to top the standings for the first time this season, while Ohio State has 3.70 points. Washington State is third with 9.11 points.

The tight margin will be meaningless if Ohio State (12-0) and Miami (9-0) -- the only unbeaten teams remaining -- win the rest of their games. The top two teams in the final BCS standings released Dec. 8 will play in the national title game Jan. 3 at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

The Buckeyes' close win over Illinois was partly to blame for their drop. Ohio State lost the No. 1 spot in the New York Times computer poll to Miami this week, increasing its computer-rank average to 1.50 while the Hurricanes' was lowered to 1.33. That ranking is an average of seven computer polls.

Miami, which did not play Saturday, also picked up points when its strength of schedule went from 1.60 to 1.36 this week. Ohio State, which has a composite total of 4.50, is so close to Miami because of a 0.8-point quality-win deduction for a victory over BCS No. 3 Washington State earlier this season.

Ohio State plays its regular-season finale against No. 12 Michigan (9-2) at home Saturday. Miami, which has won 31 straight games, hosts No. 17 Pittsburgh (8-2) on Thursday, then plays at Syracuse (4-7) and home against No. 13 Virginia Tech (8-2) on Dec. 7 to close out the season.

In other college football news:

The NCAA upheld its one-year bowl ban on California's football team, but restored nine scholarships it revoked in June after an investigation into academic fraud and other infractions.

Marshall quarterback Byron Leftwich has yet to return to practice since injuring his left shin Nov. 2 and is questionable for Saturday's game at Ohio.

Alabama has highest
hoop ranking in 25 years

Alabama hasn't been regarded this highly in 25 years.

The Crimson Tide rose four places to No. 4 in the Associated Press men's college basketball poll Monday, its best ranking since it was in the same spot Feb. 15, 1977.

Like Alabama, Texas improved on its preseason ranking thanks to a victory in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic in Madison Square Garden. The Longhorns moved up one place to No. 3 in the first poll of the regular season.

Arizona and Kansas held on to the Nos. 1 and 2 spots they occupied in the preseason poll.

Texas, which beat then-No. 16 Georgia, 77-71, in New York, moved up one spot from its highest ranking ever.

Alabama jumped from eighth on the strength of its 68-62 victory over then-No. 3 Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide now can aim to match its highest ranking ever -- it was third in the Feb. 1, 1977, poll.

The complete poll is on Page D5.

On the court, Romain Sato scored 23 points and No. 11 Xavier beat overmatched St. Peter's, 87-48, in the first round of the Preseason NIT. The Musketeers advanced to the second round and will face Stanford, a 61-57 winner over Boston University, on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in the Preseason NIT, Rashad McCants scored 28 points to set the North Carolina freshman scoring mark for an opening game, and the Tar Heels raced past Penn State, 85-55. The Tar Heels will play Rutgers on Wednesday.

Louisiana Tech women
make big jump in poll

An impressive victory in its opener lifted Louisiana Tech six spots Monday in the AP women's basketball poll, which still had Duke, Tennessee and LSU as the top three teams.

Louisiana Tech beat then-No. 7 Texas Tech, 85-76, in the Tip-Off Classic and jumped to 10th in the voting by a national media panel.

It was a solid start for new coach Kurt Budke, who replaced Leon Barmore, the career leader in winning percentage among women's coaches.

The poll is on Page D5.

Destroyers cut ties
with McNair, Bratton

Quarterback Fred McNair (left), one of the Buffalo Destroyers' most celebrated acquisitions before the 2002 season, was released by the Arena Football League team Monday. Buffalo also waived fullback/linebacker Jason Bratton.

McNair was acquired in a trade from the Carolina Cobras. He started 12 games for the Destroyers, completing 209 of 383 passes for 2,761 yards, 49 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ranks fifth in AFL history in passing attempts (2,625), sixth in completions (1,520) and passing yards (19,359), and eighth in touchdown passes (340).

McNair struggled at times playing behind an offensive line that allowed 23 sacks last season. McNair's release clears the way for backup Jeff Loots to be elevated as starter.

"I had mixed feelings about releasing Fred because we had a prior history together in Carolina," said Destroyers head coach Ron Selesky. "I felt that in the best interest of the team, we needed to go in another direction in regards to our quarterback."

Bratton spent one season with Buffalo and led the team in rushing with 63 yards.

Around & About

Seattle's OneWorld will race New York's Stars & Stripes and Prada of Italy will take on Sweden's Victory Challenge in quarterfinal repechages starting Saturday at the America's Cup off Auckland, New Zealand.

Nick Cantanzaro scored twice and Nick Schmitt chipped in with the game-winner for the Buffalo Lightning in a 7-4 victory over the Brampton Capitals in an Ontario Provincial Junior A League game. It was the third win in the last five games for the Lightning. Buffalo earned victories over Brampton (5-3) and Oakville (7-1) before Sunday's 4-0 loss to Mississauga.

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