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Man pleads guilty in bet scandal

One of three men charged with manipulating computerized bets worth $3 million in last month's Breeders' Cup pleaded guilty today to wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

Chris Harn of Newark, Del., implicated two co-defendant college buddies in saying he had "placed a bet and later modified it so it would win."

By manipulating the wager so that a friend picked the winner of six straight races, the 29-year-old computer programmer admitted assuring the huge payoff. Harn was fired Oct. 30 from Autotote, the company that processed the computerized bets on the Breeders' Cup and other races.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith said Harn could face up to 25 years in prison, but added that the government had reached an understanding that would point to a much lighter sentence.

Harn was allowed to remain free on $200,000 bond pending his Feb. 19 sentencing. His two co-defendants, Derrick Davis, of Baltimore, and Glen DaSilva, of New York, were due back in court Dec. 11.

Four top NBA stars will play in Olympics

NBA stars Tim Duncan (left), Jason Kidd, Tracy McGrady and Ray Allen have committed to play on the 2004 U.S. Olympic team in Athens if the Americans qualify for the Games.

Stu Jackson, chairman of the USA Basketball committee that selects the team, said Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant hasn't responded to an invitation to play on the Olympic team. Bryant has expressed reluctance to play in a qualifying tournament, which would be required because the U.S. didn't win the gold medal at this year's World Basketball Championship.

At the world championship tournament, the U.S. team coached by the Milwaukee Bucks' George Karl lost three games and finished sixth. It was the first time the U.S. lost an international game in which it used NBA players.

Woman sues Jordan over relationship

The woman accused of extortion by Michael Jordan responded with her own lawsuit, saying he offered her $5 million to keep quiet about their relationship.

Karla Knafel asked the court to force Jordan to pay her the money because he was in breach of contract.

Jordan filed a lawsuit in October, contending he had a relationship with Knafel more than 10 years ago and paid her $250,000 "under threat of publicly exposing that relationship."

Jordan's lawsuit said Knafel tried to extort another $5 million.

On Tuesday, Knafel's lawyer, Michael Hannafan, said: "It was Jordan who initially offered to pay her $5 million in the spring of 1991 for her agreement not to file a public paternity proceeding and for keeping their sexual relationship publicly confidential."

Knafel's lawyer said his client and Jordan had a sexual relationship from 1989 to 1991 in Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix. Knafel discovered she was pregnant shortly after being with Jordan in November 1990, Hannafan said.

At that time, she believed the child was Jordan's, he said.

Jordan then offered her $5 million to buy her silence about their relationship and about the child she thought was his, said Hannafan. He said Knafel is not today claiming the child is Jordan's.

Solheim suggests playing women's event at Augusta

With the hope of extending an olive branch into the divisive debate over the absence of women at Augusta National Golf Club, John A. Solheim, whose parents founded the international women's golf competition known as the Solheim Cup, has suggested playing the event at the club.

No one at Augusta National would comment directly on the idea, but insiders suggested that it might be something chairman Hootie Johnson would consider, if he were convinced it would provide a way out of the conflict over female membership.

In a prepared statement, Solheim, the chairman and chief executive of Ping Golf, the company created by his father, Karsten Solheim, said, "It's always been my dream to hold the Solheim Cup at Augusta National. There is always a right time for everything."

The Solheim Cup, considered the women's equivalent of the Ryder Cup, is biennial match-play competition between teams from the United States and European professional tours. It has been played since 1990.

With the next Solheim Cup date in the United States already secured -- the 2005 event will be at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind. -- the earliest the Solheim Cup could be played at Augusta National is 2009.

Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, said the far-off date probably dooms the Solheim Cup scenario as a solution to the Augusta National membership issue.

"No, I'm sorry," Burk said. "It's a start, but if they're going to do it then, why not do it now? Seven years from now, girls in high school will be out of college and probably still can't be a member at Augusta National. A Solheim Cup (at Augusta National) would be insufficient. It would be a nice gesture, but only in conjunction with opening the club."

Kansas, Florida open with Preseason NIT wins

Nick Collison scored 20 points and led a 14-2 second-half run that propelled No. 2 Kansas past Holy Cross, 81-57, Tuesday night and kept Roy Williams' Preseason NIT record perfect.

Collison and Kirk Hinrich, seniors being counted on to make up for the loss of All-American Drew Gooden, also fueled a 24-4 spree at the end of the first half as the Jayhawks won their 30th straight home opener.

Their Preseason NIT record stands at 13-0 under Williams, who coached the Jayhawks to the tournament title in 1989, '93 and '97. Kansas will host North Carolina-Greensboro in the second round on Friday night.

In another Preseason NIT game, 6-foot-6 freshman forward Matt Walsh made a grand entrance into the world of college basketball, scoring 26 points to lead No. 8 Florida to a 76-55 win over visiting Louisiana Tech. The Gators will host Eastern Illinois in the second round on Thursday.

Discus thrower Plucknett dies at age of 48

Ben Plucknett, one of the great American discus throwers who twice held the world record in the 1980s, has died at his home of a brain aneurysm. He was 48.

Plucknett set the world discus record of 237 feet, 4 inches on July 7, 1981, in Stockholm, Sweden, according to USA Track & Field.

Plucknett's world record was broken by a 243-foot throw in 1986 by Jurgen Schult of Germany. Plucknett's mark, however, still stands as the top discus performance by a U.S. athlete.

Pairings are set in unique boxing card

Former champion Tim Witherspoon will face Italian Olympic bronze medalist Paolo Vidoz in one of four fights in a winner-take-all, $100,000 heavyweight boxing tournament.

In the other three-round bouts announced Tuesday for the Nov. 30 card, it's undefeated Gerald Nobles versus Maurice Harris, Jeremy Williams versus Anthony Thompson and Ray Austin versus Derrick Jefferson.

Winners advance to semifinals and then a final, all part of a pay-per-view program at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J.

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