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SPORTS TODAY <br> NEWS, NOTES & QUOTES

UB EXTENDS CONTRACT FOR WITHERSPOON

The University at Buffalo announced today that it has extended the contract of men's basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon through the 2008-09 season.

Witherspoon led UB to a 17-12 record last season and a 11-7 mark in the Mid-American Conference. It was the first time the Bulls finished .500 in the MAC since joining the league in the 1998-99 season.

"Reggie's efforts in elevating the profile of our men's basketball program in Western New York and in the Mid-American Conference have been outstanding and I am pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement," said Bill Maher, interim athletic director.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed. Witherspoon had two years remaining on his previous deal.

USC, MIAMI ATOP INITIAL BCS POLL

The new Bowl Championship Series formula is creating the same old confusion.

While Southern California took the top spot in the reworked BCS standings debut Monday, look who's second: Miami. The Hurricanes edged Oklahoma, a strong No. 2 behind USC in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the coaches' poll.

This year's stripped-down BCS formula relies more on the AP and ESPN/USA Today polls to ensure that when there is a consensus top two in the polls -- as USC and Oklahoma have been -- the BCS standings would reflect it.

Instead, BCS officials again had to do some explaining.

"It's obviously very early. It's important that there not be an overreaction to this poll," BCS coordinator and Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg said.

Weiberg noted that the top two teams in the first BCS standings have never played in the championship game.

The AP and coaches polls each count for one-third of a team's total score under the new formula. The other third comes from six computer rankings. The BCS standings are on Page D6.

SKATERS' NEW DEAL: GET A MEDAL, GET BONUS

U.S. figure skaters will get cash bonuses along with the medals they win.

U.S. Figure Skating said it will award bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $35,000 to American skaters who win a medal at any of 11 international events, starting with this weekend's Skate America in Pittsburgh.

The bounty is $15,000 for gold at the Grand Prix final or Four Continents, $10,000 for silver and $5,000 for bronze. The big prizes are at worlds, where a gold medal will bring a $35,000 bonus, a silver $25,000 and bronze $15,000.

JUNIOR LOSES APPEAL OF PENALTY

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his appeal of a 25-point penalty and $10,000 fine for using a vulgarity during a postrace TV interview.

Instead of leading the Nextel Cup standings by a point with five races to go, Earnhardt trails leader Kurt Busch by 24 points.

"NASCAR had issued repeated warnings to contestants regarding the use of inappropriate language during live event broadcasts," the National Stock Car Racing Commission said.

There was no immediate response from Earnhardt's team.

AROUND & ABOUT

* Annika Sorenstam, a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour this season, was named Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation in New York. She joined Olympic beach volleyball gold medalists Misty May and Kerri Walsh, who won the team award.

* Lindsay Davenport moved atop the WTA Tour computer rankings for the sixth time and tentatively plans to play the Australian Open.

* Dallas Stars forward Brendan Morrow has joined former teammate Brad Lukowich on the roster of the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League. He expects to make around $750 a week, including housing allowance.

Compiled from News and wire service reports.

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