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Pearl hit with three-year penalty

The NCAA said it wanted to send a clear message by slapping Bruce Pearl with a three-year show-cause penalty: Coaches are responsible for their programs.

The sanctions announced Wednesday make it harder for the former Tennessee men's basketball coach to get another college job anytime soon. Pearl is prohibited from recruiting during the next three years, and a school would have to convince the NCAA to change its mind if it wanted to hire him during that time.

"As these allegations are becoming more and more regular, it's very clear that a head coach is being held responsible for his program," said Britton Banowsky, Conference USA commissioner and vice-chair of the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.

The NCAA said Wednesday it had punished Pearl for lying to investigators about improperly hosting recruits at his home and urging others to do the same. Former Pearl assistants Tony Jones, Jason Shay and Steve Forbes face the same sanctions, except they were only given one-year show-cause penalties for their own roles in misleading the NCAA.


Montana, Mexico reach bracket finals

Ben Askelson stepped up to the plate thinking curveball.

The 0-1 pitch in the bottom of the seventh didn't quite break though and stayed high in the strike zone -- the perfect spot for Montana's 13-year-old slugger in the Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pa.

Askelson hit the pitch onto the hill beyond the left-field fence to send the boys from Billings into the U.S. final with a 1-0 victory over Huntington Beach, Calif., on Wednesday night.

"Everybody in the dugout was telling me to win it with one swing, but then they said, 'Just get a hit, we don't need a home run or anything,' " Askelson said.

Now, Montana gets to rest up until the U.S. championship game Saturday, while California must face the hometown favorites from Clinton County, Pa., tonight.

The early game was close, too, with Mexico beating Venezuela 2-1 to advance to the international final. Bruno Ruiz's ninth-inning homer was the difference.


Katz misses cut at U.S. Amateur

Jake Katz of Williamsville completed his second round of qualifying with a 5-over-par 77 Wednesday at the Erin Hills course and failed to qualify for match play in the 111th U.S. Amateur Golf Championship in Erin Hills, Wis.

Katz and several other golfers did not complete their rounds Tuesday because of darkness.

The former Binghamton University star had five bogeys -- four of them on par-4 holes -- and no birdies in his second round as he finished with a 6-over total of 148 for 36 holes and in a tie for 182nd. It was the final amateur tournament for Katz, who intends to turn pro.


Djokovic top-seeded for Open

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic is seeded No. 1 at the U.S. Open for the first time, followed by defending champion Rafael Nadal and five-time winner Roger Federer.

The tournament followed the ATP rankings for the men's singles seedings Wednesday. It did the same for the women's seedings, with Serena Williams 28th.

Djokovic is having one of the best seasons in tennis history: 57-2 with nine titles, including at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. He's seeking his first championship at Flushing Meadows, where he was runner-up to Nadal in 2010 and to Federer in 2007.

From News and wire service reports.