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Big East gets busy planning expansion

October 3, 2011

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The presidents and chancellors of the 14 remaining Big East members and TCU have authorized commissioner John Marinatto to “aggressively pursue discussions’’ with certain schools interested in joining the league. The league released a statement after yesterday’s meeting at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The meeting had been scheduled before Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced last month they will leave the conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference. The original purpose of the meeting was to discuss the conference’s upcoming television rights negotiations, but the defections forced expansion onto the agenda. Navy, an independent, and Air Force, of the Mountain West Conference, are among the Big East’s top targets for expansion. There has been speculation that Temple, booted from the Big East after the 2004 season, also could be invited back to the league. East Carolina announced it has applied for membership in the Big East, and other Conference USA schools also could be considered, including Houston, Memphis, and Central Florida. Marinatto said that the league’s presidents discussed making leaving the conference tougher, without mentioning specifics such as raising exit fees. Connecticut’s governor has already confirmed that UConn is interested in joining Pitt and Syracuse in the ACC . . . Georgia starting linebacker Cornelius Washington was suspended for at least two games following his arrest in Commerce, Ga., on charges he was driving under the influence and speeding. The Commerce Police Department’s report says Washington was stopped at 1:48 a.m. yesterday for driving a Dodge Journey at 92 miles per hour in a 55-m.p.h. zone.

Na wins first PGA crown in Las Vegas Kevin Na won the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas for his first PGA Tour title, birdieing Nos. 15-17 to pull away for a two-stroke victory over Nick Watney. Na closed with a 6-under-par 65 for a 23-under 261 total in the Fall Series opener. Watney, a two-time winner this year, shot a 67. Tommy Gainey and Paul Goydos had 66s to tie for third at 18 under . . . Kenny Perry won the SAS Championship for his first Champions Tour title, making a 30-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th en route to a 2-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Jeff Sluman and John Huston in Cary, N.C. Perry had an 11-under 205 total - the highest winning score in tournament history . . . Michael Hoey edged Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell to win the Dunhill Links Championship by two shots at St. Andrews, Scotland. Hoey birdied three of the last four holes for a 4-under 68. His 22-under total broke the tournament record, set by Lee Westwood eight years ago, by one shot. McIlroy’s closing 65 gave him second place - two shots clear of McDowell (69) and Scotland’s George Murray (67) . . . Tiger Woods is out of the top 50 in the world ranking for the first time in nearly 15 years. Woods, who hasn’t won in nearly two years, dropped from the top 50 when Louis Oosthuizen finished tied for fifth in the Dunhill Links Championship . . . New Zealand’s Danny Lee won the WNB Golf Classic in Midland, Texas, for his first Nationwide Tour title, beating Harris English with a par on the first hole of a playoff. Lee, the 2008 US Amateur champion, closed with a 6-under 66 to match English (69) at 18-under 270 . . . Hideki Matsuyama of Japan played his final 42 holes without a bogey and closed with a 5-under 67 to win the Asian Amateur Championship in Singapore for the second straight year, earning another invitation to Augusta National to play in the Masters.

Lynx upend Dream in Game 1 of finals Rebekkah Brunson had 26 points and 11 rebounds and Seimone Augustus added 22 points to lead the Minnesota Lynx to an 88-74 win over the visiting Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of the WNBA finals. Lindsay Whalen added 15 points and 6 assists and the Lynx turned a close game into a runaway with a 13-0 run to open the fourth quarter. Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 8 points and 10 boards. Angel McCoughtry scored 19 of her 33 points in the third quarter and Lindsey Harding scored 20 points for the Dream. Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Gaven comes back to lead Columbus Eddie Gaven came off the injured reserve list and scored on a diving header to give the host Columbus Crew a 2-1 win over D.C. United to end a six-game winless streak. Daniel Woolard gave United the lead in the 37th minute off Dwayne De Rosario’s free kick but his own goal in the 48th minute tied it . . . Kenny Cooper scored in the 25th minute and the visiting Portland Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0 . . . Juan Pablo Angel’s goal in the 90th minute lifted Chivas USA to a 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union in Carson, Calif. Justin Mapp scored for Philadelphia.

Murray tops Young for 19th career title Fourth-ranked Andy Murray claimed his 19th career ATP title in beating Donald Young, 6-2, 6-0, in the final of the Thailand Open in Bangkok . . . Janko Tipsarevic defeated Marcos Baghdatis, 6-4, 7-5, to win the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur, capturing his first ATP World Tour title in his fifth final. Tipsarevic, 27, had been the only top-20 player without an ATP title . . . Ed Carpenter edged Dario Franchitti at the Kentucky Speedway finish line in Sparta to pick up his first career IndyCar Series victory. Carpenter and Franchitti staged a wheel-to-wheel battle for the final 22 laps, and Carpenter had just enough to give Sarah Fisher Racing its first win. Franchitti finished second and reclaimed the IndyCar points lead from Will Power. Franchitti started the day trailing Power by 12 points, and goes to the Oct. 16 season finale with an 18-point lead . . . Sebastien Ogier held off Daniel Sordo to win the Rally France in Strasbourg and get within three points of overall leader and defending champion Sebastien Loeb . . . Evan Graves, 30, of Caribou, Maine, won the Maine Marathon in Portland, in 2 hours 36 minutes and 53 seconds. Lucas Churchill of Bolton, Mass., was second. Stephanie Crawford of Dover, N.H., won the women’s race in 3:07.8, with Holyoke’s Laura Hutchinson finishing second.