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MEET THE SIDEWINDERS: Exit the Tucson Toros. Enter the Sidewinders.

The Triple-A team was getting an official new name, new owner and new major league affiliation Wednesday.

In effect, the Toros - affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers - already had been transferred to Fresno, Calif., and Martin Stone's Phoenix Firebirds - a San Francisco Giants farm team - had been moved to Tucson as Fresno investors gave cash and notes to Stone, who in turn transferred them to partners of ex-Toros owner Rick Holtzman.

Stone said the deal closed formally on Tuesday.

"I'm extremely relieved," Stone said. "This thing has taken a year to complete, and there's been so many problems along the way, problems with the stadium in Fresno and problems with the owners in Fresno."


NIKE SPONSORSHIP: Nike has agreed to pay $120 million to sponsor the U.S. Soccer Federation, the governing body for the sport in the country, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The deal, set to be announced later today, is worth about 100 times the federation's pact with its previous shoe sponsor, the German company Adidas, the report said. It's about 10 times as much as the federation's current contract with Nike.

The money is to be paid over the next eight years.

The chairman of the federation, Alan Rothenberg, called the deal an indication of "where U.S. soccer is and where it's going."

"Our commercial potential is enormous," he said.


JAYHAWK SUSPENSIONS: Three Kansas starters, including sack leader Ron Warner, were suspended for Saturday's game against No. 1 Nebraska, coach Terry Allen said.

Also suspended were junior linebacker J.J. Johnson and junior cornerback Jamie Harris for "a violation of the code of conduct that we have established for every player on this team."

UNLV QB SUSPENDED: UNLV quarterback Jon Denton, who leads the Western Athletic Conference in total offense, was suspended two games for violating a team rule.

Denton has accounted for 71 percent of the Rebels' offense and is ranked 11th nationally in total offense, with 290.7 yards per game.

PEETE A NEW DAD: Holly Robinson Peete gave birth to twins, the first children for her and her husband, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Rodney Peete.

Eagles spokesman Ron Howard said Rodney Jackson Peete was born at 11:29 p.m. Sunday in Los Angeles. His sister, Ryan Elizabeth Peete, arrived two minutes later.

Peete and his wife, who starred in the television series "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper," were doing fine, as were the babies, Howard said.


BADGER SUSPENDED: Sam Okey was suspended by Wisconsin basketball coach Dick Bennett after the coach was told the Badgers junior forward had been smoking marijuana, the Capital Times reported.

An athletic department source told the newspaper the suspension took place after Bennett confronted Okey with the information.

Okey, the Badgers' top returning scorer, was suspended Friday for two weeks of practice and Wisconsin's first four games.

In July 1996, Okey paid a $334.50 fine after being arrested for trying to enter a Whitewater tavern with a fake driver's license.

LAVIN GETS CONTRACT EXTENSION: Steve Lavin, who at age 32 became UCLA's head coach 11 1/2 months ago when Jim Harrick was fired, signed a five-year contract, through the 2001-02 season.

Lavin, named coach when Harrick was dismissed for falsifying expense accounts, guided the Bruins to their third straight Pac-10 Conference championship and a 24-8 record including three NCAA tournament wins.

NBA PUNISHMENTS: Minnesota Timberwolves forward Clifford Rozier and Cleveland Cavaliers center Vitaly Potapenko were among five players fined and suspended by the NBA for fighting during an Oct. 12 preseason game.

Rozier was fined $10,000 and suspended without pay for two games, and Potapenko was fined $5,000 and suspended without pay for one game. Rozier was penalized for punching Potapenko in Cleveland's victory at St. Louis. Potapenko was fined and suspended for elbowing and throwing a punch.

In addition, Minnesota's Doug West and Cleveland's Henry James and Shawn Kemp each were suspended one game without pay and fined $2,500 for leaving the bench area during the fight.


KINGS SIGN YACHMENEV: Holdout right wing Vitali Yachmenev agreed on a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings. Yachmenev, 22, had 10 goals and 22 assists in 65 games for the Kings last season. He will be assigned to Long Beach of the IHL to begin the season.


EUROCARD OPEN: At Stuttgart, Germany, top-ranked Pete Sampras defeated Sweden's Magnus Gustafsson 6-3, 6-5 in the second round, while defending champion Boris Becker beat German compatriot Marc-Kevin Goellner 6-2, 6-4 in a first-round match at the Eurocard Open.

In other second-round matches, 10th-seeded Alex Corretja of Spain was upset 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) by Swede Magnus Larsson; 12th-seeded Thomas Muster of Austria was ousted by Dutchman Paul Haarhuis 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2; and 14th-seeded Felix Mantilla of Spain lost to German David Prinosil 7-5, 6-4.

In first-round play, Brit Tim Henman outlasted German Tommy Haas 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, and Frenchman Fabrice Santoro eliminated Australian Mark Philippoussis 7-6 (8-6), 6-1.

MEXICAN OPEN: At Mexico City, top-seeded Francisco Clavet of Spain overcame Italy's Andrea Gaudenzi 4-6, 6-2, 6-0 in the first round of the Mexican Open.

Spain's Juan-Antonio Marin beat second-seeded Javier Sanchez of Spain 7-5, 6-3; Brazil's Fernando Meligeni defeated third-seeded Marcelo Filippini of Uruguay 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-1; and Argentina's Lucas Arnold outlasted sixth-seeded Hernan Gumy of Argentina 6-1, 0-6, 6-1.

LUXEMBOURG OPEN: At Luxembourg, seventh-seeded Kimberly Po advanced to the second round of the $164,250 Luxembourg Open when opponent Barbara Rittner of Germany retired in the third set.

Slovakia's Henrieta Nagyova also advanced when eighth-seeded Natasha Zvereva of Belarus withdrew in the first set.

Fifth-seeded Barbara Paulus of Austria beat France's Nathalie Dechy 6-4, 6-4.