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Sports briefs

GolfMILLER COMMITS: Part-time Utah resident Johnny Miller has committed to play in the Novell Utah Showdown Senior Tour event at Park Meadows Country Club in July.

It will be Miller's only Senior Tour appearance for the year, according to tournament director Bryan Naugle, who said Miller committed on Tuesday.

Since turning 50 and qualifying for the Senior Tour in April 1997, Miller, a former BYU golfer, has played in just two senior events.


BEST, WORST UMPS: Tim McClelland and Jerry Crawford are baseball's top umpires, and Ken Kaiser and Charlie Williams are the worst, according to a survey by the players' association.

Players rated umpires on physical condition, physical and mental toughness, accuracy of calls on the bases, accuracy of calls at the plate, consistency, temperament, respect for players and overall capacity.

McClelland topped the AL ratings, followed by Jim Joyce, Richie Garcia, John Hirschbeck, Mike Reilly and Drew Coble. Kaiser was 32nd and last, with Durwood Merrill 31st, Ted Hendry 30th, Joe Brinkman 29th, Dale Ford 28th and Drew Coble 27th.

Crawford, president of the umpires' union, was tops in the NL, followed by Ed Rapuano, Ed Montague, Randy March, Frank Pulli and Jeff Kellogg. Charlie Williams was 36th and last, with Eric Gregg 35th, Joe West 34th, Bruce Froemming 33rd and Harry Wendelstedt 32nd.

RIPKIN FUNERAL: Cal Ripken Sr. was remembered as a loving father and a dedicated teacher during an emotional funeral service that broke sharply with the stoic public image of the Ripken family.

Both Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Bill wept openly as they eulogized their father, who died Thursday of lung cancer at age 63. Both played for Cal Sr. during his years as a coach and when he managed the Orioles in 1987 and part of the 1988 season.


NCAA RATINGS DOWN: Even a thrilling national championship game could not prevent TV ratings from falling to an all-time low for CBS. Connecticut's upset of Duke on Monday night posted a 17.2 national rating and a 27 share, the lowest since CBS began televising the event in 1982.


MARQUETTE HIRES COACH: Marquette hired Michigan State assistant Tom Crean as men's basketball coach, choosing a candidate who was an early focus of the selection committee seeking a successor to Mike Deane.

Crean spent the last four seasons as an assistant with the Spartans and has been associate head coach the last two.


PROP 16 UPDATE: A federal appeals court granted the NCAA a stay of a lower court ruling that struck down Proposition 16, the college sports governing body's bylaw that dictated freshman eligibility requirements.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit put the requirements back in place, at least temporarily. The NCAA said it needed more time to write new eligibility rules and file appeals.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter had ruled March 8 that the minimum test score requirement had an "unjustified disparate impact on African-Americans."


NOVOTNA ADVANCES: Third-seeded Jana Novotna and No. 5 Amanda Coetzer advanced in their second-round matchups at the Family Circle Cup, though No. 4 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and No. 8 Amelie Mauresmo weren't so lucky.

Novotna beat Catalina Cristea 6-4, 6-4 while Coetzer, the defending champion, defeated Elena Makarova 6-3, 7-5. Sanchez Vicario, the 1998 French Open champion, was upset by Gala Leon Garcia 6-4, 6-3, and Mauresmo fell 6-4, 0-6, 6-4 to Nathalie Dechy.

No. 7 seed Anna Kournikova defeated Maria Antonia Sanchez Lorenzo 2-6, 6-3, 6-1; No. 11 Natasha Zvereva defeated Paola Suarez 6-3, 6-1; No. 13 Sylvia Farina downed Kimberly Po 6-2, 7-5; and No. 14 Elena Likhovtseva beat Tara Snyder 6-0, 6-3.


HAWAII WANTS TO HOST TOURNEY: The University of Hawaii is making a bid to host the Western Athletic Conference basketball championships next year.

The university and Bowl Games of Hawaii will submit a bid to host both the men's and women's tournaments, athletics director Hugh Yoshida said Tuesday.

This is the first time UH and Bowl Games have submitted a bid for the WAC events. The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism also helped prepare the bid.

The WAC championships currently are held in Las Vegas. But Nevada-Las Vegas is one of eight schools defecting from the WAC to form the new Mountain West Conference.