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Sports briefs


INTERIM COACH NAMED: Andy Kennedy was hired as interim head coach at Cincinnati on Friday, two days after Bob Huggins was forced out as the Bearcats' basketball coach. Kennedy had been Huggins' top assistant and served as recruiting coordinator the past four years. Before that, he spent five years as an assistant at UAB, where he is the school's No. 2 career scorer.

The 37-year-old Kennedy said he is grateful for the opportunity, and he has Huggins' blessing. Outgoing athletic director Bob Goin will step down on Jan. 1 so his successor can evaluate the program before searching for a permanent replacement for Huggins, spokesman Tom Hathaway said.

BLISS HIRED: Dave Bliss was hired as the coach of the CBA's Dakota Wizards on Friday, two years after he quit as Baylor's coach amid a scandal after one of his players was shot to death.

"I made a mistake and I'm grateful for the second chance," Bliss told The Associated Press before a news conference. "I'm humbled about what I did. Selfishness and ambition played a large role in what I did."

Bliss and athletic director Tom Stanton resigned from Baylor in August 2003, two months after the death of player Patrick Dennehy. Former teammate Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty in June to killing Dennehy and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Baylor found that Bliss improperly paid up to $40,000 in tuition for Dennehy and another player, and that the coaching staff had not reported players' failed drug tests. Bliss also asked players and an assistant coach to lie to investigators by saying Dennehy paid his tuition by dealing drugs.

MUTOMBO STAYING: Dikembe Mutombo signed a two-year deal with the Houston Rockets on Friday and plans to retire after the 2006-07 season.

"I don't see myself playing after this contract," the 39-year-old center said.

Mutombo's return gives the team a solid backup to All-Star center Yao Ming. The 7-foot-2 Mutombo is an eight-time All-Star and four-time defensive player of the year.

CAVS FORWARD INJURED: Cleveland Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao will return to his native Brazil next week for medical tests on a right shoulder injury sustained in a World Championship qualifying game. Varejao dislocated his shoulder in the final minutes of Brazil's 96-94 loss to the United States on Thursday. He said Friday that he would return to Brazil on Monday and then go to Cleveland a week later to see team doctors and get treatment.


ASHE HONORED: The post office is honoring star tennis player Arthur Ashe with a postage stamp. The first day of issue ceremonies for the 37-cent stamp were scheduled today as part of Arthur Ashe Kids Day activities in New York. The stamp will be available nationwide on Monday.

In addition to his tennis fame, Ashe established foundations to help disenfranchised youth and to support the fight against AIDS, which he contracted from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. Ashe, who died in 1993, was a native of Richmond, Va., where he learned to play tennis on the blacks-only Brook Field playground.

Racial barriers limited Ashe's freedom to compete in the South, but he eventually played in the world's top tennis tournaments and had three victories in Grand Slam play. He won Wimbledon in 1975.

DAVENPORT IN FINALS: At New Haven, Conn., Lindsay Davenport reclaimed the top spot in women's tennis Friday night, beating Russia's Anna Chakvetadze 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the final of the Pilot Pen against France's Amelie Mauresmo. The win guarantees that Davenport will regain the No. 1 spot when the new rankings come out Monday. She had lost the top spot this week to Maria Sharapova.

"If I win the U.S. Open, I'll most likely stay there. So I'll just concentrate on that," Davenport said.

Mauresmo and Davenport, who will face off in today's final, last met in the semifinals at Wimbledon.


GATLIN WINS 100: At Brussels, Belgium, Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele set a world record in the 10,000 meters at the Van Damme Memorial on Friday, while American sprinter Justin Gatlin fought back from a slow start to win the 100.

Running on his own for almost half the race, Bekele finished the race in 26 minutes, 17.53 seconds, faster than his time in Ostrava in June 2004 by 2.78 seconds.

Gatlin rallied to take the 100 meters in 9.99 seconds, beating France's Ronald Pognon and Jamaica's Dwight Thomas. Maurice Greene finished last in a disappointing 10.56.


SOFTBALL JUST MISSED CUT: Softball came within a single vote of staying in the Olympics after 2008, according to results of last month's secret IOC ballot released on Friday.

The sport received 52 votes in favor and 52 against, with one abstention, in the July 8 vote of the International Olympic Committee in Singapore, said International Softball Federation president Don Porter.

Softball needed a majority of 53 votes to stay on the Olympic program. Instead, it was dropped from the 2012 London Games, along with baseball.

Porter said softball would work hard to secure eventual readmission to the Olympics.


WINGS KEEP KRONWALL: The Detroit Red Wings re-signed defenseman Niklas Kronwall to a two-year contract. Selected in the first round, 29th overall, in the 2000 NHL draft, the 24-year-old Kronwall signed with Detroit in 2003 and played most of the 2003-04 season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Kronwall appeared in 20 games for the Red Wings that season, finishing with one goal and four assists before breaking a leg in January 2004.