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WILMINGTON, Del. — The sale of the Chicago Cubs moved closer as a bankruptcy court judge said the team can go to the family of billionaire Joe Ricketts in a $845 million deal.

The judge had already cleared Tribune Co. to sell the team and Wrigley Field. But he gave his approval again because the Cubs filed separately for Chapter 11 protection on Monday.

The Ricketts family's deal for the Cubs could close in a couple of weeks, according to Don Liebentritt, Tribune's general counsel. The deal — which involves a record price for a major league team — has been approved by the other baseball owners.

Pro Football

MIAMI — NFL owners meeting in Boston this week approved Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie as a part owner of the Miami Dolphins, but the team has yet to complete an agreement with her, the team's chief executive officer, Mike Dee, said in an e-mail.

Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas already have a marketing partnership with the Dolphins. She wears a pink Dolphins jersey in a campaign this month for breast cancer awareness.

Team owner Stephen Ross has brought six other celebrities into the fold this year, including musicians Jimmy Buffett, Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony, along with tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.

College Football

LOS ANGELES — Just 16 days after Stafon Johnson's neck was crushed in a weightlifting accident, the Southern California tailback is heading home.

Johnson seemed upbeat at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center during his first public appearance since the accident. He's scheduled to be released later today.

Wearing a black USC sweatshirt, Johnson walked through the hospital easily and smiled at his mother.

Although he still has a breathing tube in his throat and can't swallow, Johnson's medical team says he's made a remarkable recovery since accidentally dropping a weight bar on his neck, crushing his throat and larynx.

Doctors don't know when Johnson will be able to speak, but they say his ability to play football again will largely depend on his own desire.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico coach Mike Locksley won't be on the sidelines when his team plays UNLV later this month, part of a 10-day suspension issued as punishment for his role in a fight with an assistant coach.

Athletic director Paul Krebs said during a news conference that the coach won't be allowed to have any contact with the team until Oct. 25, one day after UNLV visits Albuquerque. The Lobos have a bye this week.

Receivers coach J.B. Gerald told Albuquerque police Locksley struck him during a Sept. 20 staff meeting at the football office, splitting his lip.

Pro Basketball

WASHINGTON — Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards were fined $25,000 apiece by the NBA because he has not been talking to the media during the preseason, including before and after exhibition games.

The three-time All-Star point guard became one of the NBA's most popular players thanks in part to his willingness to speak his mind, including via a wide-ranging blog.

But he stopped producing the blog and steadfastly has been refusing to do interviews since the Wizards held their official media day on Sept. 28.

College Basketball

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Former men's basketball coach Billy Gillispie and the University of Kentucky have settled their cases over his firing for nearly $3 million, the school said.

Gillispie was dismissed earlier this year and sued for breach of contract and fraud in May, seeking at least $6 million. The university countersued.

He had not signed a contract during his two years coaching the Wildcats to a 40-27 record but was working under a memorandum of understanding. He charged that he should have been paid $1.5 million per year for four of the five years left on the deal.

In a statement, the university said Gillispie would receive a little more than $2.98 million.


SYDNEY — John Daly will play in the Australian Open and Australian PGA golf tournaments in December after recovering more quickly than expected from a rib injury.

The two-time major winner said he was reversing a decision announced in September to withdraw from the Australian tournaments. A swift recovery has allowed him to return to competitive golf earlier than expected.

Daly will play in the Australian Open at the New South Wales Golf Club at La Perouse in Sydney from Dec. 3-6. A week later he will play in the Australian PGA at the Hyatt Regency Coolum course in Queensland state.


PARIS — French prosecutors have launched a preliminary investigation to examine syringes found in medical waste containers during the Tour de France.

The case was opened after the discovery of several suspicious syringes in a container given by organizers to all the teams to collect medical waste.

However, the office said it was not targeting a specific team from this year's tour, refuting a report by L'Equipe newspaper that said Astana was being investigated.

Tour winner Alberto Contador and third-place Lance Armstrong rode with Astana in the sport's biggest cycling race this summer. The Spaniard is still under contract with the Kazakh-funded team. Armstrong left to launch his own squad, RadioShack.

Winter Sports

VIENNA — Two-time Olympic champion Hermann Maier retired, ending a career in which he became one of Alpine skiing's most prolific racers and almost lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001.

The 36-year-old Maier won two golds at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and earned three world championship titles. He won 54 World Cup races and four overall titles, putting him second only to Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark, who captured 86 race victories.

Maier's career nearly ended after a horrific motorcycle accident eight years ago, which kept him sidelined for almost two years. Doctors contemplated amputating his lower leg after the crash, but the Austrian returned to win the overall and super-G World Cup titles in 2004.


LONDON — The United States isn't the only country with an endless pipeline of talent.

Ana Porgras, who doesn't even turn 16 until December, has all the makings of Romania's next great gymnast, breezing to the top of qualifying at the world championships Wednesday.

Porgras scored 57.300 points, almost a full point more than Deng Linlin, a member of China's gold medal team from the Beijing Olympics.

"I have big expectations for her," Romanian coach Nicolae Forminte said. "Not now. The big thing is the Olympic Games, that is my big target."

U.S. champion Bridget Sloan is third (56.075) after a fall off balance beam. There are still two rotations to go, with up-and-coming American Rebecca Bross still to compete, and scores start over in Friday's all-around final.

"It's a clean slate on Friday, so that's very, very exciting," said Sloan, who came in favored to win the world title. "I didn't realize scores started over, I thought they carried over."

— The Associated Press