Olajuwon is ready; NBA must OK returnHouston...

Olajuwon is ready; NBA must OK return

Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon is ready to play and the Rockets want him back, but league rules may prevent his return in time for tonight's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.


Olajuwon, suspended on March 23 for refusing to suit up after a team doctor cleared him fit to play, yesterday declared his left hamstring healed and returned to practice.

Olajuwon has been suspended for three games but league rules stipulate that a suspended player must stay out for five games and the Rockets have petitioned the leagues' other 25 teams to waive the rule. If 21 teams do not approve of Olajuwon's early return, the six-time All-Star must miss tonight's game against the Lakers and Thursday's game against Denver, before returning against Orlando on Saturday. The teams have until 5 p.m. today to cast their ballots, giving the Rockets little time to prepare for the Lakers, who hold the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference ahead of the Rockets.


* Swingman Paul Pressey did not suit up for the San Antonio Spurs' game against the New Jersey Nets because of TC concussion sustained Sunday in a game against Detroit.

College basketball

Loyola Marymount University announced yesterday that it will pay $545,000 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the mother of basketball star Hank Gathers.

University attorney Wayne Boehle said he gave a $145,000 check to an attorney representing Lucille Gathers, with the balance due Thursday.

"If we consider our legal responsibilities, I don't believe the university had any," Boehle said. "But when you consider our moral obligations, and the loss of a husband or father, I believe we reached a just settlement."

* Oklahoma State assistant coach Rob Evans was hired as head basketball coach at Mississippi, becoming the first black in that job at the Southeastern Conference school.


Mike Tyson has refused to eat in prison, and he faces disciplinary action for giving other inmates his autograph, Indiana correctional officials said.


The former heavyweight champion also declined to take part in an assessment of his educational background, officials said. The assessment is used to help determine where Tyson should be sent to complete his six-year prison sentence.

His attorneys filed a partial transcript of Tyson's trial with the Indiana Court of Appeals, which is considering the attorneys' request to set Tyson free on bond pending the appeal. No action was taken on the request.

College football

A Texas state court jury went home without delivering a verdict in the $30 million lawsuit by reporter Jack Taylor Jr. against former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer.


Kate Pace of Canada, bouncing back from a broken ankle she sustained just before Christmas, out-dueled Hilary Lindh of the United States to win the women's downhill at the U.S. Alpine Ski Championships.


Pace, 23, of North Bay, Ontario, became the second Canadian in three years to win the U.S. downhill. Lucie LaRoche captured the title in 1990. Pace finished in 1 minute, 10.77 seconds, more than a second ahead of Lindh, the Olympic silver medalist, who came across in 1:11.80.

Bits and pieces

Craig Herwig of Glen Burnie and his 7-year-old son Aaron placed first in the heavyweight masters and 62-pound divisions, respectively, in a weekend Middle Athletic Wrestling Association tournament. Herwig's 8-year-old son, Ryan, finished second in the 56-pound division. . . . Joe Singleton, 39, from Columbia, earned a berth on the U.S. Wheelchair Weightlifting team bound for para-Olympic competition in Barcelona, Spain, this summer. Singleton won the bench press in the 114-pound class during weekend competition in Birmingham, Ala. . . . The UMBC Retriever Aquatic Club's women's team of Ingrid Kilpe, Elysia Moreland, Cheryl White, Candie Johnson, Anna Butler and Carrie Miller placed second in the Junior National Championships. The men's team of Dan Van Hemert, David Miller, Michael Gibeau, Jay Calvert and Scott Frank placed fourth.

College basketball

* Oklahoma State assistant coach Rob Evans was hired as head basketball coach at Mississippi, becoming the first black in that job at the Southeastern Conference school.

It is the first head coaching job for Evans, who has been a college assistant for 21 seasons. Evans succeeds Ed Murphy, who resigned March 12 after the Rebels lost to Georgia 85-66 in the opening round of the SEC tournament.


* Bob Sundvold, an assistant coach at Southwest Missouri State, was hired as head coach at Central Missouri State.

Pro football

The NFL Players Association has sued four member players -- including Pittsburgh quarterback Neil O'Donnell -- who signed their licensing rights to a company controlled by owners.

The lawsuit, filed late Friday in Superior Court in Hackensack, N.J., names Bart Oates and Eric Moore of the New York Giants, Mike Golic of the Philadelphia Eagles and O'Donnell, the former Maryland quarterback.


Three men, including a member of the Canadian bobsled team at the Winter Olympics, have been charged in with conspiracy to obstruct justice following the gangland-style murder of an Ottawa man.


Ken Leblanc, 24, of Beaverton, Ontario; his brother Bryan, 21, and Michael Johnson, 31 -- both of Ottawa -- were charged for threatening witnesses, Ottawa police Inspector Jeff Gordon said. Ken Leblanc was a member of Canada's four-man bobsled team. The charge relates to the murder of Joseph D'Angelo, 35, a paving contractor shot to death Oct. 10.

Figure skating

Kristi Yamaguchi skated around questions about her future as well as she skated around the ice and her competition after winning her second straight title at the World Figure Skating Championships. At 20, the native of Fremont, Calif., has more options than she cares to consider.

"I still think there is a lot of room for improvement in my skating," she said. "I'm not sure what I will do."