Ashley Wagner is on her way to becoming the first woman since Michelle Kwan to win back-to-back titles, taking the short program at the...

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Figure skating

Wagner wins short program

Ashley Wagner is on her way to becoming the first woman since Michelle Kwan to win back-to-back titles, taking the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Thursday night in Omaha, Neb.

Wagner’s clean and elegant “Red Violin” program earned her 67.57 points. That puts her more than two points ahead of Agnes Zawadzki going into Saturday’s free skate.

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Earlier, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir took a commanding lead in the pairs competition. With 62.27 points, they’re nine points ahead going into the free skate.

College football

Attorney in Miami probe says she did nothing wrong

The Miami attorney at the center of the latest developments in Miami’s NCAA investigation came out firing a day after her involvement came into question.

Maria Elena Perez, who represents former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro, said she’s the NCAA’s “patsy,” as the governing body launches an internal probe into its Miami investigation. A day earlier, NCAA president Mark Emmert said there were major issues with their investigation into Miami recruiting and compliance based on actions taken by a member of its enforcement staff and Shapiro’s attorney.

The NCAA hired outside counsel to, in part, look into how testimony was obtained during Shapiro’s bankruptcy depositions.

Perez said she did not work in collusion with NCAA investigators.

“I think this is completely insane,” an audibly upset Perez told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I think there’s absolutely nothing here to investigate, and like I told everyone, everything I did was above board.”

She did say the NCAA paid her a small amount of money for her services, but did not consider herself a member of its legal team. They shared a common interest, she said without revealing it.

“At the end of the day, that does not establish an attorney-client relationship between me and the NCAA,” Perez said. “It establishes that they wanted to pay for certain things to help Shapiro where there were issues of common interest. Period. There’s nothing wrong with that. They didn’t pay me to get testimony. They didn’t pay me to get a story. There’s a huge difference.”


Puerto case goes to trial

Days after Lance Armstrong’s doping admission, cycling is set for more damaging revelations when the long-delayed Operation Puerto case finally goes to court in Spain.

Seven years after Spanish investigators uncovered one of cycling’s most sophisticated and widespread doping networks, some of its central figures will stand trial Monday in Madrid’s Criminal Court. The case, in which 35 witnesses are set to be called to testify, is scheduled to last until March 22.

Although no riders are charged, many will be called to testify as witnesses, including two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador.

Auto racing

Pruett earns pole for Rolex 24

Scott Pruett earned the pole for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the prestigious, twice-around-the-clock endurance event that kicks off the racing season. Pruett covered the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway in 1 minute, 40.553 seconds. He averaged 127.455 mph in the Daytona Prototype class, a tad faster than Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon.

The star-studded field of drivers are from 22 countries. Formula One, NASCAR and IndyCar drivers are well represented.

But all eyes, as usual at this event, are on Pruett and his Ganassi teammates. Pruett, a four-time race winner, is looking to tie Hurley Haywood’s record of five victories.

Kyle Busch signs with JGR

Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Kyle Busch has signed a long-term extension to continue driving the No. 18 Toyota Camry.

In addition, JGR will field the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota in the Nationwide Series for at least 25 races with Busch as the primary driver. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Busch, who has won 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup races and made the Chase for the Cup five times since 2005, said he chose to stay with JGR after weighing offers from two other groups.


• Former Texas All-American and NFL kicker Russell Erxleben, 56, who previously served a federal prison sentence for securities fraud, was arrested in Austin on new charges of running an illegal Ponzi investment scam that netted more than $2 million.

• New Mexico State football coach DeWayne Walker stepped down after four losing seasons to take a job as an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

• Florida State offensive coordinator James Coley is leaving his alma mater for the same job at archrival Miami.

• Philadelphia Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell will miss four to eight weeks because of a broken left foot.

• Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Joffrey Lupul will miss at least six weeks because of a broken forearm.

• All-Star center Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars agreed to a $26.25 million, five-year contract.

• The home of the Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA could have a new name by the end of the year. The $70 million, 10-year naming rights agreement for the Home Depot Center expires in May, and a spokeswoman for the company said it will not be renewing the deal.

• Real Salt Lake owner Dave Checketts is selling his interest in the team to minority owner Dell Loy Hansen.

• Former Portugal playmaker Paulo Sousa failed to reach a deal on coaching the New York Red Bulls. Instead, interim coach Mike Petke officially became coach.

Mubarak Wakaso converted a 38th-minute penalty to give Ghana a 1-0 victory over Mali at the African Cup of Nations in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Congo and Niger played a scoreless draw.

• Russian star Evgeni Plushenko fell in the short program and dropped out of the European figure skating championships in Zagreb, Croatia, with a back problem.

• Olympic hurdles champion Dayron Robles said he will no longer compete for his native Cuba.

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