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College football

Pflugrad gives opinionson Montana penalties

Penalties to the Montana program after an investigation are the result of the NCAA being “extremely technical,” former coach Robin Pflugrad said.

The NCAA on Friday ruled the school and Pflugrad failed to monitor the football program, allowing boosters to provide benefits to players, including bail money and free legal representation for two players.

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Penalties, many self-imposed by the school, include a three-year probationary period, the loss of four scholarships in each of the next three seasons and vacating five victories in which ineligible players participated.

Pflugrad, previously a Washington State assistant coach, and then-athletic director Jim O’Day were fired in March 2012 without Montana giving a reason.

Pflugrad is the offensive coordinator at Weber State. He is suspended from coaching during the first game of the 2013 season and faces recruiting restrictions this season.

The NCAA determined backup quarterback Gerald Kemp and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, after their arrest in 2011, were bailed out of jail by the mother of a teammate who paid $130 and $190. Kemp’s grandfather later reimbursed the woman. Police used stun guns on the two Montana players while trying to break up a loud party.

The NCAA said Pflugrad learned a booster had posted bail, but did not report it to university officials.

“If that’s my biggest mistake, then I’m going to move forward with it,” said Pflugrad, 54. “Because there has to be some form of humanity in what we do.”

Pflugrad disagreed with his firing.

“There was an overall climate and publicity that assisted in creating a certain atmosphere in which the administration overreacted,” he said.


Johnson, Malott prevail

Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Wes Malott of Pflugerville, Texas, won U.S. Open titles at Columbus Western Bowl in Ohio.

Johnson earned her third women’s U.S. Open title and Malott captured his first major. Each made $50,000 for winning and Johnson, 39, collected an additional $10,000 by beating Malott 194-188 in a “Battle of the Sexes” match.

Malott, 36, won three times in the stepladder format. In his opening match of the day, he beat Team USA member Marshall Kent, 20, of Yakima 200-193.

Malott defeated five-time U.S. Open champion Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., 279-182 to reach the final, where he beat Australian Jason Belmonte 214-156.


Pacers acquire Scola

The Indiana Pacers acquired forward Luis Scola in a trade with the Phoenix Suns.

Scola, 33, averaged 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds last season.

The Pacers sent forward Gerald Green, center Miles Plumlee and a lottery-protected first-round draft pick to the rebuilding Suns.

Meanwhile, guard Gary Neal — previously with San Antonio — has agreed to a two-year, $6.5 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.


• In an eventful day of horse racing at Saratoga in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice ($4.70 to win) took the $600,000 Jim Dandy Stakes for 3-year-olds.

Favored Palace Malice, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Mike Smith, beat 17-1 shot Will Take Charge by a length and ran 11
8 miles in 1 minute, 47.37 seconds in the Grade II event.

Meanwhile, in Grade I races earlier on the card, 5-year-old mare Laughing ($15.80) won the $588,000 Diana on turf and Lighthouse Bay ($45.20) sprinted to victory in the $300,000 Prioress for 3-year-old fillies on dirt.

Jockey John Velazquez set a Saratoga record with victory No. 694 aboard Pletcher-trained Unitarian ($6.10) in a race for maidens on turf. Velazquez, 41, had shared the record with Jerry Bailey.

• Top-seeded John Isner defeated Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5) to reach Sunday’s Atlanta Open tennis final. The 6-foot-10 American will play second-seeded Kevin Anderson, a 6-8 South African who beat U.S. player Ryan Harrison 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

• Third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia overwhelmed Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-4, 6-0 in a Bank of the West Classic semifinal tennis match in Stanford, Calif. Cibulkova will meet top-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in Sunday’s final. Radwanska beat American Jamie Hampton 6-3, 6-2.

Seattle Times news services