Around the Nation (Dec. 21): Ohio State's spring football game to be in Cincinnati

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

• COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Stadium renovations put Ohio State's spring game in Cinci

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State's 2013 spring game will be played on the road.

Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati will host the April 13 scrimmage because of renovations at Ohio Stadium.

The Buckeyes went 12-0 under first-year coach Urban Meyer this past season and return 14 starters, including nine on offense.

Ohio State will be resurfacing the seating areas at Ohio Stadium, prompting the change of venue to a city where Meyer played football for the University of Cincinnati. He is a 1986 graduate with a degree in psychology.

Ohio State and UC played at Paul Brown Stadium in front of 66,319 fans on Sept. 21, 2002, in Ohio State's only prior appearance in the 13-year-old facility.

The work at Ohio Stadium gets under way in January.

• BASKETBALL

Injury sidelines Cavs forward Varejao

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao, the NBA's leading rebounder, is missing his second straight game with a bruised right knee.

Varejao was kept out of Friday night's game against Indiana and coach Byron Scott said the 6-foot-11 big man will likely rest Saturday night when Cleveland plays in Milwaukee. The Cavs will try to end a five-game losing streak without Varejao against the Pacers, the league's top rebounding team.

Varejao, averaging 14.4 rebounds per game, hurt his knee Tuesday night against Toronto. He didn't play on Wednesday, when the Cavs lost in Boston.

Scott doesn't want to take any chances with Varejao and said it's better for him to miss three games "than 33 games or 40."

Rookie Tyler Zeller will make his second start in a row for Varejao.

• PRO FOOTBALL

Colts players awaiting Chuck Pagano's return

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts are hoping to get head coach Chuck Pagano back Monday, and all indications are that he will be.

After being medically cleared by his physician, the decision about when to return and how much to do is up to Pagano and the Colts. While interim coach Bruce Arians told reporters Friday that Pagano's return is "still up in the air," he noted that Pagano felt "pretty solid" and that he was "ready to go."

Players expect to see him at a team meeting Monday morning -- a meeting that promises to be both joyous and emotional.

The team pegged its Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston as the day they were hoping Pagano would be back on the sidelines.

Falcons safety Hope fined $30K for hit

NEW YORK -- Strong safety Chris Hope of the Atlanta Falcons has been fined $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz.

Hope was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the third-quarter play during Atlanta's 34-0 win on Sunday.

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White and Giants cornerback Corey Webster were fined $7,875 apiece for a skirmish during the game. White grabbed Webster's facemask; Webster struck White in the face.

In other penalties announced by the NFL on Friday, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson was docked $21,000 for an illegal hit; Titans defensive end Antonio Smith and Jets defensive end Quinton Coples were fined $15,750 each for helmet-to-helmet hits; Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Ravens cornerback Cary Williams were fined $15,750 each for unnecessary roughness; and Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason and Titans safety Jordan Babineaux were docked $7,875 apiece for unnecessary roughness.

• ICE HOCKEY

Players vote in step toward dissolving union

TORONTO -- NHL players are a step closer to dissolving their union.

The Canadian Press says NHL Players' Association members voted this week to give the union's executive board the power to file a "disclaimer of interest" until Jan. 2.

The news agency, citing an unidentified source, says the vote drew more than the two-thirds of support needed. The union declined comment, saying it's an internal matter.

If the executive board files the disclaimer, the union will dissolve and become a trade association. That would allow players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.

Negotiations between the league and union have been at a standstill since talks ended Dec. 6. The NHLPA now appears set to follow the lead set by NFL and NBA players. Both dissolved their unions during lockouts last year.

• TENNIS

Nadal wary about return from knee injury

MADRID -- Rafael Nadal is wary about his return to tennis after a seven-month layoff and believes it may be some time before his injured knee is fully healed.

Nadal told Canal Plus television Friday he's "prepared to accept" that his knee "may not respond well at the beginning."

The 26-year-old Spaniard is set to play in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 27. He has considered playing off and on during the first three months of 2013. Nadal says his goal is to be back in top form for Monte Carlo in April.

The match in Abu Dhabi will be his first since he was sidelined with tendinitis in his left knee after a second-round loss to 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon in June.

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