Around the Nation (March 27): East Carolina joining Big East in all sports

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

COLLEGE

East Carolina joining Big East in all sports

East Carolina will join the soon-to-be-renamed Big East as an all-sports member, instead of just for football as originally planned.

The league and school announced the move Wednesday.

East Carolina had already been set to join Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida and the rest of the Big East football schools in 2014. But with the recent split of the football and basketball schools, the football side has decided to give up the name Big East and needed to add more members for all sports.

East Carolina is leaving Conference USA.

A person with knowledge of the decision says Tulsa will also be added to the Big East soon. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because that move has yet to be announced.

Idaho to join Sun Belt as football member

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Idaho is joining the Sun Belt Conference as a football-only member.

The Idaho State Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to allow Idaho to accept an invitation to join that league for the 2014 season.

Idaho had been a member of the Western Athletic Conference, which has lost most of its football-playing members.

The Vandals will play next season as an independent, but had been searching for a conference to join.

Idaho was a football-only member of the Sun Belt from 2001-2005, then joined the WAC.

Idaho's other sports are moving to the Big Sky Conference.

GOLF

McIlroy tries to find form going to Masters

HUMBLE, Texas -- Once the frost thawed, Rory McIlroy was back at work Wednesday morning trying to find a swing he could trust and repeat.

McIlroy hasn't looked anything like the No. 1 player in golf this year, and now he's not. That spot belongs to Tiger Woods again after winning for the third time in two months to establish himself as the favorite going into The Masters.

None of this bothers McIlroy.

He is more concerned with the path of his swing than the mathematical average of his ranking. He wants to win whenever he plays, though there is pragmatic side to the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland. He still hasn't made the cut against a full field this year.

That makes the Houston Open more than just a final tuneup for the first major of the year. It's a place to measure progress.

BASKETBALL

Lakers' World Peace out with torn meniscus

MINNEAPOLIS -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace is out indefinitely with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters at shootaround on Wednesday that he wasn't sure if World Peace will be ready for the start of the playoffs next month. The Lakers are in eighth place in the West, just a game ahead of Utah and Dallas for the final playoff spot.

World Peace has been one of the most durable players for the Lakers, who have suffered a rash of injuries this season. He is averaging 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds.

D'Antoni says Jodie Meeks will start on Wednesday night against Minnesota in World Peace's place. That means Kobe Bryant will be the small forward.

Smart to sign extension to remain at VCU

Shaka Smart and VCU have agreed in principle to a deal to keep the coach at the school.

Athletic director Ed McLaughlin says the details are still being finalized, but the majority of changes involve "program enhancements for the student-athletes and coaches." McLaughlin says it also extends a contract already scheduled to run through 2020.

Smart's record is 111-37 in four years, the sixth-most wins in the country over that stretch.

Since guiding VCU to the Final Four in 2011, Smart's name has been among the first mentioned whenever a high profile job comes open.

With openings at places such as UCLA, Southern Cal and Minnesota, McLaughlin says VCU wanted to give him a new deal to be proactive in the face of certain interest from elsewhere.

BASEBALL

Forbes values N.Y. Yankees at $2.3 billion

NEW YORK -- Forbes estimated the New York Yankees have the highest value in Major League Baseball for the 16th straight year at $2.3 billion, and the average for an MLB team increased by 23 percent in the last year to $744 million.

The magazine said Wednesday the Yankees' value increased from $1.85 billion last year.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are second in MLB at $1.62 billion -- nearly $400 million below the price paid for the team last May when a group headed by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson bought the franchise from Frank McCourt.

Forbes valued Boston third at $1.3 billion, followed by the Chicago Cubs ($1 billion), Philadelphia ($893 million), the New York Mets ($811 million), San Francisco ($786 million), Texas ($764 million), the Los Angeles Angels ($718 million) and St. Louis ($716 million).

The bottom five are Tampa Bay ($451 million), Kansas City ($457 million), Oakland ($468 million), Pittsburgh ($479 million) and Miami ($520 million).

McCarver to step down from Fox after season

NEW YORK -- Baseball analyst Tim McCarver says he will step down from his position at Fox after this season.

McCarver said on a conference call Wednesday he had told the network he will not try to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the 2013 season.

The 71-year-old McCarver has worked 28 consecutive Major League Baseball postseasons on network television dating to 1984, providing analysis for a record 23 World Series.

In 21 big league seasons, McCarver hit .271 with 97 homers and 645 RBI.

McCarver says "it's time to cut back."

AUTO RACING

Allmendinger trying to get comfortable

AJ Allmendinger tested an Indy car at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday and realized he has a long way to go before he's comfortable in his new ride.

The session was ahead of the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Allmendinger is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500. For now, he's still adapting to his return to open-wheel cars.

Although he has tested the Penske car on the road courses at Sebring and Barber, the Texas test was his first on an oval. He last competed on an oval in an Indy car in 2006, finishing fourth at Milwaukee.

Allmendinger said he's still trying to get comfortable in the car. His next shot is next weekend at Barber, where he'll make his IndyCar debut in the April 7 race.

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