Around the Nation (Jan. 28): Buckeyes AD Gene Smith named VP, extended to 2020

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Associated Press

COLLEGE

Buckeyes AD Gene Smith named VP, extended to 2020

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State has given athletic director Gene Smith the additional title of vice president and has extended his contract through June 2020.

His base salary is now $940,484 a year.

Smith came to Ohio State in 2005 as AD and has seen the athletic department weather NCAA probation in its two big-money sports, football and men's basketball.

Under his new job description, in addition to continuing his role with the athletic department he also will oversee trademark and licensing deals and Ohio State's Schottenstein Center and several other buildings.

In a statement, Ohio State said that in fiscal year 2013 the athletic department transferred nearly $30 million in assessments to the university, including more than $16 million in grant-in-aid reimbursement.

Athletes take step toward to creating union

CHICAGO -- Football players at Northwestern are spearheading the formation of a first-of-its-kind union for college athletes.

Outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter joined union leaders Tuesday in Chicago to announce the creation of the College Athletes Players Association.

He says the NCAA currently dictates conditions. He says athletes need "a seat at the table" to guarantee safeguards against injuries and to ensure adequate financial compensation.

The first step is to apply for certification by the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of Northwestern football players. The hope is to be successful, then look toward other schools.

United Steelworkers official Tim Waters spoke alongside Colter. He says the key issue is whether college football players are employees. He says if they're deemed employees, they have the right to organize.

Babers fills out BGSU football staff

BOWLING GREEN -- New Bowling Green coach Dino Babers has retained secondary coach Nick Monroe from the 2013 Mid-American Conference championship team while bringing the remainder of his staff with him from Eastern Illinois.

Babers has appointed co-offensive coordinators in Sterlin Gilbert and Matt Mattox. Gilbert spent two seasons as offensive coordinator at EIU while Mattox was the line coach there a season ago.

Kim McCloud will be defensive coordinator after serving in the same position at EIU the past two seasons. Tom Kaufman will handle special teams.

Mike Lynch, Sean Lewis and Tom Freeman also join the staff after assisting at Eastern Illinois. Also from EIU, Sean Edinger will be strength and conditioning coach, and Roy Wittke will be director of football operations.

FOOTBALL

Panthers give coach Rivera extension

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers have announced they have given head coach Ron Rivera a three-year contract extension through the 2017 season.

Financial details were not immediately available.

Rivera started the season on the hot seat after a 1-3 start, but the Panthers rebounded to win 11 of their final 12 regular season games to capture the NFC South championship and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Carolina lost in the divisional playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said in a statement Tuesday "the improvement of our team has been reflected in the progress of the record over the last three seasons under Ron and we look forward to building upon that foundation."

Rivera is 25-23 in three seasons as the Panthers head coach.

Former Bucs exec Hickey introduced as Dolphins GM

DAVIE, Fla. -- Dennis Hickey has been introduced as general manager of the Miami Dolphins, and he'll try to upgrade a team that has missed the playoffs the past five seasons.

Hickey, a longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers executive, was hired Sunday to end an arduous search that lasted nearly three weeks. The hiring came after the Dolphins were rejected by several candidates.

They formally introduced Hickey at a news conference Tuesday. He replaces Jeff Ireland, whose six-year stint as general manager ended Jan. 7 when he and owner Stephen Ross agreed to part ways.

Dolphins owner awaits bully report

DAVIE, Fla. -- Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says he spoke with the NFL and the attorney who investigated the team's bullying scandal to get a sense of what will be included in their forthcoming report on the case.

On Tuesday, Ross said he has an idea what will be in the report but offered no details. He did say he knows what direction the franchise is headed.

Following an 8-8 season tainted by the scandal, Ross decided to keep coach Joe Philbin and part with general manager Jeff Ireland. Dennis Hickey was introduced as Ireland's replacement at a news conference Tuesday, where Ross talked briefly about the case that rocked the franchise at midseason.

AUTO RACING

Johnson supports overhauled Chase

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jimmie Johnson was stunned by the proposed changes to the championship format he heard in a phone call from NASCAR chairman Brian France two weeks ago.

Not because the six-time champion worried the radical overhaul was designed to stop his dominance on the Sprint Cup Series.

Instead, France went over a proposal that Johnson had never heard before in multiple discussions with NASCAR executives.

NASCAR will officially announce its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format on Thursday. All signs point to a 16-driver field whittled down through eliminations to four drivers and a winner-take-all season finale.

Johnson says he supports the format because NASCAR needed "something big" to re-ignite passion in its fan base.

BASEBALL

MLB to court: Throw out A-Rod suit

NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball is seeking a speedy dismissal of third baseman Alex Rodriguez's lawsuit challenging a season-long suspension for using three prohibited performance enhancing substances.

Howard Ganz, an MLB lawyer, said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos that Rodriguez's claims do not come "remotely close" to what is needed to overturn an arbitration decision in federal court. Ganz said in the letter, which became public Tuesday, that the lawsuit should be tossed because a court is not empowered to re-examine the merits of an arbitration award.

Ramos set Feb. 14 for a conference.

MLB suspended the New York Yankees third baseman for 211 games last August, and the players' union filed a grievance. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz cut the suspension to 162 games and the 2014 postseason, concluding Rodriguez used banned substances each year from 2010-12 and twice tried to obstruct MLB's investigation.

Rodriguez sued MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association two weeks ago to overturn the decision.

A lawyer for Rodriguez did not immediately respond to a message for comment.

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