Thursday, March 11, 2004

UK AD apologizes to Florida for fan behavior during game

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart apologized to the University of Florida for the behavior of some Wildcats fans during a game against the Gators.

Barnhart wrote a letter to Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley on Monday, saying the school did not condone the behavior.

During Kentucky's 82-62 win Sunday at Rupp Arena, some fans taunted Florida forward Matt Walsh.

"We want our athletic department in general to be a first-class athletic department and represent the university in a first-class way," Barnhart said Wednesday from Atlanta, where he was attending a meeting of Southeastern Conference athletic directors before the SEC tournament.

"There are issues around college athletics, and certainly this is a topic of conversation in a lot of places. It came up in our athletic directors' meeting today.

There are no real answers out there, but it's something our conference is trying to get its arm around."

MONMOUTH: The University earned its third trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1996 with stingy defense and some unexpected help.

Sophomore guard Tyler Azzarelli scored a career-high 19 points and the top-seeded Hawks held Central Connecticut State to 32.3 percent shooting in a 67-55 victory Wednesday night in the championship of the Northeast Conference tournament.

A New Jersey shore school with only 3,500 students, Monmouth (21-11) allowed only one 30-plus point half in three conference tournament games.

EASTERN WASHINGTON: The University earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament Wednesday night when Brendon Merritt scored 22 points and Marc Axton added 19 in a 71-59 victory over Northern Arizona for the Big Sky Conference tournament title.

Eastern Washington (17-12), which moved up to Division I in the 1983-84 season, lost the Big Sky title game and automatic bid in each of the previous three seasons.

The Eagles will join local rival and third-ranked Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament.

AKRON: The coach who guided LeBron James through his formative years in high school was named Akron's basketball coach Wednesday.

Akron promoted third-year assistant Keith Dambrot to replace Dan Hipsher, who was fired Tuesday. Dambrot agreed to a five-year, $550,000 contract.

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