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PRESS BOX: Bobcats coach Clifford released from hospital

The SportsXchange

Charlotte Bobcats coach Steve Clifford was released from a hospital Saturday morning and is resting at home, the team announced.

Clifford was hospitalized Thursday night and had two stents placed in his heart. In a statement, the Bobcats said Clifford had been experiencing chest pains.

Clifford missed Friday night's 101-91 loss against the New York Knicks. Patrick Ewing coached in his place.

The team said Clifford would re-join the team soon, but did not offer a specific date.

Charlotte's next game is Monday night against the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

---New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith will make his season debut Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs after serving a five-game suspension for violating the NBA's drug policy.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Smith, last season's NBA Sixth Man Award winner, will come off the bench.

"We've just got to make sure that mentally he's there," Woodson said. "And I can't burn him physically."

Smith had left knee surgery in July. Woodson plans to limit him to 30 minutes against the Spurs.

MLB

Former major-league All-Star shortstop Jose Offerman, who is being sued stemming from a 2007 incident in which he attacked two players with a bat during a minor-league game, has been a no-show in court.

The incident, which occurred in Bridgeport, Conn., is at the center of a federal lawsuit headed to trial. However, no one knows Offerman's whereabouts.

J. Craig Smith, the attorney for former Bridgeport Bluefins catcher John Nathans, has made unsuccessful attempts to serve Offerman discovery documents in the past few months.

Offerman, 45, was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and the Boston Red Sox in 1999. He was playing for the minor league Long Island Ducks in August 2007 when he was hit by a pitch and charged the pitcher's mound during a game against the Bluefish.

He hit two Bluefish players, Nathans and pitcher Matt Beech, with the bat. Nathans sustained a career-ending head injury and Beech broke the middle finger on his non-throwing hand.

Nathans filed a $4.8 million lawsuit in 2009 against Offerman and the Ducks. The case is pending in federal court in Bridgeport.

NHL

New York Rangers star winger Rick Nash returned to the ice Saturday for the first time since suffering a concussion Oct. 8. There is still no timetable for his return, but getting some time on the ice prior to practice is the first major hurdle cleared in his recovery.

Nash was injured after being hit in the head by San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart, who was suspended for the play.

"He's on the road to recovery, he's skating," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said. "But he's got a ways to go with his conditioning."

The Rangers, who are 7-6 since Nash went down, have been finding their form recently, winning five of their last seven before Sunday's game against the Florida Panthers at the Madison Square Garden. Nash's return should only add to the positive vibes recently surrounding the team, although everyone involved is being cautious.

"Dealing with the brain, you always want to be careful," Nash said. "I'm inching forward here. I'm getting better."

College

A federal judge will allow college football and basketball players from major programs to challenge NCAA rules prohibiting compensation beyond the value of their athletic scholarships, but denied them from pursuing billions of dollars in past revenues.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken issued her 24-page report on Friday, which paves the way for significant changes in the economic model of college athletics.

The case is known as the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit because the former UCLA basketball star is one of 25 plaintiffs signed on.

The ruling will help college athletes argue to receive a share of television and other media revenues. However, it also reduces the chances of forcing the NCAA to pay athletes who may have been wronged under anti-trust law. Players may sue for damages, but only as individuals.

Both sides of the lawsuit claimed victory in statements sent to ESPN.

"The court's decision is a victory for all current and former student-athletes who are seeking compensation on a going forward basis," said Michael Hausfeld, the players' lead attorney. "While we are disappointed that the court did not permit the athletes to seek past damages as a group, we are nevertheless hopeful that the court's decision will cause the NCAA to reconsider its business practices."

In a statement, the NCAA only acknowledged the part of the judge's decision regarding damages for past revenues.

"We have long maintained that the plaintiffs in this matter are wrong on the facts and wrong on the law," said Donald Remy, NCAA chief counsel. "This ruling is one step closer to validating that position."

CFB

Eastern Michigan athletic director Heather Lyke gave a more specific reason Saturday for firing coach Ron English.

Lyke said in a statement that the decision to part ways with English came after a video surfaced of him using "wholly inappropriate language" while addressing the team.

"We hold our coaches and staff to high standards of professionalism and conduct and there is no place, particularly in a student environment, where this language is appropriate," she said. "These statements made by Coach English are absolutely unacceptable. My decision to make a change in leadership of our football program was the culmination of a lot of factors, including the comprehensive review of our program, the competitive performance and this tape.

"Our primary interest is in the well-being and success of our student-athletes and this will continue to be our priority in every decision we make and every action we take. My focus moving forward is on the quality of our student-athletes' experience as well as the search process for the next leader of our football program."

Lyke did not offer specifics regarding the exact language English used.

CBK

Louisville's Kevin Ware probably will not make his season debut for two more weeks, coach Rick Pitino said after the junior guard sat out the Cardinals' 70-48 win over College of Charleston on Saturday.

"He's still limping a little bit," Pitino said. "It's noticeable. When he gets over that, he's going to play. He's probably two weeks away from playing."

Ware is coming back from a broken right leg suffered March 31 against Duke in the NCAA tournament. His injury was a major storyline as Louisville completed the NCAA run with a win over Michigan in the championship game.

Ware began full-contact practice last weekend and played 10 minutes in an exhibition game against Pikeville on Wednesday night.
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