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Wednesday's Sports In Brief

AP - Sports

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

HOUSTON (AP) -- Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half of Texas A&M's opening game against Rice on Saturday for what the school called an ''inadvertent'' violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs.

The penalty appears to have brought a quick end to an investigation that could have ruined the seventh-ranked Aggies' upcoming season.

The school issued a statement saying it declared the Heisman Trophy winner ineligible and that the NCAA agreed to reinstate Manziel after he sits out the first half against the underdog Owls.

The quarterback was being investigated by the NCAA for allegedly accepting money for signing autographs for memorabilia brokers, a violation of that could have led to a much longer suspension.

NFL

DENVER (AP) - Joe Flacco looms larger than life in Denver, and not just because he engineered the stunning upset of the Broncos in the playoffs that propelled the Ravens to the Super Bowl title.

The league's marketing campaign for next week's kickoff game features several large banners of Flacco fluttering from lamp posts on downtown streets - and a giant one several stories high that hangs at Sports Authority Field alongside a banner of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

That has drawn an angry public reaction from Broncos fans who have taken to Twitter and to the streets to vent their frustration. Some fans have organized an online petition asking the league, which purchased the advertising space from the Downtown Denver Partnership, to remove the banners.

The Ravens visit Denver next Thursday for the NFL's regular-season opener.

BASEBALL

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Most of a lawsuit claiming former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and executives at his failed video game company duped the state's economic development agency into approving a $75 million investment can move forward, a Rhode Island judge ruled.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein's decision allows the Economic Development Corp. to proceed with its lawsuit against Schilling, former 38 Studios executives, former EDC officials and others. The suit alleges fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, racketeering and conspiracy and says the board was misled into approving a $75 million loan guarantee for the company in 2010.

38 Studios - named for Schilling's old jersey number - filed for bankruptcy last year, leaving the state on the hook for $112 million. About $90 million is outstanding.

NASCAR

TRINITY, N.C. (AP) - Bobby Labonte broke three ribs in a bike riding accident near his North Carolina home and will miss this weekend's NASCAR race in Atlanta.

A spokesman for the driver said Labonte was taken to a hospital by ambulance and will be held overnight for observation. He was scheduled to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing at Atlanta Motor Speedway and will be replaced in the car by Mike Bliss.

Labonte's consecutive starts streak came to an end earlier this season at 704 races when JTG Daugherty Racing used AJ Allmendinger at Kentucky in June instead of Labonte.

The 2000 NASCAR champion had not missed a start since he began racing full-time in 1993.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

SOMERS, Conn. (AP) - The 1997 AP player of the year trophy earned by former Connecticut women's basketball star Kara Wolters is back in her possession, a week after being reported stolen.

The trophy had actually been sent out for cleaning without the player's knowledge, she said.

''My grandma had a friend remove the trophy so she could surprise me and get it polished for my birthday,'' Wolters said in a text message. ''She lives out of state and didn't know any of this was going on. She feels so bad.''

The 37-year-old former center found the trophy missing from a display case next to her fireplace when she returned from a trip to the beach on Aug. 20, and reported the apparent theft to police.

State police said there is no criminal aspect to the case, and it has been closed.

SWIMMING

Congressional staffers met with representatives of the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming to discuss ways to reduce the risk of sexual abuse in youth sports.

The get-together stemmed from Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) asking the Government Accountability Office in June to expand its investigation into the Penn State sexual abuse scandal to include youth sports. That came shortly after famed Washington-area coach Rick Curl was sentenced to seven years in prison for a relationship he had with an underage swimmer in the 1980s.

USA Swimming has been faced with dozens of similar allegations, resulting in tougher guidelines and a public list of coaches who have received lifetime bans.

SOCCER

NYON, Switzerland (AP) - A soccer club from Kazakhstan has been warned that it could face disciplinary action if it continues its ritual slaughter of sheep before matches.

Shakhter Karagandy killed a sheep last week at Astana Arena the day before beating Celtic 2-0 in the Champions League playoffs. European soccer's governing body says it informed Shakhter that animal slaughter is ''not acceptable in or around our competitions.'' UEFA says the Kazakh club would face sanctions if it happens again.

Shakhter is the lowest-ranked team remaining in the Champions League and is aiming to reach the 32-team group stage for the first time.

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