Headlinin’: Fiesta Bowl requests refunds from McCain, Arizona pols

Making the morning rounds.

We'll take it in $1 bills. Now that it knows it's still going to be around for awhile, the Fiesta Bowl has formally requested the repayment of $48,225.17 in possibly illegal campaign contributions from U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl and other Arizona politicians. Of the two dozen pols shown in documents obtained by the Associated Press to have accepted money from the scandal-plagued bowl between 2000 and 2009, McCain received by far the most: $19,500 to three separate accounts. Some local politicians who accepted contributions and other gifts and attended Fiesta-sponsored fundraisers have sent their checks already in an effort to distance themselves from ongoing criminal probes into the bowl's excesses, but none have been specifically accused of knowingly accepting illegal funds or any other Fiesta-related infractions. [Associated Press]

Casting a wide net. Fifteen months after he collapsed and later died following an offseason workout, the family of former Ole Miss player Bennie Abram has filed a wrongful death suit against the university and 26 other defendants, including the NCAA, the Mississippi College Board, head coach Houston Nutt, the university chancellor and athletic director and a local hospital. The suit (which is seeking an undisclosed amount) alleges Ole Miss knew from mandatory blood tests that Abram carried sickle-cell trait, a genetic condition affecting about eight percent of black Americans — including at least eight Division I college football players who have died during workouts since 2000 — but there is no evidence that he had been told; it also describes the workout on Feb. 19, 2010, as "carelessly and recklessly excessive."

Athletic director Pete Boone countered Tuesday that "All of the actions taken by our medical professionals, athletics trainers, and coaches met or exceeded best practices." [Clarion Ledger]

The Rap Sheet, Yellowhammer review edition. Alleged Alabama tree poisoner Harvey Updyke Jr. was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on six charges connected to the poisoning of two old-growth oak trees at Auburn's beloved Toomer's Corner, including three felony counts for first-degree criminal mischief and vandalism or theft of property from a farm animal or crop facility. (He faces two counts of the latter.) Initial reports that Updyke was indicted on federal charges appear to be incorrect: All six charges were brought by the State of Alabama. [Opelika-Auburn News]{YSP:MORE}

Elsewhere in Lee County, four former Auburn players arrested for armed robbery in March were indicted Tuesday on:

• Five counts apiece of first-degree robbery;
• One count apiece of first-degree burglary;
• One count apiece of third-degree theft of property

… adding up to 24 felony counts and four misdemeanors in all. One of the players, Dakota Mosley, was also charged with misdemeanor conspiracy to hinder business, the cherry on top of a Fulmer Cup score that will never be surpassed. [Opelika-Auburn News]

Happy trails. Mid-May means the end of academic calendars across America, and the flood of transfers that accompany it. No less than five D-I players announced pending moves on Tuesday:

Wisconsin running back Zach Brown, a solid contributor his first two years on campus in 2007-08, plans to transfer after failing to make up ground on returning 1,000-yard rushers James White and Montee Ball in the spring. Because he redshirted last season as a fourth-year senior and is scheduled to earn his degree in August, Brown may be able to use his last year of eligibility at another FBS school without penalty. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

To no one's surprise, Miami running back Storm Johnson has left the team after finishing spring practice third on the depth chart — possibly as a result of multiple incidents that reportedly landed him in new coach Al Golden's doghouse and on a lengthy list of players rumored to be suspended for at least the season opener at Maryland. Predictably, Johnson's father described his son's exit as a "mutual" decision, but maintained "everything was fine with the coaches" and that suspension rumors were unfounded. [South Florida Sun Sentinel]

Georgia offensive lineman A.J. Harmon, a possible starter this fall as a redshirt junior, is leaving the team for "personal reasons," according to a UGA spokesman. Harmon sat out the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida on academic suspension, but the school offered no details on his exit except that he plans to "transfer to another institution." [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Penn State defensive tackle Brandon Ware, a 6-foot-3, 337-pound backup, texted his hometown Harrisburg Patriot-News that he also plans to transfer for "personal reasons," though he doesn't have destination. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Quickly… Coaches are kind of obsessed with turnover margin. … NFL drafnik Gil Brandt counts down the top 100 prospects for 2012, with five Alabama players in the top 40. … Tommie Frazier's not to broken up about his Hall of Fame snub. … Will Muschamp and Jimbo Fisher were never really that friendly. (Well, except for the beach house.) … And somehow it doesn't come as a surprise that Mike Leach is a pretty hardcore Ayn Rand fan.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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