Colts sign DE Freeney to six-year deal

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts have signed defensive end Dwight Freeney to a long-term contract that will make him among the NFL's most highly paid defensive players.

Freeney and the Colts agreed to a six-year, $72 million contract that includes a $30 million signing bonus, Freeney's agent, Gary Wichard, said Friday. The Colts also issued a statement saying they had reached an agreement with Freeney, but did not elaborate.

The deal first was reported by ESPN.

The Colts had designated Freeney as their franchise player in February, which would have kept him with the Super Bowl champions for at least one more season. The team and Freeney faced a Monday deadline to sign a long-term deal before this season.

• COLLEGE ATHLETICS -- South Carolina topped the SEC with 104 student-athletes named to the spring academic honor roll. USC had 18 students more than any other school in the conference.

Each student-athlete must have a grade-point average of at least 3.00 for either the preceding academic year or have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 or above at the nominating institution; be on scholarship, a letter-winner or have participated on a varsity team for two years if non-scholarship; have completed 24 hours of credit at the nominating institution; and have been a member of the varsity team for the sport's entire NCAA championship segment.

• PRO BASEBALL -- Rickey Henderson is back on the bases.

Baseball's career steals leader became the new first-base coach for the New York Mets when Howard Johnson shifted to be their hitting coach.

The moves came after hitting coach Rick Down was fired during the All-Star break.

• COLLEGE BASKETBALL -- Ronny Thompson cited Ball State's internal investigation into alleged violations of NCAA rules in his resignation as basketball coach.

"Coach Thompson has expressed concerns about the process of the recent investigation of alleged NCAA violations and its conclusions," athletic director Tom Collins said at a news conference Friday.

Thompson resigned after a single 9-22 season as the Cardinals' coach in a letter Thursday to university president Jo Ann Gora. Thompson and his staff broke NCAA rules last summer and in May by attending voluntary offseason team workouts, and they lied about their involvement in the May infraction, the school has said.

• PRO BASKETBALL -- The New Jersey Nets signed a deal with guard Vince Carter that will keep the eight-time All-Star in New Jersey at least through the 2010-11 season.

Carter will receive $66 million guaranteed -- which includes four years plus a partial guarantee for a fifth year -- and could make as much as $80 million, according to a person involved in the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Nets haven't announced the terms.

• LOCAL BASKETBALL -- Veterans Cab PrimeTime Players picked up three wins in league play in the Jeff McInnis Pro-Am basketball league at the Grady Cole Center.

PrimeTime defeated Urban Entertainment 55-49 with Thomas Douglas scoring 14 points in the final three minutes to seal the win. The second win was a 74-67 win over Bring It On where Sean Barnette led all scorers with 21 points, while Bobby Isom and Eric Mann also added double figures.

PrimeTime then closed out the week with a 66-59 win over All In The Family with Bobby Isom and Sean Barnette both scoring over 20.