Sports

Falcons allowed to recoup nearly $20 million from Vick

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons are entitled to recover nearly $20 million in bonus money paid to disgraced quarterback Michael Vick, an arbitrator ruled Tuesday. The players' union vowed to appeal.

Stephen B. Burbank, the University of Pennsylvania law professor and special master who led last week's arbitration hearing, sided with the team after hearing from Falcons president and general manager Rich McKay and attorneys from the NFL Players Association, which represented Vick.

The Falcons argued that Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal charges for his role in a long-running dogfighting operation, knew he was in violation of the contract when he signed a $130 million deal in December 2004.

The team said he used proceeds from the contract to fund his illicit activities and sought the repayment of $19,970,000 in bonuses he was paid out of a total of $22.5 million in 2005 and '06.

Any money the Falcons recover from Vick would be credited to its future salary cap, a huge step in recovering from the loss of the team's franchise player. Atlanta (1-4) is off to a dismal start with Joey Harrington at quarterback.

• COLLEGE FOOTBALL -- A sports marketer who allegedly made improper payments to Reggie Bush while the Heisman Trophy winner was still at Southern California has agreed to meet with NCAA investigators and provide documentation of financial transactions between the two, according to a report.

The Los Angeles Times also reported Tuesday on its Web site that Lloyd Lake is expected to file a civil lawsuit in San Diego against Bush later this month, seeking to recoup money allegedly given to Bush and his family.

Lake and partner Michael Michaels claimed over a year ago that they provided money to Bush's family as well as a home for which the family had failed to pay more than $50,000 in rent. The conflict was made public after Bush signed with another sports agent.

• TRACK AND FIELD -- Even though she's handed back her Olympic medals, the shaming of Marion Jones isn't over yet.

International Olympic and track and field officials are prepared to wipe her name officially from the record books, strip her of her world championship medals, pursue her for prize money and appearance fees and possibly ban her from future Olympics in any capacity.

The IOC, which opened an investigation into Jones after she was linked to the BALCO steroids scandal in 2004, can act now that she has confessed and surrendered the medals.

After long denying she ever had used performance-enhancing drugs, Jones admitted Friday that she'd taken the designer steroid "the clear" from September 2000 to July 2001. On Monday, she returned her five Sydney Olympic medals.

• COLLEGE BASKETBALL -- The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, in its third and final year of an agreement to play its league tournament in Raleigh, is talking not only with that city but also with others about future tournaments, the league commissioner said.

"Raleigh's been good to us," MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas said. "We look forward to a continued relationship. We're engaged with other cities, also. It's like the unions, the United Auto Workers. You just never know until the deal is done."

The 2008 tournament will be held March 10-15. Thomas said the league is in discussions with the city, Wake County and the arena on extending the agreement, but is also speaking with other cities as well.

• PRO FOOTBALL -- The NFL has suspended starting cornerback and former Rock Hill High School star Johnathan Joseph for Sunday's game at Kansas City, the Cincinnati Bengals said.

Joseph will forfeit his salary for both this game and the Jets game on Oct. 21, the club said. He was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The second-year pro was arrested in northern Kentucky on Jan. 22 after a Boone County sheriff's deputy stopped a vehicle he was a passenger in and smelled marijuana, according to the police report. Joseph told the deputy he had marijuana in his Super Bowl backpack, where it was found, the report said.

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