Osborne returns as Nebraska's interim athletic director

LINCOLN, Neb.-- The future of Nebraska football is in the hands of its patriarch.

Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne returned to Nebraska on Tuesday as interim athletic director, a day after the firing of Steve Pederson.

The 70-year-old Osborne will determine whether Bill Callahan stays or goes as Nebraska coach, but he won't make the decision until after the season.

"I don't want to be someone who micromanages, watches over people's shoulders," Osborne said. "If they want me to come to practice or go to meetings, I'll go. If they want to stay away, I'll stay away."

Osborne met with university chancellor Harvey Perlman on Tuesday morning to discuss the job, and Osborne agreed to serve until the chancellor hires a permanent athletic director.

Osborne said he took the job because he cares about Nebraska athletics. He'll stay on as long as it takes Perlman to hire a permanent athletic director, and his pay will be based on a $250,000 annual salary.

• The NCAA put Ball State on probation for two years and cut three football scholarships because of misuse by athletes of a textbook loan program.

The penalties announced Tuesday by the Division I Committee on Infractions also included a reduction of money available for men's tennis scholarships and a restriction on the number of hours per week allowed for softball practice.

The infractions involved 89 athletes in 10 sports from the spring semester of 2003 to the end of the 2004-05 school year. A separate investigation is ongoing involving former men's basketball coach Ronny Thompson, who resigned in July amid accusations that he and his assistants broke NCAA rules by attending voluntary offseason workouts in 2006 and 2007 and lying about their involvement.

• PRO FOOTBALL -- The San Diego Chargers acquired Chris Chambers from the Miami Dolphins just before the trade deadline, giving quarterback Philip Rivers a veteran wide receiver to work with.

In return, the winless Dolphins will receive a 2008 second-round draft pick.

The trade came as the Chargers put their No. 1 wide receiver, Eric Parker, on the injured reserved list with a broken right big toe. Parker has been out since June, and will miss the rest of the season.

Chambers has 31 receptions for 415 yards and no touchdowns this season.

• GOLF -- Tiger Woods will have his own brand of sports drink next year under an endorsement deal announced with Gatorade that marks a couple of firsts for the world's No. 1 golfer -- his first U.S. deal with a beverage company and his first licensing agreement.

Gatorade said it will introduce "Gatorade Tiger" in March, with more products to follow. Woods even picked out the flavors himself, with the drink available in a cherry blend, citrus blend and grape.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although Golfweek magazine reported last month it was for five years and could pay Woods as much as $100 million, moving him closer to the $1 billion mark in career endorsements.

• WNBA -- The WNBA will announce today that it has awarded a franchise to Atlanta, a person familiar with the deal said.

Atlanta real estate executive Ron Terwilliger will be the sole owner of the team, which will begin play in 2008, according to the person familiar with the deal, who requested anonymity because the new franchise hasn't been officially announced yet.

• PRO BASEBALL -- Joe Torre's future with the Yankees remained unclear Tuesday after team officials gathered at the home of owner George Steinbrenner to debate whether the manager should return for a 13th season.

"The meetings are adjourned for tonight," spokesman Howard Rubenstein said shortly after the session ended about 4 p.m. "There have been no decisions made, nor will there be any comment today. The meetings will resume tomorrow."

Steinbrenner told The Record of Hackensack, N.J., on Oct. 6 that he didn't think he'd bring back the manager if the Yankees failed to advance to the AL championship series.