South Carolina says football grades on rise

COLUMBIA -- Even though South Carolina closed the football season with five straight losses and no bowl game, the Gamecocks showed improvement in the classroom last semester.

Coach Steve Spurrier's team posted a grade-point average of 2.540 for the fall semester, which the school said was the team's best in-season performance ever. Their grades are up from the 2.305 the team had during fall 2006. Spurrier had said Thursday that 10 players graduated last month and six of seven seniors left are on track to get their degrees in May.

In all, 13 of the athletic department's 17 teams had cumulative grades of 3.0 or better for the most recently concluded semester.

• Massive offensive lineman Kenneth Page sat in front of four mini-football helmets at A.C. Flora High School, all indicating his possible college choices.

Moments later, the Associated Press all-state selection picked Clemson over North Carolina, Notre Dame and Tennessee, touching off loud applause from students and faculty who have watched Page grow into a topflight Division I prospect the past four years.

• More than two weeks after he was sued over a $4 million buyout clause in his contract at West Virginia, Rich Rodriguez turned in a second resignation letter, claiming university president Mike Garrison reneged on a deal to reduce and possibly eliminate that clause.

Jeffrey Wakefield, the school's attorney in the case, denied that such a promise was made.

The letter obtained by The Associated Press and bearing Rodriguez's name is an indication of the tack his legal defense will take when he files a response to that lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The deadline is Feb. 4.

Rodriguez resigned with a one-sentence letter on Dec. 18 for the coaching job at Michigan, touching off a bitter public dispute in which each side has accused the other of lying. The latest letter is dated Jan. 10.

• COLLEGE ATHLETICS -- Citadel athletic director Les Robinson announced his retirement, saying he'll step down on June 30.

However, Robinson said he will remain connected to the program he has led for nearly eight years as a consultant to the next AD and in other capacities at the military college.

Robinson, 65, returned to the Citadel in 2000 to lead its athletic department, a quarter-century after he served as the Bulldogs basketball coach.

• SOCCER -- Retired international soccer star Mia Hamm and two others will be inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame today.

Hamm led North Carolina to four NCAA titles and was named the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year three times. She then moved full-time to a 17-year stint with the U.S. national team, where she scored a record 158 goals in leading the Americans to two World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals.

• PRO FOOTBALL -- Buccaneers quarterback Jeff Garcia is headed to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time, replacing Green Bay's Brett Favre on the NFC roster.

Favre, who was chosen as the starter for the annual all-star game, had said he was unsure whether he would play after leading the Packers to the NFC championship game.

Garcia signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent last winter and led the team to the NFC South title.