Rich Rodriguez lawsuit heads back to state court

MORGANTOWN, W.Va.-- The lawsuit over a $4 million buyout clause in the contract of former West Virginia University football coach Rich Rodriguez is headed back to the court where it originated.

A federal judge ruled Monday the matter belongs in Monongalia County Circuit Court. That's where WVU filed the case after Rodriguez resigned to take the head coaching job at Michigan.

WVU had argued because it's an arm of state government, it can only be sued in state court.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bailey agrees. He says the university is not an independent body.

The ruling also says it's clear the outcome of the case will have an impact on state funds because any money paid to or held by the university is considered the state's money.

• North Carolina has added defensive tackle Joseph Townsend to its latest recruiting class.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder played one year at Foothill Community College in California in 2006. He was recruited to Nebraska by North Carolina assistant John Blake, but didn't enroll and sat out last year.

Townsend was rated a four-star defensive tackle by last season. His brother, Larry Townsend Jr., is a former defensive tackle for the New Orleans Saints.

• LSU defensive end Kirston Pittman was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, the school announced on Monday.

Pittman, who missed all the Tigers' 2005 and 2006 seasons with foot and ankle injuries, formally applied for an extension in early January. After reviewing Pittman's documentation, the NCAA granted the additional year of eligibility.

Pittman signed with the Tigers in February 2003 and saw action in 13 games as a freshman during LSU's run to the national title that year.

• HOCKEY -- The Ottawa Senators have acquired forward Cory Stillman and defenseman Mike Commodore from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Patrick Eaves and defenseman Joe Corvo.

Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford says Stillman waived a no-trade clause to complete the deal.

Both Stillman and Commodore were part of Carolina's championship team in 2006.

• NBA -- Raptors coach Sam Mitchell is taking a leave of absence so that he can fly home to Atlanta following the death of his father-in-law.

A team spokesman said that Mitchell will not rejoin the Raptors until after the All-Star break. Toronto's first game after the break is at home against Orlando on Feb. 20.

• TENNIS -- Paul-Henri Mathieu edged Marc Gicquel 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4) in an all-French matchup to reach the second round of Open 13.

The eighth-seeded Frenchman, who needed four set points in the first set, earned a minibreak on a double fault by Gicquel to lead 5-4 in the second-set tiebreaker, before an unforced error gave him two match points.