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Exemption Is Sought For Muslim Athlete

Sunday, September 12, 2004; Page E03

The University of South Florida in Tampa will ask the NCAA to grant an exemption to its uniform policy and allow a Muslim player to wear Islamic clothing on the basketball court.

Andrea Armstrong, a Muslim convert, said she left the team and lost her athletic scholarship last week after her coach told her she could not wear religiously mandated clothing during practices or games. She wanted to wear long pants, a top with long sleeves and a head scarf.

School officials said Armstrong voluntarily left the team and was not pressured to do so.

In a meeting Friday involving Armstrong, the university and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, officials agreed the team would accommodate her Islamic attire and reinstate her scholarship. The university also agreed to work with the NCAA on this matter.

"An athlete should not be asked to choose between engaging in healthy sporting activities and her deeply held religious beliefs," said Ahmed Bedier, who took part in the meeting as Florida spokesman for CAIR.

The NCAA's basketball rule book devotes five pages to uniforms but does not address religious issues. All players are required to wear the same uniform.

At Towson University, Tamir Goodman, an Orthodox Jew, wore a yarmulke on the court and did not play on the Jewish Sabbath. At the Athens Olympics, several female athletes wore head scarves.

HOCKEY:Vincent Lecavalier, who helped lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to the NHL championship in June, scored 3 minutes 45 seconds into overtime to give Canada a 4-3 victory over the Czech Republic in Toronto and send the host nation into the title game of the World Cup of Hockey.

The Canadians, who have reached the championship game in all seven Canada Cup/World Cup tournaments, will face Finland in Toronto on Tuesday.

Finland is the surprise opponent, having eliminated the United States in St. Paul, Minn., in the other semifinal Friday night.

The final game might be the last NHL-style hockey that's played for a while as the league's collective bargaining agreement with the players' association expires the following day. The sides are far apart, and a lockout that threatens next season is expected to be imposed.

Canada's Roberto Luongo made 37 saves in his first start of the tournament in place of Martin Brodeur, who sat out because of a wrist injury. Brodeur allowed only three goals on 100 shots in Canada's first five games.

Mario Lemieux, Kris Draper and Eric Brewer also scored for Canada, which squandered two third-period leads to set up the overtime. Petr Cajanek, Martin Havlat and Patrik Elias scored for the Czech Republic.

AUTO RACING: Helio Castroneves ran away with his second straight pole and third of the season with an official lap of 214.759 mph in qualifying for the Delphi Indy 300 in Joliet, Ill.

Tony Kanaan was second at 214.030 mph, the only other driver in the 22-car field to crack the 214 mph mark. Buddy Rice came up short again in his effort to equal the IRL record of six poles in a season, qualifying third.

BASKETBALL: Charlotte opened the game with a WNBA-record 21 straight points in the Sting's 60-50 win over the Minnesota Lynx in Charlotte.

Tammy Sutton-Brown added 10 points for the Sting, which beat the Lynx for the second time in four days and took sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte (16-15) has won three straight and holds a half-game lead over Connecticut. . . .

Deanna Nolan scored 16 points to lead the visiting Detroit Shock over Phoenix, 80-72, snapping the Mercury's four-game winning streak.

-- From News Services


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