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Notre Dame President Blasts Firing

Thursday, December 9, 2004; Page D02

Notre Dame's outgoing president criticized the decision to fire Tyrone Willingham after just three seasons, saying he was surprised the coach was not given more time to try to succeed.

"In my 18 years, there has only been two days that I've been embarrassed to be president of Notre Dame: Tuesday and Wednesday of last week," ESPN.com quoted Rev. Edward Malloy as saying during a panel discussion at the Sports Business Journal's Intercollegiate Athletics Forum.

Oklahoma QB Jason White could become the second two-time Heisman Trophy winner Saturday, joining Ohio State's Archie Griffin. (Sue Ogrocki -- AP)

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University spokesman Matt Storin issued a statement yesterday saying there was "debate and disagreement" over the firing, and that Malloy deferred because of his impending retirement on June 30.

Notre Dame is preparing to meet with Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator and former Irish quarterback Tom Clements about its vacancy. Clements will meet with Notre Dame officials Friday morning, a football source told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Clements, 51, has connections to two of Notre Dame's most successful coaches. He played under Ara Parseghian, leading the 1973 team to a national championship, and was an assistant under Lou Holtz from 1992 to '95.

"Notre Dame will get a coach," Malloy said. "I hope that person does well. But I think the philosophical hit that we have taken is a significant one. I am not happy about it. And I do not assume responsibility for it. I think it was the wrong move and the fact that other schools have made similar choices after three years suggests that they are feeling the same pressures that we are." . . .

The Black Coaches Association wants football recruits and possible assistant coaches to stay away from South Carolina because the school ignored the group's recommendation for a more open coaching search.

The group's director, Floyd Keith, told the Associated Press that South Carolina never contacted the BCA. The group sent the school search guidelines before Steve Spurrier was hired to replace Lou Holtz last month. . . .

Jason White has a chance to become just the second two-time Heisman Trophy winner. White, the Oklahoma quarterback who won last year's Heisman, was chosen as one of five finalists for college football's most prestigious award.

Joining White for Saturday's award ceremony in New York will be his Oklahoma teammate, Adrian Peterson, Southern California teammates Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, and Utah quarterback Alex Smith. . . .

Utah defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham was hired as the school's football coach to replace Urban Meyer.

• COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Florida basketball administrative assistant Major Parker was arrested on charges of selling half a kilogram of cocaine to an undercover officer.Parker, a former captain on Florida's team that made it to the Final Four in 2000, was arrested yesterday and charged with selling the drug to an undercover Gainesville Police Department officer for $12,800, said Jerry Sanford, managing assistant for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

SOCCER: A Portuguese soccer player lost a finger when he caught his wedding ring on a fence while celebrating a goal for his Swiss team. Paolo Diogo was injured after his late goal put Servette ahead, 4-1, Sunday against Schaffhausen. The ring ripped off the top of his finger. Before it was clear what happened, Diogo was cited by the referee for excessive celebration .

BOXING: Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor criminal damage for allegedly jumping on the hood of a car outside of a Scottsdale, Ariz., nightclub, on Nov. 27, police said.

PRO HOCKEY: NHL officials and union leaders will meet today, their first talks since Sept. 9.

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