Ernie Irvan has decided to step away from the sport that nearly took his life, according to a story published in the Charlotte Observer.

Irvan has scheduled a news conference for 12:30 p.m. today at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, where he is expected to announce his retirement from the Winston Cup series.

The announcement will come two weeks after Irvan, 40, suffered head and lung injuries in a practice crash at Michigan Speedway. He spent several days in a Michigan hospital and had not returned to his No. 36 Pontiac since the accident.

At Michigan, Irvan spun in Turn 4 and slammed the wall with the driver's side of his car during a Grand National practice session. He was unconscious when rescue personnel reached him but regained consciousness while being transferred into an ambulance.

Track

Jones Ends Season

Sprinter Marion Jones still has back spasms and will not compete again this year, her agent said.

"She continues to improve, but she is not well enough to compete," Charlie Wells said Wednesday in a telephone interview from Brussels, where Jones had hoped to resume her season at a Golden League meet today. . . .

One of the world's leading ultra-triathletes was in a life-threatening condition yesterday after he collapsed following an extreme two-day event in Lithuania over the weekend.

Vidmantas Urbonas, a 41-year-old Lithuanian, had damage to his heart, lungs and kidneys, probably because of the extreme exertion of the event, his doctors said.

Urbonas was hospitalized Sunday after completing a 52-mile run, the final stage of the three-race competition called the ultra-triathlon.

Golf

Obscurity Leads in B.C.

Kevin Pom-Arleau is so obscure in PGA circles that, after the first-round 6-under-par 65 in the Air Canada Championship in Surrey, B.C., he had to inform tour officials that there was a hyphen in his last name.

Pom-Arleau, an ex-Air Force air traffic controller competing in his first PGA event, was among the lesser known names atop the leader board. Japanese Tour veteran Brandt Jobe, coming off a career-best fourth last week, led with a 63. Veteran Peter Jacobsen shot 30 on the back nine and was at 64. . . .

American Tom Gillis outplayed some of Europe's Ryder Cup players, shooting a 5-under-par 66 for the opening-day lead at the European Masters in Crans-Sur-Sierre, Switzerland. . . .

A scheduling conflict with Tiger Woods might result in this year's PGA Grand Slam of Golf being delayed by a week.

PGA of America officials reported the tournament for winners of the four majors may have to be moved back because defending champion Woods has a commitment to play the same week in the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

The Grand Slam, a 36-hole event with a total purse of $1 million, is set for Nov. 16-17 on Kauai, Hawaii.

Soccer

Honors for Reyna

U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna (University of Virginia) was named Scottish League player of the month after scoring five goals for first-place Glasgow Rangers, including one against Italian power Parma in the European Champions League competition.

Basketball

Team USA Adds Edwards

Teresa Edwards, who has been on four U.S. Olympic teams, was added to the USA Basketball women's team. That gave her a good shot at being an Olympian for a record fifth time. . . .

The Warriors re-signed veteran forward Terry Cummings.

Boxing

Grant-Golota Date Set

Heavyweight contenders Michael Grant and Andrew Golota will meet in a 10-round bout Nov. 20 in the Trump Taj Mahal at Atlantic City.