Virginia Tech junior tailback Shyrone Stith plans to enter the NFL draft in April, according to a Tech assistant coach.

Billy Hite, an assistant to Coach Frank Beamer, told the Roanoke Times last night that Stith called him last Thursday and told him of his decision. Stith had told reporters on Dec. 30 while preparing to play in the Sugar Bowl that he wouldn't leave Tech early.

Stith could not be reached last night at his Cheseapeake home or Blacksburg apartment. Yesterday was the final day for underclassmen to declare draft eligibility.

Stith's change of heart surprised Tech's coaches, since expectations are that he won't be picked before the third or fourth round.

"I told Shyrone all along that if it looked like he'd go in the first or second [round], 'You don't have to ask, I'll boot you out of here,' " Hite said. "But if it's below that I told him it wasn't worth it. Only one more year of his life and that could cost him between one million and two million dollars per year."

The 5-foot-8, 210-pound Stith led the Hokies in rushing this season, running for 1,119 yards and 13 touchdowns. He suffered a sprained left ankle late in the first half at the Sugar Bowl and sat out the rest of Virginia Tech's 46-29 loss to Florida State. He carried 11 times for 68 yards before the injury.

Stith is ninth on Tech's career rushing list with 2,292 yards.

Meantime, 27-year-old Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke will return for his senior season.

Weinke, who threw four touchdown passes against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, made the surprise announcement yesterday at a news conference in Tallahassee.

"I'd like to come back and try to win another national championship," Weinke said.

Weinke, who spent six years in the Toronto Blue Jays' minor league system before returning to college to resume his football career, threw for 3,103 yards and 25 touchdowns this season.

Track and Field

Golden Spike Tour Dates

The Golden Spike Tour schedule for the 2000 indoor season was announced.

The Tour will begin Jan. 29 with the D.C. Invitational in Fairfax. That will be followed by the Millrose Games Feb. 4 in New York City, the Tyson Invitational Feb. 12 in Fayetteville, Ark., the Golden Spike Invitational Feb. 19 in Pocatello, Idaho, and the USA Track & Field Championships March 3-4 in Atlanta.


U.S. Women Tie Sweden

In its second game since its star players began a boycott over wages, the U.S. women's team tied Sweden, 0-0, at the Australia Cup in Melbourne. The Americans played a defensive game led by Nandi Pryce and Danielle Slaton. Susan Bush missed three good chances to put the Americans ahead in the second half. . . .

Corinthians beat Saudi Arabia's El-Nassr, 2-0, last night, setting up the possibility of an all-Brazil final in the first FIFA Club World Championship.

Corinthians and Real Madrid each finished round-robin play in Group A with two wins and a tie for seven points. But Corinthians advanced on goal difference with a plus-four (6-2). Corinthians will face either Brazil's Vasco da Gama or Mexico's Necaxa in Friday's championship at Rio de Janeiro.


Reid-Trinidad Confusion

David Reid's title defense against Felix Trinidad is on again, but promoters might end up searching for a new date.

Promoter Don King wants the fight for March 4 at an outdoor stadium on the Las Vegas Strip, and has asked Nevada boxing officials for the date. Reid's promoter, Dan Goossen, also said the fight would be on that night.

But a top executive with Showtime Event Television said promoter Bob Arum already has the date for another pay-per-view event, and that the fight probably will be switched to another night. . . .

The World Boxing Council formally stripped "Prince" Naseem Hamed of its version of the featherweight title because he would not relinquish his World Boxing Organization championship.


Seles Pulls Out

Monica Seles, a four-time Australian Open champion, has been forced to withdraw from the first Grand Slam of the new year because of an injured right foot that has sidelined her since October.