Rick Fox was suspended for six games and Doug Christie got a two-game ban for their roles in a bench-clearing fight during Friday's Lakers-Kings exhibition game.

In yesterday's surprise ruling, the NBA did not suspend any members of the Kings for leaving the bench during the brawl.

Fox and Christie will miss their season openers today.

The fight broke out two minutes into the game. Christie, a Sacramento guard, threw the ball at Fox, who hit him with an open hand. Christie then punched the Lakers forward in the jaw. After the players were separated and left the court, Fox rushed down a hallway under the stands and confronted Christie again. Several Sacramento players left the bench area and raced down a tunnel leading to the locker rooms.

"Our rule regarding an automatic suspension for players leaving the bench was not intended to apply in a highly unusual situation like this one, where an altercation occurs in an access tunnel or hallway," NBA Vice President Stu Jackson said. . . .

Toronto Raptors forward Lamond Murray underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right foot and is expected to miss at least eight weeks. . . .

Indiana Pacers veteran guard Reggie Miller, hobbled by a nagging ankle injury, will miss at least the first two weeks of the season.

Auto Racing

Formula One Changes

Formula One instituted a series of rules changes to make the sport more competitive, including barring teams from telling their drivers to finish in a certain order.

F1 teams rejected radical proposals for a weight handicapping and switching drivers, and approved qualifying and scoring changes.

The rule forbidding teams from determining the finish of their drivers resulted from Ferrari instructing Rubens Barrichello to let Michael Schumacher pass him to win the Austrian Grand Prix earlier this year, and Barrichello winning the U.S. Grand Prix when Schumacher slowed down in a bid for a tie.

Meantime, the Belgian Grand Prix was dropped from the F1 schedule because the Belgian government is instituting a nationwide ban on tobacco advertising.

College Football

Rix Benched

Chris Rix will be replaced as Florida State's starting quarterback by Adrian McPherson when the No. 18 Seminoles play at Wake Forest this weekend. Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden announced the move two days after a 34-24 loss to Notre Dame, Florida State's seventh defeat in the last two years under Rix. He has been criticized following a 5-3 start, Florida State's worst since 1986. . . .

Georgia receiver-punt returner Damien Gary will be sidelined indefinitely after having emergency surgery on a bleeding muscle tear in his left leg.


A Matter of Geography

Officials at future World Cups will be chosen on merit rather than to meet geographical quotas, following criticism of refereeing standards at this year's tournament.

Under new FIFA guidelines, three-man teams from the same country will control each game. . . .

U.S. World Cup goalkeeper Brad Friedel is putting off knee surgery to play in the Premier League and in the UEFA Cup. Cartilage in Friedel's left knee "popped out" during a warmup Saturday. . . .

U.S. captain Claudio Reyna (Sunderland) injured his left knee after falling awkwardly during Premier League play.

Horse Racing

Hearings Postponed

The Maryland Racing Commission will begin hearings on the sale of Laurel Park and Pimlico to Magna Entertainment on Nov. 13. The hearings were scheduled to begin yesterday at the monthly commission meeting, but were postponed because a routine financial investigation into the company is not yet complete.


America's Cup Resumes

Alinghi of Switzerland and OneWorld of Seattle kept up their fight at the top of the leader board as challenger racing resumed after a four-day, weather-enforced break at the America's Cup in Auckland, New Zealand. Alinghi beat Mascalzone Latino of Italy by 2 minutes 11 seconds, and OneWorld beat Britain's GBR Challenge by 1:05.