A prominent U.S. Olympic Committee member resigned from the USOC executive committee and several other USOC positions because of the executive committee's decision on Monday to take no action against CEO Lloyd Ward.

Brian Derwin of Apple Valley, Minn., sent a letter of resignation following the executive committee meeting that considered whether Ward had breached the USOC's conflict-of-interest rules.

After reviewing a report made by a USOC ethics committee, the executive committee voted not to reprimand Ward.

The ethics committee noted that Ward asked a USOC staff member to help seek business for a company of which Ward's brother was president. The ethics panel decided Ward's action "created the appearance of a conflict of interest."

The executive committee decided to turn over the issue to the USOC compensation committee as part of the annual employee performance reviews.

"With the passage of the motion regarding the CEO conflict of interest issue, it became clear to me that I could not support the adopted position," Derwin wrote in a letter obtained by the Chicago Tribune.

"I think there was a clear conflict of interest violation, that it should not be shuffled to the compensation committee and . . . the [executive committee] did not address the underlying distrust and dysfunction within the USOC."

Derwin resigned from five other posts, including chair of the anti-doping policy committee and vice president of the National Governing Body council. He could not be reached to comment.

Pro Hockey

Hartley Starts Over

The Atlanta Thrashers hired Bob Hartley as head coach, hoping the 2001 Stanley Cup winner can turn around the team with the NHL's worst record.

Hartley was fired less than a month ago by the Colorado Avalanche after a 10-8-9-4 start.

"At certain stages of your life, you need to challenge yourself," Hartley said. "I really think this organization offers me the challenge I need."

The Thrashers fired Curt Fraser on Dec. 26 and General Manager Don Waddell took over on an interim basis. Atlanta went 4-5-1 under Waddell, including a 7-4 victory Monday over Philadelphia.

The Thrashers are last in the Southeast Division at 12-25-2-4. . . .

Ottawa Senators majority owner Rod Bryden and a co-investor met yesterday's deadline to submit an offer to buy the bankrupt hockey team and its arena.

Bryden filed the offer at the NHL's offices in New York.

The Senators filed for bankruptcy last week; another team, the Buffalo Sabres, sought protection from creditors Monday. The Sabres secured a $10 million line of credit yesterday to use for operating expenses.

College Football

Manning Stays Put

Mississippi quarterback Eli Manning will return for his senior season, skipping a chance to enter the NFL draft.

Manning was expected to be a first-round selection had he entered the draft.

Manning, a junior, holds 24 school records and has passed for 6,519 yards in his career, including a school-record 52 touchdowns. . . .

Tennessee sophomore wide receiver Kelley Washington (Sherando High) will enter the NFL draft after missing most of the season because of knee and neck injuries. Washington, 23, caught 64 passes for 1,010 yards and five touchdowns in 2001 but played in four games this season.

Alpine Skiing

'Herminator' Returns

Hermann Maier skied his first race since almost losing his leg in a motorcycle crash 18 months ago and just failed to qualify for the second run of a World Cup giant slalom won by Austrian teammate Hans Knauss in Adelboden, Switzerland.

Knauss won for the first time this season and was followed by world giant slalom champion Michael von Gruenigen of Switzerland and Kjetil-Andre Aamodt of Norway.

Maier, 30, was rusty, making uncharacteristic errors at almost every gate.

"It's a bit disappointing. I have to admit I was expecting to do a bit better," he said. "But in reality, it's a victory for me just to be back racing."

The two-time Olympic champion had won the previous three times he competed on this difficult course.

World Cup points leader Bode Miller of Franconia, N.H., lost his left ski in the opening run when his binding unclipped just before the 13th gate.

Horse Racing

Delahoussaye Retires

Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye has ridden his final race.

Delahoussaye, who ranks 11th on thoroughbred racing's all-time list with 6,384 victories, said Monday he's heeding his doctor's advice to retire.

"This is it," Delahoussaye said. "I had a feeling it was going to happen, I was prepared. I've had a great career, I can't complain. I've been very fortunate."

Delahoussaye, 51, has been sidelined since an Aug. 30 spill at Del Mar, where he fractured a bone in his neck and suffered the fifth concussion of his 36-year riding career.

Baseball

Spencer for Hire

Former New York Yankees outfielder Shane Spencer agreed to a one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians, giving up an annual trip to the postseason for the chance to play every day.

Spencer said he enjoyed his postseason experience with New York but was often frustrated at the lack of playing time. . . .

Second baseman Adam Kennedy, the MVP of the AL Championship Series last fall, agreed to a one-year, $2.27 million contract with the Anaheim Angels. . . . Right-hander Tony Armas Jr. and the Montreal Expos agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million contract.

Austria's Hermann Maier, a two-time gold medalist, carves up course in 1st race after 18-month leg injury layoff.