The NCAA placed Georgia Tech on two years' probation yesterday for using 17 academically ineligible athletes in four sports, including 11 in football.

Georgia Tech argued the violations were not intentional and may appeal the penalties.

"Yes, mistakes were made, but they were inadvertent and confined to a small number of cases when you consider that we reviewed more than 800 transcripts," Georgia Tech Athletic Director Dave Braine said.

The NCAA's Committee on Infractions accepted the school's proposed scholarship reductions in football, men's and women's track and women's swimming.

Also, the NCAA vacated Tech's records in the sports between the 1998-99 and 2004-05 academic years and issued a public reprimand and censure.

* COURTS: University of Arkansas attorneys told federal judges that former basketball coach Nolan Richardson was given an offer in 2002 to quietly leave his job with "dignity and grace," instead of being fired.

Richardson said he was fired three years ago for speaking out against racism at the university. He lost an $8.9 million lawsuit against the school in Arkansas federal court last year. His attorney told a panel of three judges at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis that the lower court decision should be overturned. . . .

The referee who took bribes to fix soccer games in Germany was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 29 months in prison.

The prosecution had recommended a suspended two-year sentence for Robert Hoyzer.

Ante Sapina was convicted of fraud and given 35 months in prison for masterminding the match-fixing scheme.

* GOLF: The season-ending ADT Championship in West Palm Beach, Fla., got off to a rocky start when the top two players on the LPGA Tour, Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam, got into a tense dispute on the 18th fairway over where Sorenstam should have taken a drop from the hazard.

The ruling ultimately went Sorenstam's way. She was allowed to go to a ball drop instead of returning to the tee, but she made double bogey and fell out of a tie for the lead.

Hee Won Han led with a 5-under-par 67 that essentially went unnoticed. . . .

David Duval made eight birdies in his round of 6-under-par 64 at the Dunlop Phoenix in Miyazaki, Japan, putting him in the lead for the first time in three years, one shot over Tiger Woods.

* BASEBALL: Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Jason Bay agreed to an $18.25 million, four-year contract. Bay hit .306 with 32 homers, 101 RBI and 110 runs scored last season.

-- From News Services