A Miami correspondence academy has drawn the scrutiny of the NCAA and state officials amid growing concerns about "diploma mills" -- nontraditional high schools that make it easy for athletes and other students to graduate.
University High School has no classrooms, teachers or teams but has helped numerous athletes quickly earn diplomas, the New York Times reported last week. The NCAA has begun an investigation of the school, and the Florida High School Athletic Association plans to investigate.
"What's alleged in that case ought to be of concern in everyone in the country," Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for membership services, said yesterday. "It relates to the quality of the diplomas students receive. Athletes continue to be a small percentage of this problem; other students are taking advantage of diploma mills. It's a bigger problem than something for the sports page."
Over the past two years, the Times said, University High graduated at least 14 students who signed with Division I football programs. Because the school is private, students did not have to take the state-mandated exit exam.
The Times said the school was owned until last year by a man who served 10 months in a federal prison camp after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He sold the school to a man charged with marijuana possession in 2003 and wanted on a bench warrant, the paper said.
* HOCKEY: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer, who last week collapsed in convulsions on the bench during a game against Nashville, had another abnormal heartbeat this week and returned to the hospital for treatment. He was released and is to undergo further testing at University of Michigan Medical Center, the team said.
While resting at home Monday, Fischer experienced a "brief, abnormal cardiac rhythm." General Manager Ken Holland said doctors have told Fischer he should have no physical activity for four to six weeks. . . .
The struggling Boston Bruins traded captain Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for forwards Marco Sturm, Wayne Primeau and defenseman Brad Stuart.
The 26-year-old Thornton signed a three-year, $20 million contract with Boston in August and was once thought to be the future of the franchise. . . .
Bruins defenseman Jonathan Girard retired, abandoning his comeback more than two years after he was seriously injured in an offseason car accident in 2003 in which he broke his pelvis in four places, along with his right hip and his neck.
* OLYMPICS: German bobsled coach Raimund Bethge suffered head and leg injuries when he was hit by an oncoming two-man Australian sled on the course for the Turin Olympics. . . .
Bobsledder Don Cole was suspended for two years after testing positive for a banned substance. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said that Cole tested positive for stanozolol during an out-of-competition test Aug. 8.
* COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Southern California's Matt Leinart won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award given to the top senior quarterback in college football.
* BASEBALL: The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a one-year, $800,000 contract with free agent reliever Julio Santana.
-- From News Services