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Ex-Penn State lineman pleads no contest

| Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006

STATE COLLEGE - Former Penn State defensive tackle Scott Paxson pleaded no contest Wednesday to disorderly conduct, putting an abrupt end to his trial on indecent assault charges.

The plea agreement was reached after the prosecution and defense presented opening statements, but before any witnesses testified. Paxson was on trial for aggravated indecent assault and indecent assault in connection with an encounter with a female student at his campus apartment in December 2004.

Those two charges were dropped as a result of the plea deal. Paxson must also pay a $300 fine as part of the agreement.

A judge in April had dismissed a sexual assault charge against Paxson, who has maintained that he was innocent of all charges.

A key member of last year's Nittany Lions defensive line, Paxson signed with the Steelers in May, but was cut earlier this month.

Cycling

Tour de France chief Patrice Clerc said he considers Floyd Landis a cheater who has discredited cycling's showcase race. "For me, the sermon has been read. Landis did not win the Tour because he cheated," Clerc said in an interview with sports daily L'Equipe published yesterday.

Hockey

Goalie Dan Cloutier has agreed to a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings, putting him under contract through the 2008-09 season. The Kings acquired Cloutier from the Vancouver Canucks on July 5 for a second-round selection in next year's NHL entry draft and a conditional pick in the 2009 draft.

• Although the Philadelphia Flyers could be without goaltender Antero Niittymaki for up to two months, the team is in no hurry to acquire a proven NHL backup. Niittymaki, who tore the labrum in his left hip during a Tuesday morning practice, is awaiting results of tests and an examination to determine if surgery will be required. The injury gives Robert Esche the chance to start most games in the early part of the season. Esche has played in 110 regular-season games since joining the Flyers in 2002.

Motor sports

Juan Pablo Montoya will make his stock car debut in the Oct. 6 ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway. Car owner Chip Ganassi said yesterday he would put Montoya in the No. 4 Texaco/Havoline Dodge for the event. Montoya was released from his Formula One contract with McLaren last week, and spent Monday testing an ARCA car at Talladega.

Skiing

Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety and Julia Mancuso headlined the U.S. Alpine team roster released yesterday. Bode Miller, the former World Cup overall champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist, also was added for another season. He's one of 16 Alpine skiers from the Turin Olympics who are returning to the team.

Tennis

Top-seeded Martina Hingis coasted into the second round of the Korea Open yesterday with 6-3, 6-2 win over teenager Caroline Wozniacki.

• Venus Williams defeated Ana Ivanovic, 6-3, 6-4, yesterday to reach the second round of the Fortis Championships in Luxembourg.

• Top-seeded Tommy Robredo defeated Alexander Peya, 6-4, 6-2, yesterday to advance to the second round of the Mumbai Open.

• Top-seeded Fernando Verdasco rallied past Daniele Bracciali, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, yesterday at the clay-court Palermo International.

• Third-seeded James Blake breezed to a 6-1, 6-2 victory yesterday over wild-card Marin Cilic to advance to the second round of the Thailand Open.

Off the field

Iowa basketball players Mike Henderson and Tyler Smith were arrested and charged with theft Sunday, according to Coralville, Iowa, police. The incident occurred at Dillard's in the Coral Ridge Mall. There is no word on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

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