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Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Thursday - 1/24/2013, 7:40am  ET

The Associated Press

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) -- The NCAA's probe of Miami's athletic compliance practices is ramping up yet again.

Only this time, the Hurricanes aren't exactly the subject of the inquiry.

In a bizarre twist, it's college sports' governing body itself that is being investigated after NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged on Wednesday "a very severe issue of improper conduct" by former investigators working the long, complex Miami case.

The NCAA said its investigation was based, at least in part, on information that it should not have had access to, the testimony of those who appeared under subpoena to be deposed in the bankruptcy case involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, one of the most notorious Ponzi scheme architects in history.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Shapiro's attorney did, and used it -- and apparently entered into some sort of contractual agreement with the NCAA, one that apparently either was not or should never have been approved.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Victoria Azarenka had to endure some anxious moments before and after her win over American teenager Sloane Stephens.

Li Na wasn't flustered at all while beating No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova.

The result is that Li will play for the Australian Open title against Azarenka, who ended Stephens' unexpected run to the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Another player with an easy run Thursday was defending champion Novak Djokovic, who looked like he was conducting a tennis clinic in overpowering No. 4 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in just 1 hour, 29 minutes. Djokovic will play the winner of Friday's semifinal pitting Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

PRO FOOTBALL

Add Junior Seau's family to the thousands of people who are suing the NFL over the long-term damage caused by concussions.

Seau's ex-wife and four children sued the league Wednesday, saying the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its "acts or omissions" that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.

Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.

___

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- A person familiar with the decision says the NFL has fined New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for kicking Baltimore Ravens defender Ed Reed during Sunday's AFC championship game.

The fine was first announced on NFL.com. An official with knowledge of the penalty confirmed it to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because it had not been announced.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The San Francisco 49ers will be the first team to touch down in New Orleans for the Super Bowl when the NFC champions arrive Sunday night. The Baltimore Ravens are set to show up Monday.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Frank Gore will pay closer attention to his socks for the Super Bowl.

The San Francisco 49ers running back was fined $10,500 by the NFL after he wore his socks too low in Sunday's NFC championship game at Atlanta, an equipment violation. It marked the second time he was fined this season.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders hired Tony Sparano as an assistant head coach who will work with the offensive line.

Sparano comes to the Raiders after one season as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, who had one of the NFL's worst offenses. The Jets ranked 30th of 32 teams in overall offense, and averaged 17.5 points per game.

Sparano, who will be entering his 30th year coaching, was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for four years before being fired.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o admitted to Katie Couric he answered questions about his "dead," online girlfriend even after he received a call Dec. 6 from a woman posing as the fake person.

Te'o also maintained he played no part in the hoax.

Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, the All-American said he was convinced the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua died in September. Te'o claims he never met Kekua in person but developed a serious relationship with her through phone calls and electronic messages.

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