Sports briefs 11-16-12: Former Texans punter sues stadium tenant over turf

CHRIS DUNCAN AP Sports Writer Published:

HOUSTON -- Former Houston Texans punter Brett Hartmann has sued the county agency that operates Reliant Stadium, blaming "unsafe turf" for a possibly career-ending knee injury.

The 6-foot-2 Hartmann signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent in July 2011. He played in the first 12 games last season before tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament and fracturing a bone in Houston's 17-10 win over Atlanta on Dec. 4.

Hartmann's attorneys filed the lawsuit Thursday in Harris County District Court, naming venue-management company SMG and the Harris County Convention and Sports Corporation (HCCSC) as defendants. It doesn't name the Texans, but includes past comments critical of the stadium's surface by nose tackle Shaun Cody, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy.

"Brett has no ill will toward the Texans," said Gene Egdorf, one of Hartmann's attorneys.

• Basketball

Sign recruits: Kentucky continues to stockpile top-flight high school talent.

The Wildcats announced Thursday the signings of five recruits including 6-foot-5 twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, considered two of the nation's top guards. Kentucky has also received national letters of intent from forward Marcus Lee and guard James Young -- ranked among the top 10 at their positions by recruiting analysts -- and forward Derek Willis of Mt. Washington, Ky.

Several recruiting services say the defending national champions have the nation's top recruiting class for the fifth straight year.

Team shut out: An Arkansas girls high school basketball team was shut out 88-0 earlier this week by a team whose coach pulled her starters in the first few minutes and told her players to take it easy.

Little Rock Hall high beat J.A. Fair high on Monday night in the Little Rock Girls Basketball Invitational Tournament.

Holdsclaw arrested: Former WNBA star Chamique Holdsclaw is in custody after being accused of shooting into a woman's car after using a bat to break its windows.

Atlanta police said Thursday that the incident happened Tuesday after the Olympic gold medalist followed 29-year-old Jennifer Lacy to her car. Lacy plays for the Tulsa Shock.

No one was injured.

Hiring report cards: Nine of 20 Football Bowl Subdivision schools that hired men's head basketball coaches received grades of A on the inaugural Black Coaches and Administrators Hiring Report Card.

The nine schools receiving A's: Central Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Mississippi State, TCU, UAB, Illinois, North Texas, South Carolina and Tulsa. Two schools received F's: LSU and Virginia Tech.

• Elsewhere

OSU apparel: Ohio State University said apparel partnerships announced Thursday with sportswear company J. America and online retailer Fanatics Inc. guarantee $97 million for scholarships and student groups over the 10-year agreement.

The announcement comes as the school plans to phase in a new business model for Buckeye clothing and headwear.

Turns up heat: Jimmie Johnson is the king of mind games -- he doesn't fall victim to them -- and he's got five trophies as proof.

He doesn't let the pressure rattle him, and as a veteran of seven championship finales he knows how hard it can be to tune out the noise surrounding the title-deciding race. So Johnson was more than willing to poke, prod and remind Brad Keselowski just what's at stake at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend.

Keselowski takes a 20-point lead over Johnson into Sunday's finale, and needs only to finish 15th or better to win his first Sprint Cup title.

Hit wall: Negotiations had already hit a wall in the ongoing hockey labor fight, and now the NHL has suggested the sides take an official two-week break before getting back to the bargaining table.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman floated the idea of a break to players' association executive director Donald Fehr. The union hasn't responded to the league yet, but the players maintained their position on Thursday night that they are ready and willing to meet at any time, and the only way to reach a deal to end the long lockout is to keep talking and negotiating.

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