Sports briefs for 1/24/13

ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS AP Legal Affairs Writer Published:

COLUMBUS -- The state attorney general says the trial of two high school football players charged with raping a 16-year-old girl should be closed to the public to protect her, a sentiment supported by the accuser, her parents and one of the defendants.

News organizations including The Associated Press lined up on the other side of the debate Wednesday, arguing that openness is the best way to ensure public confidence in the proceedings.

Judge Thomas Lipps is set to hold a hearing Friday to take testimony from both sides, then decide. The judge has already rejected a request to try the two players separately.

The football players are accused of attacking the girl twice after an alcohol-fueled party in mid-August in Steubenville in far eastern Ohio. Three other students who witnessed the attack but weren't charged are expected to testify at next month's trial. The girl attends a different high school across the river in West Virginia.

• Football

Ticket increase?: Ohio State's Athletic Council will recommend on Friday to the board of trustees that football ticket prices should be raised from $70 to $79 starting this fall. Also, two home games a year may be designated as premium games, with higher ticket prices.

Seaus suing the NFL: 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.

Brady fined: 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.

Sock it to him: San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore 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.

Raiders hire Sparano: 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.

• Elsewhere

Under investigation: 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.

Azarenka, Na in final: Victoria Azarenka had to endure some anxious moments before and after her 6-1, 6-4 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.

Novak Djokovic overpowered 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.

Weight gains: Delmon Young has some incentive to lay off the desserts: He can earn $600,000 based on his weight this season.

Young's $750,000, one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies allows him to earn an additional $2.75 million in bonuses.

Jackets fall, 5-1: Steve Sullivan scored three goals, Oliver Ekman-Larsson had two goals and an assist, and Phoenix got its first win of the season over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Fedor Tyutin scored for Columbus in its first regulation loss of the season.

Bulls edge Pistons: Nate Robinson had 11 points and seven assists in 21 minutes off the bench, leading a furious fourth-quarter comeback that carried Chicago past Detroit, 85-82.

Detroit (16-26) fell to 4-15 on the road. The Pistons had won nine of 13 overall.

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