Police were investigating whether drugs had a role in the death yesterday of Oklahoma linebacker

Austin Box,

and a witness told authorities he believed his friend had overdosed.

Authorities didn't immediately release an official cause of death, and Box's body was sent to the state Medical Examiner's office. Box was 22.

"We're all shocked and heartbroken," Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops said in a statement. "Austin was a great young man, a great young man to coach, and a great teammate."

El Reno Police Chief Ken Brown said officers and medics responded to a call at a house in the town about 30 miles west of Oklahoma City about 9:25 a.m. concerning an unresponsive male "with unknown medical issues." Brown identified the man as Box and said he first was taken to an El Reno hospital, then transferred by air ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.

According to the police report, El Reno police officer Todd Ward said that upon arriving at the house, he made contact with John Cobble III. Cobble III is the son of Tom Cobble, who was Box's high school football coach in Enid.

Ward said in the report John Cobble was performing CPR on Box and that "Cobble told me when I entered the room Box was in he believed he had overdosed."

During his conversation with an emergency dispatcher, a man who identified himself as J.T. Cobble told the dispatcher that Box was not breathing and that Box had been taking pain pills.

Box, a 6-1, 228-pound senior, started the last five games last season for the Sooners.

In other college news:

* East Carolina was placed on 1 year probation by the NCAA and must vacate wins for self-reported academic-fraud violations after a women's tennis player working as a tutor wrote papers for four baseball players. East Carolina must vacate 17 wins in baseball and eight wins in women's tennis from last season in which the athletes played.

Auto Racing

* Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will not race this weekend, sitting out both the All-Star race and the Nationwide Series event in Iowa. Bayne spent a week at the Mayo Clinic undergoing treatment for what doctors have called an inflammatory condition. He has not raced since April at Talladega.

* Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro was hospitalized after burning both hands during a crash at an Indy 500 practice. De Silvestro has second-degree burns to her right hand and superficial burns to her left hand, according to track officials at Indianapolis Speedway.


* Andy Roddick and 2003 champion Juan Carlos Ferrero withdrew from the French Open after failing to recover from right shoulder injuries.

* Philadelphia's Julia Cohen lost to Sloane Stephens, of the United States, 6-0, 6-3, in the second round of French Open qualifying in Paris.