Syracuse asked Temple athletic officials for permission to speak with Owls football coach

Al Golden

about its coaching position, but Golden said he is not interested.

"Syracuse asked for permission to speak with Coach Golden, and it was granted," athletic director Bill Bradshaw said in a statement last night. "Coach Golden has indicated that he is not interested in pursuing the position."

Syracuse fired Greg Robinson after four seasons and a 10-37 record, including a 3-26 mark in the Big East. The Orange upset Notre Dame, 24-23, in one of Robinson's final games.

Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville stepped down after 10 seasons.

Tuberville had signed a two-year contract extension through 2013 after last season. It will cost the university about $6 million to buy out the contract.

Athletic director Jay Jacobs said in a statement that no state or university funds will be used in the buyout.

Tuberville was 85-40 at Auburn, including a 13-0 season in 2004 when the Tigers finished No. 2 in the nation. He led the Tigers to 42 wins over the previous four seasons, the fifth-most in the country, and to six straight wins over hated rival Alabama.

But Auburn finished 5-7 this year, and the Tigers' worst season in 10 years ended with a 36-0 loss to the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said the school is negotiating a contract extension with Mike Leach amid reports that the Red Raiders coach has met with the University of Washington.

Clemson received an invitation to the Gator Bowl, played in Jacksonville, Fla., on New Year's Day. The Tigers (7-5) likely will be matched up with Nebraska (8-4).

No. 15 Georgia Tech accepted an invitation to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta, staying home to face an SEC team on New Year's Eve.

Other invitations went to Southern Mississippi and Rice. Southern Miss will play in the New Orleans Bowl against the Sun Belt Conference champion, and Rice will play in its hometown of Houston in the Texas Bowl.

Elsewhere: Wake Forest forward Jamie Skeen will not return for the spring semester after being declared academically ineligible. . . . The NCAA ruled that Xavier guard Jordan Crawford cannot play for Cincinnati this season after having transferred from Indiana.

Pro basketball

The Toronto Raptors fired coach

Sam Mitchell

and replaced him with assistant

Jay Triano,

the first Canadian ever to be a head coach in the NBA. Mitchell led the Raptors to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons and was the NBA's coach of the year in 2006-07. Toronto was off to a sluggish 8-9 start.

Noteworthy

Seve Ballesteros

was released from intensive care a day after the five-time major winner underwent his fourth brain surgery to deal with a cancerous tumor.

Officials at Madrid's La Paz hospital said Ballesteros would remain hospitalized after doctors implanted a valve to drain fluid from his brain.

Michelle Wie took an important first step toward earning an LPGA Tour card by opening with a 3-under 69 in a 90-hole qualifying tournament on the Legends course at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Tour de France champions Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador trained together in Tenerife, Canary Islands, for the first time since the American came out of retirement to join the Astana team.