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Sports in Brief: Seau's family to donate his brain for research

The family of former NFL star Junior Seau will donate his brain for research into repetitive head injuries, San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Friday.

The family of former NFL star Junior Seau will donate his brain for research into repetitive head injuries, San Diego Chargers chaplain Shawn Mitchell said Friday.

"Junior was philanthropic," Mitchell said. "And he got that from his mom and dad. Their hope is that it can serve athletes down the road."

Seau, 43, was found dead in his Oceanside, Calif., home Wednesday morning of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. He did not leave a note. Some have speculated that brain injuries from football may have played a role in his death, but there's been no medical confirmation of such damage.

Seau was the second former NFL player to commit suicide in the last two weeks. Ray Easterling, a safety for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1970s and a plaintiff in a high-profile lawsuit against the league over its handling of concussion-related injuries, died April 19 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The NFL Players Association has challenged commissioner Roger Goodell's authority to suspend players who participated in the New Orleans Saints' pay-for-pain scandal and wants him removed from hearing appeals.

The union filed a grievance late Thursday, one day after Goodell suspended four players who participated in bounties from 2009 to '11. The complaint says Goodell is prohibited from punishing players for any aspect of the case occurring before the new collective bargaining agreement was signed last August. Responsibility for player punishment, and any appeal, belongs to an arbitrator instead of Goodell, the complaint claims.

Earlier this week, Goodell suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma without pay for the 2012 season; defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove, now with the Green Bay Packers, for eight games; defensive end Will Smith for four games; and linebacker Scott Fujita, now with the Cleveland Browns, for three games.

Five former Penn State football players have signed NFL free-agent contracts. Defensive end Eric Latimore with the Minnesota Vikings; defensive back D'Anton Lynn, New York Jets; wide receiver Derek Moye, Miami Dolphins; defensive back Nick Sukay, Buffalo Bills; and tight end Andrew Szczerba, Dallas Cowboys. All five will participate in rookie mini-camps this weekend.

COLLEGES: Conference USA announced that it is adding five schools in 2013. Commissioner Britton Banowsky said Charlotte, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, and UT-San Antonio will join the league in all sports, with Charlotte joining in football in 2015. Conference USA will lose Houston, SMU, Memphis, and Central Florida to the Big East in 2013.

INTERNATIONAL HOCKEY: New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo scored twice to help the United States beat France, 7-2, in the first game of the world hockey championships in Helsinki.

Jack Johnson, Bobby Ryan, Max Pacioretty, Jim Slater, and Jeff Petry also scored for the Americans in the Group A game. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Nicolas Besch scored for France. The United States will face Canada on Saturday.

The Canadians opened with a 3-2 win over Slovakia. Jamie Benn, Jordan Eberle, and Andrew Ladd scored for Canada, and Tomas Tatar and Milan Bartovic had goals for Slovakia.

FIGURE SKATING: Christa Fassi and Janet Champion have been elected to the Figure Skating Coaches Hall of Fame. 

- Inquirer wire services