Antiquities designation may save Astrodome

HOUSTON — Efforts to protect the Houston Astrodome from demolition have taken a new turn, with a Texas agency looking at designating it as a “state antiquities landmark.”

After voters last year failed to approve a referendum that would have authorized up to $217 million in bonds to turn it into a giant convention and event center, the Astrodome seemed headed for demolition.

The stadium has been closed since 2009 and various ideas to refurbish it — from water park to sports memorabilia museum — have gained little traction.

But efforts to save the so-called Eighth Wonder of the World gained momentum after an advisory committee of the Texas Historical Commission voted late last month to recommend that the Astrodome get the antiquities designation. The commission is expected to make a final decision during its meeting July 30-31.

Ex-UGA coach says he won’t testify at trial

ATHENS, Ga. — Former Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, accused of operating a fraudulent investment scheme, told a judge Tuesday that he will not testify in federal trial.

Closing arguments in the case are set for Wednesday.

A federal indictment against Donnan and Gregory Crabtree, of Proctorville, Ohio, says the pair ran the scheme from September 2007 to December 2010 through GLC, which dealt in wholesale and closeout merchandise. Prosecutors say the company raised more than $80 million from 94 investors, and nearly $23 million was lost.

Crabtree pleaded guilty last month to a charge of conspiracy and faces up to five years in prison. Donnan, 69, faces charges including conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Northwestern AD says athletes need a vote

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Northwestern Athletic Director Jim Phillips said college athletes need more than just a voice when it comes to issues that affect them. They need a vote.

Phillips said that “has to happen” as the NCAA tackles a list of issues concerning athletes. He said, however, that unionization is not the way to go.

Big Ten administrators gathered at the conference’s headquarters for two days of meetings to discuss several major issues. Unionization tops the list, notably at Northwestern, where former quarterback Kain Colter is leading the push to form one. The issue is before the National Labor Relations Board.

Rutgers dismisses Nelson from football

MANKATO, Minn. — Rutgers dismissed quarterback Philip Nelson from its football program after he was charged in an assault that left another man critically injured, while authorities announced Tuesday that a second suspect has been arrested.

Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood announced Nelson’s dismissal Tuesday in a statement. Nelson was a quarterback for Minnesota but transferred to Rutgers. He passed for 1,306 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions last season and ran for 364 yards.

He was charged Monday with two counts of felony assault in a weekend fight that left Isaac Dallas Kolstad, 24, severely injured. Authorities said Nelson, 20, kicked Kolstad in the head after another man punched Kolstad as bars were closing early Sunday in Mankato.

Nelson is out of jail on bail.

Djokovic returns from injury with win in Rome

ROME — Novak Djokovic marked his return from a right wrist injury by beating Radek Stepanek 6-3, 7-5 in the second round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. Djokovic showed no signs of pain after withdrawing from last week’s Madrid Open.

Also advancing was Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka, who beat qualifier Pere Riba 6-0, 6-3.

After 3 Sprint wrecks, rookie Allgaier benched

CONCORD, N.C. — Crashes in three of the past four races led HScott Motorsports to pull rookie Justin Allgaier from the entry list for the Sprint Showdown. The qualifier is Friday night and the Sprint All-Star race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Gretzky scoring-record jersey on auction block

A jersey worn by Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky will go on the auction block this week in Montreal.

Sports collector Shawn Chaulk will sell the Edmonton Oilers’ jersey worn by Gretzky when he broke Phil Esposito’s single-season scoring record of 76 goals. Gretzky finished with a record 92 goals that season, a mark that still stands.

The price? Perhaps $250,000, Chaulk said.

Lochte sitting out meet because of injured knee

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ryan Lochte announced Tuesday he is withdrawing from the Arena Grand Prix swim meet because of continued problems with his surgically repaired left knee.

Lochte was injured in November during an encounter with an enthusiastic fan. He missed five months before returning to the pool for the Grand Prix season, beating Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly at Mesa, Arizona, last month.

Tennessee signs JC guard Baulkman

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee signed junior-college guard Devon Baulkman and IUPUI transfer Ian Chiles.

Chiles averaged 15.8 points last season. Baulkman spent the past two years at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida, averaging 15.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals.

Georgia Tech forward Carter to transfer

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory announced that forward Robert Carter Jr. will not return for his junior season and plans to transfer.

Carter, a starter since his freshman year, was Gregory’s top signee in 2012. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds in 54 games.