Sports

Newsmakers

Hired South Florida hired Skip Holtz as its football coach. Holtz takes over a program recovering from a scandal that led to the firing of Jim Leavitt. Holtz led East Carolina to the past two Conference USA championships. He replaces Leavitt, fired last week after a school investigation concluded he grabbed a player by the throat, slapped him in the face, then lied about it. . Holtz is the son of former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz.

Chosen Buffalo Bills interim coach Perry Fewell has been hired as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator. Coach Tom Coughlin announced the move after Fewell spent the past few days weighing offers from the Giants and the Chicago Bears. Fewell also interviewed for the vacant Bills coaching job but he has said for a while that he felt he was a long shot for that position.

Resigned New England Patriots defensive coordinator Dean Pees is leaving the team after four seasons. Pees said he wanted to pursue other opportunities but gave no further details about his decision.

Agreed The Florida Marlins reached agreement with ace Josh Johnson on a $39 million, four-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The deal covers Johnson’s final two years of salary arbitration eligibility and pushes back his chance to become a free agent by two years. The Marlins have Johnson under contract through 2013.

•Left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima and the Boston Red Sox have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $2.75 million, one-year contract.

•First baseman Adam LaRoche and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year contract, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The 30-year-old left-handed batter hit .277 for Atlanta, Boston and Pittsburgh last season with 25 home runs and 83 RBIs. •Closer Jose Valverde and the Detroit Tigers have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement on a $14 million, two-year contract. Valverde saved 25 games in 29 chances for Houston last season.

Surgery Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge may not be ready for the start of the season after undergoing his second surgery in three months. Team officials say Lidge had surgery Wednesday to remove loose bodies in his right knee. The right-hander also underwent elbow surgery on his throwing arm in November.



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