Declaring All-America left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are leading a contingent of Alabama players leaving early for the NFL. Joining them in announcing their departures Thursday were linebacker Adrian Hubbard and defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan.
• Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
• Auburn tailback Tre Mason, a Heisman Trophy finalist, will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Hired Arizona State has turned to NFL executive Ray Anderson as its new athletic director. He replaces Steve Patterson, who left in November to become the athletic director at Texas. He will remain with the NFL through the Super Bowl before starting on Feb. 5.
• The Buffalo Sabres have hired Tim Murray to be their general manager. Murray spent the past seven seasons as the Senators assistant GM. He has 20 years of NHL experience after breaking in as a scout with the Detroit Red Wings in 1993. Joining Roma coach Rudi Garcia says American midfielder Michael Bradley is on the verge of joining Toronto FC. Italian media report Roma has accepted an offer of $9.5 million for Bradley from the MLS club. The 26-year-old Bradley is a star with the U.S. national team.
• NBC Sports Group will formally introduce Dale Earnhardt Jr. crew chief Steve Letarte today as the final member of its broadcast team. He will become an analyst for NBC Sports in 2015 when the network begins coverage.
Replaced NASCAR is replacing Sprint Cup Series director John Darby with Richard Buck. Buck spent last year as vice president of racing operations for the International Motor Sports Association and managing director of NASCAR’s Touring Series.
Underwent Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander underwent muscle repair surgery after injuring himself last month during offseason conditioning. Dr. Bill Meyers in Philadelphia performed the operation on Verlander, who is expected to need six weeks of rehab before being evaluated again.
Competing India athletes will compete under the Olympic flag – not their national flag – at next month’s Winter Games in Sochi. The IOC says the decision comes after the Indian Olympic Association failed to schedule its general assembly before the start of the games on Feb. 7. The Indian association was suspended by the IOC in December 2012 for electing tainted officials.