* NHL players offer new plan to end lockout: Negotiations aimed at ending the NHL lockout have broken up for the day. Union head Donald Fehr says Wednesday’s talks produced “no movement" on the major issues. Earlier, players gave management a new proposal that the union said left sides less than $40 million apart annually over a five-year contract. Wednesday was the 67th day of the lockout.
* Judge says NCAA ‘malicious’ in USC investigation: The NCAA was “malicious" in its investigation of a former Southern California assistant football coach who was linked in a report to a scandal surrounding Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Reggie Bush, a judge said Wednesday. The NCAA’s report on ethical breaches by Todd McNair was flawed, and the former coach has shown a probability he can win his defamation claims, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller said. The NCAA had sought to have the case dismissed, but Shaller disagreed. He said after reviewing sealed documents in the McNair inquiry, which was tied to a gift scandal involving Heisman Trophy-winner Reggie Bush, he was convinced that the actions of NCAA investigators were “over the top."
• Auburn’s Chizik: No comment on NCAA probe reports: Auburn coach Gene Chizik declined to comment on reports that the NCAA is investigating alleged improprieties involving the football program. “I’m not going to comment on speculation," Chizik said Wednesday. “It won’t be a distraction to me. I’m just focused on the Iron Bowl." The Birmingham News reported Wednesday that NCAA investigators have interviewed at least one assistant coach and several players this week as the Tigers prepare for their season finale Saturday against No. 2 Alabama. The newspaper, citing an unidentified source, reported the investigation included but is not limited to the signing of running back Jovon Robinson, who was ruled ineligible amid allegations of academic improprieties.
* ESPN to broadcast college football playoffs: The college football playoff system will be televised on ESPN for 12 years once it starts after the 2014 season, the network said Wednesday. The title game will be played on a Monday, at least a week after the semifinals. The deal is worth about $470 million a year, a person with knowledge of the terms said.
* Nets’ Evans fined $5,000 for flopping: Brooklyn Nets forward Reggie Evans has become the first player to be fined for flopping by the NBA, penalized $5,000 for a second offense. Evans was punished after exaggerating light contact from the Lakers’ Metta World Peace on Tuesday night, nearly crashing into a referee standing along the sideline a few feet away. Evans had received a warning for going down with little or no contact while battling for a rebound against Boston on Nov. 15.
— From wire reports