Today in sports: the father and uncle of one of England's biggest soccer stars have been arrested in connection with a soccer betting scam, TCU becomes the first school to leave an athletic conference it's not a part of, and ESPN's decision to get rid of Hank Williams, Jr. was harder than you'd expect.
- Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney's father and uncle were arrested Thursday in Liverpool following a probe into "betting irregularities" during a Scottish Premier League game last December between Motherwell and Hearts. Seven others were also detained, including Motherwell midfielder Steve Jennings, who was given a red card and ejected in the game's 83rd minute after he put his hand on referee Steve O'Reilly after an unsuccessful penalty appeal. The ejection attracted the attention of the Association of British Bookmakers, who say they logged an unusually high number of bets on a red card being drawn. According to The Guardian, one came from "a new account opened in Liverpool...where £500 was staked at odds of 10/1." The younger Rooney isn't implicated in the alleged scheme, but the distraction comes at particularly crucial time. England's national team plays Montenegro on Friday, and needs a tie or win to guarantee they qualify for the 2012 European Championship. He says he's totally focused on the game, which might not be enough to persuade the English football fans who insist his four-month affair with a prostitute was the reason for his poor play in the 2010 World Cup. [The Daily Mail]
- The NCAA's conference realignment scramble finally became indistinguishable from the courtroom scene in Duck Soup Thursday, with the news Texas Christian University would be leaving the Big East -- a conference it hasn't even joined yet -- for the Big 12. TCU agreed to join the Big East last November, and was slated to begin competing at the start of the 2012-2013 academic year. Playing against the likes of Baylor and Texas Tech certainly makes more sense from a geographical perspective than making the trek to West Virginia and Connecticut, but it cuts the number of football schools in the conference to just six. There's a chance the conference could lure two or more stray football schools but the latest defection "turns a bad situation into a dire one," says New York Times college football reporter Pete Thamel. The University of Connecticut could be the next football school to abandon ship. Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy has already said the university with only stick with the conference if it doesn't receive an invitation to join the ACC. [The New York Times]
- Hank Williams Jr. has recorded his last Monday night football intro, but according to Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch, the move wasn't a foregone conclusion, and there was debate among "high level ESPN executives" about whether to axe Williams or "keep it to a short short suspension." In place of Williams' ode to rowdy friendship, Deitsch reports the new intro will be a rotating "short focus[ed] on football" followed by the introduction of the announcers. Hall of Fame Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders will narrate the first intro of the post-Williams era next week when the Lions play the Chicago Bears. It's going to be great. [Sports Illustrated]