MAYOR EXPLORES SOLDIER FIELD EXPANSION: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is exploring whether to add thousands of seats to Soldier Field.
The preliminary proposal would add 5,000 seats. The stadium that's home to the Bears has a capacity of 61,500 people for football games and 63,500 for other events.
Emanuel tells the Chicago Sun-Times the seating means the facility hurts efforts to attract high-profile events.
BEARS RE-SIGN RATLIFF: The Bears have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff on a two-year contract.
Ratliff started four of five games played for the Bears in 2013 after signing with the team in November, recording 14.5 tackles -- including 1.5 sacks.
The Bears have signed 10 players who were due to become unrestricted free agents Tuesday, most of any team in the NFL.
The Bears terminated the contract of vested veteran punter Adam Podlesh.
In three seasons with the Bears (2011-13), Podlesh had 238 punts for 10,065 yards (42.3 gross average).
REDHAWKS' FOURSOME CLEANS UP: Indiana Northwest coach Ryan Shelton, Megan Holland, Nicki Monahan and Danielle Zandstra were all honored by the Association of Independent Institutions.
Shelton was named coach of the year as the RedHawks finished 23-9 and won their third AII tournament title. Holland (19.3 ppg.) was player of the year, freshman Monahan (15.6) the top newcomer and Zandstra (7.5 rpg.) the defensive player of the year.
IUN'S GRUBL EARNS AII HONORS: Indiana Northwest junior guard Brandon Grubl (Morgan Township) has been named to the AII's second-team all-conference team.
Grubl led the RedHawks in scoring (16.3 ppg), assists (3.7 apg) and set a school single-game record with 49 points at Kuyper College on Feb. 15.
SIU-EDWARDSVILLE, EASTERN ILLINOIS OUSTED FROM OVC TOURNEY: Jeremiah Samarrippas scored 16 points and had 11 assists as fifth-seeded Tennessee Tech (17-15) held off eighth-seeded SIU-Edwardsville for a 74-67 win in the first round of the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on Wednesday night. Kris Davis led SIU-Edwardsville (11-20) with 19 points.
Tennessee Tech will play fourth-seeded Morehead State tonight in the quarterfinals.
Tyler Stone scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and sixth-seeded Southeast Missouri State (18-13) beat seventh-seeded Eastern Illinois 79-61. Sherman Blanford led Eastern Illinois with 22 points.
The Redhawks advance to play third-seeded Eastern Kentucky in the quarterfinals tonight.
JEFFERSON LEADS BOBCATS PAST PACERS: Al Jefferson scored 34 points in Charlotte's 109-87 victory over the Pacers 109-87 Wednesday night that gave the Bobcats their fifth straight home win.
Evan Turner had 22 points for the Pacers (46-15), who lost back-to-back games for only the second time this season.
SAMARDZIJA STRUGGLES IN CUBS LOSS: Jeff Samardzija struggled with his command at times in a three-inning outing Wednesday in a Colorado Rockies split-squad's 7-5 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday.
The Cubs' possible opening-day starter gave up two straight singles then, after a sacrifice bunt, hit a batter and walked the next in a rocky two-run third inning. In three innings, the Valparaiso High School graduate gave up three runs and four hits.
PADRES BLANK WHITE SOX: Nick Hundley hit a three-run homer off White Sox ace Chris Sale in the first inning Wednesday and the San Diego Padres defeated Chicago 8-0.
Sale gave up six runs on six hits and a walk in 2 2/3 innings.
Around the horn
Samantha Nirva of the Saint Joseph's College indoor track and field team will compete in the 60-meter hurdles at the National Championships hosted by Winston Salem State University March 14 and 15. Bishop Noll grad Bill Massoels will be coaching in his 40th National Championship meet. ... Western Michigan freshman infielder Nick Vogelmeier has been added to the NWI Oilmen's roster. Vogelmeier will join WMU teammate Nate Schneider in the NWI infield. Vogelmeier helped Lake Orion (Mich.) High School win back-to-back district championships.