Purdue on 2 years probation, loses 2 scholarships for violations

Updated: August 22, 2007, 8:07 PM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Purdue's women's basketball team will lose two scholarships for this season and the school will spend two years on probation after the NCAA ruled Wednesday that a former assistant coach helped write a research paper for a player and made more than 100 improper recruiting calls.

The NCAA, however, did not punish then-coach Kristy Curry, now at Texas Tech. That decision was made even though the NCAA infractions committee said it was "troubled" that Curry had been told about the violations twice and did not immediately report them to Purdue officials.

Former Purdue assistant Katrina Merriweather admitted to typing, correcting and revising a paper for former point guard Cherelle George during the 2005-06 season, the NCAA said. Both were suspended indefinitely before the Big Ten tournament that season and neither returned to the program.

"The case is an object lesson in why coaches should not involve themselves in any way in trying to help student athletes with their academic work," infractions committee chairwoman Josephine Potuto said. "That's what academic advisers and tutors are there for."

Curry said she did not believe she had done anything wrong at Purdue.

"When I learned of the accusation against one of my assistants, twice I looked into it and didn't uncover any wrongdoing," she said in a statement from Texas Tech. "I was convinced that there was no violation."

Merriweather's contract was automatically terminated when Curry left Purdue for Texas Tech in March 2006.

Investigators also found that Merriweather made 105 impermissible telephone calls to two recruits. The NCAA considered the phone calls a major rules violation because they were not an isolated incident.

"The matter has now been adjudicated, and it is time to put it behind us," Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke said in a statement. "While we cannot guarantee behavior, we will deal with each issue in a fair and objective manner upholding the rules and values of Purdue University, the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA."

The penalties will reduce Purdue's scholarships from 15 to 13 for this season. The Boilermakers, who went 31-6 and reached the NCAA tournament's round of eight last season, will not face any restrictions on postseason play.

Because of the violations, if Merriweather wants to coach another NCAA school during the next three years, she and the school must appear before the committee to determine whether her duties should be limited.

Potuto said the fallout could have been worse if Purdue hadn't reported the violations.

"Every institution has an obligation to cooperate with the NCAA with any inquiry involving NCAA violations," Potuto said. "Purdue cooperated and did what it was supposed to do, consistent with NCAA bylaws."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press