Purdue player has  meningitis

Updated: November 25, 2010, 12:16 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Drey Mingo, a 21-year-old junior who is the second-leading scorer for Purdue, was hospitalized in critical but stable condition Wednesday with bacterial meningitis and her team canceled a holiday tournament trip to Mexico.

Mingo was hospitalized Tuesday night with the ailment, an inflammation of the coverings around the brain and spine that can be fatal. Purdue officials said she was at an undisclosed hospital in West Lafayette, Ind., and has a long way to go to recover.

"She's had some improvements in her mental status that indicate some of the inflammation has decreased," team physician Alayne Sundstrom said during a conference call with reporters. "But because of the inflammation around the central nervous system, it's still critical. We don't know what's going to happen yet."

Coach Sharon Versyp described Mingo, an Atlanta native who transferred to Purdue from Maryland, as being "kind of sedated" though she can recognize people and speak in brief sentences.

"When I saw her last, she said 'Coach V smile,' and I wrote something down for her, and just said 'Together we attack. Everyone's here for you,' and she gave me a thumbs up and said 'Yes'," Versyp said. "So she knows that everybody's around."

Mingo is expected to be treated with antibiotics for another two weeks and it is uncertain whether she will spend all of that time in the hospital. Her mother flew to West Lafayette on Tuesday night, and her father was scheduled to arrive Wednesday.

School officials said players, coaches, practice squad players and trainers, all of whom have been in close contact with Mingo over the past seven days, already have been treated for the illness. The school also notified state and county health departments and Purdue's previous two opponents.

The Boilermakers (4-0) played DePaul on Sunday and South Dakota State last Thursday. Both teams said they had treated their players with medicine as a prevention.

"We will keep an eye on them but we seem to be in good shape so far," South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston said in an e-mail. "Really too bad about the Purdue student, we will be thinking of her."

"We immediately consulted our team physicians when we learned of the situation from Purdue's sports medicine staff," DePaul spokesman Alicia Powers said. "The treatment prescribed was preventive antibiotics. Our student-athletes were treated accordingly."

Purdue officials have not established a timetable for Mingo's return to action, but that is the least of their concerns.

"Basketball does not matter, it just brings us together. She's getting the best health care that we could possibly have," Versyp said. "Obviously, they're shocked and in disbelief, but I think we're so close [as a team], I think that's really helped them."

Meningitis can be transmitted by recurrent exposure to saliva or coughing or other direct contact, but it is not highly communicable. Sundstrom said Mingo complained of cold symptoms Monday and Tuesday, which is consistent with the early onset of meningitis.

By Tuesday night, Mingo was admitted to the hospital at the same time her teammates were traveling to Indianapolis. They were scheduled to fly to Mexico early Wednesday morning.

Versyp, however, stayed in West Lafayette and during a conference call shortly after midnight explained the decision to the players.

"We said if there was the slightest chance these kids were going to be at issue, they're not going," athletic director Morgan Burke said. "We were unanimous. We're just not going to do that. Basketball, as Sharon said, isn't the end game here. We were going to a foreign country, we were going to be an hour to the hospital, and it just didn't make sense."

Mingo was averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds this season and had helped fuel Purdue's resurgence in women's basketball.

The Boilermakers were scheduled to play Montana on Thursday and Florida Golf Coast on Friday in the Caribbean Challenge at Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

After Purdue's announcement, tournament organizers revised the schedule so that Montana and Florida Gulf Coast play Saturday morning. It allows each of the other teams in Mexico to play their two scheduled games -- and means Purdue will not have to forfeit either game.

"Our prayers are with the player, Purdue, teammates, and family members during this difficult time," Dave King, CEO of tournament organizer Triple Crown Sports, said in a statement. "We also want to thank Montana and Florida Gulf Coast for agreeing so quickly to play each other to fill in for Purdue."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press