Purdue on two years’ probation for women’s program violations

By Cliff Brunt

INDIANAPOLIS – The NCAA placed Purdue University on two years’ probation Wednesday after it determined that a former assistant women’s basketball coach wrote a paper for a player and made more than 100 impermissible recruiting calls.

The women’s basketball program will also lose three scholarships, reducing the number from 15 to 13 for 2007-08. The university already cut one scholarship for the 2006-07 academic year. The program will not face a postseason ban.

Former 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.

Merriweather’s contract was automatically terminated when coach Kristy Curry left Purdue and accepted the Texas Tech job in March 2006. Curry will not be punished, though the NCAA said the infractions committee was “troubled” that she had been told about the violations twice and did not immediately report them.

Investigators also found that Merriweather made 105 impermissible telephone calls to two prospective players. The NCAA considered it a major violation because it was not an isolated incident.

Probation means the school must make annual reports to an NCAA committee detailing corrective actions in the program.

The Division I Committee on Infractions made the decision after Purdue performed an internal investigation and self-reported the violations last year.

Purdue sports information director Tom Schott said the school would have a comment later Wednesday.

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.

Committee chair Josephine Potuto said the fallout could have been worse if Purdue hadn’t self-reported the violations. Potuto said Purdue will be more severely punished if it commits any more violations.