NCAA Begins Final Step of Inquiry into Men's Basketball at Purdue
Official inquiry into allegations of violations begins.
Mar. 2, 1998
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University has received confirmation that the NCAA will conduct an official inquiry into allegations of violations in the Boilermaker men's basketball program.
"This action follows a period of preliminary inquiry that began in the spring of 1996," Morgan J. Burke, director of intercollegiate athletics at Purdue, said today. "The NCAA's decision to begin the final step of the inquiry process is not a surprise, and in some ways, we welcome it. It is the beginning of the end of a very difficult process. We have been under intense scrutiny for more than two years. For the first time since the inquiry started, we will have access to all the information in the NCAA's possession and the opportunity to interview some people the NCAA asked us not to contact until now.
"The NCAA staff has made serious allegations, and we need to better understand and evaluate the information that the organization believes corroborates its claims. If the athletic department finds that the allegations are accurate, it will impose proper sanctions and report them to the NCAA. If we conclude the charges are false or based on evidence that is not credible or persuasive, we will make every effort to convince the NCAA of our position. Our first priority is to operate completely within the rules of the university, the Big Ten and the NCAA. We have cooperated completely throughout the process of inquiry, and we will continue to do so."
The official inquiry report, prepared by NCAA enforcement staff, focuses primarily on three allegations:
A $4,000 personal loan granted by a Lafayette bank to a prospective student-athlete who already had signed a letter of intent to attend Purdue; the report alleges that the bank officer who approved the loan was a representative of Purdue's athletic interests who never expected it to be repaid. (The NCAA's definition of a representative of the institution's athletic interests (or booster) includes anyone who has attended athletic events, belonged to a supportive group, made financial contributions or otherwise been involved with supporting the university or its athletic programs.)
An alleged payment of $150 to the same prospect by an Indianapolis businessman identified by the NCAA as a Purdue booster; the report also alleges several impermissible phone calls between the individual and the prospect.
A claim that another alleged booster -- also from Indianapolis -- paid moving expenses for the mother of a Purdue player; allowed her to live rent-free for two months in an apartment he owned; and provided her with round-trip auto transportation to West Lafayette for 25 Purdue basketball games during two seasons.
In each of these allegations, the NCAA report names Assistant Coach Frank Kendrick as the individual who arranged the contacts between the athletes and the outside parties.
The report also makes note of several inadvertent or secondary (minor) violations that Purdue previously had self-reported. These violations occurred between spring 1995 and January 1997. Burke noted that all men's basketball prospects mentioned in the NCAA report already had signed letters of intent to attend Purdue at the time the alleged contacts occurred.
The self-reported violations included returned phone calls made by Kendrick and Head Coach Gene Keady to the parents of a prospect; a ride which Kendrick gave to a prospect, from Purdue's Mackey Arena to a West Lafayette hotel (a distance of approximately two miles); a total of four complimentary tickets above the number permitted by the NCAA provided by the men's basketball office to the father of a player; a discarded love seat given by Kendrick to a player who asked to use it in his apartment; a ride given by Kendrick to a player and a prospect to a local business to arrange summer jobs; several occasions when members of the women's basketball team exchanged university-issued shoes for about $115 worth of merchandise at a sporting goods store; and an impermissible contact with a recruit by several members of the women's team at an away basketball game.
The NCAA inquiry report alleges that Kendrick arranged in August 1995, approximately a month prior to the start of Purdue classes, for a prospective student-athlete to meet with Bill Powers, then a vice president of Bank One in Lafayette, in order to arrange a loan to pay the prospect's outstanding bill for tuition at his prep school. "It is reasonable to conclude that (the prospect) was not expected to repay the loan," the report states, because he lacked the financial resources to do so. The report also alleges that Kendrick told the prospect's mother that Purdue would take care of the tuition bill.
Burke stated that the university's review to date does not substantiate the charge. "Purdue was allowed to interview Frank Kendrick, Bill Powers and other officials of the bank, but not the prospect or his mother," Burke said. "The parties we talked to denied any wrongdoing. The bank did lend the money in conformance with its policies, and the borrower defaulted, but neither of those occurrences is a violation of NCAA rules. We now will be soliciting from the NCAA the information upon which the allegation is based." Burke said Powers is a Purdue season ticket holder and a member of the John Purdue Club (which supports Purdue athletic scholarships), as are many Lafayette business people.
The report identifies Mike Comparato, an Indianapolis businessman, as a booster who had several contacts with the same prospective student-athlete, including allegedly mailing the prospect $150 and exchanging long-distance phone calls. According to the report, a notebook maintained by the prospect's girlfriend listed both Kendrick's and Comparato's phone numbers. The report also alleges that Kendrick arranged a meeting of Comparato and the prospect on March 12, 1995 in Mackey Arena.
Burke stated: "Mr. Comparato denies sending any money or having any phone contact with the prospective student athlete. He says he has no recollection of a meeting with the young man, although he has been at Mackey Arena for some basketball games. He offered to obtain phone records to help substantiate his denial, but he subsequently learned that his phone company cannot supply the records, as they are maintained only for a period of 18 months; this was documented in a letter to the NCAA.
"Again, in this instance, Purdue has not been permitted to contact the prospective student-athlete or the girlfriend. We do not have a copy of the notebook page referenced in the report, and we look forward to the opportunity to review the facts." Burke said Comparato is a basketball season ticket holder and a member of the John Purdue Club.
The NCAA identified Gene McFadden, also of Indianapolis as the person who allegedly provided housing and transportation for the mother of a player. Burke said he knows of no connection between McFadden and Purdue. "We have not been permitted to interview either Dr. McFadden or the player's mother. Frank Kendrick has denied prior knowledge of these activities. I hope we will understand this matter better after we review the NCAA's information."
Based on the three major allegations and the secondary violations earlier self-reported by Purdue, the NCAA report states that Kendrick "failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics . . ."
Burke said: "This statement appears to assume that all the allegations are true, which at this point we cannot corroborate. The prospect who is identified in most of the NCAA allegations was interviewed by our compliance officer in May 1996 and again by independent legal counsel in July 1996. In those interviews, he stated he had not received any gifts to attend Purdue and that he had not received any extra benefits. The specific allegations in the NCAA report were not discussed then, because they had not surfaced at the time. When we learned of those allegations , the NCAA asked that we not talk to the person until the preliminary inquiry was complete.
"During the next 90 days, we will learn a lot more and develop a position on each of the enforcement staff's allegations. At this point, we are looking at some serious allegations, but neither Purdue nor Frank Kendrick has had the opportunity to confront the facts upon which these allegations have been based.
"Frank is a man who has had a very positive impact on many young people. I continually hear from our athletes that he is someone who listens to them, understands them and cares about their lives, not just their careers as athletes. He deserves the opportunity to defend himself against these allegations and we will make every effort to assist him."
Keady, who is in his 18th season as the Boilermakers' head coach, said: "The single most important thing about this basketball program is its integrity. My players know that; my coaches know it; and every recruit knows it the first time I talk to him. I believe you play within the rules, because that's the way I was raised. I'm anxious to find out exactly what these allegations are based on so we can answer them and get this entire matter behind us."
Kendrick, who starred for the Boilermakers in the early 1970s and joined Keady's staff in 1989, commented: "I don't pretend to be a perfect person, but I have never deliberately broken a rule or tried to gain an unfair advantage in recruiting. I have too much respect for Purdue University, for Coach Keady and for my own family to do anything that would embarrass them. I don't know why these allegations have been made, but I'm confident that when the truth comes out, everyone will know that I have done nothing wrong."
The NCAA's official inquiry will be handled by an eight-member Committee on Infractions, which will consider the evidence gathered by the enforcement staff and the response to be provided by Purdue. The university and Kendrick have until May 19 to respond. ###