Wildcats Swingman Apologizes For NCAA Violations
Feb. 24, 1996
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) _ Kerry Kittles won't get a proper Villanova curtain call because he made improper phone calls.
The leading scorer on the nation's fourth-ranked team was set to become the Wildcats' career leading scorer Sunday in a nationally televised game against No. 3 Connecticut at a sold-out Spectrum.
But on Thursday, the NCAA suspended the senior swingman for Villanova's last three regular-season games for unauthorized use of a school telephone credit card.
Kittles, the 1995 Big East Player Of The Year, can get the 14 points he needs to surpass Keith Herron's school scoring mark (2,170) at the Big East or NCAA tournament. But the next game he will play in the City of Brotherly Love will be in the NBA.
``I'm totally embarrassed for letting down Villanova University. I hope my teammates, coaches and the fans can forgive me for being so selfish. I'm truly sorry,'' Kittles said Friday.
``I knew what I was doing was wrong,'' he said. ``I've learned that you have to abide by the rules. I hope that someday I'll regain your trust. I'm human, things happen.''
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound New Orleans native didn't say who he had been calling. Athletic director Gene DeFilippo said there were a ``significant number of calls over several months.''
DeFilippo refused to say how much the charges totaled, but said Kittles and his family repaid the debt in full. He added that legal counsel had advised him not to discuss the specifics of the investigation.
The school self-reported the violation of the NCAA rule that reads: ``It's not permissible to allow student-athletes to use a credit card or telephone for personal reasons without charge or at a reduced cost.''
DeFilippo said he was made aware of a possible infraction on Monday, met with coach Steve Lappas and Kittles on Tuesday morning and then called the NCAA and Big East. DeFilippo wouldn't say who had informed him.
He said the credit card number belongs to someone at the university not affiliated with the athletic department.
``More than one person had access to the number,'' DeFilippo said. ``No other athletes, however, were involved. I'm going to make sure all of us do a better job policing our calls so this won't happen again.''
He said the university will not appeal Thursday's suspension.
Kittles, who already holds 13 school records, averages a team-high 20.3 points and 7.2 rebounds this season and has Villanova (23-3, 13-2) riding a 10-game winning streak.
Kittles will miss the Wildcats' final three regular-season games versus the third-ranked Huskies on Sunday, at No. 20 Boston College on Tuesday and at 11th-ranked Georgetown on March 2.
``I'm going to miss the games a lot,'' Kittles said. ``But I've got to live with whatever (punishment) they gave me.''
Lappas said he thinks his team still has a good chance to be a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the postseason.
``The committee takes into account things like injuries and players not playing because they try to seed according to what the teams are at the end of the year _ how they're playing,'' he said.
Lappas said the team was behind Kittles, and he tried to put the episode in perspective.
``If this is the worst thing that ever happens to Kerry Kittles, he has had a pretty good life,'' he said.