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Prairie View A&M's scholarships cut from 15 to 12 for next three years

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas -- The NCAA on Tuesday penalized Prairie
View A&M's women's basketball team for violations attributed to
unfamiliarity with rules by coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, a former
Houston Comets star.

The NCAA reduced Prairie View's scholarships in women's
basketball from 15 to 12 for the next three years, and the program
also was placed on four years' probation for "major violations"
in 2005-06 that ranged from Cooper-Dyke giving players small
amounts of cash to various forms of unauthorized practices.

The university imposed two penalties itself: reducing practice
hours allowed each week from 20 to 10 for the first three weeks of
this season and reducing the number of official paid visits from
four to two for 2007-08.

"The violations here were really the direct result of the
failure to educate the coach on [NCAA] rules," said Josephine
Potuto, the chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions. "It was
also a failure of the university to have a culture of compliance."

In addition to giving players small amounts of cash ranging from
$10 to $30, Cooper-Dyke allowed a freshman to practice when she
wasn't supposed to, and her coaching staff watched recruits
practice against members of the team in violation of NCAA rules.

"I am relieved that it's all over, first off and then I'm
relieved that the NCAA saw the violations for what they were,"
Cooper-Dyke told Houston television station KRIV. "They were
mistakes that were made by a rookie coach with no previous NCAA
experience and not very familiar with the NCAA rules and that was
my mistake."

In a statement, Prairie View said it agreed with the findings
and didn't plan to appeal the sanctions.

"Our athletics department views this report and its findings as
an opportunity for the university to improve and address its NCAA
compliance requirements," Prairie View President George C. Wright
said. "We are currently working to implement corrective actions to
meet and exceed the NCAA recommendations and requirements."

Cooper-Dyke, a two-time WNBA MVP, helped lead the Comets to the
first four WNBA titles, winning the finals MVP each time. She's in
the third year of her first college coaching job.

The Panthers went 7-21 her first season, then 19-14 last year,
the school's first winning record. The team won the Southwestern
Athletic Conference title and went to the NCAA Tournament.

The team is 7-7 this season.

Prairie View, a predominantly black university, is located about
50 miles northwest of Houston.