The coaching transition at Purdue women's basketball will take place six months sooner than expected.
Originally slated to step down after the 2021-22 campaign, coach Sharon Versyp retired Thursday, leaving former Purdue guard, Indiana Miss Basketball and Marian head coach Katie Gearlds to guide the Boilermakers going forward.
The program's original succession called for Gearlds to spend the year as Versyp's associate head coach before taking the reigns at the end of the season.
“Coaching at my alma mater has been the greatest honor of my professional life,” Versyp, Purdue's all-time leader in wins with 301, said in a statement. “My purpose has always been to teach life skills through basketball: respect, hard work, discipline, selflessness, what it means to be part of a team.
“I am delighted that the alumna coaching tradition will continue with Katie Gearlds – it shows what a special program we have at Purdue. I believe that the team is in great hands with Katie and the entire staff.”
The change comes a month after news broke that Purdue's Office of Institutional Equity was investigating allegations Versyp created a “toxic and hostile environment” within the program.
Purdue's' statement on Versyp's departure did not mention the investigation. Versyp, 55, was under contract until April 1, 2022, and financial terms between the university and the coach were not disclosed.
“We sincerely thank Coach Versyp for her commitment and devotion to Purdue, her impact on the greater Lafayette community and the leadership she's provided our women's basketball program,” Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski said in a statement. “As we move forward, our program will benefit from the history of success and accomplishments under Coach Versyp's watch. We wish her the very best in the years ahead.”
Versyp, the 1984 Indiana Miss Basketball and an All-American in her playing days at Purdue, led the Boilermakers as coach for 15 years. Her tenure started with a run of success that included two Elite Eight appearances and a 30-win season within her first three seasons and seven NCAA Tournament appearances in her first eight years.
The program has not matched those heights in recent years, however, missing the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons and five of the last seven. In 2020-21, the Boilermakers won just seven games and went 4-14 in the Big Ten, their third straight season under .500 in conference play.
At the end of the season, former Homestead guard and 2017 Indiana Miss Basketball Karissa McLaughlin, a two-time All-Big Ten performer for the Boilermakers, decided to transfer and eventually landed at Marquette. Four other players also put their names in the transfer portal.
Gearlds, the 2003 Indiana Miss Basketball and an All-American at Purdue who played on Versyp's 31-6 team in 2006-07, went 227-49 in eight seasons as Marian's head coach and won two national championships.
Purdue opens its season Nov. 10 at Western Kentucky.