Katie Gearlds was expected to begin her tenure as the women's basketball head coach at Purdue, her alma mater, in 2022, but she will instead start immediately following longtime Boilermakers coach Sharon Versyp's retirement on Thursday.
The school put a succession plan in place in March, naming Gearlds as associate head coach to serve under Versyp for one season before taking over in April. Five months later, the Lafayette Journal & Inquirer reported that Versyp was under investigation by the school due to allegations that she had fostered a "toxic and hostile environment."
The newspaper cited a document from the university's Office of Institutional Equity, which has oversight of the investigation into whether Versyp had been in violation of the school's anti-harassment policy. There was no date given at that time for the completion of the investigation.
Versyp, who played at Purdue in the 1980s, spent 15 seasons as Boilermakers coach, going 301-192 and advancing to the NCAA tournament nine times with four Big Ten tournament titles. Purdue was 7-16 overall and 4-14 in Big Ten play last season. She is Purdue's winningest women's basketball coach.
"Coaching at my alma mater has been the greatest honor of my professional life," Versyp said in a statement. "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. I am ready to chase new dreams off the court."
Gearlds played for Purdue from 2003 to 2007, with Versyp as her coach for her final season. After spending three seasons in the WNBA, Gearlds continued to play professionally overseas. An Indiana native, she started her coaching career in 2013 at Marian University in Indianapolis, winning NAIA national championships in 2016 and 2017. She was 228-50 at Marian.