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Drake coach quits; assistant is fired

Drake basketball coach Tom Abatemarco, whose program was shaken by a player revolt, resigned Tuesday and an assistant coach was fired after a university investigation found that NCAA rules had been broken. A committee that conducted the investigation exonerated Abatemarco of any involvement in the NCAA wrongdoing, which included players making long-distance calls on a university telephone. But it said he should have more closely supervised the activities of assistant coach Tom Butler, who was fired by Drake president Michael Ferrari.

Butler was found to have written school papers for at least two players, said Ferrari, who added that Butler did not cooperate in the investigation and tried to influence a witness.

The committee also said that Abatemarco's conduct and language were demeaning to the players and coaching staff. The Drake players had complained that Abatemarco had treated them too harshly. They boycotted practice for two days earlier this month and threatened a walkout unless he was removed.

Abatemarco was reassigned to other duties in the athletic department on Feb. 7 and the players returned to practice. Assistant coach Eddie Fields has been running the team since and will remain in charge through the end of the season.

Ferrari said the university and Abatemarco reached a settlement, but neither he nor the coach's lawyer, Dan Stamatelos, would comment on the terms.

"The important thing was that Tom was cleared of all allegations that he broke rules," Stamatelos said. "That was critical from his standpoint. His record is clean. He can now go on in coaching."

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