NCAA Suspends Villanova's Kittles

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Kerry Kittles, the top scorer for fourth-ranked Villanova, has been suspended for the team's final three regular-season games because of the unauthorized use of a university telephone credit card number.

The school made the announcement yesterday and did not disclose the size of Kittles' debt, which it said he had repaid with help from his family.

"He made a significant number of calls over a period of several months," athletic director Gene DeFilippo said in a statement. "The credit card number did not belong to any member of the basketball staff."

After learning of the card use, the school contacted the Big East Conference and the NCAA, DeFilippo said.

"The NCAA has ruled that use of the telephone credit card number is an extra benefit, and that Kerry is suspended for the next three regular-season basketball games," he said. "He will, however, rejoin the team and participate in the Big East and NCAA tournaments."

A news conference with DeFilippo, coach Steve Lappas and Kittles was scheduled for today.

"We are very disappointed that this happened," Lappas said. "Kerry understands the ramifications of all this. Now we need to go forward."

THEY'RE PLAYERS - Kittles' suspension only thickens the plot for Big East Player of the Year. It also takes quite a bit of the intrigue off Sunday's clash between No. 3 Connecticut and the fourth-ranked Wildcats.

When Kittles let his fingers do the walking, he basically took himself out of contention for the honor. And after Georgetown's Allen Iverson (26 points, eight steals) drastically outplayed UConn's Ray Allen (13 points) in Monday's 77-65 Hoyas' win, Allen's comfortable lead was further narrowed. Syracuse's John Wallace also warrants consideration.

Kittles' numbers - averaging 20.3 points and 7.3 rebounds - arguably don't compare with those of Allen (22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists), Iverson (24 points, 5.3 assists, 3.9 steals), or even Syracuse's Wallace (22.1 points, 9. …