Oliver Purnell

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Oliver Purnell
Oliver Purnell.jpg
Purnell as Clemson coach in 2007
Biographical details
Born (1953-05-19) May 19, 1953 (age 70)
Berlin, Maryland, U.S.
Playing career
1972–1975Old Dominion
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1975–1977Old Dominion (GA)
1977–1985Old Dominion (assistant)
1985–1988Maryland (assistant)
1991–1994Old Dominion
Head coaching record
Tournaments0–6 (NCAA Division I)
10–8 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
CAA Tournament (1992)
CAA Regular Season (1993, 1994)
Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year (1998)
CAA Coach of the Year (1993)
Big South Coach of the Year (1991)
Medal record
Men's basketball
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Assistant coach for  United States
Bronze medal – third place 2004 Athens Men's basketball
FIBA Americas Championship
Assistant coach for  United States
Gold medal – first place 2003 San Juan Men's basketball

Oliver Gordon Purnell Jr. (born May 19, 1953) is an American former college basketball coach. He served as the head men's basketball coach at Radford University from 1988 to 1991, Old Dominion University from 1991 to 1994, the University of Dayton from 1994 to 2003, Clemson University from 2003 to 2010, and DePaul University from 2010 to 2015, compiling a career record of 448–386.

Early years[edit]

Purnell was born in Berlin, Maryland, the second of Oliver Sr. and Phyllis' four children. He attended Stephen Decatur High School, where he played on the boys' basketball team that captured the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Class B championship in 1970.[1][2] Purnell was recruited to play basketball at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. While at Old Dominion, Purnell enjoyed a highly successful playing career, finishing 18th on ODU's all-time scoring list with 1,090 points and leading the Monarchs to the 1975 NCAA Division II national championship.[3] That year, Purnell was selected by Converse as an honorable mention Division II All-American.

Purnell averaged 14.4 points a game his senior year and 13.8 as a junior. He scored 25 points against Randolph-Macon in the NCAA South Atlantic Regional Championship game in 1975. As a junior, he averaged 6.7 assists per game and tallied 181 for the season. He was accorded the team MVP honors his senior year.

Purnell also dished out 474 career assists, which placed him sixth on the school's all-time list. He still shares ODU's single game steal record with eight against Washington and Lee in 1975.

Purnell was drafted in the sixth round of the 1975 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.[4]

Purnell was inducted into the Stephen Decatur High School Hall of Fame on September 19, 2008. He was inducted into the ODU Sports Hall of Fame in April 1988.

Coaching career[edit]

Purnell became a graduate assistant coach at ODU in July 1975, eventually becoming a full-time assistant at the university. During Purnell's tenure as a full-time assistant, he helped ODU reach the postseason seven times (3 NCAAs and 4 NITs).[4] Lefty Driesell hired Purnell in 1985 to serve as an assistant on his Maryland staff. Purnell served three seasons at Maryland before being selected as head coach at Radford University. Purnell is credited with one of the biggest one year turnarounds in NCAA history as his 1990-91 Radford club posted a 22-7 record, a 15-game improvement over the previous season.[4] In 1991, he returned to Old Dominion to take the head coaching position. After another successful stint, in 1994, he accepted a position as head coach at the University of Dayton where he led the Flyers to two NCAA tournament appearances (2000, 2003) before accepting the head coaching job at Clemson University shortly after the #4 seeded Flyers lost to #13 Tulsa in the first round of the 2003 NCAA tournament. Purnell was the head coach of the 1999 USA World University Team and led the squad to an 8-0 record and the Gold Medal in Brisbane, Australia. He was the recipient of USA Basketball's 1999 Developmental Coach of the Year Award for that accomplishment.[5] He was selected to the Board of Directors at the 1998 convention for the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC). In 2000, he was appointed by the NABC to serve as a member of USA Basketball Men's Collegiate Committee. That committee is responsible for the selection of collegiate coaches and players for USA Basketball's teams.[5]

During his tenure at Clemson, he built the program steadily, improving each subsequent season. He served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 2006–07.[6] At the conclusion of that season, Purnell took his team to the championship game of the NIT, losing to West Virginia in the final, following wins against Syracuse, Air Force, and Ole Miss. In 2008, he guided the Tigers to a third-place 10–6 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference and a runner-up position in the ACC Tournament in Charlotte, losing to North Carolina by 5 points. The 2007–08 season marked Clemson's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in ten years. However, Purnell was unable to win an NCAA tournament game (0–6) during his stints with ODU, Dayton and Clemson.

On March 18, 2008, Clemson extended Purnell's contract through 2014 and raised his salary.[7]

On April 6, 2010, Purnell signed a seven-year deal with DePaul University.[8] At the conclusion of the 2014–2015 season, Purnell announced his resignation.[9]

Head coaching record[edit]

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Radford Highlanders (Big South Conference) (1988–1991)
1988–89 Radford 15–13 5–7 T–5th
1989–90 Radford 7–22 3–9 7th
1990–91 Radford 22–7 12–2 2nd
Radford: 44–42 (.512) 20–18 (.526)
Old Dominion Monarchs (Colonial Athletic Association) (1991–1994)
1991–92 Old Dominion 15–15 8–6 T–3rd NCAA Division I First Round
1992–93 Old Dominion 21–8 11–3 T–1st NIT Second Round
1993–94 Old Dominion 21–10 10–4 T–1st NIT Second Round
Old Dominion: 57–33 (.633) 29–13 (.690)
Dayton Flyers (Great Midwest Conference) (1994–1995)
1994–95 Dayton 7–20 0–12 7th
Dayton Flyers (Atlantic 10 Conference) (1995–2003)
1995–96 Dayton 15–14 6–10 4th (West)
1996–97 Dayton 13–14 6–10 4th (West)
1997-98 Dayton 21–12 11–5 3rd (West) NIT Second Round
1998-99 Dayton 11–17 5–11 5th (West)
1999–00 Dayton 22–9 11–5 1st (West) NCAA Division I First Round
2000–01 Dayton 21–13 9–7 6th NIT Quarterfinal
2001–02 Dayton 21–11 10–6 3rd (West) NIT First Round
2002–03 Dayton 24–6 14–2 2nd (West) NCAA Division I First Round
Dayton: 155–116 (.572) 72–68 (.514)
Clemson Tigers (Atlantic Coast Conference) (2003–2010)
2003–04 Clemson 10–18 3–13 9th
2004–05 Clemson 16–16 5–11 9th NIT First Round
2005–06 Clemson 19–15 7–9 9th NIT Second Round
2006–07 Clemson 25–11 7–9 T–8th NIT Runner-Up
2007–08 Clemson 24–10 10–6 3rd NCAA Division I First Round
2008–09 Clemson 23–9 9–7 T–5th NCAA Division I First Round
2009–10 Clemson 21–11 9–7 T–5th NCAA Division I First Round
Clemson: 138–90 (.605) 50–62 (.446)
DePaul Blue Demons (Big East Conference) (2010–2015)
2010–11 DePaul 7–24 1–17 16th
2011–12 DePaul 12–19 3–15 16th
2012–13 DePaul 11–21 2–16 15th
2013–14 DePaul 12–21 3–15 10th
2014–15 DePaul 12–20 6–12 T–7th
DePaul: 54–105 (.340) 15–75 (.167)
Total: 448–386 (.537)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ Morris, Ron. "12 Lives: Purnell leading by example," The State (Columbia, SC), Sunday, March 28, 2010.
  2. ^ 2009–10 MPSSAA Winter Record Book – Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Archived 2010-03-31 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Player Bio: Oliver Purnell :: Men's Basketball". Archived from the original on 2007-02-11.
  4. ^ a b c Biography, Oliver Purnell, retrieved June 4, 2011.
  5. ^ a b http://www.depaulbluedemons.com. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ NABC Presidents – National Association of Basketball Coaches.
  7. ^ Clemson rewards Purnell with two-year extension
  8. ^ Purnell leaves Clemson for DePaul
  9. ^ Nicole Auerbach (2015-03-14). "DePaul's Oliver Purnell resigns after five losing seasons". usatoday.com. Retrieved 2015-03-14.

External links[edit]