Purnell leaving Clemson for DePaul


Mark Crammer

CLEMSON – The Oliver Purnell Era is over at Clemson.

A source confirmed Purnell has accepted the head coaching position at DePaul. Purnell will reportedly receive a seven-year, $15 million contract.

Purnell made $1.3 million annually at Clemson, receiving significant “enhancement” last summer to a six-year deal he signed the previous year.

At his season wrap-up press conference less than two weeks ago, Purnell said he had not been contacted about a vacant position and expected his staff to remain intact for the 2009-10 season. But he added that anything can happen, and it did early Tuesday morning.

Purnell told ESPN he was contacted last week.

“It's a super job,” Purnell told ESPN.com. "They are very, very committed to restoring a tradition and make DePaul Chicago's team.”

A press conference has been scheduled at DePaul at 1:30 p.m. today.

Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said Clemson’s new search for a head coach will begin “immediately.”

Phillips will meet with the media today at 4:30 p.m. In a statement, Phillips noted the growth of the program under Purnell.

“When he came to Clemson we had not been to a postseason tournament in four consecutive years,” Phillips said. “Now we join National Champion Duke as the only ACC schools to play in the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years. We have had a winning record in the ACC three consecutive years, a first in our history, and won at least 20 games four consecutive years, another first.

Under Purnell, the Tigers completed their third straight winning ACC season, a first in program history. However, Purnell has yet to get over the NCAA hurdle.

Purnell is 0-6 in the NCAA Tournament, including last month’s first-round loss against Missouri in Buffalo.

It was the Tigers’ third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The last coach to take Clemson to three straight NCAA Tournaments was Texas coach Rick Barnes, who bolted Clemson following the 1998 season.

“Oliver did things the right way, he never cut corners and he was professional in every undertaking,” Phillips said. “The interest in our program from a regional and national standpoint has reached previously unattainable heights. That was apparent when ESPN College Gameday came to our campus this year.”

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