Oliver Gordon Purnell Jr. is an American 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
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). 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.
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 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. 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.
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. 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 April 6, 2010, Purnell was given a 7-year deal by DePaul University. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, Purnell announced his resignation.
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