Clemson Basketball Coach Oliver Purnell
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be here. This is certainly one
of the most important days of my life, minus marrying my wife and the
birth of my kids. This is very significant and important to me. It
seems like a long time coming.
"Many years ago when I graduated from college I was interviewed by
Bill Foster for a graduate-assistant position at Clemson. At that
time I also had an offer from my alma mater, Old Dominion, and I
chose to do that. Often times I regretted that in terms of being
more prominent and spending more years in the ACC. A few years
(1998) back I interviewed for the head coaching job. For whatever
reason it didn't work out. Finally, today it does work out and I
could not be any happier."
"It has been a long-time goal of mine to coach in the ACC. Not only
to coach in the ACC, but to be able win in the ACC. I really
believe, and Terry Don (Phillips) has convinced me over the last few
weeks, that he has the same belief and commitment. Our President
(Dr. Jim Barker) certainly echoed that.
" There is a commitment here to be one of the Top-20 institutions in
the country. A long with that comes a great athletic program. With
this kind of basketball league it only makes sense to have a great
basketball program. With that type of commitment, I feel like this
is the place for me.
"I'm ready to get started. We are going to look at hiring a staff
this week. We will hit the road recruiting on Wednesday. I'm
looking forward to meeting the current players at 6:30 in the
morning on Monday, so we can start to know each other, look forward
and install the building blocks for our program. We are going to put
them in a position where they can represent this great institution
both on the court in terms of being competitive, but also off the
court in terms of how they conduct themselves in the classroom,
socially, and being great ambassadors for this institution. I really
regard our program as being a positive PR tool for the institution."
"I really appreciate Terry Don's (Phillips) patience and willingness
to work with me on my contract situation. Without getting into a lot
of detail, I had a situation where I could not talk to other schools
or I would have been penalized contractually. I wanted to be in a
situation where Clemson could check me out and really understand who
I was, where I was coming from and what my goals were, and then
decide if they were truly interested. They were interested in me and
I was certainly interested in them."
"The ACC is one of the premier leagues in the country. I personally
believe it is the best league in the country, year in and year out.
If you are in the top echelon of the ACC, it puts you in the top
echelon nationally. The bottom line is we want to win as many
basketball games as we can, non-conference before we start the ACC
season, move up the ladder and win as many games as we can in the ACC.
"A long term goal of mine, and if it happens, and I think that it
will, is to win the ACC Tournament. You will see one happy man.
Without question, it is the granddaddy of them all with the pageantry
and tradition. Obviously, if you do some of those things you are
going to have a high seed in the tournament like we did this year (at
Dayton ). That gives you the best chance to advance, get to the
Final Four and win the National Championship."
"Everywhere I have been we have been in a situation where the program
has been down. The three places where I have been I have learned a
lot about how to build a program. The bottom line is people. Your
coaches, your players and the people you surround yourself with are
the most important. Obviously are coaching staff, as teachers are
going to be the ones to invoke the message to the players. It is up
to the players to internalize that message."
President James F. Barker
"Let me add my welcome to all of you here today for a very special
development at Clemson in our quest to become a top-20 public
university. We feel that we are taking a major step in that
"I want to first say how pleased I am at the work that Terry Don
Phillips has done in the past few weeks in making the transition from
one basketball program to the other, and for the terrific work that
he has done to bring to us what we think is the right basketball
coach for Clemson.
"As you know, we have a goal to become a top-20 public university and
we believe that the best route to getting there is to embrace
athletics and academics together as "One Clemson". We think that
"One Clemson" philosophy is powerful and we are seeing the early
results of that now. We believe that with today's announcement we
are taking a clear step, not only to reaching the goals that we have
set for the university, which includes a Final Four in basketball
with full NCAA compliance, but we feel that we are taking a step in
building "One Clemson". That is why I am so pleased to be a part of
this and so pleased that we have our new basketball coach here with
On Purnell being Clemson's first African-American head coach
"This search was done the way that all searches are done at Clemson.
We had a diverse pool of people and carefully looked at each of
their backgrounds, looked at the situation, then chose the best
person. That is exactly what we have done in this decision.
Our goal is to increase our diversity and increase our sense of
community. One or the other of those is not hard to do by itself,
but putting them together is the challenge. In getting to know
Oliver, I think we have someone who can do both of those things -
increase our diversity and increase our sense of community. I think
that is what the Clemson family would like to see and we are very
pleased that Oliver will be a part of that.
Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips
"When I had the opportunity to visit with Dayton's athletic director
he said that he was very happy for Oliver at this step in his career
and that he is very deserving. He went to Dayton when the program
was down and he built it into one of the nation's better programs,
one in which his kids graduated and he did things the right way. "He said that beyond being an outstanding coach, he is a great
individual. He said that as an athletic director, you have some
coaches that you can classify as high maintenance and some you can
classify as low maintenance. You can classify Oliver as zero
On believing that Clemson basketball can be successful
By virtue of the fact that we are in a great conference, we have got
to develop consistency at a certain level and that consistency will
allow us to grow and allow us to be a factor in the championship race. The approach to success in a program is a partnership with a coach.
The coach has to have support and we have to put them in a position
so that they can put their kids in a position to be successful. We
owe it, not only to our basketball student-athletes, but to all of
our student-athletes to do those things so that they can be
successful. It is a partnership between what we do administratively
in the athletic department and the university and the coach. If
they're successful, we are all successful.