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Coach Oliver Purnell Opens New Era for DePaul's Tradition



CHICAGO - New DePaul men's basketball coach Oliver Purnell literally proclaimed his mission for DePaul from the rooftop on Tuesday night. Purnell called for a New Era of the Same Tradition for Blue Demon basketball.

From the 22nd floor of 200 S. Michigan at Chicago's Cliff Dwellers, Purnell told guests at DePaul's Oliver Purnell Welcome Celebration on Tuesday night that Blue Demon basketball is committed to being Chicago's basketball team.

The event was a special dinner for DePaul's trustees, top athletic donors and their basketball alumni players and managers. The welcome celebration marked the first major event introducing Coach Purnell to Blue Demon supporters and alumni.

The night began with speeches from Athletics Director Jean Lenti Ponsetto and Chair of DePaul's Board of Trustees Mary Dempsey who opened the festivities before giving way to University President Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M.

The Blue Demon president celebrated the recent successes of DePaul athletics: women's tennis' first NCAA berth, softball's third BIG EAST title in the last four years, women's basketball berth in the NCAA tournament and track's record-breaking improvement in 2010. Holtschneider then recapped the hiring credentials set for DePaul's search that resulted in Purnell's hiring, concluding with the conclusion that DePaul got its man.

Coach Purnell humbly thanked DePaul for honoring him with the stirring welcome celebration. The new DePaul hoops mentor talked about the key factors that led he and his wife to make the move to rebuild Blue Demon basketball. He cited DePaul's tradition, their commitment to excellence, the city of Chicago and the mission of the institution.

In the midst of Purnell's remarks, he unveiled the theme New Era-Same Tradition for the 2010-11 season. The theme was a fitting part of a night where a good portion of the crowd was made up of Blue Demon men's basketball alumni. Among those in attendance were NBA alumni Bobby Simmons, Dave Corzine, Emmette Bryant, Stephen Howard and Kevin Edwards.

Following Purnell's speech, Lenti Ponsetto recognized the DePaul trustees in attendance along with administrators from across the Loop and Lincoln Park Campuses. She reminded the crowd that despite coach's reputation as specialist in rebuilding programs, one thing that didn't need changed was the team's commitment to academics. Just last week the NCAA cited DePaul with the Public Recognition Award, given to the top 10 percent of all squads in their respective sports by the NCAA for their APR score.

Lenti Ponsetto then introduced women's basketball coach Doug Bruno who gave a toast to welcome Coach Purnell into the DePaul athletic family. The evening was closed with a benediction from former team chaplain Fr. Thomas Croak, C.M.