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DePaul University Archives

**Breaking News** DePaul Has a New Head Coach

I have learned that DePaul has hired Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell and has agreed to a 7 year contract with him in excess of 15 million dollars when you add in the buyout of his Clemson contract. He was on campus today and and will be introduced in a press conference at 1:30 Tuesday on DePaul's campus.

Purnell has been the head coach at Clemson since 2003 and while he has made Clemson competitive and has taken them to the NCAA Tournament 3 times, he is 0-6 in his career in NCAA games. He has no ties to the Chicago area and the jury is out on whether or not he can recruit players from this area to rebuild a program that was 1-35 the past two seasons in Big East play.

His Clemson teams have won 20 or more games each of the past four seasons and if he can achieve that level of success in Lincoln Park then the Blue Demons program will become a hot ticket again in the Chicago sports world.

The Latest College Basketball Coaching Rumors

DePaul is continuing their search for Jerry Wainwright's replacement and has an extensive list of candidates that they are studying. Contrary to a TV report that ran in Chicago last week, Pitt coach Jamie Dixon was never a serious candidate for the job. He is a good friend of DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto and the two keep in touch but Dixon never was offered the job and he never seriously considered it. UCLA coach Ben Howland did consider the DePaul opening but decided on Tuesday to stay in Westwood where he feels his program is poised for a rebound season after a difficult 2009-10 campaign.

Other names that have surfaced in connection with the job include Kansas State coach Frank Martin, who signed a lucrative extension with K-State a few weeks ago and has a hefty buyout of his contract. Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery has been rumored to be on the DePaul short list but my sources tell me he is not in the upper tier of candidates for the job.

USC's Kevin O'Neill would be a tremendous choice and loves Chicago but he just completed his first season in LA and was named the Pac Ten Conference Coach of the Year by the Sporting News. He is not expected to leave USC. Another name that was on DePaul's list was UTEP's Tony Barbee but he was named the new coach at Auburn on Wednesday.

Iowa is also looking for a new coach after firing Todd Lickliter and appears to be looking for a lower priced alternative after paying big money to Lickliter in his settlement. Sources confirmed to me on Wednesday night that Iowa is talking to Dayton's Brian Gregory, Tulsa's Doug Wojcik, Utah's Jim Boylan, and Wright State's Brad Brownell. Three of the candidates (Gregory, Wojcik, and Boylan) all worked as assistants at Michigan State for Tom Izzo.

Stay tuned because I believe that DePaul will have a new coach named within 10 days but who that will be is still very much up in the air.

The Latest on the DePaul Job

I am hearing that DePaul is ready to put up the money to land a big name head coach for their men's basketball program. In addition to a multi million dollar contract proposal for a new coach the school is also investigating a handful of locations that could be the right spot to build a new basketball arena near campus.

The Finkl Steel Company is relocating to the south side of Chicago and their current location at Clybourn and Cortland is within walking distance of DePaul's Lincoln Park campus. An 8,000-10,000 seat arena is something that the university higher ups are considering. Real estate experts that I contacted today told me that the Finkl property is intriguing because it may not be suitable for residential use due to In addition, a recent post in a Chicago real estate blog TheChicago77.com discussed the Finkl property as it relates to DePaul University. The site says: The Finkl & Sons site is located on the east bank of The Chicago River at Southport Ave, and Cortland Street within steps of DePaul's main campus and due to its heavy industrial use over the past 100 years the site is believed to be to contaminated for many real estate re adaptations. So it seems the current thinking is that instead of removing all the over-sized foundations so closely positioned by the rivers edge that it might be far simpler and safer to just remove all the top soil, pave over the site and any possible contamination.

"If DePaul builds an arena near campus it is over. They are the biggest sleeping giant in college basketball. A new arena will make that one of the best jobs in the country," said ESPN analyst and former Notre Dame coach Digger Phelps.

"That is the only job I ever wanted after I left Notre Dame. I spent 6 hours with DePaul's AD back in 1997 after Joey Meyer left and I had people in the city of Chicago who were ready to help me get the program back on track," Phelps told me. "Imagine an on campus arena packed with 8,000 fans and a great student section wearing DePaul blue shirts with a Demon on them and the pitchfork in bright red. We could call the student section Digger's Demons. I love Chicago and I know that program can be turned around."

Pictured below are the names that I am hearing are on DePaul's current shopping list. Keep in mind that once teams are eliminated from post season play more names could come into play as some coaches leave jobs while others move into new vacancies. This so called "domino effect" could put some big names on the market.

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