Report: Men’s basketball Coach Oliver Purnell returning for fifth season at DePaul

Blue Demons fans who are craving change for the men’s basketball team will have to wait at least another year, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune’s Chris Hine reported Thursday that head coach Oliver Purnell will be retained for a fifth season. Athletic Director Jean Lenti- Ponsetto made it clear that she believes Purnell can still turn the program around.

“When he came here we talked about taking four or five years to get it turned and to get the caliber of student-athlete we want in the program,” she said. “It’s definitely a rebuild, this process that we’re in, and we’re going to stay the course, recruit, just get better and execute.”

Some reports said that former UCLA coach Ben Howland was on the docket, but those rumors proved to be unfounded. Purnell will be brought back with three years remaining on the initial seven-year contract he signed in 2010.

While not totally surprising, the timing of the report certainly isn’t beneficial to Purnell’s case.

DePaul looked listless in a seasonending 79-46 blowout at the hands of Butler Thursday night. It was senior night at Allstate Arena and the Blue Demons didn’t gain any momentum from the pre-game festivities. DePaul has averaged 10.3 wins per season under Purnell and has finished last in the Big East every year. They haven’t played in a tournament game since 2004 and fans don’t appear to have any reason to believe they’ll visit the dance anytime soon.

Ponsetto was unavailable for comment for this issue, but mentioned to Hine that the future is still bright.

“We have some outstanding young talent in this program and we’re excited about the talent coming in,” she said. “I’m proud of our seniors. They made such a great commitment, they stayed the course. This team has had a lot of adversity and a lot to overcome. … We’ve been a team all season long that has had no margin for error and there has been a lot of adversity the coaching staff has had to manage.”