The move, which was announced early Tuesday morning, comes as a surprise to everyone around the Clemson athletic department.
"Like I just got through telling the team, I'm in a little bit of shock as well," Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips said.
Purnell called Phillips about 1:30 Tuesday morning to tell him he was accepting the job at DePaul. There was no counter offer made the contract that's believed to provide Purnell with just over $2 million per year salary.
"When he called, Oliver just said, ‘I'm accepting the job.' It was a short conversation that he didn't elaborate on his decision," Phillips said.
"He had made his mind up. I can tell when Oliver's got his mind made up. There's not room for a lot of discussion."
Phillips spoke to DePaul athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto about Purnell on Sunday night.
"No one hates losing Oliver Purnell more than I do. I hate it," Phillips said. "I'm still in a sense of shock. I'm very pleased and proud that he passed our way. We're on solid foundation. We're going to do a national search.
"We're going to go to the person that we believe can build upon the foundation that's been left here and move forward."
Assistant coach Ron Bradley has been named interim head coach and will be a candidate for Purnell's replacement.
No other candidates for the job were named, but a short list has been put together.
"We have a lot that we can sell to a young man and a lot we can sell to a new coach," Phillips said. "It's a very solid program that competes very well at, again, a great university."
The search, which he will head up with senior associate athletic director for external affairs Billy D'Andrea, has already begun. Phillips hopes the search will be finished within the next two weeks.
The results they'll be looking for won't just be limited to success on the basketball court.
"We're looking for a good person with character that can teach character and expound on character with his team, someone who does emphasize that academic side of their life here, not just basketball," Phillips said.
And the search begins
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