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Oliver Purnell resigns as DePaul's basketball coach


CHICAGO (AP) DePaul hired Oliver Purnell hoping he could lead a once proud program back to prominence. It didn't happen.

Purnell resigned Saturday after leading the Blue Demons to a 54-105 record and a 15-75 mark in Big East play.

''We made progress here and improved with the talent and character of our student-athletes,'' he said in a statement.

The program that rose to prominence under Hall of Fame coach Ray Meyer hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2004 and last made the NIT in 2007. It's been nothing but losing seasons since then, and whatever strides they made under Purnell did not show up in the record.

DePaul lost at least 20 games in four of his five years, going 12-20 overall this season and finishing seventh in the Big East at 6-12. It was the first time since the 2007-08 season that the Blue Demons were not last in the conference.

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Playing most home games before small crowds at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, as DePaul has since 1980, has not helped. But that's about to change.

The school can sell the next coach on playing in a new 10,000-seat arena on the city's near South Side. DePaul is scheduled to move in during the 2016-17. It doesn't hurt, either, that Chicago boasts one of the nation's most fertile recruiting grounds.

Whether the next coach will produce a better record remains to be seen. Purnell, who orchestrated turnarounds at Dayton and Clemson before taking the DePaul job, is 448-384 in 27 seasons as a head coach.

Purnell has led Old Dominion, Dayton and Clemson to a combined six NCAA appearances but has never won a game in the tournament.

''We are clearly a stronger program because of his leadership,'' athletic director Jean Lenti Ponsetto said. ''As we now turn to a search for a new coach, we do so gratefully for what he contributed these past five years.''