Purnell: Big East still strong league

October, 14, 2011
CHICAGO -- DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said Friday he isn’t worried about the Big East becoming less of a basketball league with any future changes.

“I just think you got a strong, strong league,” Purnell said.

Purnell’s confidence stemmed from his previous experiences with conference changes. He went through adjustments when at Clemson, Dayton and Old Dominion.

“I’ve done it before,” Purnell said. “When I was at Dayton, we were in the Great Midwest Conference for six months. That league blew up and became Conference USA. We weren’t invited in, and we went to the Atlantic 10. Old Dominion was in the Sun Belt and CAA.

“Although it seems like this stuff has never ever, ever happened before, certainly there are some things that happened like it before. There have always been changes.”

Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced in September they’re leaving the Big East for the ACC. Purnell expected more changes ahead, too.

“Down the line, I don’t think things are necessarily all settled yet,” Purnell said. “You can say this or that, and it might be different next week. The minute you think everything is settled, it’s not.”

Purnell got a laugh at the Chicago College Basketball Luncheon with a joke about conference expansion on Friday.

“Let’s go ahead and get this behind us,” Purnell said. “I wasn’t supposed to say anything. But this group of schools here will be splintering off from their present conferences and will be the flagship programs in a brand new conference that will be expanding and seeking new members all the times. Crazy times, crazy times.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.



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