Oliver Purnell was the first African-American head coach of a men’s sport in Clemson history. He served as the leader of the men’s basketball program for seven years and took Clemson a record tying 25 wins in 2006-07 and the championship game of the NIT. He then guided Clemson to the NCAA Tournament each of his last three years, just the second Clemson coach to do that.
In 2008, he coached Clemson to the championship game of the ACC Tournament, just the second appearance in the final game in school history. That season the Tigers finished 22nd in the final AP poll, then finished 24th according to AP the following season. Purnell is the only coach to lead Clemson to consecutive final top 25 national rankings.
One of the most respected coaches in the nation during his career, he is still the only Clemson head coach to serve as president of a National Coaches Association.