Witt AD Purnell retiring


In his 14-year run as Wittenberg athletic director, Garnett Purnell saw the Tigers win a national championship in volleyball, lose a national championship game in men’s basketball at the buzzer, become the first NCAA Division III football program to win 700 games and add numerous full-time assistant coaches in men’s and women’s sports.

Wittenberg had one of the nation’s strongest Division III athletic programs when Purnell was hired on Aug. 1, 1999. You could argue it’s even stronger today as he prepares for his final weeks on the job.

Purnell, 63, announced his retirement Monday effective Aug. 16. He cited “health reasons” as one of the contributing factors. He wants to spend more time with his family in the coming years.

“It’s important to step back and give this opportunity to someone else who has a little bit more energy, who’s body can take the stress that the AD job has,” Purnell said. “With my son just getting married last month and possibly having grandchildren down the line, I want to be around.”

Purnell will still teach one class this fall semester. He also wants to work in retirement on becoming certified as a Catholic lay minister with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

Under Purnell’s leadership, Wittenberg won the North Coast Athletic Conference’s Dennis M. Collins All-Sports Trophy in 2009-10 and finished second three times and third three times. Among the many coaches hired during his tenure were Paco Labrador, who has built one of the nation’s strongest volleyball programs, and Jeff Roope, whose men’s golf program has won four straight NCAC titles.

“The thing about being a good manager is finding good people and letting them do their job,” Purnell said.

The Wittenberg football program has continued to excel during Purnell’s tenure. Improvements to the weight room, new turf at Edwards-Maurer Field and the addition of full-time assistant coaches have helped head coach Joe Fincham and his program.

“(Purnell’s) the fourth different AD I’ve worked with here,” Fincham said. “Garnett is a tremendous person. No job is too small for the guy. He has zero ego. He’s been very good to listen to. His door’s always been open when I’ve had a problem.”

Wittenberg is working on a short-term transition plan that will involve an interim AD. It will soon begin a national search for Purnell’s successor. That search will be led by Wittenberg’s faculty athletic representatives, professors Jeff Ankrom and Wendy Gradwohl.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Zampese ready for 2nd year guiding Bengals offense
Zampese ready for 2nd year guiding Bengals offense

After 13 years on staff as the Bengals quarterbacks coach, Ken Zampese knew exactly what the jump to offensive coordinator would entail. It just didn’t quite pan out like he had hoped his first year calling the plays. The Bengals finished 6-9-1 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 with the offense ranking 24th with just 20.3...
Of fond farewells: Hawkins throws love at Cincinnati and Cleveland upon NFL retirement
Of fond farewells: Hawkins throws love at Cincinnati and Cleveland upon NFL retirement

It might have surprised some Tuesday when former Bengals/Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins announced his retirement from the NFL, but anybody who came across him as a pro probably wasn’t shocked by the love he threw at Cincinnati last night. Hawkins, the rabbit-quick 5-foot-7 micro dot who graduated from Toledo, penned this letter through the...
WATCH: Reds turn triple play on Yankees, Todd Frazier
WATCH: Reds turn triple play on Yankees, Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier’s home debut for the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium could have gone better.Facing the Cincinnati Reds organization that drafted him, he hit into a triple play in the second inning on Tuesday night.  Another former Red, Didi Gregorious, didn’t help Frazier with his own base running. The Reds first turned their...
Triple play was cool, but Cozart injury prompts theorists to wonder if Reds have buzzard’s luck
Triple play was cool, but Cozart injury prompts theorists to wonder if Reds have buzzard’s luck

The Reds lost again Tuesday, and while there was one glorious highlight when they turned a triple play, the great takeaway after they fell 4-2 to Cincinnati was a bummer. All-Star shortstop Zack Cozart left the game with an apparent quad injury. At least one Cincinnati fan wondered publicly how a Cozart injury could be construed as a good thing. ...
Archdeacon: Bengals owner Mike Brown defends his decision to give ‘Pacman’ Jones another chance
Archdeacon: Bengals owner Mike Brown defends his decision to give ‘Pacman’ Jones another chance

Mike Brown has been called a lot of things over the years, but this would have been off base, he said: “Do I think we have a locker room with the James Boys, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger? I don’t. “I’m not Ma Barker!” The Cincinnati Bengals owner was referring to the merciless crime matriarch from the 1920s and...
More Stories