Morgan State names new AD from NCAA compliance office Hiring of Purnell, 45, ends 16-month search

February 22, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The long search for a full-time athletic director at Morgan State ended yesterday with the hiring of Garnett H. Purnell, who has served the past five years as a compliance representative for the NCAA.

Before that, he was an assistant athletic director at the University of Cincinnati from 1985 to 1991.

Purnell, 45, is the 10th AD at Morgan State since 1929. His hTC contract becomes effective March 13.

"One of my professional aspirations was to be a Division I athletic director," he said yesterday from his office in Overland Park, Kan. "I've been on a campus for 14 years, and this experience [with the NCAA] is more like a corporate America setting. To be quite honest, I really missed the interaction with the students.

"The other thing that has pushed me to pursue the Morgan situation is I feel I can come there and make a difference. Even though I've been able to make some lasting impressions here, I feel I can have more of an impact with the development of young people there."

Rick Perry, Morgan State's vice president of student affairs, received an oral commitment from Purnell late last week, ending a 16-month search. He didn't make an announcement until getting a signed contract and notifying the other two finalists.

"I think his credentials speak for themselves," Perry said.

Tanya Rush, who headed the 11-member search committee that recommended Purnell, has been the acting AD since November 1994 while also continuing as an assistant vice president of student affairs. She took over for Ken McBryde, who had the job for 19 months before being fired while Morgan State was under NCAA investigation for violations in the athletic department.

Morgan State is serving a three-year probation that affects every program except softball and volleyball. It's a situation almost identical to the one Purnell inherited at Cincinnati, where he developed the department's first compliance manual, initiated a rules-education program for administrators and athletes and began various monitoring programs to evaluate the university's compliance efforts.

"One of the things I want to do is come in and help create a stronger internal structure," said Purnell, a native of Philadelphia, former basketball and football coach and member of Cheyney University's athletic hall of fame. "I'm a good organization man. I'm good with policies and procedures. . . . One of my primary goals is to come in and to help set that internal structure.

"It was the work that I did at the University of Cincinnati that caught the NCAA's eye and got me out here. I was one of the first people to be on the NCAA's staff that came from a school that was currently on probation."

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