JONESBORO, Ark. (5/4/22) – Arkansas State University System President Dr. Chuck Welch announced Wednesday that Jeff Purinton, a highly-respected and veteran athletics administrator who most recently spent the last seven years as part of the Alabama Athletics Department’s executive staff, has been named the Red Wolves’ Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics.
Purinton comes to A-State following a 15-year stint at the University of Alabama, but his path to Jonesboro also included professional stops working with the Orange Bowl Committee (2006-07) and the Florida State Athletics Department (1994-2006) while also having a national presence on multiple college football committees.
“I could not be more excited about the hiring of Jeff Purinton as the next Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics at Arkansas State,” said Welch. “From the very first conversation I had with Jeff, I knew that he was someone who would elevate our program to unforeseen heights. Jeff’s experience, combined with his incredible relationship skills and his network across the nation, made him an exceptional candidate for our position. Jeff has literally overseen every aspect of a premier athletics department, and every single person I talked with said it is his time to run his own department. I am thrilled that department is ours, and I cannot wait to see what he accomplishes for our university.”
Purinton most recently served as Alabama’s Executive Deputy Director of Athletics after being elevated to the position in 2021, but also held Deputy AD (2019-21), Executive Associate AD (2018-19), Senior Associate AD (2015-18) and Associate Athletics Director for Football Communications (2007-15) titles during his time with the Crimson Tide.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be named the next Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics at Arkansas State University,” said Purinton. “Thank you to System President Chuck Welch and everyone involved in the search process. It was handled in a first-class manner all the way through. I definitely had an interest when I got the first call about it, and after I had a chance to sit down and talk in-person with Chuck and Brad (Phelps), I was certain Arkansas State was a school I wanted to be a part of. They were genuine and authentic, and you felt a trust with them right off the bat. I felt like it was the right place and the right timing, but most importantly the chance to work with the right people.
“Successful college athletics programs have alignment with their leadership, and I believe that is a strength at Arkansas State,” continued Purinton. “I am excited to be associated with an outstanding program that has enjoyed many achievements in the classroom, in competition and in the community, and I look forward to continuing to develop the Red Wolves’ strong national brand.
“We can’t wait to get to campus and meet our student-athletes, coaches, staff members, donors and fans. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Jonesboro, and our family is excited to get to know the community and be part of that. Wolves up!”
Arkansas State will hold a 1:00 p.m. press conference Monday, May 9, at the Centennial Bank Athletics Operations Center officially introducing Purinton as the Red Wolves’ 13th athletics director. The press conference is open to the public, and it will be streamed live on AState.edu, the official web site of Arkansas State University.
While operating as Executive Deputy Director of Athletics, Purinton was the sport administrator for football as well as the men’s and women’s golf programs after previously overseeing men’s basketball. Additionally, he supervised several departments within athletics, including human resources, marketing and trademark licensing and was the liaison to Crimson Tide Sports Marketing, Alabama’s LEARFIELD property.
When current Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne was hired to lead the Crimson Tide in 2017, Purinton was charged with the creation and implementation of the department’s new strategic plan. He served on the leadership group that helped develop and launch the department’s new fundraising initiative (The Crimson Standard) with a 10-year goal of raising $600 million. The first phase of the campaign included renovations to both football locker rooms, the Sports Science Center at the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility, Rhoads Softball Stadium, as well as recruiting and premium areas at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Alabama football won six national championships in Purinton’s time at UA and took home numerous team and individual national awards. Widely known as one of the best venues in college football, Purinton oversaw the revision of the football game-day production in 2017, improving the overall atmosphere and interaction from the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Part of that process included the implementation of new LED stadium lighting in 2019, which received positive reviews from both the players and fans.
In March of 2019, Purinton assisted Byrne in the search for a new head men’s basketball coach that resulted in the hiring of Nate Oats from Buffalo. In Oats’ second season at Alabama (and first full season), the 2020-21 team won both the regular-season and Southeastern Conference Tournament championships for the first time in 30 years and later advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 and finished No. 5 in the final national rankings. Herb Jones was named SEC Player of the Year and earned All-America honors, while Oats was voted the SEC Coach of the Year. The 2021-22 squad once again advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In 2018, the Tide men’s basketball team received an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2012 and earned its first NCAA win since 2006.
In addition to working with several of Alabama’s successful athletics teams, Purinton was the department oversight to one of the top Learfield/IMG College groups in the nation in Crimson Tide Sports Marketing. CTSM was selected as the 2017 Learfield Property of the Year after setting record-highs in revenue generation. Alabama has also ranked in the top two in royalties generated among the Collegiate Licensing Company’s partner institutions each of the last 11 years and was No. 1 in five of the last six seasons.
In 2021, Alabama football’s social media accounts each eclipsed the 1 million follower threshold, becoming the only college athletics team to reach this feat on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Combined, Alabama athletics social channels generated north of 1.1 billion impressions in 2020. With ties to social media and some of the other external units, Purinton is on the department’s committee responsible for Alabama’s plan for name, image and likeness and assisted with the creation of The Advantage, a comprehensive program that provides Tide student-athletes with the education and tools necessary to build and elevate their personal brands.
Purinton was hired at Alabama in the summer of 2007 as the Associate Athletics Director for Football Communications, handling all external areas of the program for Coach Nick Saban. He has coordinated each of the 12 ESPN College GameDay visits to Tuscaloosa as Alabama has hosted the show more than any other school during that time frame. In addition to building and maintaining relationships with national media and the marketing/promotion of Crimson Tide football, Purinton helped strategize and implement plans for the Crimson Caravan (spring booster tour). He was promoted to oversee all external areas within the department as well as the Crimson Tide Celebrity Golf Tournament beginning in June of 2015.
“My family and I want to thank everyone at the University of Alabama for an amazing 15 years working with the Crimson Tide,” Purinton said. “We’ve developed lifelong friends and relationships during our time at UA, and we are so appreciative of the opportunity we had in Tuscaloosa. Greg Byrne and Coach Saban have been so supportive, especially during this process, and I want to thank them specifically.”
In 2006, Purinton was hired by the Orange Bowl Committee (OBC) as the Director of Media Relations and Communications. That year, the OBC eclipsed attendance and revenue goals for the Basketball Classic, Fan Fest, Pregame Tailgate Party and Fed Ex Orange Bowl (Louisville versus Wake Forest). Purinton also produced a weekly Orange Bowl radio show and a television program that featured the bowl-sponsored youth football initiative. He led planning for the 2009 BCS National Championship Game which included a $1.4 million media budget.
Prior to the Orange Bowl and Alabama, Purinton spent more than a decade at Florida State University working in various roles in the athletics department. He began as a student assistant in sports information during his undergraduate years, and followed up as a graduate assistant in 1998. He was promoted to a full-time role as assistant SID in 1999, where he worked directly with two of the winningest coaches in college history in Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden and Head Baseball Coach Mike Martin. In addition to the baseball and football SID duties, Purinton was the travel advance coordinator for the football program from 1999-2006.
In total, Purinton worked with 12 bowl teams at FSU including the 2000 Sugar Bowl where FSU defeated Virginia Tech to win the 1999 national title. He made two trips to the College World Series as the SID for the Seminole baseball program (1999 and 2000). In the 1999 season with FSU baseball, Marshall McDougall set the NCAA record with six home runs in a single game, and that team went on to finish runner-up at the national championship. From 2004-06, Purinton was the primary Sports Information Director for football.
Purinton has served on several College Football National Championship Game media coordination committees while working at Alabama and the Orange Bowl and was a member of the College Football 150th Anniversary Committee. He has successfully helped promote four Heisman Trophy winning campaigns (Chris Weinke at Florida State; Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, DeVonta Smith at Alabama) along with a Campbell Trophy winner (Barrett Jones at Alabama).
Purinton is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Director of Athletics and the Football Writers Associate of America. He was a 2019 NEXT UP honoree by CollegeAD and was selected to attend the NACDA AD Mentoring Institute (2017 & 2019) and the Lead1 Institute (2018). From 2016-17, Purinton served as the athletics department coordinator for the University’s United Way campaign.
A native of Palatka, Fla., Purinton received his bachelor’s degree in sports management and master’s in athletics administration at Florida State University. He and his wife Julie have two daughters, Jillian and Josie.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING …
“There are many qualities that make Jeff Purinton a great leader. The thing I appreciated about Jeff from the first time I met him was how direct and honest he is. We always tell our executive team and people we work with, don’t tell me what I want to hear, tell me what I need to know. You never have to worry about that with Jeff. He tells you what is on his mind in a constructive and helpful way. You need to be able to do that to be an effective leader. Jeff is a person that people like to be around. He’s a good communicator and he’s very trustworthy. He’s able to create a vision and help execute it as well as help communicate that vision. He is someone the coaches trust, and they appreciate his insight. From Coach Saban to Nate Oats to our golf coaches to our track coaches, they enjoy getting insight and counsel from Jeff to help them in their ability to coach their teams and make decisions. That could be from a budget standpoint, travel standpoint or a student-athlete experience standpoint. He’s well-rounded in those experiences, and he’s earned the trust of our coaches across the board. That is a very important tool to have when you are running an athletics department. In my opinion, one of the things that is needed in college athletics leadership positions is people who have been on campus and worked directly with student-athletes, coaches, athletics staff, University leadership and the fan base. Arkansas State hit a home run with Jeff Purinton – he is going to be a very successful AD.”
· Greg Byrne (Alabama Director of Athletics)
“I’ve known Jeff for more than 20 years going back to the FSU dynasty days in the 90s when we were both in the early stages of our careers. We’ve worked together and been friends since then, but the main reason I think so highly of him is the trust and respect factor, as well as the level of professionalism he has always maintained in doing his job. That’s why his name was the first I recommended to Coach Saban back in 2007 when he was looking to improve relationships with television and national media and deal with the external areas of the football program. He’s taken on expanded administrative roles at Alabama now, but he still makes sure ESPN College GameDay and the broadcast announcers are treated in a first-class manner when we come to Tuscaloosa. Jeff is one of the good guys in the industry. He has a great family, and he makes the place he works better. He knows college football and college athletics, and Arkansas State got it right when they hired Jeff Purinton.”
· Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN, Amazon)
“I always say that the number one thing that makes our organization special is the people. In terms of our staff and administration, Jeff would be one of those people I’m talking about. He works extremely hard, he thinks ahead and is proactive when you deal with any big picture issues, and he does it with a positive attitude. Anytime we’ve had to deal with a high pressure or stressful situation, he’s calm and doesn’t get flustered in those moments. We hired Jeff in the summer of my first year (2007) at Alabama in large part because he brought great outside perspective and had really strong national relationships. I relied on Jeff often, especially those first few years, in areas beyond just the media in terms of building the football program to where it is now. He moved up in terms of his administrative role here and has done an outstanding job as our football oversight. I don’t have any doubt Jeff will make an outstanding AD for Arkansas State.
· Nick Saban (Alabama Head Football Coach)
“During my time as a student-athlete at Alabama, Jeff really helped me grow as a person and understand how important it is to represent yourself the right way on and off the field. We always talked about what you wanted your brand to be. We not only had a lot of great coaches at Alabama, but we had really good people like Jeff on staff that made the program better in some of the external areas as well. He helped me deal with all of the Heisman media demands, and I remember sitting up in New York just like it was yesterday getting my speech ready in case I won. That’s as nervous as I’ve ever been when my name was called, but I felt like I was prepared for the moment. I’ve got a lot of great memories with Jeff, and I appreciate him helping me get to where I am today. When I go back to ‘Bama with my family, Jeff is one of the first people I go and see.”
· Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints RB, 2009 Heisman Trophy Winner)
“Since my first day as a member of the Alabama Athletics staff, I have had the privilege of having an office next door to Jeff Purinton. Over the last four years, being office neighbors has resulted in gaining a mentor, teammate and friend. Jeff has an amazing ability to keep morale high, galvanize staff toward a common goal and set an example of being meticulous in our daily tasks. Additionally, his ability to build relationships across the department with all staff and coaches is top notch. He is known throughout the department as an individual who treats everyone with respect, is trustworthy and transparent, and most importantly, operates with integrity at all times. He is dedicated to success at the highest level and understands where the landscape of college athletics is heading. Jeff, his amazing wife Julie and their two brilliant daughters are a fantastic choice for Arkansas State.”
· Tiffini N. Grimes (Alabama Senior Deputy Athletics Director/SWA/Chief Diversity Officer
“We weren’t going to take just any coaching job when we were at Buffalo because we had a great situation there, had made it to the NCAA Tournament two straight years, and we’d recently bought a house that we were renovating. After Greg (Byrne) and Jeff came up to meet with us about the opening at Alabama, there was no doubt that we were going to make the move to Tuscaloosa. They did an outstanding job of presenting all of the positive things Alabama had to offer and answered each and every question we had. Knowing Jeff would be our sport administrator for men’s basketball was an important factor, and his support has been a key part of what we are building here. Especially with a new staff coming in, Jeff was invaluable in helping us navigate through the first couple of seasons. We were able to win the SEC regular season and the tournament championship in our second year, and advance to the Sweet 16. The support from Jeff and our administration is a big reason why.”
· Nate Oats (Alabama Head Men’s Basketball Coach)
“In my time as Faculty Athletic Representative at The University of Alabama, Jeff Purinton is a person I have looked toward to better understand the world of college athletics. He has been both a great example and a great resource. His example comes through in his presence at our many and varied athletic events, comfortably interacting with student-athletes, coaches and staff. In terms of a resource, he has a wealth of knowledge, and it is not just because he worked his way up through various roles in multiple organizations. His dedication to the overall organization, along with his collegiality and work ethic, have led him to understand and contribute in areas that span the entirety of athletics. His observations and insights have been valuable to me. I am appreciative of that professionally and personally. He, his wife and family, have been key in making the connection to the athletic department a pleasant one for my family and me. I really hope that Jeff is the kind of person that athletic departments are looking for to lead them in our environment that is so filled with change, challenges and opportunities.”
· Dr. James King (Alabama Faculty Athletic Representative)
PURINTON AT A GLANCE …
Hometown: Palatka, Fla.
High School: Palatka High School
College: Florida State, 1997 (Bachelor of Science, Sport Management; Florida State, 2006 (Master of Science, Athletic Administration)
Children: daughters Jillian and Josie
· University of Alabama (2007-15)
o Executive Deputy Director of Athletics (2021-22)
o Deputy Athletics Director (2019-21)
o Executive Associate Athletics Director (2018-19)
o Senior Associate Athletics Director (2015-18)
o Associate Athletics Director for Football Communications (2007-15)
· Orange Bowl Committee Director of Media Relations and Communications (2006-07)
· Florida State University (1998-2006)
o Director of Football Communications (2004-06)
o Assistant Sports Information Director (1999-2004)
o Sports Information Graduate Assistant (1998-99)
· RELATED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE
o NACDA member and participant in AD Mentoring Institute (2017 and 2019) and AD360 (2019)
o 2019 NEXT UP honoree by CollegeAD
o College Football’s 150th Anniversary Marketing Committee
o United Way Campaign Coordinator for Alabama Athletics (2016-17)
o Oversaw Heisman Trophy winning campaigns for Chris Weinke (2000), Mark Ingram (2009), Derrick Henry (2015) and DeVonta Smith (2020)
o Promoted Campbell Trophy winner Barrett Jones in 2012 (Alabama)
o Directed the promotion of national award winners including the Biletnikoff, Butkus, Disney Spirit, Doak Walker, Outland, O’Brien, Lombardi, Maxwell, Unitas, Groza and numerous coach of the year honors
o Alabama Official Bowl Travel Party, 2007-22
o Florida State Official Bowl Travel Party, 1995-2006
o BCS National Championship Game media staff (2007-08, 2010)
o NCAA Championship Staff (1996 Women’s Tennis, 1995 Men’s Basketball, 1995-2006 Baseball)
Original article source: https://astateredwolves.com/news/2022/5/4/purinton-named-a-state-vice-chancellor-for-intercollegiate-athletics.aspx | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council