Purnell: Pitchford situation complicated
HIGHLAND, Ind. -- DePaul coach Oliver Purnell has read what has been written about the Blue Demons and their relationship with 2010 recruit Walter Pitchford.
Purnell realizes it appears as if Pitchford, a 6-foot-10 forward, wants to be released from his letter of intent to DePaul, and the school simply isn't allowing that.
Purnell claims the issue isn't so cut and dry.
"Of course, there's more to the story than that," said Purnell, who was evaluating high school players at a tournament in Highland, Ind., on Saturday. "We're not going to debate that or disparage anybody in the media. He's certainly a young kid, and we certainly having nothing against Walter.
"The bottom line of the difference here is Walter Pitchford signed with DePaul, and when I got to DePaul in conversations with he and his dad, he re-committed to DePaul. And then mysteriously, within a couple days of tremendous meetings on campus and within days of schools starting to call us about releases and so on and so forth, among a lot of other concerns that we had during that process, they wanted a release. We had some concerns about that. We simply want that process to play out, so we can have our concerns mediated."
Pitchford recently filed a request to be released from his national letter of intent, but the NCAA rejected it. The national letter of intent requires Pitchford to attend DePaul for one academic year. If Pitchford transferred to another Division I school, he would have to sit out one year and would lose a year of eligibility. Pitchford could avoid the penalty by attending a prep school or junior college.
Purnell believes DePaul and Pitchford can still reconcile their differences.
"We certainly have no ill feelings toward Walter Pitchford," Purnell said. "We don't want to hold him back, but at the same time we got a basketball program to run, and you have to run that with integrity.
"Again to me, getting involved in a tit for tat, we will then be hurting the kid. Again, he's a young man looking to make a decision. It's not a normal, typical situation. There's extending circumstances that he's having to deal with. I got no problem with that whatsoever. It's tough on him. We're not the villains here.
"He's got to want to be here. He's got to do certain things to be here like any kid. Those are two absolutes."
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at email@example.com.