Purinton named Vice Chancellor of Intercollegiate Athletics

A-State Athletics 
Jerry Scott

JONESBORO – 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,” Welch said.  “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,” Purinton said. “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 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.

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