JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) – For the third time in three years, Arkansas State has a new Athletic Director. Jeff Purinton, a former top official at Alabama, was introduced as the new Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Monday afternoon.
Purinton signed a five-year deal worth $400,000 annually.
It was a packed house at Centennial Bank Athletics Operations Center, filled with Arkansas State coaches and members of the community, all to hear from Purinton.
“I felt like Arkansas State was a place where everyone was on the same page from the top down,” Purinton said. “There honestly was never a point in time where there was any doubt in my mind that it was the right place to be in the right time to do it.”
Prior to joining Alabama in 2007, he worked at the Orange Bowl and at Florida State.
System President Chuck Welch says it was an easy decision to make.
“When I met Jeff Purinton, I just knew it was the fit,” Welch said. “I felt like I had known him 30 years within 10 minutes of sitting down and having dinner and beginning to talk about Arkansas State.”
Welch said even without a Chancellor in place, he knew he had to move quickly, filling the position 13 days after Tom Bowen stepped down, citing health reasons.
“As rapidly as things are changing in intercollegiate athletics right now, I just simply didn’t think we had the luxury of waiting,” Welch said.
Welch says Purinton was a clear candidate within days of the position opening. He’s not only a guy with power 5 experience, but it’s who Purinton has worked with that stood out.
“I’ve only worked with two head football coaches in my 25 plus years in athletics,” Purinton said. “Obviously, I’m talking about Coach [Bobby] Bowden and Coach [Nick] Saban. They are not only two of the best to ever do it, but both of them made a tremendous impact on my life. They were mentors, friends and golfing partners.”
His third head coach will be Butch Jones. Jones, much like Purinton, came to Jonesboro from Tuscaloosa.
“Spending three years with him, we worked very closely together and now there is a friendship and there is a respect,” Jones said. “He’s always had a plan and I think this is someone who has been waiting.”
Jeff closed his press conference quoting Ernie Johnson in the viral video where the Turner sportscaster visited Alabama’s football team.
“He said he has a ‘get to’ job and not a ‘got to’ job,” Purinton said. “That’s how I feel about our role as administrators. This is a ‘get to’ job for me.”
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