DePaul grants Pitchford release

DePaul has granted recruit Walter Pitchford a release from his national letter of intent, Blue Demons coach Oliver Purnell confirmed on Monday.

Pitchford, a 6-foot-10 center, had been previously denied that request by DePaul and the NCAA. Following last week's NCAA's ruling, DePaul now has decided to give Pitchford his release, and he was notified of that on Sunday night.

"We were definitely going to play the process out," Purnell said. "I think it's clear to the NCAA and the NLI people we were well within our rights to grant a release at this time. It had nothing to do with our desire to keep Walter at DePaul or have him not go where he wanted to do. You have to run a program in a specific way especially one at a very high level, and you have guidelines to abide by."

Pitchford was recruited and signed his letter of intent while Jerry Wainwright was DePaul's coach. When Purnell was hired, he met with Pitchford and said he was told that Pitchford was still committed to DePaul. Shortly after, Pitchford began asking for his release.

DePaul was concerned that other schools may have contacted Pitchford while he was signed with the Blue Demons. This was among the reasons why Pitchford was not granted his release initially.

"We wanted to check out extending circumstances," Purnell said. "He had recommitted to me, then suddenly we were getting phone calls about him leaving before we heard anything about it. We then got a call that Walter had changed his mind and wanted a release. The timing was all right."

Purnell was pleased for the saga to finally be over.

"We're happy to have it end because certainly we felt a lot of our intentions and actions were mischaracterized without really an opportunity to answer questions," Purnell said. "It's good to be have this behind us. I think it's in the best interest of Walter and the best interest of DePaul."

Purnell was unsure whether he would use Pitchford's scholarship for a late addition to his 2010 class or hold on to it for 2011.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.