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(Update: Visitation Info) Murray State Basketball Star, Tennis Coach Bennie Purcell Dies at 86

Murray State Sports, via Twitter

Update 2/19: Visitation for Bennie Purcell will be held at the Burton Family Hall of Champions at Murray State University (adjacent to the CFSB Center), Saturday, February 27, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

Former Murray State University basketball star and tennis coach Bennie Purcell has died. Purcell was 86.

Purcell played for MSU from 1949 through 1952 and went on to play basketball professionally, touring with the Harlem Globetrotters as a member of the Washington Generals. Murray State assistant athletic director Dave Winder says that Purcell then transitioned to an illustrious career in coaching.

“He assisted Cal Luther in the formation of Murray State athletics as it was transferring itself from small college status to NCAA Division 1 and then Bennie gave up basketball and became a Hall of Fame tennis coach and his team won every title in the 1980s for Murray State in the OVC," Winder said.

Credit Isaiah Canaan, via Twitter
Bennie Purcell and Isaiah Canaan

  Purcell’s number 21 was the first retired jersey for Racer basketball. He was also the first player to score more than 1,000 points for Murray State.

The team will honor Purcell at Saturday’s home game against Southeast Missouri State.

Arrangements are incomplete at Murray's J.H. Churchill Funeral Home.

This story formerly reported that Purcell turned 87 in January. Murray State Athletics had an incorrect date of birth on file. Purcell was 86.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
John Null is the host and creator of Left of the Dial. From 2013-2016, he also served as a reporter in the WKMS newsroom.
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