In his opening remarks as Purdue's President-Elect Thursday morning, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels pointed out jokingly that his gold and black tie was not purchased only yesterday.
He's had it for seven years - a gift from former University President Martin Jischke - and worn it often, being a longtime supporter of the Boilermakers. His daughter and son-in-law are graduates, and he's taken in a few athletic events here over the years.
"I'm a huge sports fan; that's not news to anybody," said Daniels, the second-term Indiana Governor. "I've been a major Purdue fan for a long, long time, so that part I look forward to."
By a unanimous vote of Purdue's Board of Trustees Thursday morning, Daniel was approved as the University's President-elect; he'll take over after his term in office ends early next year, while interim President Tim Sands, Purdue's Provost, will bridge the gap from the end of France Cordova's tenure at Purdue next month.
Athletic director Morgan Burke, a member of the search committee who sought out Daniels, then recommended him, says Purdue has the right man.
"I came away with a feeling that he's got a lot of tough issues and challenges," Burke said, "but I think he sees (athletics) as a potential front porch for the university if it's done right. And he promised to be at every athletic event he could be at."
While much of a 30-minute introductory press conference following the trustees' open meeting was focused on Daniels' views of Purdue and higher education, he took a moment to talk athletics as well. More specifically, he was asked about the relationship between the University and athletic department, particularly considering the latter at Purdue is one of only 22 self-sustained (out of 300-plus) in the country.
"I think it is a tremendous achievement from Morgan Burke and his people - and a tremendous selling point for this university - that they are one of the few in American with a self-sustaining athletic department," said the 63-year old Daniels, who is expected to sign a five-year contract at Purdue. "It reflects, on one hand, great management by Morgan and others working with him and I think it reflects the right priority. That the athletic department is not being subsidized by tuition dollars of family who, in many cases, are working hard to make sure their child can go.
"So I think Purdue should be really proud of that. I intent to make that point with people who aren't even aware of it.
"The principle mission of this institution is learning and research. Athletics enriches it, livens it and adds funs to it, but it needs to be viewed in the subordinate role that it has, and needs to be conducted and overseen with the highest standards of integrity. My impression is that's the way they've been going about it here."
But there are issues with Purdue's self-sufficiency. Burke said the department is at a tipping point - a determination made as part of a 10-year financial plan - due to the rising cost of scholarships putting a strain on contributions from the John Purdue Club. That, along with the overall rising costs in athletics across the country, in coaching salaries, facilities and more.
"We talked a bit about some of the challenges that we're under," Burke said. "The fact that we, like Hoosier families and other Purdue parents, face the same tuition pressures. Our John Purdue Club expenses for scholarships have doubled over the last seven years. I told him we're at a point where sustainability is a challenge for us too. We want to help with the causes that are out there, but we want to stay self-supporting."
Purdue's athletic department loses - or perhaps contributes - a portion of its Big Ten Network money to the University, upwards of the $2 million annually generated by the addition of Nebraska to the conference. The approximately $12 million total (over a six-year deal) goes toward construction of the Center for Student Excellence and Leadership, a central hub for student organizations.
Burke says he considers the CSEL, Rec Center, dining courts, residence halls and other parts of student life to be critical to the package put together for recruiting students and athletes alike.
"I'm happy we're in this position," said Burke, who doesn't anticipate significant new revenue streams, such as from television contracts, until 2017, at the earliest. "But I told the Governor, if we continue to get that next swash of money the next time, we need to go back and make sure our reserves are adequately set up. We have to build with (a) softball (stadium), we have some work in the south end zone of (Ross-Ade) Stadium and we have to make sure the scholarship money is safe. And I have to be competitive with coaches.
"I explained to him that (the coaching) market is an irrational market - it makes no sense - but I said it is the market. And he is a guy, probably because he comes from a world that understands the free market place, we can't explain it, we can't defend it, but if you want to play in it we have to be able to operate in that mode.
I walked away feeling like he's run some big complete organizations, but he understands that we're a little business within a business. I think he likes the way we're running it and he's eager to learn more about it.
"But I think we have someone here who gets it and he realizes that athletics could be one of those special - one, not the only one - subsets of the student body."
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