Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
Morgan Burke embodies the Boilermaker spirit that drew him back to his alma mater as director of intercollegiate athletics. He has been called the athletics director who came down from the grandstands because he was an avid fan and member of the John Purdue Club long before he was appointed in 1992 to lead the department. No one wants to see the Boilermakers prevail in competition more than Burke, and few expend more energy in cheering them on to victory.
In Burke’s time at the helm of Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics, performances on and off the field reflect the high expectations that heralded his hiring. During his tenure, the women’s basketball team captured the national championship, the football team embarked on a run of 10 bowl games in 11 years and the men’s basketball team achieved an unprecedented string of back-to-back-to-back Big Ten Conference championships.
In 1992, the Purdue Board of Trustees voted unanimously to declare the intention to establish “a nationally prominent athletic organization that is excellent in all respects.” That meant making up ground on the other schools in the Big Ten and achieving in the classroom at the level of the general student body. It meant winning and playing by the rules. It meant getting to more bowl games in football, more NCAA Tournament basketball games and other postseason contests, and it meant building new facilities and improving the others to attract the top coaching and student-athlete talent to West Lafayette.
A 1973 industrial management graduate and captain of the swim team his senior year, Burke was a member of Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honorary. After graduation, he continued at Purdue and earned a master’s degree in industrial relations in 1975. In 1980, he graduated with a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
He pursued a successful career with Inland Steel Co. after law school, moving through 13 positions in an 18-year span. He was vice president when he departed to become Purdue’s athletics director.
When Burke succeeded George King as director in 1993, Purdue had a solid reputation for playing hard and playing by the rules. Burke pledged to build on the foundation already in place. Working with coaches and staff, aggressive goals were set.
On the athletics side, Burke’s expectation was to improve the position of Purdue teams in the Big Ten and nationally. During his tenure, squads have made significant strides by both measures. In 2007-08, 14 teams earned the opportunity to play in postseason play, equaling the high-water mark in Burke’s time at Purdue. On the national scene, the Boilermakers have gone from 81st in 1994-95 to 35th in 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08 among 300 NCAA Division I programs.
Similar excellence was expected in the classroom — to match or surpass the overall grade-point average of the general student body. That goal has been achieved each of the last 22 semesters. Following the 2008 spring semester, the cumulative GPA for all current Purdue student-athletes was a record 2.98.
More specifically, Burke articulated an expectation for all areas of Intercollegiate Athletics to make measurable improvement.
Because Intercollegiate Athletics writes a check to the University for scholarships, financial resources had to be expanded greatly to support all sports. Burke challenged Purdue alumni and fans to get on board to propel Boilermaker athletics to greatness. He set a goal of doubling the size of the 4,350-member John Purdue Club as well as doubling the $2.5 million raised annually to support student-athletes. Both goals have been achieved, with JPC memberships now closing in on 9,000 and annual dollars raised to support scholarships and academic support services in excess of $7 million. The goal is to raise memberships to 12,000 by 2013.