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Krannert Executive Forum - Morgan Burke

Morgan Burke

Morgan Burke

Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
Purdue University

As he embarks on his third decade as director of intercollegiate athletics at his alma mater, Morgan Burke continues to put his heart and soul into what he truly views as a labor of love. He has worked vigorously to ensure every student-athlete has a positive experience at Purdue University.

Burke, who has the fifth-longest tenure among current athletics directors at FBS institutions and serves as president of the Division 1A Athletic Directors Association in 2013-14, has set a high standard for the Boilermakers. The department's strategic plan outlines its goals for "Developing Champions / Developing Scholars / Developing Citizens." The term "25/85 Club" was coined to articulate a vision of an intercollegiate athletics organization that achieves an average finish in the top 25 across all sports and has a Graduation Success Rate of 85 percent. Few institutions achieve this lofty status, but that is Purdue's ambition.

Burke 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 to lead the department. No one wants to see the Boilermakers succeed more than Burke, and few expend more energy in cheering them on to victory.

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 Conference and achieving in the classroom. It meant winning and playing by the rules. And it meant building new facilities and improving others to attract top coaches and student-athletes to West Lafayette. When Burke succeeded George King as AD on Jan. 1, 1993, he 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. Significant strides have been made on both fronts. In 2009-10, 14 teams finished in the upper half of the Big Ten, the high-water mark in Burke's time at Purdue. On the national scene, 14 squads earned NCAA postseason opportunities in 2011-12, the most in school history.

Two teams have won NCAA championships - women's basketball in 1999 and women's golf in 2010 - while seven student-athletes have captured a combined 12 individual national crowns. The football team embarked on a run of 10 bowl games in 12 years from 1997 to 2008, and the men's basketball team achieved an unprecedented string of back-to-back-to-back Big Ten regular-season championships in 1994, 1995 and 1996. All told, Burke has overseen 20 regular-season conference championships and 13 tournament titles.

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 32 semesters - or 16 years. Following the 2013 spring semester, the cumulative GPA for all current Purdue student-athletes was 3.02. It has been above 3.0 for six consecutive years. The current four-year average Graduation Success Rate stands at 80 percent.

Furthermore, Burke articulated an expectation for all areas of Intercollegiate Athletics - from facilities to fund-raising - to make measurable improvement.  Purdue Athletics is a self-supporting auxiliary enterprise - one of just seven such NCAA Division I programs currently - that receives no university or state funding and writes a check to the university for scholarships. As a result, financial resources constantly need to be expanded to support all sports. Burke has challenged Purdue alumni and fans to get on board to propel Boilermaker athletics to greatness by joining the John Purdue Club. The club's prime purpose is to fund athletics scholarships, and it has more than doubled in members and contributions during Burke's tenure. He and the staff are working to grow the club by an additional 50 percent to support scholarship costs that now exceed $10 million annually.

Recognizing the need for contemporary facilities, Burke and his staff have identified and addressed construction and renovation projects benefiting every program since the start of the new millennium - with an investment of nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Another goal of Burke's was to involve former student-athletes in the life of the department, to counsel and question, and provide ideas to keep the organization sharp. In 1993, he established an advisory council made up of 24 student-athlete alumni. The group meets annually to hear reports and make suggestions to Burke and senior administrators.  In 2003, former student-athletes found a new home in Intercollegiate Athletics with the founding of the Varsity P Club. A subset of the John Purdue Club, the Varsity P Club boasts more than 900 members who are welcomed back each fall for golf, good times and the Ross-Ade Stadium roar.

A 1973 industrial management graduate and captain of the swimming 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.

Burke 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 return to Purdue.

Beyond Purdue, Burke presently serves on the NCAA Leadership Council, which identifies important issues surrounding the future of the NCAA and reports to the Board of Directors. He previously was a member of several Big Ten boards (Executive, Program/Budget and Compliance committees) and NCAA working groups (Championships and Competitions and Postseason Football committees). He was a vanguard for cost containment before the economic downturn forced other departments to take notice.  In 2010, Burke was honored as the Football Bowl Subdivision Central Region Under Armour AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

The 61-year-old Burke is married to the former Catherine J. (Kate) Mullane, a Purdue alumna and pharmacist. They have three children who are Purdue graduates. Joyce is working as a materials engineer at AMD; she and her husband, Ryan, and children, Kate and Andrew, reside in Austin, Texas. Morgan Jr. is a landscape architect and works for the Guzzardo Partnership in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife, Molly. Patrick is an MBA candidate at Harvard; he and his wife, Courtney, make their home in Chicago.