Morgan Burke, former Purdue Athletic Director, connoisseur of dented canned goods and emergency sale meat, was interviewed by University of Virginia economics professor Kenneth G. Elzinga (along with Richmond A.D. Keith Gill, Texas president Greg Fenves, Kentucky A.D. Mitch Barnhardt, and Wake Forest president Nathan Hatch) regarding the state of “amateurism” in the NCAA. That interview is now an exhibit in an ongoing lawsuit regarding player compensation in NCAA athletics, and yes, Morgan’s view is exactly as regressive and tight-wadded as you imagine, maybe even more-so if that is at all possible.
Let me start by saying that I, personally, am not a fan of any sort of “open market” for college players. I think that gets even further away from college sports and more like college’s hosting minor league teams on campus. That said, I’m all for other options that make life easier and put more coin in the pockets of players. I’m basically in the middle of the argument: more can be done for the players, while still maintaining the pseudo-amateur system currently in place. If I’m in the middle, ol’ Morg is anchoring the conservative side of the argument, to the point where he makes other conservatives seem moderate. His views go a long way in explaining the current crater in which Purdue football resides.
USA Today first broke the story here:
The following points in the Burke interview are highlighted in the USA Today article:
Per USA Today:
- “MB discussed the possibility of giving student-athletes benefits that didn’t necessarily come in the form of a check.”
Cool, I agree with that to an extent. College athletes do receive things (tutoring, mentoring, cool swag, etc) that normal college students spend a good bit of money procuring. I’m not sure what extra benefits he’s talking about, or how a uniform cost of living stipend is a bad thing, but I’ll give him a pass on this one, our views are somewhat aligned.
- “MB believes that there is ‘already some tension’ where the question of giving more to student-athletes is concerned. He said that some schools ‘are creeping back into that.’”
This statement reminds me of the “arms-race” comment, and makes me think Burke would probably put Purdue in that category, at least during his tenure. In the Big10, Purdue was the tightest-of-the-tight with most everything involving athletics. I’m just assuming “some schools” is code for “Purdue”. While other Big10 schools were improving facilities and spending money, they were patting Morgan on the head and telling him how much they respected his fiscal responsibility, usually during the 4th quarter of another Purdue football massacre.
Now, Morgan starts talking about the John Purdue Club:
- “ … MB said that one can already see what the effect of changing the current model of student-athletics would be on this group. If the model were changed to a more professionalized version, the members of the John Purdue Club would cut back in their giving and their level of interest in intercollegiate sports. ‘They see how much we’re getting from our media contracts and that the university is taking a cut,’ MB said. They ask him, ‘why are you asking us? You’ve got money.’
“Member [sic] of the John Purdue Club would not like the money going into athletes’ pockets beyond the cost of their attendance at Purdue. Some donors already are concerned about the level of services Purdue provides its student-athletes. MB and his colleagues have to explain why the services are appropriate. He believes that if he didn’t have those conversations, donors might act unilaterally and reduce the amount of money they give.”
This is it folks, this is where Morgan drops a giant turd on the interview, steps in it, tracks it all over the freshly mopped floors, onto the white carpet, up the stairs, and places his soiled, off-brand, 1⁄2 off because of a manufactures defect, shoes underneath Purdue’s bed to molder.
I’m not sure how to even start unpacking the above statement.
Let’s start with:
- “If the model were changed to a more professionalized version, the members of the John Purdue Club would cut back in their giving and their level of interest in intercollegiate sports.”
Hey, maybe this is true. I’m going to assume Morgan talks to John Purdue club members more than I do. This smells more like a convenient excuse to back his argument, using information we have no way to validate in order to support (the consensus of anonymous J.P.C. donors) his personal beliefs on college athletics, but hey, maybe it’s true.
- ‘They see how much we’re getting from our media contracts and that the university is taking a cut,’ MB said. They ask him, ‘why are you asking us? You’ve got money.’
This is by far the thickest turd of a sentence dropped into the porta-potty of this interview. It’s not rooted in reality and should infuriate Purdue fans because it’s a half truth he’s using to cover his ass and pass the buck.
J.P.C. members weren’t donating less money because they thought college athletes get too much. They were donating less money because they didn’t see a return on the field. It’s really that simple, Morgan. You get what you pay for, and Purdue has short armed the check for the last 20 or so years, and are now reaping the on-field and fund-raising benefits. It’s funny, winning tends to inspire people to crack open the checkbooks more than wallowing at the bottom of the Big10 and praying you don’t get upset by a D2 school. Don’t take my word for it though, let’s look at another school, and how they have been doing in the current state of Morgan’s imaginary player greed fundraising recession.
- “Clemson’s IPTAY donors provided cash and pledges totaling $60.1 million in 2014-15, the organization announced Monday. The overall total includes $25.5 million in annual giving, $29.6 million of major gifts, $2.3 million in planned giving and $2.7 million in premium seating revenue. The annual fund total of $25.5 million outpaces the previous record of $22.5 million set in 2014.
Clemson Athletics and IPTAY provided $10.8 million directly to the university during the 2014-15 academic year. The total includes $8.7 million in scholarships, $1.3 million in university support, $458,000 for the band and $250,000 provided to the president’s need-based scholarship fund.”
Wait, so you’re saying a college with a much smaller enrollment, and a much more successful football team is raising money at record levels? This seems to contradict Morgan’s “you’ve got money” theory for why J.P.C. members are telling him to take a hike.
I’m going to go ahead and assume Clemson and Purdue grads share similar values in terms of fiscal responsibility, seeing as how Clemson is also an Ag and Engineering school. What makes J.P.C. members hide their checkbooks and IPTAY members donate like sailors on shore leave. Oh, wait, check it out.
I’m going to go out on a limb, and without crunching the numbers, I’m going to assume the giving is correlated with winning. Morgan appears to be attempting to explain away the J.P.C. issues by saying that J.P.C. members think Purdue athletes are too entitled already and not because J.P.C. members are tired of donating money to a shitty program more interested in pinching pennies than putting a decent product on the field.
Clemson is just my most readily available example, but I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that programs that win the most don’t skimp on the extras.
I’m going to attempt to swallow the next fetid rat sandwich in one bite.
- “Member [sic] of the John Purdue Club would not like the money going into athletes’ pockets beyond the cost of their attendance at Purdue. Some donors already are concerned about the level of services Purdue provides its student-athletes. MB and his colleagues have to explain why the services are appropriate. He believes that if he didn’t have those conversations, donors might act unilaterally and reduce the amount of money they give.”
I’ve been around H&R a good long while, and I’ve seen, “I’m not donating, I’m not buying tickets, I’m not watching, etc because we suck”, innumerable times but I’ve never seen, “I’m not donating because players get too much stuff already”.
Now I can see a J.P.C. member asking, “Why should I donate?” to Morgan, and maybe, he just isn’t understanding the question. “Why should I donate?” isn’t asking for an itemized list of player benefits, but instead is asking, “Why should I donate to a program that has no interest in fielding a competitive football team.”
I’m not mad at Morgan Burke because I disagree with him, I’m mad because he is being disingenuous at best in his responses. He appears to be attempting to fit his narrative around a set of facts that simply don’t bare out that conclusion. I think it is asinine that he is using the J.P.C. club to vaguely back his argument and I think J.P.C. members should be insulted that they are being used in such a disingenuous way.
I hope this is the last we hear from Morgan Burke. I wish the man well and hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement. He did some good things for Purdue athletics but I’m glad he is gone and Purdue can move on from the era of austerity that has crippled the football program. Long Live Bobo, Long Live Jeff Brohm, Boiler Up!