In this middle of this decade I was unapologetic about calling Purdue the worst athletic department in the Big Ten. In fact, I still get made fun of for saying that if Purdue wasn’t going to bother competing in the Big Ten (using Morgan Burke’s own words), we had no business staying in the conference. People that deride that article clearly didn’t read it and struggle with nuance, but fortunately new leadership is in charge and things are on the upswing. From 2013-17 it was a bad time to be a Purdue fan in pretty much anything, and when our beloved school still had fewer overall Big Ten championships than the University of Chicago (which has not been a Big Ten member since 1945) that is a problem.
Under Mike Bobinski things across all sports have gotten better, as he has built on the facility improvements that Burke made. From 2010-19 we saw a number of Big Ten championships across multiple sports, and even a rare team National Championship. Let’s remember these titles (and how we finally passed Chicago, so suck it, Maroons!)
Women’s Golf - 2010 - Getting a team national championship is extremely rare for Purdue. We have three: Men’s Golf in 1961, Women’s Basketball in 1999, and this one. In 2010 Purdue women’s golf broke through and became the first “northern” school to win a team national championship behind Maude-Aimee LeBlanc, Numa Gulyanamitta, Laura Gonzalez-Escallon, Thea Hoffmesiter, and Paula Reto. Purdue was also national runner-up in 2007 and nearly repeated as National Champions in 2011, finishing runner-up that year by 4 strokes.
David Boudia - Men’s Diving - Boudia is one of the most decorated Americans in diving and possibly the best diver in NCAA history. Officially, he only won four of his record six NCAA championships this decade (two came in 2009), but his gold medal in the 2012 Olympics and four Olympic medals overall this decade makes up for it. He will go for more Olympic glory this summer as he plans to compete in the 3-meter in Tokyo.
Steele Johnson - Men’s Diving - Yeah, we’re a diving school. Steele battled injuries in his time at Purdue, but still won five NCAA diving national championships with at least one on each of 1-, 3-, and 10-meters. He also won a silver medal with Boudia at the 2016 Olympics and will compete in Tokyo this summer. He could have broken Boudia’s NCAA records, but stress fractures in his foot cost him the 2018-19 diving season.
Casey Matthews - Women’s Diving - Purdue continues to be a master at falling into water with style as Matthews was the 2013 NCAA Champion on the 3-meter for the women’s side. She was the first, and so far only, NCAA champion for women’s swimming and diving.
Team Big Ten Championships
2010 Men’s Basketball - The long 14 year drought between Big Ten championships finally ended as Purdue staggered to a three-way tie with Ohio State and Michigan State. Purdue’s 22nd title did not come easy, as the Boilers had to gut out wins over Minnesota, Indiana, and Penn State to secure the tie, but it was finally another Big Ten title and a first for coach Painter.
2010 Women’s Golf - We talked about these ladies above, but they also won the 2010 Big Ten title. When you win the Whole Damn Thing some of the lesser championships go by the wayside, but this was still a great accomplishment. Surprisingly, even though Purdue was NCAA runner-up a year later they did not win the Big Ten title.
2012 Women’s Basketball (Tournament) - Yes, there was once a time when Sharon Versyp won titles. Purdue ripped off wins over Michigan State, #9 Penn State, and #24 Nebraska to win the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
2012 Baseball (Regular Season and Tournament)- Breaking a 103 year drought is always good, and that is what the baseball Boilers did in 2012. Purdue won its first baseball conference title since 1909 and then held on to win the Big Ten Tournament in Columbus. Purdue then hosted an NCAA regional for the first time ever, making just its second postseason appearance in school history. The 45 wins remains a school record and it was the best year in school history.
2012 Women’s Tennis - The early 2010s were a great run for the country club sports at Purdue. The women’s tennis team went on a surprising run through the Big Ten tournament to claim its first league title with a 4-3 win over Michigan in the final. Purdue beat Michigan State, #17 Nebraska, #11 Northwestern, and #15 Michigan to win the championship. That earned the program an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, where it was swept by Peppersine
2013 Women’s Basketball (Tournament) - Sharon’s squad did it again year later, beating Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan State to repeat as Big Ten Tournament champions. It was the ninth tournament title for the women’s team in a 15 year span.
2013 Women’s Golf - Officially, the women’s golf team tied with Northwestern for this one, but Paula Reto was the individual conference champion as Purdue came back to tie the Wildcats after trailing through two rounds.
2017 Men’s Basketball - What a sweet night this was. Purdue celebrated a Big Ten championship with black and gold confetti raining down from the rafters of Mackey Arena with a win over Indiana. All 24 Big Ten championships are pretty special, but this one was the only time I have been in the building for the clinching moment. Doing it at home against Indiana made it even sweeter.
2017 Women’s Outdoor Track & Field - Devynne Charlton won four gold medals in a 60 minute span as the women’s track team won its first conference title since 1999. Purdue dominated the sprint events and scored 100 of its points on the final day of the conference meet.
2019 Men’s Basketball - As fun as the 2017 title was, I feel like the 2019 one was even more special because it was a complete surprise. This was the title the 2018 team was supposed to win but literally came up a rebound short. No one expected Purdue to be Big Ten champs when it was 6-5 after losing to Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. Yes, we shared it with Michigan State, but the run from January-March 2019 was the most fun I have been a part of in my life as a Purdue basketball fan because it seemingly came out of nowhere.