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Sports Business

IU, Purdue having own personal athletics arms race

December 7, 2012
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Purdue University Athletics Director Morgan Burke has made a major reversal of field with the hiring of Darrell Hazell. An assist for that change of heart should probably go to Fred Glass, his counterpart at IU.

Ever since Burke was hired as Purdue AD in 1993, he’s been known as a fiscal conservative. Over and over he’s emphasized a pay-for-performance system where coaches were brought in at relatively low pay and were rewardedlater if they piled up wins.

That was the path Joe Tiller and Matt Painter traveled. It was the path Danny Hope was supposed to travel before the losses started mounting.

“We like to bring [coaches] in and let them prove themselves,” Burke told IBJ in 2010. “If they produce, then we’ll consider paying them in the top quartile.”

As the college athletics arms race began to escalate, driving up coaches’ salaries, Burke stood firm by his conservative convictions. And the Black and Gold faithful by and large seemed to appreciate the approach.

By most accounts, Purdue—despite a few rocky years in basketball—was doing just fine in the competitive scheme of the Big Ten. The Boilers battled the likes of Notre Dame on the gridiron. Many years, they finished in the upper third of the conference in football and basketball. They played in bowl games and qualified for March Madness.

Then Glass was hired by IU in 2008. And while Glass was willing to take a pay cut to move from his office at Baker Daniels law firm in Indianapolis to IU’s ivory tower, he was intent on making sure his coaches were getting paid market value—and then some.

He ratcheted up men’s basketball coach Tom Crean’s salary to $3.1 million annually—fourth highest in the nation. He hired unproven Kevin Wilson as IU’s football coach and agreed to pay him $1.2 million annually. Gone was Bill Lynch from IU’s sideline, who at the time was the Big Ten’s lowest paid football coach at about $250,000 a year.

Glass’ philosophy is clear. IU has to spend money to make money and he told IBJ in 2010 that at some point he foresees IU’s football and men’s basketball coaches salaries will be equal. Football, he explained, has too much money-making potential not to invest init.

Notice was taken at Purdue. Painter has gotten raises, though he still makes less than Crean. When Burke fired Hope after this season, he went hunting for a big-name coach. When he couldn’t find one, he still decided to pay big-name money. He had to make a statement to the market and to Purdue followers.

Despite a grand total of two years head coaching experience—at Kent State—Purdue will pay Hazell $2 million a year. Hope was making $950,000. With Lynch gone, Hope was the lowest paid Big Ten football coach. Purdue brass higher up than Burke wouldn’t have it.

If you don’t believe Hazell’s hire was a major reversal for Purdue, consider the following comment by Burke.

“I think where people are somewhat confused is they’re looking at the current compensation package and saying it was an unwillingness to invest more in football,” Burke said of Hope when he was hired. “And that’s not true. We based the compensation package on other people who were similarly situated: moving into a Big Ten job for the first time.”

Color me confused. Isn’t Hazell moving into the Big Ten head coaching ranks for the first time? Yes, he is.

But Burke had his directives. Be competitive within the Big Ten. Show us that you’re going to be competitive. Show us the money.

Burke did just that.

Fred Glass, your move.

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