Daniels' hire may leave Purdue shooting blanks in arms race

June 21, 2012
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There’s been much discussion on how Gov. Mitch Daniels will affect Purdue University academics and its financial fortunes when he becomes the school’s president in January.

What hasn’t been discussed yet is how he’ll affect Purdue’s commitment to athletics. While academics and funding will be front and center on his agenda, any university president knows the school’s sports teams—chiefly football and men’s basketball—are primary weapons in its marketing arsenal.

Daniels' penchant for fiscal conservativism and budget cuts will stand in stark contrast to the current athletics arms race sweeping the NCAA. University presidents and athletic directors nationwide are hustling to hire high-priced coaches and improve or replace their schools' sports infrastructure. Purdue alums expecting the same from Daniels will be sorely disappointed.

Daniels is likely to get along well with Purdue Athletic Director Morgan Burke, a former businessman known for his conservative approach in hiring and paying coaches.

Nevertheless, you can bet Daniels will take a close look at the school’s athletics spending and insist on the department remaining self supporting. Purdue—along with IU—is one of only a handful of schools nationwide generating enough revenue to cover all of its expenses.

I’m guessing Daniels isn’t going to be in favor of replacing coaches before their contracts are up—even if their performance isn’t up to alum and fan expectations.

That’s not an issue with men’s basketball coach Matt Painter. Not only is he locked up with a long-term contract, but he’s also experiencing a good measure of success in West Lafayette. If Daniels is there long enough to have to deal with Painter’s contract, it will be interesting to see what he has to say about the $2 million to $3 million annual price tag it will take to retain a coach of Painter’s caliber.

In any event, it looks like Daniels will be there long enough to make his mark. The 63-year-old Daniels would not be subject to a rule that requires most Purdue administrators to retire at age 65. Trustees vice chairman Thomas Spurgeon said Tuesday that under university policy, newly hired people can stay in their post until they can build a $44,000 annuity. He said that typically takes seven to eight years.

For better or worse, Daniels’ hiring likely means football coach Danny Hope will be at Purdue for a while. Hope last year received a two-year contract extension through the 2016 season, and Daniels won’t be eager to eat the near $1 million annual salary that would be required if Burke fired Hope.

Hope, who is 15-21 in three seasons at Purdue, was previously an offensive line coach at the school. He returned in 2008 as associate head coach before succeeding Joe Tiller in 2009. The Purdue faithful are split on their support for Hope.

Overall, Purdue fans shouldn’t expect Daniels to escalate athletic spending dramatically despite the athletics arms race ripping through the NCAA ranks.

A fiscally conservative approach doesn’t mean Daniels and other Purdue officials won’t feel the pressure to compete. While Purdue’s athletics budget is sound, it lags many of its competitors. And the fear among the Boilermakers' faithful is that Purdue will lag even further as Daniels' term runs its course.

Last year, Purdue’s athletic department generated $66.2 million in revenue and had $59.4 in expenses. IU last year generated $71 million in revenue and spent $69 million on athletics. Big Ten behemoth Michigan generated $122.7 million and spent $111.8 million on athletics.

On a side note, it will be interesting to see what effect Daniels will have on the culture of the school and its athletic department, especially its approach with the media. Burke and his staff are one of the best and most open college athletic departments for the media to deal with. Meanwhile, Daniels has often been tight lipped and has had a testy relationship with many local media members.

  • My Man Mitch!
    This guy is a winner. He doesn't make decisions in a vacuum nor is he impulsive. He is results oriented. And he also let's his lieutenants do their jobs. So if Hope, or anyone else, is not getting the job done he'll let Burke pull the trigger. MD is no fool so I don't see the doom and gloom you imply there Anthony. Boiler Up!
    • No gloom, just reality
      I don't think the post is implying doom, just a realistic look at what things will be like with Mitch in charge. As the post points out, things are pretty good on some fronts at Purdue even with a fiscally conservative approach. And that approach will likely continue with Morgan and Mitch at the helm.
    • really
      Daniels appoints Krach to the Purdue Board in 2007 shortly after Krach's DUI arrest. Keith Krach, now the Purdue board chairman appoints Daniels. Crony capitalism? http://www.spendmatters.com/index.cfm/2007/4/10/Some-Folks-Cant-Get-over-the-B2B-Hangover
    • Morgan Burke
      Most Purdue fans do not appreciate that Morgan Burke has modeled his athletic program on the Washington Nationals of the Harlem Globetrotter League, basically serving as a foil for the Big Ten. A win over ND once every 20 years as a reward for 10 $1M dollar home games is hard to swallow but keeps Burke's budget in the black.
    • Morgan Burke
      Coaches are judged by the results on the field. Using that same measurement, Purdue has the worst permforming athletic department in the Big Ten. What you are saying Burke should be let go on Daniels first day? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Ten_Conference http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Big_Ten_Conference_national_championships Purdue has been shooting blanks for years.
    • College Sports Is Big Business
      Terry Hutchins at the Indianapolis Star noted that a ESPN study of all college athletic programs in the nation, showed Purdues athletic programs was self sustaining, however, IU under Fred Glass, requires millions in subsidies from the University general fund to keep the lights on.
    • I was going to suggest that Tom is an iu grad, but that would be a major insult to iu. If you judge an AD purely by on field success, you are an idiot. There are many other factors involved, including graduation rates, financial stability etc... Tom, if you want to talk trash, then try to do so inteligently. Otherwise you just come across looking stupid.
    • Alex Dumpfree
      We’ve had a powerful feature for a number of years that makes it exceedingly simple to track the individual orders generated by a MailChimp campaign. The feature, called Still not sure if e-shot is for you? why not contact us to discuss how you could try e-shot for free.
    • AD's measure of success
      Indyman, when one can't spell intelligently, one comes across as looking real stupid. Since you have problems with grammar, note that the "A" in AD stands for athletics not for accounting. How about these measures of success: Purdue has the fewest number of varsity sports in the Big 10; how about MB being a horrible fundraiser, that is part of his job too; how about if MB makes money for PU, it is only because of the funds won and shared by the other Big 10 programs, not due to MB efforts. MB is not making any money for the Big 10 either. What is the other members stop sharing?

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