Former Purdue athletic director and swimmer Morgan Burke died on Monday, but his words from the 2017 CSCAA Awards Banquet will still be remembered in the swimming community.
Burke was the athletic director at Purdue from 1993-2016, making him the school’s longest serving director.
As a member of Purdue’s class of 1973, Burke was a varsity swimmer and team captain during his senior year.
In 2001, he helped lead the building of the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, which was renamed the Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center in his honor in 2017.
After his retirement from Purdue, Burke was awarded the 2017 Charles McCaffree Award at the CSCAA awards banquet, which is “presented annually to an individual connected to the sport of swimming and diving who has achieved outstanding success outside of the pool.”
During his speech, he denounced the NCAA for investing too much money in certain teams, while leaving others to be cut, saying “reinstate what was in place in the late 60s something you didn’t pay for play that was produced. Many of the schools did we gave it to all the athletes, it wasn’t just for the quarterbacks or the basketball players, it was everybody’s recognize there are miscellaneous expenses that you need to to take there in college.”
However, he also displayed strong support for the athletes, calling for a stronger relationship with the USOC (now known as the USOPC), stating, “you know continue to make sure that we we put our best foot forward with the USOC and others because everybody’s proud of the Olympics, but I can tell you right now not just in swimming, but many other sports we don’t tank without the NCAA, without the colleges, it just doesn’t.”
He closed his remarks with a word of advice to the coaches in the room, challenging them with his own ideas of leadership, “I think you have the opportunity to be role models and leaders out there. I would really challenge you to go after [it].”
Especially now, Burke’s remarks ring true in the face of athletics programs around the country being cut due to budget shortfalls. Most recently, East Carolina cut its men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs, while Brown announced it was demoting 11 varsity sports down to club status. (Though it later announced the reinstatement of men’s track and field and cross country).