Morgan J. Burke, who served as vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics at Purdue from 1993 to 2016, died Monday at his home in West Lafayette after a year-long battle with amyloidosis. He was 68, according to a Purdue News press release.

Since retiring as athletics director, Burke was a University vice president for special projects, most notably working on the launch and development of Purdue University Global, the release states.

“Morgan left an indelible mark on Purdue Athletics, and thousands of student-athletes benefited from his faithful leadership,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in the release. “He was the ultimate competitor, and his passion for the Boilermakers was second to none. He continued to serve the university the last four years, doing everything he could to strengthen our mission. Our deepest condolences to Kate, Joyce, Morgan Jr. and Pat.”

Burke’s tenure as athletics director ranks as the longest in school history, during which he became one of the foremost leaders in intercollegiate athletics, according to the release.

When Burke succeeded former director George King, he pledged to build on the foundation already in place. Working with coaches and staff, he set aggressive goals. The department’s mission outlined its plans for “Developing Champions, Developing Scholars, Developing Citizens.”

On the athletics side, Burke improved the position of Purdue teams in the Big Ten and nationally. In 2009-10, 14 teams finished in the upper half of the Big Ten, the highest number during Burke’s time at Purdue. On the national scene, 14 squads earned NCAA postseason opportunities in 2011-12, the most in school history.

Two teams won NCAA championships, women’s basketball in 1999 and women’s golf in 2010, and eight student-athletes captured a combined 14 individual national crowns. The football team embarked on a run of 10 bowl games in 12 years from 1997 to 2008, and the men’s basketball team won a string of Big Ten championships in 1994, 1995 and 1996.

In total, Burke oversaw 20 regular-season conference championships and 13 tournament titles.

During his tenure, the release states, student-athletes regularly performed equal to or better than the overall student body. The cumulative grade-point average for all Purdue student-athletes was above 3.0 for 15 consecutive semesters when Burke retired.

Recognizing the need for modern athletic facilities, Burke and his staff identified and addressed construction and renovation projects benefiting every program, making an investment of more than a quarter of a billion dollars.

His tenure saw major makeovers to Ross-Ade Stadium, Mackey Arena, Holloway Gymnasium and the Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, as well as the building of Alexander Field, Bittinger Stadium, Folk Field, Schwartz Tennis Center and the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, which was renamed in his honor in May 2017.

A 1973 Purdue graduate in industrial management and captain of the swimming team his senior year, Burke was a member of Phi Beta Kappa scholastic honorary. He earned a master’s degree in industrial relations from Purdue in 1975 and a law degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1980.

Burke pursued a successful career with Inland Steel Co. after law school, moving through 13 positions in an 18-year span. He was vice president when he left to return to Purdue.

Burke is survived by his wife, Kate; three children, Joyce, Morgan Jr. and Patrick; and three grandchildren, Kate, Andrew and Parker June.

Among the condolences are messages from Purdue alumni and former coaches such as Carolyn Peck, ESPN analyst and former Purdue women's basketball head coach and Brandon King, current linebacker for the New England Patriots and Purdue alumnus. 

Athletic directors and coaches from other universities including Jamie Polland, athletic director for Iowa State and Tom Crean, head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs men's basketball team also reminisced on their experiences with Burke, expressing their sorrow at his passing.  

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