WEST LAFAYETTE — Morgan J. Burke, who served as vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics at Purdue University from 1993 to 2016, died Monday (June 15) at his home in West Lafayette after a year-long battle with amyloidosis (a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in organs and interferes with their normal function). He was 68.
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.
“Morgan left an indelible mark on Purdue Athletics, and thousands of student-athletes benefitted from his faithful leadership,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “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 and upon his retirement was the fourth-longest at Football Bowl Subdivision institutions. He made his name as one of the visionary leaders in intercollegiate athletics.
“Morgan was a great friend and colleague to many of us and left an incredible legacy of tireless and selfless devotion to all things Purdue, but most of all our student-athletes, past and present,” said Mike Bobinski, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics. “He cared deeply about them and their success, and he proudly stood for all the right things in the world of intercollegiate athletics.”
“Not many people loved Purdue more than Morgan Burke,” Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter said. “Morgan’s impact on Purdue Athletics was huge. He built a foundation for the modern program and impacted countless coaches, staff and student-athletes. Personally, I owe him a huge debt of gratitude for having the faith and confidence in me to lead our basketball program. To say I’m forever grateful to him for that would be an understatement. My heart goes out to Kate and their family.”
Burke worked vigorously to create an environment that fostered both academic and athletic success among Purdue’s student-athletes. No one wanted to see the Boilermakers succeed more than Burke did, and few expended more energy cheering them on to victory and graduation.
“I am truly heartbroken today,” Purdue women’s basketball coach Sharon Versyp said. “We have lost a leader, a mentor and a dear friend. Purdue University has lost an icon. Morgan Burke dedicated his life to Purdue Athletics.”
When Burke succeeded George King, he pledged to build on the foundation already in place. Working with coaches and staff, aggressive goals were set. The department’s mission outlined its goals for “Developing Champions / Developing Scholars / Developing Citizens.”
On the athletics side, Burke’s expectation was to improve the position of Purdue teams in the Big Ten and nationally.