WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - College athletics is big business. It's becoming a billion dollar industry as the pressure to compete at the highest level continues to rise. Through that transition, the Purdue Athletics Department has managed to stay consistent.
In an era trending towards tighter spending, the realm of college athletics seems to be headed in the opposite direction. A shocking number of major college athletic departments elect to spend big bucks in hopes of big returns.
"I don't think it's the right way to look at things, honestly," said Purdue President Mitch Daniels.
He said leveraging the future by spending carelessly is not only not the right thing to do, but it's not a smart thing to do.
"I'm not certain that money translates into victories. I think that there's plenty of evidence that that's not the case," Daniels said.
In a study by USA Today, just seven out of 228 public Division I athletics programs were financially self-sustaining in 2012, meaning those schools received zero subsidies from the university. Purdue is one of those seven schools. It's a philosophy that Purdue Athletics Director Morgan Burke says goes back to Red Mackey's tenure as AD.
"We will never ever, as long as I'm AD, will not live hand to mouth, because we have obligations," Burke said. "We have debt, namely Ross-Ade and Mackey."
Debts that Burke and the Athletics Department take upon themselves instead of requiring financial support from the University or from the student population in the form of an athletic fee. Burke states that using money from the University takes from Purdue's true mission, which is to educate its students. As for the athletic fee, the students appreciate that there isn't one.
"I think it's more of a choice that shouldn't be imposed in any kind of fees for the students, just because you know it's optional to go to the games, and I feel that it's optional to contribute to such a program," Purdue student Alex Andrabashor said.
"I don't think it's a good idea. I mean, you're going to reduce some of your support from the students just because it's another cost for them to attend the university," Purdue student Casey Krueckeberg said.
There is proof that Purdue can compete on a national scale despite conservative spending. Just two years ago, 14 Purdue teams earned postseason NCAA berths. Purdue football may be struggling as of late, but since 1997 the Boilermakers appeared in a bowl game 12 out of 15 years, including a Rose Bowl.
"I think at Purdue. We'll always have to be smart. We'll never outspend the New York Yankees, or whoever you want to pick on the collegiate front, but we've beaten them, and we can beat them again," Burke said.
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