Other than Butler being the Final Four, and I guess the Pacers clinging to playoff life despite a sub-.500 record, the biggest story in Hoosier State basketball right now is the possibility that Matt Painter could be eschewing West Lafayette for the vacant Missouri head coaching job.
Purdue fans are understandably in a panic, with reports indicating that Missouri representatives are set to meet with Painter today in Florida. Purdue apparently made proactive overtures to Painter last night, but the details have not been made public.
What has been made public, however, is a letter that Purdue Sr. Associate AD Nancy Cross sent to members of the John Purdue Club in an attempt to assuage the growing frenzy of Boiler backers.
The letter – which was forwarded to me by someone at Purdue, and which is pasted in full below – indicates that, from the athletic department and university’s standpoint, everything is being done to keep Painter in West Lafayette. It also suggests, not subtlely, that had more JPC club members stepped up with donations, the current predicament never would have materialized.
Dear John Purdue Club Members:
Thanks for the outpouring of support for Matt Painter and for your concern for our Purdue men’s basketball program.
In an effort to allay many of your concerns and dispel much of the misinformation by “unnamed sources”, Athletics Director Morgan Burke has asked me to share with each of you that he is working diligently with President France Córdova and our Board of Trustees to ensure that Matt remains our head coach for many years to come.
Proactively they have made an investment in Matt that was communicated last evening, clearly reinforcing their continued commitment to him and to our championship program. They did not wait to counter anyone else’s offer. It is my hope that the words and actions of our President, our Board and Morgan will encourage Matt, Jerri and their family to remain with Purdue.
Personally, I have been overwhelmed with the number of e-mails pledging to join the John Purdue Club or increase support. Ironically, I believe we would not be in this situation had more than 11% of our current membership participated in the Mackey Challenge and more than 150 of our nearly 9,000 members recruited at least one new member. More of the Big Ten television revenues could have been allocated for compensation for the basketball coaching staff members and less toward the critical path of updating Mackey Arena.
As a self-supporting university auxiliary, we can spend only what we raise, so everyone’s participation will ensure that we retain Matt and provide championship-quality experiences for every single one of our Boilermaker student-athletes.
Thanks for your continued loyal support and passionate commitment….stay tuned!
BOILER UP, HAMMER DOWN, and HAIL PURDUE!
Nancy L. Cross
Sr. Associate Athletics Director-Development and Sports
For now, Purdue fans seem to be somewhat hopeful but mostly skeptical that its athletic department can or will do what is necessary to maintain their coach. Boiled Sports summed up the reaction I’ve seen on Twitter and scouring some message boards, blogs, and email threads with some Purdue folks.
For one, if Burke is indeed making this sort of an effort and attempting to let Matty know how much he means to all of us, then that’s good and I am happy Burke is doing so. Should it have gotten this far? Probably not. But all any of us can do is look forward and do what we can from this point onward. If this is accurate, that’s what Cordova and Burke are doing.
If I sound a bit skeptical, it’s because I am. There’s also the possibility that this is smoke being put out by Purdue to soften the blow they will surely receive from irritated Purdue fans and JPC members with deeper pockets than the wealthy and handsome Boilerdowd. Yes, it could be propaganda.
It appears as if judgment day is here, so we should know one way or the other soon. If Painter leaves, the Purdue athletic department is going to have a hard time explaining the last 72 hours to its own fan base.
Of course, if those miserly JPC members had just ponied up more of their hard earned money, this situation wouldn’t have happened. Right? Actually, it very well might be right. Purdue does have a fiscally responsible athletic department, though that certainly is not always conducive to winning. Still, right or wrong, there is a time and a place. Now was not the time nor the place to point out to terrified Purdue fans that it is their own financial responsibility that may lead to Matt Painter not being given what it will take to keep him.
Something tells me Nancy Cross will come to regret those words…
Update: I sent the post to a national writer I respect, and here was his response:
“She might regret it, but I kind of like it. She has 10,000 fans screaming at her, but we all know money rules the world, and at THAT level, the extra money often comes from boosters. So she’s saying: Don’t scream at us if you guys have been cheap over the years.
I say all that assuming, but not knowing, that multi-million-dollar salaries, or assistant salaries, are given a boost from the booster club.”
He makes a good point, as I figured he would. And I don’t necessarily disagree. I just think the timing is idiotic and poorly thought-out.
Update: Screenshot of the letter, just for clarification: