- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Having announced last week that he will retire in July 2017, Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke will spend the final 17 months of what will be 24 years on the job monitoring his department with a special emphasis on improving football.

The 64-year-old Burke recommended to Purdue President Mitch Daniels and the Board of Trustees that struggling football coach Darrell Hazell be retained despite a 6-30 record in his first three years on the job, including a 2-10 mark this past season.

After the season, the offensive and defensive coordinators were fired.

As the Big Ten university begins to search for a new athletic director, Burke said Wednesday that he will continue to passionately support Hazell and will assist - if asked - in evaluating Purdue football if the new AD is hired before or during the 2016 season.

“Football is the elephant in the room,” Burke said. “With the returning cast of players, they should be successful. I would like to be a part of that. (Moving forward), a lot of what we do will involve the pace in which the individual is hired. We need someone in the saddle to talk about football.

“I have no idea what my role will be. I have a light touch. I will assist when asked.”

Burke acknowledged that donations to the John Purdue Club - Purdue’s fundraising group for athletics - have stagnated because of the football program’s inability to win.

“Until we have the new (athletic director) in there, I will continue to help the president and the board,” Burke said. “There is a faction of our fan base that will want me involved, and there will be a faction that won’t want me involved.

“I am behind Darrell Hazell 100 percent. I made the call (to keep Hazell), and I was blessed to have the support of the president and the board. We decided that Darrell deserves this (2016) swing at the plate, and we will continue to go to bat for Darrell. I am excited about spring ball. These players feel wounded and are excited about showing what they can do.”

Hazell has three seasons remaining on his current contract.

Burke, a 1973 Purdue graduate, said Wednesday that he informed Daniels this past summer that he planned to retire in July, 2017. Burke said he and his wife, Kate, decided in 2010 that they would target the end of the 2016-17 school year as his retirement date.

He is open to a succession plan that would bring a new AD on board before his actual retirement date.

“We want a hand off to take place in the right manner,” Burke said. “The next person needs to be free and unencumbered to come in and do the job. We have the luxury of 17 months to accomplish the goal of finding the right man or woman.

“When I took this job, my premise was that I love kids, I love Purdue and I love competition. That hasn’t changed.”

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