Purdue Pres. on Purdue-Fort Wayne keeping Division I athletic st - ABC21: Your Weather Authority

Purdue Pres. on Purdue-Fort Wayne keeping Division I athletic status: 'Let's hope so'

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA 21) -

One of the big questions that needs to be settled after IPFW becomes Purdue-Fort Wayne -- will the school maintain its NCAA Division I athletic status?

We sat down Wednesday for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

In addition to talking about key academic challenges, he addressed the major athletic decision as well.

New graduates of IPFW on Wednesday donned their caps and gowns for the awarding of diplomas.

In costume, if you will, was former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who is now in charge of Purdue University in West Lafayette.

During his visit, he indicated leaders of Purdue-Fort Wayne need to do their homework, adding programs and degree offerings that will counter declining enrollments.

"When we do, enrollments should start to recover, and we deliver value in higher education young people are happy and their families are happy," Daniels said.

A decision that significantly raised the profile of the university some years ago was the move to Division I status, meaning the men's basketball team, for instance, competes each year for a berth in the famed NCAA tourney.

The squad this past November pulled off an historic upset, beating the Indiana Hoosiers at the Memorial Coliseum.

When we asked Daniels about keeping that status at Purdue Fort Wayne, he didn't sound convincing.

"This is the biggest sports fan in town you're talking to, (but) it's costing a lot of money," Daniels said.

He went on to say the task of building new programs to get more students on campus will also cost money.

"It can't be ignored that that (sports) program right now is subsidized to the tune of several million dollars."

We approached Mayor Tom Henry about the Division I athletic issue, we were told that until some official word is communicated from Purdue his office won't say anything.

If the status was at some point forfeited, it would almost certainly have negative repercussions for the whole community.

The Division I women's Sweet Sixteen is coming to the Memorial Coliseum soon and Purdue Fort Wayne is the host school.

It couldn't be if it was no longer Division I.

Attorney Mac Parker has a long history of promoting amateur and professional sports in town.

"I've had a number of advertisers indicate that they're big supporters of Division I, and would not support the university at the same level they are now, if it were in another division," Parker said.

Delivering a final word on maintaining the status, Daniels said, "let's hope so," because it certainly adds a lot to the life of the institution.

President Daniels says there's no decision yet on whether Purdue-Fort Wayne's school colors will remain blue and white, or change to black and gold to copy those from Purdue's main campus in West Lafayette.

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