After almost a week of speculation, incorrect news, and distress from Boilermaker nation, Matt Painter finally signed a new eight year salary that could exceed $2 million annually.
Earlier today it was unclear as to what Painter’s decision was going to be, but twitter and other social networking sites took the Boilermaker faithful for a stomach turning roller-coaster ride that was vastly unnecessary. Everything started Monday night when Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News tweeted, “Matt Painter to Missouri 7 yrs, 14 mill’ Tigers got a great coach will Purdue make a pitch for Brad Stevens?” News spread like wildfire and within minutes, the entire nation was tricked into thinking Painter was heading to Missouri. After a very long Tuesday, it was said by the University of Missouri Athletic Department that they wanted a decision by Painter on noon, Wednesday. Early Wednesday morning, the roller coaster ride started up again and made for one very long day; a day that will make some wonder if social networking like twitter and Facebook are good for the media.
At 12:01 p.m., one minute after Missouri wanted Painter’s decision, Bernie Miklasz reported that Coach Painter had been in contact with Missouri’s Athletic Director and would fill the vacancy for Missouri basketball. Throughout the day, Indianapolis Star reporter Jeff Rabjohns kept the people of West Lafayette grounded. Rabjohns was one of the first to report that both schools had been contacted and neither had heard from Matt Painter on his decision. Hours later, more rumors were sent out via twitter that a Purdue player had said there was a players only meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday night and that Painter was going to inform the team he was leaving before he informed the media. Minutes later, that rumor was buried. Finally, around 3:30 p.m. ESPN’s 1070 the fan tweeted, “Despite reports to the contrary, Matt Painter will remain at Purdue as head coach. Rumor quickly spread and minutes later, first reports from Fox 59 in Indianapolis and ESPN about the decision. Miklasz quickly fired tweets apologizing to fans and media about biting the bullet. Shortly after, confirmation came from Purdue that Coach Painter would continue his quest for a national championship with the old gold and black. As it turns out, Painter doesn’t have tiger blood after all.
On a day that most of Indiana was blanketed with snow, sun shined valiantly from the West Lafayette sky. The school that can never catch a break (John Hart’s lingering foot problems, Robert Marve, KK Hauser, Keith Smith, and Rob Hummel’s torn ACL’s) finally caught one on Wednesday.
What is a good day for Purdue basketball is also a good day for the school of Purdue and basketball in Indiana. Earlier this week, Athletic Director Morgan Burke and Purdue President France Cordova were catching flack from all directions because it was thought that they weren’t trying hard enough to keep Painter around. The Big 10 Coach of the Year three of the last four years was being paid a measly $1.3 million a year, good enough for eighth best in the Big 10. Tuesday, Senior Associate Athletic Director, Nancy Cross, made a bold move in lashing out at John Purdue Club members informing them that it was their own fault for Painter only being paid $1.3 mil. a year. While some thought it was wrong for her to bite the hand that feeds her, it needed to be said. Numerous students and John Purdue Club members voiced their opinions about what would happen if Painter did leave to Missouri. Most said they would pull their memberships and VIP cards, both huge sources of revenue to the school and the athletic department. While some Indiana University fans are mad about staying, most are happy. It is true that in 49 states, it’s just basketball, but this is Indiana. With IU in resurgence and Purdue already close to the top, the rivalry may be heading back to the glory days of the Knight vs. Keady battles.
What excites Purdue fans the most is the reason Matt Painter said he wanted to stay with the Boilermakers. Some questioned how Painter could even think about leaving Purdue. Purdue is his alma mater, Robbie Hummel will return for a, what hopes to be, magical year. Mackey Arena is undergoing a makeover that will make it one of the top athletic facilities in the Big 10. People could not question coach Painter for exploring his options. He only wanted to put himself in the best position for a championship. To him, it has never been about the money. He wanted what was best for his assistants, and he wanted a place that would give him the most tools to win a championship. His tool bag is full now, so is his wallet. He has everything he needs to win a championship, the current team, the recruits, the facilities, the assistants, but most importantly, he has the student support. Now that Painter is being paid with the likes of the top coach in the nation he needs to perform like one the top coaches in the nation.