Serving Indiana creatively is a slam dunk for Purdue DVM graduates

Friday April 30th 2021

Dr. Phil Borst played a key role in the successful efforts of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis to host the Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and the NCAA men’s March Madness tournament.

Meet Dr. Philip Borst (PU DVM ’75), a Purdue Veterinary Medicine graduate and longtime practitioner in Indianapolis who also co-chairs the local organizing committee for the Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. His innovative career combination began as a student at Purdue, where, in addition to his studies, he also worked as the student manager of the men’s basketball team.

“I have been very blessed to be able to do many different things in my life,” said Dr. Bristle. His interest in veterinary medicine began as a child and was fascinated by his father’s veterinary practice, Dr. Larry Borst, who was also a senator. Since Purdue has the only veterinary school in the state of Indiana, Dr. Borst for enrollment as a boiler maker and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture in 1971 and his DVM degree in 1975. He then returned to Indianapolis to take over his father’s practice. He later bought the practice from the older Dr. Borst and recently sold it to another Purdue graduate.

As Indianapolis grew into a major sports city, Dr. Borst has served on City County Council for 28 years. During this time he saw the construction of many of the capital’s most famous sports and retail venues, from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse to the Circle Center Mall to the RCA Dome, which was later replaced by the Lucas Oil Stadium. As an avid sports fan, Dr. Borst on the opportunity to join the board of directors of Indiana Sports Corporation, the organization that oversees major Indianapolis sporting events, including championships such as the NCAA Final Four and the 2012 Super Bowl. While Dr. Borst said he enjoys all sports, his favorite is basketball. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

When asked what he does for a living, Dr. Borst: “All sorts of things, from animal testing to sports to economic development.” He described the recent Indiana college basketball tournaments as the most unique ones he has seen in his career. For starters, Indianapolis hosted the Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that same week – the second week of March – with the men’s tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium and the women’s tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“That was Madness in Indiana in early March,” said Dr. Bristle. A dozen women’s games were played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and 13 men’s games were played at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Then Indiana hosted the entire NCAA men’s basketball championship – the sports extravaganza known nationwide as March Madness. The tournament comprised a total of 91 games that were played over a period of 28 days. Dr. Borst was co-chair of game management and helped oversee the planning of housing and transportation for teams to practice, as well as organizing referees and caretakers. He also helped lead a crew of people who were supposed to make sure players got everything they needed from toothpaste to a new cell phone.

The NCAA tournament games were played at multiple locations in Indianapolis as well as the Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. On March 18, 19 and 20, Dr. Borst back to Purdue to manage the games played at Mackey Arena. He was selected for this role because he was familiar with the Mackey Arena and Purdue’s West Lafayette campus.

Dr.  Borst takes a snapshot of a hand washing sign on a sinkDr. Borst happily posed with the One Shining Moment poster that was provided so that attendees could wash their hands with the words of the famous March Madness song.

Another challenge that tournament organizers faced this year was ensuring the health and safety of players, coaches, staff, volunteers and fans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Precautions included extensive testing by team members and volunteers. “I was in the NCAA bubble for the first ten days of the tournament and had a total of 29 COVID tests for 28 days between all three tournaments,” recalls Dr. Bristle. He actually had two in one day on March 9th – one was his last Big Ten tournament test before the men’s Big Ten championship game and the other was his first NCAA March Madness test before going into the NCAA bubble. The players were also tested daily.

“Out of nearly 28,000 tests, only about 15 came out positive, which is really amazing,” said Dr. Bristle. He also said the NCAA was fortunate enough to allow a limited number of fans to play the tournament games and even put on a performance by Miley Cyrus between the last four semi-finals on Saturday April 3. “All of this experience has really helped the Indianapolis economy. The hotels flourished as well as the restaurants, where both the players and all the staff involved were provided with food, ”said Dr. Bristle. “This March madness was as historic as I’ve seen, as it was my 13th year as Big Ten co-chairman and my seventh Final Four and 30th year of NCAA basketball in Indianapolis.”

Dr. Borst went on to say that as a veterinarian, it has helped him maintain a positive attitude throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. His education gave him a background in viruses and vaccines, as well as the habit of washing his hands frequently and taking other preventive measures.

While Dr. Borst’s love of sport, and basketball in particular, creates an interesting mix of interests given his veterinary training, his commitment to his profession and citizenship has brought with it a variety of organizations and responsibilities, including those directly related to veterinary medicine . He is the past president of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, the Indiana Vice Delegate to the House of Delegates for the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the current chairman of the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. And how Dr. Borst would say that everything is part of a blessed life.

Jonathan Martz, PVM Communication Intern | [email protected]

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