EMU to cut 4 varsity sports to save money

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EMU to cut 4 varsity sports to save money

Postby irs » Tue Mar 20, 2018 4:19 pm

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/ ... 440968002/

Eastern Michigan University is benching softball, men’s swimming and diving, women’s tennis and wrestling.

University officials said Tuesday it is cutting the four sports from its athletic program at the end of the 2018 spring season, reducing the number of varsity sports from 21 to 17.

The move is expected to save the school about $2.4 million and affect 58 male athletes, 25 female athletes and eight coaches, they said.

“We are very saddened by having to make this move, which is necessary as we continue to align the University budget with enrollment and state funding trends,” James Smith, the university's president, said in a statement. “This aligns us with our Mid-American Conference peers and is part of our ongoing effort to realign resources to ensure that we continue to invest in high-demand high-quality academic programs and world-class facilities.”

He also said the school will honor all of the athletics scholarships for the affected students if they decide to stay Eastern to complete their degrees.

Officials with the union that represents faculty at the university blasted the decision Tuesday.

“It’s about time that Eastern Michigan University administrators took a hard look at the money we spend on athletics," Judith Kullberg, president of EMU's chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said in a statement. "But today’s announcement to cut four sports is the wrong call. This decision needs further review — not by out-of-touch administrators, but through consultation with students, faculty and staff."

Kullberg, who is a professor of political science, said the faculty supports the school's athletes and its sports programs.

"We want to see a successful athletics program — but it has to be sustainable,” she said. “EMU administrators have cut back on course offerings, laid off staff, left positions unfilled, and outsourced essential student services. In this environment, it’s not sustainable for EMU to spend more than $20 million a year from its own funds to subsidize football and other NCAA Division I sports teams."

She said the school should change sports conferences so it "compete successfully against other schools of similar size and scale."

School officials said the decision will align Eastern Michigan with its Mid-American Conference peers in terms of types and total number of sports teams sponsored by the university. EMU has been a member of the conference since 1971.

The NCAA requires Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools to sponsor a minimum of 16 sports and the Mid-American Conference requires member universities to sponsor football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and women’s volleyball, according to the university.

Officials considered many factors, including program cost, athletic facilities and a comparison of sports sponsored by MAC schools, they said.

"This was an extremely tough decision and it is a very sad day," said Scott Wetherbee, an EMU Vice President and the school's athletics director. "As a former college student-athlete who went through this process when my sport was eliminated, I empathize with how difficult this is for our impacted student-athletes.”

He said the school made the announcement Tuesday to give students as much time as possible to find new schools to continue their sports careers, if they choose to do so, and to enable the affected coaches to find new jobs.

The university last changed its its sports offerings in 2000, when both men's tennis and men's soccer were discontinued and women’s rowing was added. Before that, men's gymnastics and women's field hockey were eliminated in 1988.

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the state's second oldest university. It has about 20,000 students.
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