Eastern Michigan has had just two non-losing seasons since 1990, with one being a 6-5 season for the only winning season since 1990. To put it simply, the Eastern Michigan football program has struggled for decades, and now faculty and students at Eastern Michigan are coming together to say enough is enough. In a new report released by the Eastern Michigan faculty and students, a call to drop Division 1 football is being heard loud and clear.
Eastern Michigan football has been a drain on the university’s budget and it has been costing students as much as $917 to support the program. No matter how many coaches have been fired and hired and how much the university has tried, the struggles continue to pave an uphill battle to not only win football games, but simply drive attendance upward and dig out of the red in the budget. Continuing to throw money at the program is insane, according to one quoted professor at Eastern Michigan.
“Culturally and geographically, EMU football will simply never succeed from an attendance and financial standpoint,” faculty member Howard Bunsis, who helped prepare the report, said in a presentation to the Board of Regents on Friday. “It is a losing proposition – always has been, and always will be. We hardly raise any money for football, and our attendance is the lowest in the country. Some of you believe that we are close to succeeding, if we just throw more money at the situation. This proposition is insane.”
The current state of the Eastern Michigan football program is a dose of reality for the current state of college football in general, where programs in the non-power conferences will continue to face some tough decisions that no school really wants to make. There is no suggestion the school is preparing to shut down the EMU program as we saw with UAB (briefly) or drop to a lower level of competition. The faculty and students are calling for a complete drop from Division 1, which would include FCS as well as FBS, but the possibility fo playing Division 2 (or Division 3) has not been contested. In fact, it is being suggested.
“Eastern Michigan should drop Division I football, and join the Horizon League, where football is not required,” the report says. “Alternatively, EMU can still play football, but at the Division II or Division III (non-scholarship) level within the Horizon League, which would save even more resources. The advantage of joining the Horizon League is EMU athletes could still compete at the Division I level in Olympic and other non-revenue sports, but spend much less.”
It would be somewhat unprecedented for a program to drop down a level, and the reluctance to be the first program to do so would be a humbling experience. But the calls should be heard and the information in the report should be carefully reviewed by EMU leaders to determine what is the best for the university first and athletics second.
Helmet sticker to Detroit Free Press.