In the end, it appears it was much, much ado about absolutely nothing. Probably.
In a report released late last week and news of which surfaced Monday, Eastern Michigan faculty and students called for the university to either drop football altogether or drop from its current FBS membership down to Div. II or even Div. III in the sport. “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,” Bunsis continued. “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.”
Fastforward to Tuesday, and the university has issued a very stern and straight-forward response to the calls.
In what’s titled an “Open Letter to the EMU Campus Community, Alumni, Friends and Supporters,” and attributed to interim EMU president Donald Loppnow, president-elect James Smith, board of regents chair Mike Morris as well as seven other regents, the school has stated unequivocally that “[w]e have absolutely no plans to eliminate football or move into any other division or conference.”
“Any headlines or claims that Eastern is considering dropping football, or reducing our support of the program in any way, are false,” the letter further, and emphatically, added.
Below is the full text of the letter:
In the past several days, there has been considerable media coverage of reports that indicate that Eastern Michigan University is considering eliminating football, or reducing support for football by dropping down to a lower division of the NCAA and by dropping out of the Mid-American Conference. These reports are not based on any solid factual information. We have absolutely no plans to eliminate football or move into any other division or conference.
We are pleased to be a member of an outstanding conference, the Mid-American Conference, where all of our sports and our talented student athletes have the opportunity to compete at the highest levels with neighboring institutions in the Midwest. Any headlines or claims that Eastern is considering dropping football, or reducing our support of the program in any way, are false.
We are 100 percent supportive of our current Athletics administration, particularly Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Heather Lyke. She has assembled an outstanding support team and we already have seen positive results in terms of continuing Eastern’s championship traditions in a number of our sports, as well as in many new initiatives to increase revenues. As an example, year-to-date, fundraising has increased by nearly $430,000.
Two-and-a-half years ago, she hired an outstanding football coach in Chris Creighton. Now entering his third year and with the majority of the team now made up of his recruits, we believe the best is ahead in terms of on the field and academic performance. We believe very strongly in Coach Creighton and his efforts to rebuild the program.
We want to collectively reiterate that any notion, suggestion, or headline that in any way suggests Eastern is considering eliminating football or moving into another conference or division, is absolutely false. We will remain proud members of the Mid-American Conference football family for a long, long time.