On the Bench: EMU, there were other options

On March 20, representatives of the Eastern Michigan University (EMU) announced that the Ypsilanti school would be cutting four of its sports programs — wrestling, softball, women’s tennis and men’s swimming — leaving 82 Eastern athletes and eight coaches in the cold. According to The Detroit News, the decision is expected to save the institution $2.4 million to make up for the college’s declining university revenues.  

I can agree that any progressing institution would need to be creative to stay out of debt. Yet, somehow it doesn’t make sense to me that EMU would cut their wrestling when the team has had its best year in a long time since taking home eighth at the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships. Or, that they would cut the men’s swimming team after they’d just taken home EMU’s first MHSAA title. It especially does not make sense given that EMU has reportedly been making plans to build an upgraded $35 million athletic facility.

According to The Detroit News, for the 2016 fiscal year, EMU’s athletic department reported $5.17 million in revenues compared to $27.2 in expenditures. Surely, anyone with a clear understanding of basic math would be able to realize that something needed to change if the teams were going to be sustainable. Perhaps, instead of spending $6.9 million in 2017 — up from $2.8 million in 2016  — on a football team that hasn’t really had a good season since 1989, EMU representatives should have been focusing on ways to up their revenue and cut costs.

According to Scott Wetherbee, EMU’s athletic director, the cuts will allow the budget to shrink to $24.6 million. Here’s a wild thought: Couldn’t the athletics department have sat down and figured out how to downsize by reevaluating and reassigning funds based on a new operating budget? To sit at a press conference and say that there were no other options, and to excuse the decision saying that no matter what was decided, everyone wouldn’t have been happy is absolutely ludicrous.

Students who have practiced and honed their craft throughout their childhood, giving their respective teams at EMU — or any school for that matter  — should not have to wake up one morning after making history in an institution’s program, trying to figure out what school they can apply to after committing themselves to a college. EMU should not get to decide which teams to cut based on which programs have more clout.

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