Eastern Michigan To Cut Men’s Swimming, 34-time MAC Champion

Photo Courtesy: Eastern Michigan Athletics

Eastern Michigan University announced Tuesday, March 20, that it will reduce its intercollegiate athletic program by four sports, effective at the end of the 2018 spring season. The action is being taken as part of the University’s overall budget restructuring efforts.

Affected by the decision are the sports of softball, men’s swimming and diving (at 34-time conference champion), women’s tennis, and wrestling. With the change EMU, which previously led the MAC with 21 sports, will now have 17 sports (seven men’s sports and 10 women’s sports). This action in no way impacts Eastern’s affiliation with the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

The move affects 58 male student- athletes and 25 female student-athletes, and once realized an expense reduction of approximately $2.4 million.

“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,” said University President James Smith. “This aligns us with our Mid-American Conference peers in total number of sports, 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.”

“The student-athletes affected by this are our priority. We will honor all athletics scholarships for the students should they decide to remain at Eastern to complete their degrees, which we hope they will.”

“We understand that some may leave Eastern to continue their sport at another university, and we have committed to offering them our full support in that process. We have wonderful student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff here at Eastern who make a tremendous contribution to campus life – in competition, in class and in our greater community. This is a difficult day for all of them, and for all of us.”

James Webb, chairman of the EMU Board of Regents, said, “As a former student-athlete and swimmer myself, I profoundly share the pain felt by the affected student-athletes. This move is part of a broad, University effort to properly adjust our budget for the years to come, and Athletics is actively participating in this process. The Board of Regents fully supports President James Smith and Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee. They are to be commended for taking on a difficult challenge and acting in the best interests of Eastern Michigan University.”

The decision to reduce sports will align Eastern Michigan with its Mid-American Conference peers in terms of types and total number of sports teams sponsored by the university. The NCAA requires Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) 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.

“This was an extremely tough decision and it is a very sad day,” said EMU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee. “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.”

“Each of the sports involved has a strong network of student-athletes, alumni and powerful traditions of success on and off the field. This makes the decision even more difficult, but there is no easy way to do this without having significant impact. It is a painful step for all parties involved, but it is necessary given the University’s need to realign University resources.”

“I have said all along that we in Athletics are a part of this University – part of everything that happens on campus, and that we’re all on the same team. Given that, we must take a strong role in this difficult work of adjusting University expenses.”

“My heart goes out to all those who are disrupted by this change. We are proud of the way they represent Eastern Michigan University.”

Wetherbee said the announcement was made today, in mid-March, in order to allow the student-athletes as much time as possible to find new schools at which they can continue in their sports, if they choose to do so. This also will allow the eight coaches affected time to find new positions.

The University considered many factors, including: program cost, athletic facilities (current and on-going), and a comparison of sports sponsored by MAC schools.

Further details regarding the decision can be found in the Question and Answer document posted on the University website.

The last time EMU changed its sports offerings was in 2000, when both men’s tennis and men’s soccer were discontinued and women’s rowing was added. Prior to that, men’s gymnastics and women’s field hockey were eliminated in 1988.
— This is a press release from Eastern Michigan University

18 Comments

18 comments

  1. Matt Ponds

    I watched on HBO last year that sports fees were included in students tuition at Eastern Michigan, could these sports be a victim of football costs? It’s a shame that schools drop swimming. It’s a sport you can go watch with minimal costs. It’s on the low end of revenue for schools.

    • Joanne Newton

      Yes. Football very costly even for a losing team. They r planning on spending millions to upgrade the football and soccer fields. Typical. Ugh.

  2. Karin Knudson O

    34 championship titles for swim team. 1 for football. So sad swim is a sport that gets cut.

  3. Kelley Harman O

    One of the worst football teams out there. One of the best swim teams and they get cut. It’s disgusting that they can do this. These boys are devastated! Football, basketball and lacrosse are the only sports that matter in this world. So sad!

    • Hearing Doc

      I agree! These swimmers work harder than anyone. They deserve much better!!
      EMU should be ashamed!

    • Therese McAdams

      It makes NO SENSE to me how they cut the men’s swim & dive team but keep the women’s? They STILL have costs related to maintaining the pool??? Seems cuts should have been made elsewhere?? SALARIES, etc?!

  4. avatar
    Ashley R

    Sign the petition to help save the program!
    https://www.thepetitionsite.com/661/343/754/save-emu-mens-swim-and-dive/?taf_id=53714062&cid=fb_na#bbfb=564042443

    The total cost of attendance at EMU: $38,000 (out of state, which many swimmer are). The approximate roster size = 34 swimmers/divers, thus, the total cost of attendance for 34 swimmers/divers: $1,292,000. There are 9.9 athletic scholarships awarded which = $376,200. That means that an estimated revenue LOSS for Eastern Michigan of $915,800 by cutting Men’s Swimming and Diving. Furthermore, according to Equality in Athletics Data Analysis, the 2016-17 Eastern Michigan University Men’s Swimming and Diving operating budget was a mere $84,311. The cost of a Men’s Swimming and Diving program is negligible when you have a Women’s team that shares a facility and coaching staff. Not to mention EMU just put 20 million towards a new sports medicine facility. Simply put, this is the result of mismanagement.

  5. Jeff Duncan

    A sad day. Please help my daughter Delaney Duncan in her efforts to support the mens program on the gofundme page she created. It wasn’t pleasant waking up to her phone call this morning crying that they cut the program

  6. Amanda Taylor

    As an alumni, I was so embarrassed when I received the email today…how about they reduce the president’s and athletic director’s salaries instead? Or idk the president can find their own non-university provided housing… I won’t even think about donating money until the sports are restored.

  7. avatar
    Nicole Maxwell

    Please help my son Gus Maxwell and his teammates raise the 2.1 million they need to keep their program!

  8. Hannah Adank

    Swimming World They recently started a GoFundMe to raise money to save the swimming program!

Author: Daniel D'Addona

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Dan D'Addona is the lead college swim writer for Swimming World. He has covered swimming at all levels since 2003, including the NCAA championships, USA nationals, Duel in the Pool and Olympic trials. He is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a graduate of Central Michigan University. He currently lives in Holland, Michigan, where he also is the Sports Editor at The Holland Sentinel.

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