Eastern Michigan football has not finished .500 since 2011 (6-6), with a winning record since 1995, and has gone without a bowl berth since 1987, when the 10-2 Hurons won the California Bowl against San Jose State. Clearly, EMU is a difficult place to build a successful football program, even when rivals Central Michigan and Western Michigan have had solid programs. Now, members of the faculty and student body are calling for the team to drop down to a lower level in order for the school to save money, David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press reports.
"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.
"This has nothing to do with our performance on the field, or the quality of our coaches. Our coaches are good people and dedicated professionals. They are fighting a losing battle that cannot be won. Each and every one of you needs to reassess why you are here; if you have any sense of what is right for EMU, you will drop EMU from Division I football as soon as possible. How can you sit there and justify throwing millions of dollars away?"
The report recommends that EMU drop Division I football completely, and compete at the DII or DIII level while moving other sports to the Horizon League. The school has responded, saying that there is no plan in place to evaluate the feasibility of keeping the team in Division I. The last school at the FBS (formerly D1A) level to drop out was Pacific, which discontinued the program in 1995. (Edit: UAB discontinued its program after the 2014 season, but after significant backlash, announced a return for the 2017 season.)