Eastern Michigan is dropping its softball, men’s swimming, women’s tennis, and wrestling programs in an effort to save money. That isn't going to fly for one influential local coach.
The move is set to save EMU an estimated $2.4 million per year. It has drawn a lot of ire on campus however, from students and faculty who would rather see the school either drop to Division II, or lose football altogether.
Administrators have argued against the economic viability of ditching football. From Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee, via MLive:
“(If football is cut) then we are eliminating 85 scholarships, plus the other 30-35 walk-ons. We are eliminating more student credit hours on this campus than I did just now. (Then) you don’t have a marching band that pays to go to school here. You don’t have cheerleaders and dancers out there.
“There is more to it than just lop off the football program because a coach makes a lot of money. There is certainly a lot more to it.”
Lowell High School football coach Noel Dean probably isn't a proponent of Eastern Michigan getting rid of football, but he's dismayed by what the school has done to the other sports.
Dean is a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His word goes a long way in the local football scene.
This week, he wrote an open letter to Eagles head coach Chris Creighton, informing him that he can no longer recruit at Lowell High School. Via MichiganGrappler.com:
I have to do what is right for the state of Michigan. As you know, I have coached high school football in the state of Michigan for the past 27 years. I have great respect for you as a coach and a person. You are just under the wrong leadership at the wrong time.
Your president, a guy from South Dakota obviously doesn't understand the culture of Michigan and the value us lifelong Michigan residents not only have for the sport of football but wrestling too.
He doesn't understand how deeply intertwined football and wrestling is in this state. Many coaches are involved in both and have sons, nephews and grand kids that participate in both.
My biggest impact players have been both football players that are wrestlers. I am always and also told to have multi athletic players. This is in stark contrast to HIS position.
I can't stand by and not take a stand against what is happening at EMU with the wrestling program. Wrestling contributes too much to the fabric of our schools systems in Michigan (a guy from South Dakota might not get it), but if I stick to the facts on this. wrestling is only a bone to keep people happy FOR NOW. They are coming for you next.
If this goes through, you and your staff will not be allowed in any one of our buildings. I won't speak for the others copied in this email but I wanted them to see my position.
Bottom line is, a guy from South Dakota is dumping on boys in the state of Michigan. I personally have had enough of people like this. Time to get priorities in order.
You are a good man but, you may be at the wrong institution.
Creighton issued a brief response. From the Detroit Free-Press:
"I received the email from Coach this morning," said Creighton, who has not had any Lowell players on his roster in four years at EMU. "I’ve been in meetings and haven’t had a chance to look at it. I’d like to talk to him first before making a comment."
Creighton has done a nice job of taking Eastern Michigan football out of the basement in college football. However, the entire program continues to fight a number of uphill battles on campus, and now, in local high schools.