Eastern Michigan University announced Tuesday that it is eliminating softball, men's swimming and diving, women's tennis, and wrestling from its roster of varsity sports, dropping the total sponsored by the school to 17. Once implemented at the conclusion of the spring 2018 seasons, the move is estimated to cut $2.4 million from the EMU budget.
Factors leading to the decision included program cost, athletic facilities (current and on-going), and a comparison of sports sponsored by Mid-American Conference schools. At 21 sports, Eastern Michigan University had the largest athletic program in the MAC, which mandates a minimum of 16 sports that must including football, men's and women's basketball and women's volleyball.
It was a process with which EMU vice president and director of athletics Scott Wetherbee is familiar, having once been on the receiving end. "This was an extremely tough decision and it is a very sad day," Wetherbee said in a statement posted on the emueagles.com. "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.
"My heart goes out to all those who are disrupted by this change. We are proud of the way they represent Eastern Michigan University."
According to Wetherbee, the timing of the announcement gives the 58 male and 25 female student-athletes affected as much time as possible to transfer should they choose to continue in their sports, and allows the eight affected coaches to find new positions.
EMU, which altered its sports offerings in 2000 and 1988, on Tuesday posted answers to 11 frequently asked questions given the current situation.