A report released by faculty and students at Eastern Michigan University suggests that Division I football is too large of a drain on the school’s resources and should be dropped in order to save students money.
The report also suggested that the school seek membership in the Horizon League — which doesn’t require football, for its other sports according to the Detroit Free Press.
The 30-page report, commissioned and conducted by the faculty union and student government, found that cutting the football program would help to lower student debt. Each student reportedly pays $917 to support the athletics department; something the report claims is too much.
“Culturally and geographically, EMU football will simply never succeed from an attendance and financial standpoint,” said Howard Bunsis, a faculty member who helped create the report in a presentation to the school’s Board of Regents. “It’s a losing proposition — always has been, and always will be.”
The report notes that spending on athletics has increased by more than $13 million over the past 10 years, but revenues have declined.
Many schools around the country don’t generate enough money from athletics to support the department, but Eastern Michigan is in a uniquely dire position. From the Free Press:
…[the school] sends the department a subsidy from the general fund, which is largely made up of student tuition and state aid. The athletic department spent $33.9 million in the 2014-15 school year, according to data collected by USA TODAY and published earlier this week. Of that amount, more than $27 million, or 80%, came from institutional support. That percentage is the highest in EMU's league, the Mid-American Conference.
The school is not currently engaged in any formal discussions about cutting football, but a statement released on the university’s website acknowledged the debate over athletics funding.
“Participating in Division 1 Athletics is a substantial financial investment – not only at Eastern, but also at every university that offers a Division 1 program,” the statement reads. “It is an investment we are committed to because of the benefits Athletics provides our institution and students. At the same time, the University is committed to an ongoing evaluation of the best possible use of resources in all operating areas, including Athletics.”