Eastern Michigan Cuts Men’s Swimming & Diving Team After 34 MAC Titles

Division I Eastern Michigan University has announced that it will cut its men’s swimming & diving team. The program is one of 4 that the university will drop, reducing its sport offerings from 21 to 17. Women’s swimming & diving is not being cut, with softball, women’s tennis, and wrestling being the other 3 sports that the school will drop. The school previously had the richest sport offering in the Mid-American Conference, and will remain in that conference after the drops.

The decision impacts 58 male student-athletes and 24 female student athletes and is expected to eventually lead to a $2.4 million expense reduction.

Director of athletics Scott Wetherbee said the announcement was made 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.”

The Eastern Michigan swimming & diving season ended last weekend at the women’s NCAA Championship meet, where Delaney Duncan of the unaffected women’s team became the school’s first-ever female swimming A-Finalist at NCAAsJacob Hanson was the school’s most recent male first team All-American, having placed 4th in the 200 back at the 2013 NCAA Championships and 7th the year prior.

EMU’s men’s team finished 2nd at this year’s MAC Championships out of 6 teams, but won the 3 previous titles and 34 title since the MAC started sponsoring men’s swimming in 1953.

“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.”

Members of the swimming & diving team were notified late on Monday evening that they had a mandatory meeting on Monday morning at 7:30. The news was released publicly by the university while the swimmers were in that meeting being told directly.

About 80% of Eastern Michigan’s athletics department is subsidized by the school’s general fund, meaning that about $1,000 of each Eastern Michigan student’s tuition goes toward athletics. According to the USA Today, in the 2015-2016 season, that was $24 million out of a $30 million budget. Most of that money goes to the football team, which the school is required to have to be a member in the MAC, and a team that finished 5-7 last season. The school also announced a recent $35 million on athletic upgrades, mostly on a practice facility for the school’s football and soccer teams.

The University at Buffalo, another MAC team, announced a cut in its men’s swimming program at the end of last season.

Eastern Michigan’s football program has won 1 MAC Conference title in its history, in 1987. The softball program won 1 MAC softball conference tournament title in 2007 (the MAC has sponsored softball since 1982), the men’s wrestling team has won 1 MAC title (1996), and women’s tennis has won 1 MAC title (1998).

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next door dave
1 year ago

Very late to this thread. As a former Miami swimmer – finishing runner up 4 consecutive years to Mike Jones coached EMU – I thought I hated those guys. Now: no hate, just respect. They were pretty good. And I would much rather see Miami finish 2nd to EMU, than win with no one there to “hate”. I’m sorry to see that program end.

GARY RINGROSE
2 years ago

As a member. of the original EMU swim team 1964-1965, I never thought such a successful program would be eliminated. We were only a handful but we did take third place in the old President Athletic Conference. As I recall Glenn Mouton took first in both the 50 and 100 freestyle and I finished first in the 200 backstroke. The following year the expanded to many more in number and in quality.
In the article it was said the savings would amount to more than $2.4 million. My question is how? Savings in towels, coaching salaries, heated water or maybe draining half the pool?
How many quarter million dollar salaries are on the administration at the peoples university in Ypsi?

Bill
4 years ago

Just some background info: EMU did not enter the MAC conference until the 1972-1973 season. So the 34 MAC Championships is even more outstanding. I know this because I was on the team back then.

JUST MY $.02
4 years ago

In 2013, Eastern Michigan University reported nearly $60M sitting in an endowment fund, which in part, has a mission to help with Athletics. 2013 Report can be found here: https://emich.edu/foundation/documents/2013_ar_web.pdf.

Who knows what the balance is in 2018! Regardless, the interest alone from this investment would fund the continuation of the men’s swimming program and yet, just like in the case of UB and many others, the University will keep lower-performing programs around – both athletically and academically.

Eastern Michigan isn’t too egregious, but some of these colleges are sitting on hundreds of millions of dollars of endowments – or in some cases, billions of dollars. Yet, tuition keeps going… Read more »

DeathofCollegeAthletics
4 years ago

In 5-10 yrs college swimming as a whole won’t exist and everyone will be pro after high school fighting for sponsorships and prize money at the new and improved Grand Prix and swimming for a club team model like NYAC/Badger etc…

#NewEra
Reply to  DeathofCollegeAthletics
4 years ago

Mission is picking up Pros…plenty of big name clubs in big cities to draw kids. Claim your prize money…get whatever sponsor you want

SwimCoachDad
4 years ago

A little less than a year ago, my son became a victim of similar stupidity as an NLI signee at Buffalo. After scrambling to contact other colleges, mourning the loss of his team and being very lucky, he landed OK. Others in his recruiting class were not as lucky and are paying huge amounts at other colleges just to continue with their sport. I wonder now, like I wondered then, when is the MAC going to realize that requiring member-colleges to shovel millions into second-tier, at best, second-rate football programs is a losing proposition? Buffalo’s football program draws less than 15,000 “fans” per home game, under the attendance needed to stay in the FBS. The results of this stupidity at… Read more »

OldEMUHuronSwimmer
4 years ago

This has been a very lively discussion by all. Thanks to all of you who are showing your support for our program. Today has been a very bitter day for all EMU swimmers past, present, and “future”. This program and all of its successes were built on the backs of Mike Jones and Peter Linn. Personally, four of the most memorable years of my life were spent on the campus and pool deck at Eastern. It is easy at this stage to point fingers, but the bottom line is that the swim program there was not built on facilities or other supporting infrastructure. It was built on hard work, a desire to perpetuate a winning program, and the knowledge that… Read more »

STILL_SWIMMING
4 years ago

It’s lipstick on a pig…. $35 million on athletic upgrades, mostly on a practice facility for the school’s football and soccer teams??? When I swam there, the football team had the NCAA record – FOR CONSECUTIVE LOSSES. Since then, they’ve managed to win ONE MAC title. Not 34 – just ONE. Now they’re getting some portion of $35 mill. Yet the team that has CONSISTENTLY delivered over the last 4 decades is being cut? Explain THAT one to me.

Who uses that football field in the off season 6 months out of the year – anyone, anyone?
Who uses the Jones pool in the off season – oooops, sorry there is no “off season” in swimming. You hold… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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