EMU Accounting Professor: Athletics Cuts Will Cost School $61K

Eastern Michigan University has come under fire in recent weeks for its controversial plan to cut four sports, including its 34-time Mid-American Conference champion men’s swim team.

School officials say that cutting tennis, wrestling, softball and men’s swimming will save the school $2.4 million annually – a necessary cut due to budget restrictions – but EMU Accounting Professor Howard Bunsis says that the school miscalculated.

Bunsis, who in 2016 conducted and presented an independent analysis of the California State University system’s finances, told Michigan Radio that amongst other things, EMU failed to take into the account the tuition revenue it would lose due to affected athletes transferring out of the school.

“The majority of the student-athletes that participate in these four sports pay their own way to go to school at Eastern Michigan,” Bunsis said, “and that revenue is going away.”

Additionally, Bunsis said the school admitted to overestimating the cost of the wrestling program by $279,000. The school also did not take into account the loss of money that the NCAA contributes for scholarships. With these errors corrected, Bunsis found that the school will actually lose $61,000 by cutting the four programs.

His suggestion for saving money on athletics? Transition the football program from Division 1 to Division 2.

The University responded to the Bunsis report, stating:

The University stands by its long-term analysis relative to the future expense reductions related to the elimination of four sports.

It’s important to note that the cited report works from an NCAA form summarizing previous year expenses and costs, while the University’s estimates focus on projected budgets in the coming years. The athletic director has made it clear that such savings will not immediately be realized this next year but in the years to come.

In addition, the cited report fails to fully incorporate several key items, most notably the institutional aid (vs. athletic scholarships) received by student-athletes, which totals nearly $626,000 annually. It also likely overestimates how many athletes will leave the University.

And, as the athletic director has stated publicly before, this decision also took into account future and obvious costs required for new facilities and equipment, neither of which were factored into the cited report’s numerical analysis.

According to the Michigan Radio article, Bunsis claims that “EMU spends millions more on the football program than it gets in revenue, and it simply can’t afford to compete on coaching salaries with more successful Division 1 programs like the University of Michigan.” That is supported by publicly-available information that the school’s general funds support approximately 80% of the athletics budget.

Bunsis is planning to release his own analysis within a few weeks of how much money the school could save if it transitioned the football program.

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5 years ago

And by the way, the AD is ready for the next Bunsis analysis.

5 years ago

Bunsis contends that a large number of the athletes participating in the sports proposed to be cut, pay enough out of their own pockets, due to the fact that they are walk-on’s or on fractional scholarships, to cause Eastern a considerable loss of tuition revenue. The Bunsis analysis does not take into account, that several of these athletes not only receive an athletic scholarship, put also an academic scholarship at the same time. This greatly reduces the out of pocket expenses for any of the athletes involved. Further, the women’s tennis team had eight women on the team and eight full scholarships – no loss of revenue there. It’s a revenue gain of over $300K. The athletes in three of… Read more »

5 years ago

I find it interesting that the AD spins this like it is a “business decision” when the school is constantly shoveling money into the (losing) football team that averaged 14,700 warm bodies to watch their 5-7 football team last fall. That kind of attendance doesn’t remotely cover the costs of even the scholarships. Football is the financial albatross around the necks of +50% of the schools that have D1 football programs and to portray cutting these other sports as some kind of rational, calculated financial decision to make it sound necessary, is fraud. If this really was a “business decision”, all these MAC schools would walk from the conference, if the conference continued to require D1 FBS Football, and slash… Read more »

5 years ago

Check the average GPAs for the each team’s student-athletes (which encourage more quality applicants to the university), graduation rates, and average salaries. All these factors lead to alumni donations.

Reply to  shasha
5 years ago

And the APR, along with other stats that keep a school in compliance.

5 years ago

At least where I live football is going the way of the dinosaur. No one with half a brain wants to set their child up for a lifetime of physical and mental problems. The schools that are sticking with swimming and other “safer” sports are the Schools that in the long run will be successful in attracting smart, talented, and successful students.

Swim chick
5 years ago

Is there a possibility the cut programs will come back then?

35 lb.
5 years ago

I call BS! 1.2 mil from scholarship “savings” + 626k from institutional aid = 1.826 mil annually/85 student athletes = 21k per student athlete in “aid”. I would like to hear from the swim parents who don’t realize their son is on a full ride.

5 years ago


About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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