Eastern Michigan University to cut 4 sports teams following spring semester

Decision is part of EMU's budget restructuring efforts

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Four sports teams at Eastern Michigan University will be cut following the 2018 spring season.

The wrestling, women's softball, men's swimming and diving and women's tennis teams are all set to be cut as part of EMU's effort to restructure its overall budget.

The move will affect 58 male and 25 female student-athletes, all while saving the university approximately $2.4 million. The move does not affect EMU's affiliation with the Mid-American Conference. 

“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,” Eastern Michigan University President James Smith said in a press release. “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.”

Smith also said the university will honor all athletics scholarships for the students affected by the move, "should they decide to remain at Eastern to complete their degrees, which we hope they will."

EMU previously led the MAC with 21 sports, but will now have 17, including seven men's sports and 10 women's sports.

The NCAA requires Division I Football Bowl Subdivision schools to have at least 16 teams, and the MAC requires their schools to have football, men's basketball, women's basketball and women's volleyball teams.

EMU's Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee said the announcement was made today 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." He also mentioned it gives the members of the affected coaching staffs time to find new positions.

The last time EMU had a change in its sports teams was in 2000 when men's tennis and men's soccer were cut, while women's rowing was added. Men's gymnastics and women's field hockey were also cut at EMU in 1988.

"Each of the sports involved has a strong network of student-athletes, alumni and powerful traditions of success on and off the field," Wetherbee said. "This makes the decision even more difficult, but there is no easy way to do this without having significant impact. It is a painful step for all parties involved, but it is necessary given the University's need to realign University resources.

"My heart goes out to all those who are disrupted by this change. We are proud of the way they represent Eastern Michigan University."

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.