Athletic funds could be used for academics

EMU football head coach Ron English.

It’s time we re-examine Eastern Michigan University’s football program. Again. In a Dec. 3 front-page column, The Eastern Echo sports editor called for the firing of head coach Ron English. With an overall record of 10-38, I agree. However, I suggest the Board of Regents refrain from its usual knee-jerk reaction of addressing the football program’s failure by tossing more dollars at it.

Instead of hiring more assistant coaches and throwing more money to the Athletic Department, I suggest the board ask if EMU’s priority is providing an education of value for the community. This is money that could be better used to enrich students’ academic and overall college experience. Can this be accomplished by continuing to throw money at a perpetually failing football program at the expense of successful academic ones?

During the height of the economic crisis, nearly every academic program on campus saw its budget slashed. However, the Athletic Department actually received an increase. It’s time the board takes a timeout from the unfettered, lavish spending on the Athletic Department. Luckily, the terms of several long-time board members are up, and there will be new blood with fresh eyes to examine this.

The last time the football team went to a bowl game was 1987. Since then, EMU has built it a new training facility and increased the number of coaching staff and its budget. Yet, none of this has helped the Eagles return to yearly winning records. They
consistently perform under .500. In fact, their last winning season was 1995.

In my seven years as an EMU student, I have never met anyone other than a football player who came to EMU because of its storied football program. They came here because the campus is located in a convenient area, the university still offers a good price for education and EMU offers first-generation college students an opportunity to get their foot in the door.

English has one year left in his contract and will have a new offensive coordinator this fall. Call me a pessimist, but I’m betting a new play-calling guru won’t help. Before the regents funnel more money to this failed program, I suggest they review the entire game plan. Continuing to throw more money at this will call for a penalty, and we won’t need to ask for a review of the play. If history serves us, we know it will be a replay.

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