The Eastern Michigan athletics program has seen some ups and downs in the last year, which includes a MAC Tournament title by the women’s volleyball team, an appearance in the Camellia Bowl for the football team, and a court ruling that forced EMU to reinstate the softball and women’s tennis teams.
The softball team is going to be reinstated for the 2019-20 season, while the women’s tennis team has hired a coach and will begin in the fall. Athletic Director Scott Wetherbee suggested Eastern Michigan start a women’s lacrosse team instead of bringing back the softball program, but the court denied it.
“We hired a tennis coach and we’re working on establishing the tennis program so they can be up and running in the fall. We currently have the softball coaching position posted right now, but again we’re awaiting the trial,” Wetherbee said. “We brought tennis back in October. We just didn’t have the number of student-athletes to get in the Mid-American Conference but we have three student-athletes right now and we’ve been working on recruiting. We’ll start this fall.”
As far as lacrosse goes, Wetherbee said starting a women’s team is still a possibility but he’ll wait to make a final decision. Due to the ongoing appeals process, Wetherbee wasn’t able to go in depth on the softball team being reinstated.
“We obviously have ongoing litigation and we’re in an appeals process right now so to be honest with you, I can’t speak too much on it,” Wetherbee said. “But it is ongoing and we’re working through what we have to do with the judge. Once we kind of get through all of the appeals and the court case, we’ll be able to know more. We’ll actually know more in a couple weeks.”
Wetherbee also discussed the men’s basketball team, who ended their season with a 61-43 loss at home in the MAC Tournament to Ball State. The Eagles finished the season 15-17 after going 22-13 the year before. Eastern led Ball State by six points at halftime but were outscored 38-14 in the second half. The team will lose at least five players during the offseason as Isaiah Green, Paul Jackson, Elijah Minnie, and James Thompson IV are graduating and Malik Ellison has announced he’ll transfer.
Rob Murphy will be heading into his ninth year as the head coach.
“There really is no situation right now. We haven’t even had our end of the year conversations. I haven’t even talked to Rob,” Wetherbee said. “We’re evaluating all of our coaches every day. I haven’t had a chance to meet with coach at all. We’ll get together in the next week and see where we’re at.”
The football program, who will have their annual Spring Game on April 13 at Rynearson Stadium, are coming off another successful season. Head coach Chris Creighton has led the Eagles to 19 wins over the last three seasons, which is the most in a three-year stretch since 1987-1989. Eastern Michigan will begin their season on August 31 against Coastal Carolina.
“This is for all of our programs, but you want to be able to continue to get better, and coach Creighton has raised the bar the last few years. Going from no bowl game for 30 years to two in the last three,” Wetherbee said. “We want the opportunity to get to Detroit and play for a MAC championship. We’re certainly looking forward to a good year. It could be a special year for us.”
Wetherbee has high hopes for the football team and Eastern Michigan athletics as a whole.
“We want to continue to get better. Our fall was great. Women’s cross country won, volleyball went to the NCAA Tournament, and our football team went to a bowl game. We’re in a good spot right now. We gotta keep it going. We’re looking forward to it.”