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EMU vs. UMass

EMU football’s Brian Dooley surrenders his own athletic scholarship for walk-on Zack Conti

Conti would regularly sell his plasma to pay for his schooling bills as a walk-on

Fifth-year EMU senior Brian Dooley, a graduate student offensive lineman for the Eagles, gave his football scholarship to a teammate.

The Eastern Michigan University football program announced Thursday, Aug. 3, in videos posted on the team website and on social media, that Dooley gave the final year of his scholarship to teammate Zack Conti, a walk-on senior offensive lineman.

Zach Conti

Zach Conti, from Trenton, Michigan, is a walk-on senior offensive lineman for the Eagles at Eastern Michigan University. (Courtesy: EMU Athletics)

Video of football coach Chris Creighton announcing the gift to the team is posted on team website. The video was taken as the team wrapped up its first day of fall camp Monday.

Conti, in his fourth year on the team, has paid for his own college expenses. In announcing the scholarship change, Creighton said Conti had even sold his plasma to earn money and cover his education costs.

The university provides scholarships to 85 football team members, the maximum allowed by NCAA rules.

In the video, Creighton is leading a team meeting when he tells the players that Dooley walked into his office one day and said "Coach, that guy has earned it. ... If there is any way, I am willing to give up my scholarship."

Creighton said Dooley's choice was something that is unusual in collegiate football, or any collegiate sport. 

“I’ve never heard, I’ve never seen, anything like that ever before,” Creighton said. 

Usually when a scholarship is awarded to a walk-on player, it is because the program has open scholarships to give. 

Conti, a Trenton, Michigan, native, will be entering his senior year on the team this year at EMU. He played in a combined 23 games in 2021 and 2022.

Hitting the field: Practice starts for the 2023-24 season

Dooley will be entering his fifth and final year in an Eagles uniform this fall after being named an All-MAC second team selection last season, and an All-MAC third team selection in 2021.

Brian Dooley

Brian Dooley, from Bowling Green, Ohio, is a fifth-year senior offensive lineman, and a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. (Courtesy: EMU Athletics)

When asking Creighton if the scholarship could be transferred to Conti, Dooley said he had talked it over with his family and they agreed.

During that team meeting, after Creighton told the story, Dooley stood up, walked over to Conti and handed over a letter making it official, Conti now had a full scholarship to play for the Eagles in his senior year.