You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Eastern Michigan University athletics' $10.73M operating budget reliant on general fund

By Kellie Woodhouse


Eastern Michigan University adopted a $10.72 million operating budget for its athletic department. file

Eastern Michigan University will adopt a $10.73 million operating budget for its athletic department, with $9.24 million funded using the school's general fund.

The athletic department will fund about 14 percent of its own expenses, down from roughly 18 percent in fiscal 2013 when its operating budget was $10.45 million. The amount the general fund supports the department's budget will grow by $460,000.


EMU President Susan Martin at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center during a basketball game against Western Michigan. file photo

The operating budget does not include $7.1 million in scholarships for student athletes, which also are funded by the general fund.

EMU's eight-member Board of Regents approved the athletic budget and other budgets — including a 3.75 percent tuition hike — during a Tuesday meeting.

The dent EMU's athletic department makes on the school's general fund has long been controversial on campus. Some faculty and staff think the school should instead spend tuition dollars and state funding —which comprise the general fund— solely on academics and criticize EMU's revenue sports, which include football and basketball, as poor performing.

EMU's basketball team had seven wins and nine losses in the Mid-American Conference this year. The football team had one win and seven losses in the conference.

"I think it's clear that Eastern Michigan University spends too much money on athletics," said EMU business professor and head of the school's faculty union Howard J. Bunsis during the Tuesday regents meeting. "The dream of filling Rynearson stadium... is never going to happen."

He added: "The faculty is not against sports... but we just think it's too much money."

EMU's athletic department has the highest level of general fund support of any athletic department in the MAC, according to a USA Today database.

University President Susan Martin has been a strong supporter of EMU's athletic programs, saying sports create a dynamic college experience for students and are on their way toward becoming more self-supporting.

"We're a Division I program and we do spend money on athletics, but certainly it's fair to say that we hope the revenue-generating sports can generate more revenue," Martin said, also projecting changes to the MAC will bring in more money from TV spots.

"Everybody has an opinion about athletics. A lot of students come to schools that have athletics because they want that experience, whether to play or to participate as a fan," she said. "So you'll never have complete agreement about athletics on any campus, but I believe it's an important part of the college experience."

The most expensive team to operate on EMU's 21-sport roster is the football team, which annually costs $2.47 million. The least expensive team? Women's swimming, which costs $92,200 a year.

The department is expecting $1.68 million in revenue, down $185,000 from the 2013 fiscal year. That's in part because, per EMU's contract with Pepsi, the company pays EMU $150,000 every other year and on alternate years buys about 50,000 football tickets so the school can comply with NCAA attendance requirements.

EMU expects to receive $550,000 for playing Penn State during the 2013 football season, $850,000 for playing Rutgers University and $150,000 for playing Army. That money is counted outside the operating budget and is used for capital projects, MAC membership dues, marketing and select athletic expenses, such as bowl costs and a women's basketball tournament.

EMU basketball coach Rob Murphy annually makes a base salary of $210,000, with the possibility of bonuses, and football coach Ron English is the highest paid individual at EMU, bringing in $367,920 in 2011.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Fresh Start

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

EMU leadership need to boldly rethink their long term plans for the image of the athletic program, the school and the City of Ypsilanti. Why not cease a grand opportunity to acquire the former Ford Plant along I-94, build a new state of the art stadium with parking and transform the program, the school and the City in one major move. 100,000 cars a day roll down I-94. A brand new stadium with ease of access and visibility would help with recruitment of student athletes, increase the pride of students and alumni, make it easier and more enjoyable for fans to attend games, give the eastern gateway of Washtenaw County a much needed facelift and it would improve the overall image of EMU in general. The current athletic campus could be transformed into practice facilities or sold to St. Joe's, developers or perhaps made into a county park.

Geoff Larcom

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

Here are some noteworthy aspects about athletics at Eastern that are relevant to this discussion on - Athletics makes up 3.6 percent of this coming fiscal year's $296.4 million general fund budget. - Eastern has 21 varsity athletics teams, including nine men's teams and 12 women's teams, involving more than 500 student athletes. - Many of Eastern's varsity athletes have only partial scholarships or none at all. Many are excellent students who contribute a great deal to campus life. - It's important to note the overall success and tradition of the athletic programs in the Mid-American Conference, where EMU regularly competes for overall honors and titles in men's and women's athletics. This past year, EMU won conference titles in men's cross country, men's indoor track and men's swimming. - EMU's athletes have enjoyed noteworthy success in the classroom. This past semester, Eastern athletes averaged over a 3.0 GPA. In fall 2012, the athletics department achieved the highest overall cumulative grade point average in Eastern's history, compiling a 3.201 GPA. - EMU athletes make a strong contribution to student life on campus and to the community in terms of public service, a point of emphasis with Eastern's coaches. - EMU athletic facilities are widely used by the community. For instance, EMU hosted 19 high school graduations this year in the Convocation Center, and the Indoor Athletic Practice facility is used by a variety of area youth sports programs. Track and field events and other activities in the Michigan Junior Olympics will be held at EMU's Rynearson Stadium and other EMU facilities in late July.

Tim Hornton

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

Great points Geoff, try having Higher Education reporter put these facts in her next article trying to "expose" college athletics. All those great things don't get that "shock" factor AAnews is looking for though. They would rather tell you how much a coach makes or how much a new paint job is going to cost on a stadium.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

"EMU expects to receive.... $850,000 for playing Rutgers University" Coincidentally Rutgers, about to enter the Big 10-11-12-14 is a financial mess too.

Dirty Mouth

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

It is a lose-lose situation.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.



Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

So the athletic department only contributes 14% to a failing program? As an alumni, this is the reason I will never donate anything to the school. In this day and age of global competition, the focus for EMU should be on academics, period.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.

There certainly is nothing to see watching the football or basketball teams.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

thanks - I do u dont have too -- now move along, nothing to see here for u


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

I moved on a long time ago. I hope you enjoy watching their winning football and basketball teams.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Dont give. Move on. You will not be missed.

Dirty Mouth

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

Cut athletics. EMU is a commuter school!


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

"athletics creates a dynamic college experience for students"...Sue, this isn't UM..this is EMU... please work through your delusion

A Voice of Reason

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

The tennis team is 90% from overseas, so there is no fan base there. Seems like a state school like Eastern should attract Michigan or at least US athletes. I say if a school like Eastern wants to give athletic scholarship to overseas students, they should no longer qualify for financial aid for any students.


Sun, Jun 23, 2013 : 2:10 a.m.

Tennis doesn't have a fan base because nobody understands it. Also, nobody knows where/when the team plays. Football and basketball are marketed all over the place. Nobody from Athletics is every pushing for people to come watch Tennis....or Track or Soccer or Softball.......and on and on.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

so Canadians are OK cause they are on the same continent? Mexicans?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

EMU's teams have rarely flourished. There are too many of them and way too much infrastructure and expense for the results. There have been some instances in the past (baseball comes to mind) where they have done well for awhile but generally, we have had unsuccessful and unpopular teams - financial parasites. I am an alumnus and I do not support the athletic programs for the very reason pointed out in the article - money to maintain these programs comes at the expense of academics and student services and they should be self-sustaining.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Non-revenue sports are just that, they do not generate income to support themselves. The football and basketball teams cannot even support themselves financially due to lack of interest by students and alumni let alone support the whole athletic department. I guess that is the point of the article, why should the general fund pay for 86% of the athletic department budget? Who really benefits from EMU athletics and than just the athletes themselves?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

yes - I wrote as much when i wrote "major sports have issues" and there are only 2 revenue sports at EMU and the rest seem to do well - so what is your point?


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

48108; all non-reveune sports.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Actually - the a lot of the EMU sports do well or flourish and some have their ups and downs. The Track program is still great, as is the swimming and diving. The womens hoops teams has had its greatest success in the last 4 years (before the past one.) The major sports have issues - that is a fact - but people ignorantly state "EMU sports cant compete" (perhaps not here, but that is a common statement) and they are wrong Here are the league championsips (a few anyway) Men's Swimming and Diving 1978, '80, '81, '82, '83, '84, '85, '86, '87, '88, '89, '90, '91, '92, '93, '94, '95, '96, '98, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 Women's Swimming and Diving 2006, 2007 Men's Cross Country 1973, '74, '86, '90, '91, '92, '93, '94, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 Men's Golf 2007, 2008 Men's Outdoor Track & Field 1974, '77, '78, '82, '83, '84, '86, '87, '88, '89, '90, '91, '92, '94, '97, '98, '99, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2010 Women's Outdoor Track & Field 1982, '87, '88, '89, '90, '91, '92, '93, '95,'97, 2003 Men's Indoor Track & Field 1996, '97, '98, '99, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2013 Women's Indoor Track & Field 1997, 2000, 2011

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

they had a decent track and field program once upon a time too.


Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

I find athletic instruction to be as important as any other instruction an individual will receive throughout the course of their educational careers. "Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that, upon other fields, on other days will bear the fruits of victory." - Gen. Douglas MacArthur Far from a plug for "sports-as-training-for-war," athletics - either through individual or team competition - teaches valuable lessons which cannot be learned in a classroom.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

One could potentially see your point as a call to disband intercollegiate athletics in favor of an extensive intramural program. More bang for a lot less buck.

Tim Hornton

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.

EMU can spend their money how they want. If you don't like it don't go to school there! Just because you probably pay about $2 a year in taxes to the school doesn't mean anything either. Go be a regent if it means that much to you. I think AAnews gets a little jealous some coaches make a lot money. If it hurts that much quit being a journalist and go coach a sport. You'll find out the hardway that journalists make more then most coaches do.

Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

I want to make it clear that when reports on or mentions a public employee's salary, it is not an indication or jealousy. I see that come up here time and time again, and I think some readers project an emotional quality to the reporting when there is none.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 11:25 a.m.

according to some reports only 23 of 228 Division 1 athletic departments are self sufficient . U of M happens to be one of the 23. It's the state of college athletics, a few "haves" and a whole lot of "have nots".