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Posted on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 3:11 p.m.

Eastern Michigan University athletic department touts gain in attendance at football games

By David Jesse

Eastern Michigan University’s football team drew more fans to its home games this year than last year, athletic administrators said today.

But more importantly, the university topped the magic 15,000-paid fan barrier.

The NCAA requires Division I institutions to average 15,000 fans a season over the course of a rolling two-season period.

In the 2009 football season, the team drew 14,940 fans, documents given to the Board of Regents show.


Eastern fans attempt to catch mini footballs during a break in the action in the second half of the Ohio game at Rynearson Stadium in October.

Melanie Maxwell I

In the 2010 football season, that number was up 17 percent to 17,492, the same documents show.

That number reflects the actual paid attendance, Ted Coutilish, EMU’s associate vice president of university marketing and communication, told the regents.

The 2010 season saw a total of 32,004 people come to the five home games, according to the records. That counts free tickets and anyone entering.

The largest game in the 2010 season, in terms of paid attendance, was the Army game with 7,250 fans paying. The lowest drawing game was the day after Thanksgiving, when only 958 fans paid to come to the game.

Regents said they were happy with the results, but wondered whether more fans would turn out if the team was winning.

Coutilish said when the athletic department did market research, several people told them “they wanted us to win before they came here for a game.”

David Jesse covers higher education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Mon, Dec 20, 2010 : 1:16 p.m.

another case of cooking the books. they just need to drop the program and channel the money it takes to operate the football team and save what they are paying the coaching staff and use that to support the other teams. How much does it cost to put up 54 players + coaches + support staff in 7 of 12 games? All for the big paycheck to support the athletic department. The administration has always seemed to hold on to this notion of having an elite football program when it won't happen. I'd love to see a report on revenue/expenses for the football program. Including salaries to really see what benefit this program has for the university.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Henry Ruger@ I remember those days. I moved to Ypsilanti in 1961 at the age of 9.I went to the K-12 school operated by EMU on the EMU campus till they closed it in 1969. My theory was only intended as a partial explanation and certainly doesn't preclude past or future success.


Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 1:46 p.m.

It's good thing the EMU administration fired a local guy, Jeff Genyk, who had improved the program and while not winning a ton, was very competitive and beat CMU and WMU more often than not. It's a good thing they, and I quote regent Stapleton, decided to "take this program to another level". They certainly have accomplished that. They are far worse on the football field (remember Genyk's last game, victory over MAC champ CMU, record setting performance). They pay Coach English triple the salary Coach Genyk received. They more than doubled the recruting budget from what Coach Genyk had and they built him an indoor practice facility. In an political era in which we are constantly talking about wasteful spending--wow. Nice decision Mr. Gragg.

Henry Ruger

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

To Mr. Lounsbury, who says, "I have a theory that part of Eastern's problem getting better is being in the shadow of U of M." That U-M shadow was being cast in 1987, but: EMU football was briefly ranked 19th in the country in that year (U-M was rebuilding after losing a bunch of starters and was ranked 25th). The steep slide since '87 is hard to explain.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

I have a theory that part of Eastern's problem getting better is being in the shadow of U of M. Not that they compete for the same players rather the players they compete for might rather go to a MAC school that isn't overshadowed locally on Saturday's.


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 11:17 p.m.

EMU needs to seriously consider either dropping out of the MAC (football only) and going independant or dropping completely from FBS football and going to the FCS level. Dropping out of the MAC would still require 5 home games per season and the attendance minimum. Dropping to the FCS would allow EMU to keep playing these money games (Virginia, Vandy, Ohio St) each season without having a minumum number of home games and attendance requirements to reach. It is obvious that EMU uses football to fund the rest of the athletic department which is fairly successful, so maybe they need to look at taking that a step further.


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 11:12 p.m.

Regarding the comments about Miami going fom 1-11 to win the MAC and not needing 5 years to build a program anymore. I feel using Miami as an example is pretty dangerous if you are comparing them to EMU. The closest comparison I can come up with is between the Lions and the the KC Chiefs. KC was the closest team to Detroit in 2008, going 2-14. They imprved by 2 games to 4-12 last season and are 8-5 this season. People are questioning why they have improved so much while the Lions haven't. The answer is because they were much closer to being a good team than the Lions were despite having similar records. The Lions have much further to go to be good than KC had. The same is true between EMU and Miami. Yes Miami was only 1 game better than EMU last season (1-11 vs 0-12), but the fact is Miami had much less distance to cover to be a good team compared with EMU. The good news is EMU did show signs of getting competitive last season. Against similar caliber opponents EMU was competitive at times. It does appear the team basically gave up at points as well.


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 10:02 p.m.

This is a program on track. They will win. They will bring the fanbase back. Someday, they will ROCK THE MAC!


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

Perhaps the reason only 1000 showed up for the final game after Thanksgiving was that the players did not bother to show and quit on the team and the coach by the end of the first quarter! The team showed improvement on the road but regressed at home? Folks, if Miami can go 1-11 and win the MAC title game a year later well, we should expect more from EMU! Its 2010 and it does not take 5 years to build a program anymore! Coaches win quickly (and lose just as quick!) I am not saying coach English should be fired - but how can the team regress so much? The schedule does not help either (playing Big Ten, SEC and ACC games on the road is good for a payoff but not the program! EMU should have only ONE game like that each year. (Central, by contrast, played only one payout game (Virginia Tech.) Having said that - a.500 record is the goal for next year and perhaps more fans will show for games! The marketing deptartment does a great job but nothing is better than winning!


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 6:28 p.m.

I find it interesting the 2009 attendance was listed at 14940 per game. Per the EMU website the attendance TOTAL for 2009 was only 25080 at home games. That's only 5000 per game and is not close to the 14940 the school supposedly states came to games. I know the attendance is not an exact science (there were a lot more than 85451 at the Big Chill) but to be off by nearly 10000 over the course of a season when you only average 5-20K per game is pretty sad. What's even worse is DII GVSU averages more paid admissions to their games than what EMU gets paid for their games. GVSU games are also more expensive to attend now I think.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 5:06 p.m.

maybe they can get some attendance counting pointers from UofM. Rule #1 don't allow the Guiness people to mess with your "system".


Thu, Dec 16, 2010 : 4:20 p.m.

EMU has a football team, too? Who knew?