Perhaps, though, it is going to be legislative oversight that will convince Eastern Michigan University, and perhaps the rest of the compass direction Michigans of the Mid-American, to think creatively about football.
By comparison, the state’s general appropriations for Lake Superior State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Flint are each smaller than the athletic subsidies at EMU and WMU.Yes, and the students are on the hook for those athletics fees in part because legislatures and governing boards have wanted to reduce public spending on college sports, but within the universities, the cargo cult, as University Diaries has it, must go on.
This student and taxpayer-supported spending hasn’t shown up in on-field performance. Since Eastern Michigan University joined the NCAA’s Division I and the Mid-American Conference in 1972, its football team has performed consistently poorly. In 43 seasons, its teams have won just one MAC championship, have never finished the season ranked in the top 25 teams in the country and have appeared in just one postseason bowl game.
During this time, [Western] did slightly better, winning the conference once and appearing in six bowl games. Central Michigan University, which ranked 39th with a $19.4 million subsidy, has won seven MAC championships and appeared in nine bowl games.
It's unlikely that any EMU alumni still paying off student loan debt ever got to watch a winning football team funded with their borrowed money.
Before more graduates begin paying interest on their non-voluntary investment in historically bad athletics, leaders at EMU and in the Michigan Legislature should take a clear look at the costs and benefits of literally playing games with tax and tuition dollars. The state subsidizes these universities because, in theory, they serve a public purpose. Surely, there are more pressing public uses for tax dollars in Michigan than ensuring EMU continues to field a football team that went 1-11 in 2015 and hasn't had a winning season since 1995.
The leadership of all of these universities — president, trustees — goes ape-shit whenever anyone suggests that the all-consuming activity that has basically killed their school is meaningless. (Faculty and students, two groups immiserated by athletics, feel differently, but who listens to them?) The ferocity of their unanimous response to suggestions that they lead their university in a more meaningful as well as fiscally responsible direction tells you that for these people taking down a university through the removal of all revenues via football is obviously patently totally on the face of it worth it.In the scheme of things, the cargo cult of academic visibility induced by successful sports is less pernicious than the cargo cult of social harmony induced by electing Democrats, but as long as we're sweeping away bad ideas, lets go after the ridiculous and the tragic alike.