Prior to Oakland’s emergence, Eastern served as the school in the area for a lot of Metro Detroit’s top talent. Not only among players coming out of high school but talented players looking to return to the area as transfers. In recent years, OU has added numerous transfers from Power Five schools and many of those transfers come with ties to the Detroit area.Look, we're not exactly talking Kohl Center let alone Cameron Arena level attendances, and what are two rival one-bid conferences in an environment that is moving in the direction of the power conferences realigning in such a way as to render the current basketball tournament format superfluous? That's going on independently of whatever shifts in academic reputation (and usable capacity) among Oakland and Eastern: that's something with a much longer history.
Oakland has another major benefit as well: the campus has been steadily growing.
EMU has famously seen their enrollment stagnate— then drop precipidously [c.q.]— as the school has struggled to stay out of debt. In contrast, Oakland’s enrollment is now just roughly two thousand students less than Eastern’s, and has recently announced an increase of students living on campus, while Eastern closes residence halls.
One reason why Oakland has such interest in their basketball program is that they do not sponsor a football program. Per the NCAA, Oakland reported 48,276 fans across 16 home games which is good for a 3,017 average. Eastern reported just 30,452 fans across 18 games which was good for a 1,692 average attendance.
MORE EVIDENCE OF TOO MANY MID-MAJOR BASKETBALL TEAMS?
Hustle Belt columnist Zackery Vannieuwenhze discovers a disturbance in the Force. "Did Oakland’s arrival to Division 1 change the trajectory of EMU hoops?" Sorry, I exaggerate.