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football to be saved?
School, alumni working on plan
By RYAN OLSON
The Daily Mining Gazette
March 28, 2003
HOUGHTON Michigan Tech University alumni and
administrators are working on a plan to return the football program
to the gridiron this fall.
According to head coach Bernie Anderson, the Football
Advisory Council, consisting mainly of alumni, is working with the
university to make the football program self-sustaining.
Im excited about the enthusiasm behind
it and Im optimistic that the Football Advisory Council will
be able to work with this first draft (of the plan), he said.
Anderson said the final plan needs the support of
the council. He said a team meeting has been set for 7:30 a.m. Monday.
The team will be the first to know the final
word, he said.
Athletic Director Rick Yeo announced March 18 that
Techs 82-year-old football program would be eliminated in
a cost-saving move. Yeo must cut 10 percent from next years
athletics budget to comply with a universitywide directive from
President Curt Tompkins.
The directive came on the heels of a March 5 announcement
by Gov. Jennifer Granholm that Techs state appropriation would
be cut by 10 percent.
Tech expects to save $350,000 by eliminating the football
Anderson said the plan to save football includes partially
paying for the team through endowments and up-front contributions.
He said a $10 million endowment wont be needed to save the
team. Yeo previously said such an endowment is necessary.
Yeo said hes pleased the plan calls for making
the football program self-sustaining.
We never like to see a situation where a program
has to get cut, he said. If theres a way to avoid
that, people in the athletic department are pleased.
Anderson said there was an overwhelmingly negative
response to the announcement that the program would be scrapped.
He said hes received more than 200 pages of e-mails objecting
to the cut.
I felt a deep responsibility to fight for this
program, Anderson said. There was immediate support
from our alumni and others that encouraged me to continue to work
to keep it alive.
According to Anderson, 1,737 people from 38 states
and 15 countries signed an online petition calling for the program
to be saved. After five days, the results were sent to Yeo and Tompkins.
The three-sentence petition reads, in part:
This (cut) was done without consulting alumni,
coaching staff, or current players. By signing this petition you
acknowledge that this decision was wrong and you support allowing
the pursuit of alternatives.
Chuck Lucchesi, a 1966 Tech graduate and former football
player, said he would be ecstatic if the program is saved. He said
several alumni are meeting with university officials, including
Tompkins, at a Michigan Tech Fund board meeting in San Diego.
I would be thrilled if it came back, but Im
real skeptical, said Lucchesi, a Hancock automobile dealer.
He said many alumni and football backers were blind-sided
by the universitys decision.
Since the football advisory council was formed in
1999, supporters have donated a large amount of money that could
be used to support the team, Lucchesi said.
I guess the bottom line on this thing is that
everyone would have felt a little better if there was more communication
on this, he said.
Yeo said the timing of Granholms announcement
didnt leave time for extensive consultations with football