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won't punt football program, after all
University announces plan to fund team
through donations, events, ticket sales
By RYAN OLSON
The Daily Mining Gazette
March 31, 2003
HOUGHTON Less than two weeks after cutting
its 82-year-old football program, Michigan Tech University has decided
to bring it back.
Athletic Director Rick Yeo said the team will return
to Sherman Field this fall with a plan to become self-supporting
with private funds.
On March 18 Yeo said Tech would have to cut the team
in a cost-cutting move. Now, the team will keep its previously announced
schedule starting Aug. 30 against Ashland University in Houghton.
Head Coach Bernie Anderson said MTU and alumni have
a plan that will guarantee the programs survival for at least
four more seasons.
We never want to go through this again with
these young men, he said.
Anderson and Yeo broke the news to the 100-player
team during a meeting this morning.
Defensive end Josh Kunnath, a third-year applied ecology
major from downstate Macomb, said hopes for the programs revival
grew during the past two weeks.
Some of us didnt give up hope, Kunnath
Defensive lineman Casey Nelson, a sophomore economic
and business finance major from Grand Marais, Minn., said hes
extremely happy about the news. He said he hopes the teams
revival will motivate the players on the field next season.
This is either going to motivate us to go out
and pummel ... teams next year, or its going to hurt us, Nelson
MTU cut the football team after a March 5 announcement
by Gov. Jennifer Granholm that Techs state appropriation would
be cut by 10 percent. Tech expects to save $350,000 from not funding
the football program.
Under the plan, a combination of endowments and up-front
contributions will fund the team, according to Anderson.
Our alumni will raise enough demand funds to
guarantee our team that their playing days are secure, Anderson
said. Additional funding will be endowed to guarantee recruited
classes that their time here will be financially secured.
Yeo said Dennis Euers, a 1966 football alumnus from
Fayetteville, Ga., was instrumental in helping develop the plan.
Its unbelievable the amount of time hes
put into getting this accomplished, Yeo said.
After hearing word about the team being in jeopardy,
Euers said he and several other alumni started working on a business
There was no doubt in my mind that weve
got to think outside of the box, he said.
The plan includes four major components. By June 1,
the team needs to raise $300,000 in contributions. About $550,000
needs to developed in special event revenue, fund-raisers, contributions
and season ticket sales; the program hopes to sell 1,000 season
tickets annually. Alumni donations will hopefully fund a $1 million
football endowment by the end of the year with an additional $3.5
million endowment by next year.
Yeo, Anderson and Euers worked to put the final touches
on the plan this weekend. The plan was circulated among the 35-member
Football Advisory Council, which gave its unanimous consent.
Euers said hes confident that the plan will
succeed especially if university supporters step up and make
Athletics is the front porch of the university,
he said. Without that front porch, its even more difficult
to sell the university.
Previously, Yeo said a $10 million endowment was necessary
for the teams survival. Euers said that isnt necessary
because there are other sources for money aside from an endowment.
Yeo said he wasnt surprised that the alumni
were able to develop a plan to save the team. He said there are
a lot of close-knit alumni from Andersons program.
There arent a lot of programs around that
send players as well-prepared and disciplined to meet life as there
are here, Yeo said.
Kunnath said the team will do whatever is necessary
to keep the program afloat. He said the plan sounds realistic.
I dont think its a rushed decision
at all, Kunnath said. I think theyre pretty confident
about what theyre doing.
Yeo said the events of the past two weeks will have
some lingering effects on the team and the university.
Theres definitely going to be some scars
after going through what we went through, he said.
Anderson said the team is resuming practices and work
toward reestablishing the teams core values of trust, commitment
Its one step forward and now we continue
to take steps in the right direction again and put the pieces of
the puzzle together, he said.
On the Net:
MTU Athletics, http://www.michigantechhuskies.com