shocker: School will drop football
Move being made to cope with state budget
HOUGHTON Michigan Tech Universitys 82-year-old football program is being eliminated in a cost-cutting move, Athletic Director Rick Yeo announced this morning.
Yeo, in a statement, said the decision to drop the program
was one of the most difficult in his career.
While we are sensitive to the fact that this will
be an unpopular decision in the eyes of many, particularly those it directly
impacts, we are also firm in our beliefs that this is the best decision
for the overall well-being of the athletic program, Yeo said.
Yeo said there werent a lot of options in the departments
budget. The university is asking all units and divisions to cut their
budgets 10 percent this year, with additional cuts expected in coming
years. The cuts are in response to reductions in state higher education
funding. Tech will lose $5.6 million next year in state appropriations.
When youre forced to make the significant budget
reductions we were asked to, there really werent a lot of options,
he said. Our programs are already operating with no room for error
and to come up with the cuts we needed to, eliminating one of our major
programs was really the only option.
Athletics department officials didnt return phone
calls late this morning.
Team members said the announcement was completely unexpected.
Tom Williams, a junior offensive tackle from Freeland, Mich.,
said the team was ready for its morning run today when coaches arrived
with the news.
A lot of guys were in tears, WIlliams said.
Seth Ebel, a senior member of the offensive line and a captain
of next years team, said he is disappointed there was no warning.
Its hurting a lot of people right now, more
than they know, he said.
Ebel said the decision would affect about 90 students on
the team and about seven coaches.
Tom Wolf, a junior strong safety from Traverse City, said
coaches, including head Coach Bernie Anderson, appeared to be equally
devastated by the decision.
He (Anderson) was fighting back tears and he was fighting
back the same shock and disorientation that we were experiencing,
Williams said he was disappointed because the team was looking
for a strong season after finishing with a 3-7 record last year. Williams,
an electrical engineering major, said many teammates didnt know
what their future plans will be.
We had our future planned out here we play
at Tech, get a degree and go on with our life, he said.
February was a major deadline for universities to set their
rosters for next year meaning that other universities cant
add Tech players without cutting others. Williams said coaches have been
supportive of players future plans.
Wolf said that hes planning to remain at Tech to finish
his degree in civil engineering.
Yeo said players with scholarships would continue to receive
their money through graduation, as long as they remain in good academic
standing. When current football scholarships become available, they could
be distributed to other athletes.
Coaches will be allowed to remain on staff through the end of the year to find other work.
Yeo said Anderson, who has coached Tech football for 19 years, will be given the opportunity to stay on staff in another position.