Hello all. If you listened to our last episode, #179, then you heard our recap of the World Cup (USA!!!), as well as our interview with former EMU Wrestler, and current Michigan Grappler podcast host, JJ Johnson. In that, he shared some ways to help fight this decision to eliminate the EMU Wrestling program, as well as the other affected programs. Here is what I wrote, and I hope it inspires some to write to them as well. #SaveEMUWrestling
I am reaching out to you with the hope that my words will help provide more perspective for the Board of Regents meeting on 4/20. My mother got her masters degree at Eastern Michigan, I have several cousins who attended EMU, and who are currently attending as well. I am from Ann Arbor, and spent a summer living in Ypsilanti as well. That being said, I have always had an affinity for Eastern Michigan, despite never attending the university. This viewpoint comes from someone who has continuously supported the school in any way I can, and who has seen lots of progress in the last decade as it relates to the school, the city of Ypsilanti, and the athletic programs. My direct relation to the programs being cut is to wrestling, so I'm going to use that as my point of reference.
What these coaches and athletes have done over the last decade with this program is amazing. Cutting it now is a clear illustration that the administration either hasn't been paying attention to their progress academically or athletically. The other option, is that they have been paying attention, and simply don't care. Let's start with their athletic progress. Two days before the program was cut, Sa'Derian Perry became the first AA in almost two decades, by placing in the top 8 of arguably the most difficult weight class in the country. A two time defending National Champ wasn't able to All American, but Sa'Derian was. Additionally, EMU was able to place third as a team in the Mid American Conference, traditionally one of the more difficult conferences in the sport. Additionally, they had a MAC finalist in Gage Hutchinson at Heavyweight, and a champion in Kayne MacCallum at 184. In addition to their active roster, they had Tanner Smith, a wrestler competing in his redshirt year, who was absolutely destroying his competition, and was looking forward to starting a strong career in this program moving forward. Looking at an even bigger picture view, they have one of the top recruits in the country coming in next year to compete at Heavyweight and continue to help the program develop. As a team, they also tied the record for most qualified wrestlers to the NCAA tournament this year, which should also be of note. One staple in college wrestling, is the EMU Open, which is a tournament hosted on campus for decades. Not only is it continuously profitable, but it gives the school and the program a platform for other schools to come in and compete. I can't imagine a season where I wouldn't have the option to come to campus and watch some of the best early season competition that you can get.
With respect to the academics, they had 5 Academic All Americans, many of which were also NCAA qualifiers as well. Not to mention that over the last decade, they have continually performed in the classroom, including having the best GPA standards in D1 college wrestling a couple seasons ago. I'm sure you've heard all of these things over the last couple of weeks, but at the risk of sounding redundant, I'm going to share this information with you as well. What I'm presenting is fact. These things happened, and these things are what most programs look for out of their student athletes, regardless of sport. Wrestling is not a sport that has a lot of parody, so for these athletes and coaches to make these strides in the last couple years, shows that they are truly making great strides, and have an enormously bright future ahead of them... Or they did.
This last piece is also fact. I will not be able to support an institution that has such disrespect for athletes and coaches to announce that they are cutting programs, regardless of their success. Not only did this all happen in such a shady and questionable way, without any voting before the announcement, or discussion with the coaches about this being a possibility, but the simple fact that the numbers were off by $278,000, makes it appear that they simply moving numbers around to make it look like a financial issue. I'm sorry, but I don't believe that was an "honest mistake". I am also aware that sometimes life isn't fair, and that sometimes things happen that don't make sense, but the vote you have at the Board of Regents meeting can certainly help avoid this unjust and unfair outcome. The students and athletes have done nothing wrong to have their program cut. One night they had nothing but a bright future, and so much excitement around their progress and achievement, and the next night it was ripped out from under them. Please take note of each and every person who writes you, shows up at these events, and does what they can do to support these programs. Each and every one of those people will no longer support the school in any way, shape, or form. Not only will I not support it, but I will actively deter people from attending the school. That may also not be fair, but that's how it goes sometimes. My last point, I know that the wrestling community, and that of the other sports affected, will gladly help to support their sports, and resolve this issue in the best way possible.
Thanks, and have a great day.
That's all I wrote, but if you'd like to constructively share your thoughts as well, please write to the addresses and people below;
Vickie Reaume, Michelle Crumm, Mary Treder Lang, Dennis Beagen, Eunice Jeffries, Alexander Simpson, Mike Morris):