Reports: Branding expert, Kalamazoo native to be EMU's AD
Eastern Michigan has found its new athletic director, and he's a native of the state, according to multiple reports late Monday night.
Scott Wetherbee, a senior associate athletic director at Mississippi State, will be named EMU's athletic director during an on-campus ceremony Tuesday in Ypsilanti, as first reported by Robbie Faulk of 247Sports.com. CollegeAD.com also reported the hire.
Wetherbee was one of four finalists for the job, each of whom was interviewed last week.
He will replace Heather Lyke, who left to take the same position at Pittsburgh in March.
Wetherbee is a Kalamazoo native whose first job out of college was as a ticket office intern at Western Michigan. He also worked in athletic departments at his alma mater, Ball State, as well as Fresno State, San Diego State and, most recently, East Carolina and Mississippi State.
At Mississippi State, he has managed external affairs with a specialty in branding, a big selling point for Eastern Michigan's search committee. EMU long has had a brand/identity issue, being in the shadows of the University of Michigan.
That said, Eastern Michigan athletics have made strides, at least on the field, in recent years, particularly in football under coach Chris Creighton, who, this past season, led the Eagles to their first winning season since 1995 and made their first bowl game since 1987.
Wetherbee also has handled marketing and licensing at Mississippi State, striking deals with giants like Adidas and Gatorode.
He was interim athletic director in Starkville in 2016, when athletic director Scott Stricklin left for Florida.
Prior to arriving at Mississippi State in the SEC, he spent 10 years as assistant athletic director at East Carolina, helping set football records in per-game attendance and season attendance. Attendance has been a sore spot for Eastern Michigan football for decades, and an issue that last summer prompted many in the university community to call for the school to either drop football, or move to Division II. The Eastern Michigan athletics department, like many in the country, is heavily subsidized by student tuition dollars.
Wetherbee will have plenty of work to do once he's officially on the job, particularly from a personnel standpoint. Assistant athletic director Christian Spears left to join Lyke in Pittsburgh. Spears was the first interim AD after Lyke's departure, but wasn't going to be a candidate for the full-time position. Erin Kido was EMU's second interim athletic director.
He also will inherit a department that is in the early stages of fundraising for a grandiose facilities project, with costs expected to run in the tens of millions of dollars. About $10 million has been raised, through a series of private donations. The project is likely to include a new football practice facility.
Wetherbee will be introduced in Ypsilanti at 1 p.m. Tuesday by EMU president Dr. James M. Smith in a news conference that will be live-streamed at EMUEagles.com/watch.
Wetherbee attended high school at Loy Norrix in Kalamazoo, where he played football for the husband of Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard. Wetherbee and his wife, Tracy, have two children, Taylor and Spencer.