College notes: EMU gives up home game vs. Kentucky, nets $1.15M

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Chris Creighton and Eastern Michigan football now will travel to Kentucky in 2019, rather than host the game.

Eastern Michigan athletics is doing everything it can to make ends meet, amid the university's well-publicized budget crisis.

New athletic director Scott Wetherbee recently found a way to net the department an extra $1.15 million.

Eastern Michigan had a home-and-home football series scheduled with Kentucky for 2019 and 2020, but has given up its 2019 home game in a recently-struck deal with athletic officials from Kentucky. Eastern Michigan now will travel to Kentucky, of the SEC, for the game Sept. 7, 2019, as well as for a game Sept. 5, 2020. 

The original contract called for Kentucky to get $200,000 for the 2019 game, and Eastern Michigan to get $200,000 for the 2020 game.

Now, according to Eastern Michigan athletic department spokesman Greg Steiner, Eastern Michigan will get $800,000 for the 2019 game and $350,000 for 2020.

"They were interested in having another home game, and we were interested in working out something, financially, that would be beneficial on our aspect," Steiner said. "And so the deal was struck."

The new deal means Eastern Michigan will have just one home nonconference game in 2019, against Central Connecticut, while traveling to Coastal Carolina, Illinois and Kentucky. The Eagles also will have just one home nonconference game in 2020, against Coastal Carolina, while traveling to Kentucky, Missouri and Army.

This year, Eastern Michigan has two at home (Monmouth and Army) and two on the road (Purdue and San Diego State).

Eastern Michigan played at Kentucky last season, falling, 24-20.

Eastern Michigan's financial issues are no secret, especially after recently eliminating four sports — wrestling, men's swimming and diving, women's tennis and softball — in a move Wetherbee said will save the department $2.4 million a year. The decision to cut the sports has led to two lawsuits against the university, one claiming officials violated the state's Open Meetings Act, and another claiming Title IX violations. The United States Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating the Title IX allegations, which Eastern Michigan officials vehemently deny.

This and that

►In other Eastern Michigan news, the men's basketball nonconference schedule is set to be officially released later this month. But Steiner said there will be five Power Five opponents, including road games at Duke on Nov. 14 and Kansas on Dec. 29.

►Steve Jaksa, who announced his "retirement" as Central Michigan baseball coach in June, has been hired to be the head coach at Saginaw Valley State. It's a homecoming, of sorts, for the former head coach and athletic director at Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central. Jaksa was 507-421-2 in 16 seasons with the Chippewas.

►Wayne State women's basketball has added former WNBA standout Plenette Pierson as an assistant coach, head coach Carrie Lohr recently announced. Pierson, who won three WNBA championships, including two with the Detroit Shock, replaces Joel Whymer, who left for a coaching job with Bowling Green's women's team.

►Michigan State football's 16th annual "Meet the Spartans" football event is set for Tuesday, from 5-8 p.m. at Spartan Stadium. Coach Mark Dantonio and several players will be available for autographs. Parking and admission is free.

►Detroit Mercy is searching for a new head women's lacrosse coach, following the departure of Laurie Merian. She was head coach for two years, and was Southern Conference coach of the year in 2018. She also was an assistant for two years.