The Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees approved the addition of four intercollegiate varsity sports, all at the Division II level. Women’s golf and men’s swimming and diving will be implemented next fall. Women’s lacrosse and men’s soccer will follow in 2016.
Forrest Karr, NMU athletic director, said the sports will attract 92 full-time students.
“This isn’t just about adding sports programs; it’s about adding students,” he said. “When we looked at the gender equity and financial aspects, it became apparent that we can do our part to help increase enrollment. Based on considerable analysis, I think these additional programs will do better than break even. They should generate net revenue for the university. The first two sports are easier to implement because we already have coaches in place and the startup costs are minimal. Another advantage is that the women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams will compete together allowing us to schedule more home meets and share travel costs.”
NMU President Fritz Erickson said, “From what I consider really conservative estimates from a financial revenue standpoint, it makes great sense to move in this direction. When student athletes come to Northern, there are opportunities for those students to connect with others back home who follow them here. There is also a real benefit in philanthropic opportunities in terms of people who directly support the university and directly support these sports. Adding sports is a good way to create greater visibility and identity for us as an institution across our region and the nation.”
Men’s swimming and diving is not new to NMU. The university had a team from 1966-1980 under coach Don Trost and recorded some impressive achievements: three 6th place finishes in NCAA Division II; two NCAA Division II National Champions (divers John Mehki and Dwight Hoffman); and 41 All-Americans who had 151 All-America performances.
Current women’s coach Heidi Voigt will also oversee the resurrected men’s program, while men’s golf coach Kyle Wittenbach will expand his duties to include the women’s team. With the approved additions, NMU will have 17 varsity sports—10 women’s and seven men’s.
The board also approved the facilities five-year master plan and the fiscal year 2016 capital outlay project request. Both are required annually by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Northern’s top priority capital project remains the renovation of the Learning Resources Center. Others on the list are an academic facilities upgrade project involving Forest Roberts Theatre, the McClintock Building and the Physical Education Instructional Facility (PEIF), and the renovation of Cohodas Hall.
In other action, the board:
-Authorized a new division of extended learning at NMU
-Approved the three-year contracts ratified earlier this week by two employee groups: UAW Local 1950 and AFSCME Local 1094
-Agreed that, pursuant to the State of Michigan Public Act 152, NMU will be an 80/20 employer
-Provided the administration with the authority to enter into partnership agreements with high schools and community colleges and charge a differential rate that is at or below existing published rates
-Elected Rick Popp to a second term as board chair and Sook Wilkinson to a second term as vice chair for calendar year 2015
-Granted both Jon “Jack” LaSalle and Brian Cloyd the status of trustee emeritus
-Granted both John Hubbard and William Leete the status of professor emeritus of art and design, effective Oct. 1
-Approved the financial report and all related transactions for NMU for the fiscal year that ended June 30
-Accepted about $191,000 in external gifts
-Approved the following meeting schedule for calendar year 2015: Feb. 9-10 (campus retreat); April 30-May 1; June 18-19; July 16-17 (off-site retreat); Sept. 17-18; and Dec. 10-11
-Approved revisions to the ASNMU student government constitution resulting from the April 2014 ballot
The board’s next meeting will be held Dec. 11-12, preceding winter commencement.