Athletics—Because “We Need to Do Something”


Writing for CapCon: Michigan Capital Confidential, Tom Gantert reports that Bay de Noc College on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has announced that it will be initiating an athletics program despite—or, rather, because of—a budget deficit that has not been resolved despite layoffs of two faculty and nine staff.

The college “will add men’s and women’s cross-country in the fall of 2017, and then men’s and women’s basketball in the winter.”

College President Laura Coleman responded to very vocal criticism of the plan by stating, “’We need to do something.’”

Gantert quotes Bill Milligan, a faculty member in the English department: “’We’ve essentially laid off one of the brightest instructors ever employed by Bay and hired an athletic director instead. Enough said about the priorities at Bay right now.’”

The enrollment at the school has declined since the Great Recession: “After peaking at 3,215 in 2010-11 enrollment has dropped every year since, falling to 2,074 in 2014-15, a decrease of 35 percent.”

According to President Coleman, “the four sports teams would add as many as 50 students,” but that increase presumes that “all the positions [will be] filled by individuals who are not members of the current student body.”

Moreover, “Bay de Noc also converted a recruiting position into the job of athletic director”; so that 50-student increase represents a sizable investment—and risk.

Bill Milligan is “skeptical of claims athletics wouldn’t end up costing the college more money in the end, expressing “concerns about expenses, citing as one example the building where the basketball games would be played, saying the bleachers need to be fixed: “’What concerns me and others is the timing of adding cost into the budget via the sports program at a time the college is laying off full-time faculty and staff—and projecting a budget shortfall of over $1 million. The timing simply can’t be justified. Period.’”


Gantert’s article is available at:


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