The Eastern Michigan football team is winning this season, both on and off the field.
It was an off-season in which many students, staff, and faculty called for disinvestment in football. They asked the school's administration to consider dropping out of the Mid-American Conference in favor of spending far less money in a smaller conference in a lower division.
While that argument is ongoing, the Eagles responded by posting the first winning season since 1995. EMU finished the regular season 7-5 and earned the school's first bowl bid since 1987. That's part of the on-field success.
Off the field, 18 of the team's athletes have been named to the Academic All-MAC Team. To qualify, student-athletes must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.20 or higher while participating in at least half of all contests for their sport.
Greg Steiner is EMU's Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations.
"This is just another tremendous accomplishment for this team and the program as they get ready for their first bowl appearance in 29 years. And I think the University and the entire Ypsilanti community can take this as another point of pride for what our student-athletes are being able to do."
Steiner says EMU's athletics as a whole have set records for cumulative GPA for the last three semesters. Steiner says no other team has as many athletes on the All-MAC Team this year, and it demonstrates how much pride EMU's players have in excelling in academics.
"The last two semesters, the football team has led the MAC in team GPA, which is a tremendous accomplishment for them, at better than 2.90. So knowing that, head coach Chris Creighton certainly takes great pride in making them both men on the field as well as in the classroom."
Back to the on-the-field measures, head coach Chris Creighton not only promises to develop educated and community-minded young men, but a turnaround in the fortunes of a long-suffering football program. Leading the Eagles to a winning season and a bowl berth has resulted in being named a finalist for the American Football Coaches Awards' "Comeback Coach of the Year" award. The winner will be announced January 10th.
Meanwhile, there's a game to play. EMU will take on the Old Dominion Monarchs in today Popeye's Bahamas Bowl. Want to find out how the season ends? Catch the game right here on WEMU, live from Nassau, Bahamas beginning at 12:30 this afternoon.