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Tuesday Tidbits: Central Michigan strike edition (updated)

August 23, 2011

What does the Central Michigan faculty strike have to do with EMU athletics, you ask? Quite a bit, it turns out, but first, let’s have the tidbits.

After going back and forth with first-round draft pick Derek Sherrod for the first two preseason games, former EMU Eagle T.J. Lang has been named the starting left guard for the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy had this to say:

If you’re talking about performance, T.J.’s performance was above Sherrod’s. But everything factored in. The timing of it, it was important to move forward and try to get a cohesive unit ready for (the regular-season opener against) New Orleans. I like what I saw there. He’s a young, talented offensive lineman.

Paul Shoults, EMU’s athletic director from June 1982 until 1987 passed away Sunday in South Bend, Indiana. As an undergraduate, Shoults played four years of football at Miami University, captaining the Redskins in 1948. He played professional football for the New York Bulldogs in 1949 before turning to coaching. From 1952 until 1977, he was an assistant under iconic head coach Ara Parseghian, following Parseghian from Miami to Northwestern to Notre Dame. In 1977 he came to EMU as an associate athletic director. In addition to never hiring a head football coach at EMU, it’s possible he never hired a head baseball coach, since Ron Oestrike — yes, that Oestrike — coached through the 1987 season, and I’m not sure when Oestrike’s replacement, Roger Coryell, was hired. Shoults made several big hire for the Hurons during his five years at the helm. He brought in men’s basketball coach Ben Braun. He fired football coach Mike Stock and ran a nationwide search that led to the hiring of Jim Harkema. I’m not certain of the timing, but he may have hired head baseball coach Roger Coryell, Ron Oestrike’s replacement. All three hires worked out well: Coryell led the baseball team to some success and lasted 20 years as head coach, Harkema took the football team to their only MAC championship and only bowl win the year Shoults retired, and Braun guided the basketball team to their first NCAA tournament appearance later that same academic year. Given the on-field/court performance, it’s probably safe to say that Shoults was one of EMU’s most successful athletic directors.

Former EMU linebacker Neal Howey continues to impress observers during the Seattle Seahawks preseason, though it still looks like he’s headed for a spot on the practice squad, at least in the near term. The Tacoma, Washington, News-Tribune recently had a nice interview with him that might be worth a couple minutes of your time.

In their regular-season opener, the EMU soccer team battled Pittsburgh to a 2-2 tie. Sophomore Cara Cutaia and freshman Angela Vultaggio had the goals for the EMU. The Eagles stay on the road, but closer to home, with a 4 PM game today at the Detroit Titans, followed by a 1 PM match this Sunday at IUPUI.

Finally, we get to the Central Michigan University strike, and what it means for EMU athletics. It turns out that all the Chippewa coaches except head football coach Dan Enos, head men’s basketball coach Ernie Zeigler, head women’s basketball coach Sue Guevara, and a few football graduate assistants are members of the Faculty Association. Football is badly understaffed, and fall sports teams like women’s soccer, and volleyball are entirely without coaches. Of course, it’s an ongoing story that we won’t be updating in depth here (e.g. the university got a restraining order yesterday afternoon to order faculty back to work), but it’s clear that Central Michigan president George Ross is aware of the impact this could have on their athletic programs:

There are a minimum number of teaching days required in order for intercollegiate athletes to stay eligible. I will leave it at that. Right now, football is in practice. Soccer is playing. Volleyball is playing. Athletes are on campus. We have to get back to class. It could have an adverse affect on our ability to play intercollegiate sports. It could have an adverse affect on our ability to issue financial aid. Because there are certain requirements by the federal government.

Since EMU doesn’t go head-to-head with the Chippewas until mid-October, and this will probably be resolved by then (it seems very unlikely that this strike would last for the entire fall term, or even a substantial part; I’m sure both sides are aware of the damage such a lengthy strike would do to the university), you may be wondering what this has to do with EMU. As many observers have noted, this is being “closely watched by universities across the state because it could foreshadow next year, when faculty contracts at several other Michigan universities — including Wayne State University and Oakland University — are set to expire.” EMU is also on that list, and the relationship between administration and the faculty union (EMU-AAUP) is rocky at best (just take a look at the current banner on the EMU-AAUP website). The question I posed to EMU officials this morning — I’ll update you when I get an answer — is whether EMU’s athletic coaches are part of the faculty union. If so, Eagle fans could be in for a bumpy ride this time next year.

Update (8/23/11 at 9:45 AM): EMU Assistant Director of Athletic Media Relations Greg Steiner offered the following comment:

Unlike at CMU, the athletic coaches here at EMU are not represented by the AAUP (the faculty union) or any other union, so no impact would happen in the unfortunate event of a labor stoppage.

And there you have it!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kenneth Barna permalink
    August 23, 2011 8:24 am

    Dear cmadler,
    I hope Lang makes the best of this opportunity to be a starter. I watched him in a game last year, and he looked very good to me. Didn’t imss his block, and stayed with his block.

  2. Mark H. permalink
    August 23, 2011 8:51 am

    Good post! I hear the CMU labor relations trouble is actively discouraging football ticket sales and has all summer. And they do sell tickets there.

    EMU coaches are not part of the faculty union. There are other unions on campus, and some athletics department staff may be in those unions, but not the coaches.

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