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Board of Trustees: Ross, Heeke call for increased student attendance at athletic events

President George E. Ross speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday in the Bovee University Center. (Katy Kildee | Staff Photographer)

President George E. Ross speaks during a Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday in the Bovee University Center. (Katy Kildee | Staff Photographer)

Central Michigan University President George Ross praised the state of the athletics department following the first CMU Board of Trustees meeting of the 2014 calendar year.

“I’m not being trite when I say that Dave Heeke is the best athletic director in America,” Ross said. “For him, championship culture goes way beyond wins.”

Trustee William Weideman said an internal audit committee found CMU football met the 15,000 attendance mark required for Division-I standing in both 2012 and 2013.

The turnout figure encompasses both paid for and actual attendance numbers.

“There is an option to count both the number of the fans in the seats and also the purchased seats,” Ross said. “I see lots of community members at games. I don’t, however, see the student commitment that I’d like to see. I am frankly disappointed that whether we are winning or losing, they disappear at halftime.”

Heeke said CMU’s athletics department continues to pursue more methods of getting fans to come to games – and keeping them there.

Dave Heeke

Dave Heeke

“We look at the schedule the (Mid-American Conference) hands us and then try to create attractive ticket options,” Heeke said. “It’s a nationwide issue. Attendance is a concern for all in college football. We are all struggling.”

Ross challenged the student body to show more support for CMU athletic events, regardless of weather conditions or the season standings of Chippewas teams.

Board of trustees Chairman William Kanine said he was thankful for being able to watch CMU football games from a luxury box.

“Some of those games were very cold,” Kanine said. “Had I not been in the booth, I would have been with some of those students saying ‘hey, I gotta get to some warmth.’ I support our teams just as much as our students do.”

Kanine also addressed student-athletes behaviors off the field, which has been an issue for various men’s and women’s CMU sports team.

“Just because you are CMU athlete doesn’t mean you are destined for success,” he said. “ You have to work for it. The environment here demands excellence. Mistakes are made and then they are corrected. You can’t fault a kid because he makes a mistake.”

Ross said he holds every CMU student to the same standard of conduct.

“Overall, a large part of our students are good citizens,” Ross said. “They are also a microcosm of the world in which we live. I expect people to own their mistakes. I don’t care whether you are a student athlete or an accounting major.”

6 Comments

  1. “Dave Heeke is the best athletic director in America.” LOFL! Mr. President, take a look at the expression of the gentleman to your left (top photo) — that is explicitly how CMU alums and students feel about you, and Mr. Heeke!

  2. Gary Aalbregtse says:

    How about a winning football team! If Heeke is the Best Ad in America I would like to see who else is on the President’s list!

  3. Florence Schneider says:

    CMU led the MAC in attendance and had a solid base of season ticket holders when Dan Enos arrived in 2010. Of course, he inherited a program with a strong culture and foundation from his respected predecessor.

    Now, unfortunately, CMU is at the bottom of the MAC in attendance (surpassing only EMU) and the football program has not experienced a winning season since Enos arrived. He didn’t help himself by openly disrespecting so much of what his predecessor (now a head coach in the SEC) worked to build.

    There is obviously much, much more to the CMU attendance downturn than national trends, Mr. Heeke. The fact is, Chippewa Nation (particularly former football players) does not respect Enos.

    Leadership matters.

  4. “I’m not being trite when I say that Dave Heeke is the best athletic director in America,” Ross said. “For him, championship culture goes way beyond wins.”

    For the other team maybe.

    “Trustee William Weideman said an internal audit committee found CMU football met the 15,000 attendance mark required for Division-I standing in both 2012 and 2013.”

    Sure, trust the internal audit – just like Detroit and Wayne Co did.

    “The turnout figure encompasses both paid for and actual attendance numbers.”

    Your not suppose to add them together – it’s one or the other – NOT BOTH. You need to retake Accounting 101.

    “Board of trustees Chairman William Kanine said he was thankful for being able to watch CMU football games from a luxury box.”

    Wow what a comment…

  5. “I’m not being trite when I say that Dave Heeke is the best athletic director in America,” Ross said. “For him, championship culture goes way beyond wins.”

    Ross is either completely unaware or incompetent, most likely both. Heeke is a joke of an athletic director. Do fans really want to go see a football team that is no good in cold weather? Do they want to go see Central need triple overtime to beat a 4-20 team? Seriously? I concede women’s basketball, but unless the women’s team become the next Tennessee or Uconn, attendance will never be great. Even better when players on all the teams continually get in trouble. I said it in the #fireenos article and I will state it again. The reason why Central is not good anymore at athletics is just for this reason. The feeling that mediocrity is acceptable. Davis was a very good coach at Drake, but his teams play absolutely no defense. Mid-majors that defend tend to do well year after year, Butler and Wichita St say hello.

    Don’t even get me started on Enos. The first game of the year at Michigan summed up his tenure at CMU. Fourth and 1 and he goes for it, but the problem is he didn’t decide what to do until late in the play clock and CMU got a delay of game penalty. That forced CMU to settle for field goal instead of having a chance to get a touchdown. Pretty sad that Akron should have upset Michigan and CMU was routed by 50. Enos cannot coach, cannot recruit, and never should have been hired in the first place. Even better, he gets a contract extension. But yeah, try to figure out why student attendance is so far down. If CMU had a least a chance to go to a bowl or the NCAA or heck, the NIT, I would be more likely to go to games, but no, mediocrity is ok to the administration, but for me no.

  6. michmediaperson says:

    CM LIFE and the CMU Student Government should demand an apology from Ross for insulting the student body.
    First, Ross and Heeke used the Big Ten Network football analyst as a headhunter after the great Butch Jones left. If you use the Big Ten headhunter, then they will probably recommend a Big Ten assistant coach. So, we got stuck with Dan Enos from Michigan State. Enos should never have been hired. So, Enos has destroyed every thing Brian Kelly and Butch Jones built and we have a sub-par football program. Why should students buy a used car that doesn’t start????

    Second, Ross and Kanine sit up there in the climate-controlled presidential suite in 72 degree weather with free booze and food and bathrooms close by while CMU students freeze, sweat or have to sit in rainstorms. What an insult to hammer the students while Ross and Kanine are living like kings up in the suite. An absolute disgraceful slam at the CMU student body.

    How about CM LIFE and Student Government offer a plan that CMU students sit in those suites based on their charitable time on campus and in the Mt. Pleasant. For example, have a blood drive. The 20 who give the most blood, gets a suite seat for the next game. Ross, Kanine, all the trustees and administrators and their wives plus the Enos and Heeke family ought to give up their suites to students and move outdoors in the stands. George and Kanine should be sitting in the student section so they can talk with students when we’re down 30 points about their opinions on campus matters. Kanine ought to be talking to students. Granted, there’s no free booze, food and the restrooms are further, but it would give these egotistical administrators and board members to hear from students.

    Heeke is nowhere near being the best AD in America. He couldn’t carry the bags for Mark Hollis down at Michigan State or Dave Brandon at the U-M. The best ADs MAKE A PROFIT FOR THE ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT so taxpayers and students don’t have to pay for it.

    I wish CM LIFE would go back to hard-hitting news instead of transgendered bingo and Nigerian art stories and answer the following questions.

    1. How much does America’s #1 athletic director lose each year at the CMU athletic department??? It appears 18 million dollars. So, if you have 17,000 students on campus, that means each student is paying $1,000 in tuition and fees to subsidize the #1 athletic director in the nation. Contrast that to MSU or UM, where if you don’t attend any football or basketball games, then you pay 0 dollars. So, if you’re on the 5-year plan at CMU, you pay $5,000. If you leave with a $25,000 student loan, $5,000 is from having to pay the athletic department. At MSU and UM, it’s 0!!! Now, I think CM LIFE and Student Government should be more outraged at that instead of how much stock CMU owns in gas and coal companies.

    Another question for CM LIFE regarding America’s #1 Athletic Director. One of his primary jobs is fund-raising. Exactly how much does CMU still need to raise to pay for the Special Events Center? From looking at the CMU Fund-Raising website, it appears about $8 million with another $3-4 million in pending dollars. So, it appears to be somewhere between 8 and 12 million dollars. Perhaps, this newspaper could breakaway from Hispanic Food Tasting Month and do some investigative work how much CMU Athletics owes. And, what is the plan to get the money. And, exactly, how much did they raise from the private sector—outside university coffers???

    If I were a CMU student and just got insulted by George Ross, then I wouldn’t go to any football games.

    After all, you extended Heeke’s contract and called him, America’s #1 athletic director. And, you helped hire Enos, one of the worst football coaches in the country.

    Florence Schneider nailed it. In 2009, we were number 1 in attendance in the MAC and had a Top 25 team. Since then, Ross and Heeke have given us a terrible product. They are responsible for the problem….and the CMU Board of Trustees sat in this meeting yucking it up instead of blasting Ross and Heeke. I guess they don’t want to give up their cushy seat in the presidential suite with all the booze and food.

    George, the best athletic departments in the country are making big profits and holding their coaches to high standards, something you and Heeke don’t do here.

    Don’t worry George, that’s only the second dumbest comment I’ve heard at CMU in 50 years. Nothing compares to the former Multicultural/Diversity interim director who said that convicted felon Kwame Kilpatrick was coming to CMU a few years ago to speak because “He’s a good role model for high school and college students. He has a lot of good ideas.” That may be the worst comment ever by a CMU employee. And, the CMU PR department was drooling all over Kilpatrick coming here. (If you don’t believe me, google Kwame Kilpatrick is coming to Central Michigan.)

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