Chippewa football, basketball triumphed in 1974
In preparation for the 1974 NCAA Division II Championship game, a telegram from President Gerald R. Ford was read to the Central Michigan football team.
On the first play of the game, CMU fullback Dick Dunham charged for a 68-yard touchdown run taking the lead for the Chippewas.
CMU walked over Delaware in the championship game, 54-14, at what was then the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento, California.
“We started the year with a loss to Kent State,” Dunham said during a team reunion in 2014. “I took some personal responsibility for that game because we were going into score a touchdown and I fumbled the ball. We could have at least tied or won the game.
“(The 1974 team) was just one of those teams that just came together, and a lot of that was due to coach Kramer and his coaching staff to be able to pull that together.”
Following the national championship season, CMU moved up to Division I and joined the Mid-American Conference. Head coach Roy Kramer was named Division II Head Coach of the Year and was rumored to leave until his departure after the 1977 season.
CMU football coaches Bill Kelly, Roy Kramer and Herb Deromedi all made an impact on Central Michigan’s football program.
Kelly led the team to seven Interstate Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships from 1952-66. Kelly/Shorts Stadium was originally named Perry Shorts Stadium but was changed in honor of Kelly, who coached the Chippewas from 1951-66.
Kramer coached the Chippewas to their first national championship and the team was promoted to Division I during his time. He had an 11-year career with a record of 83-32-2 as the head coach at CMU.
Deromedi was the first CMU head coach to win the MAC championship in 1979. He won two more in 1980 and 1990.
CMU football has won seven conference championships under four different coaches since moving up in 1975.
CMU’s first win in the MAC came against rival Western Michigan. Led by running back Walt Hodges, the Chippewas blew over WMU by a score of 34-0, earning a shutout in their first Division I game.
In 2004, the 1974 national championship-winning football team was inducted into the CMU Athletics Hall of Fame.
More recently honored in the CMU Hall of Fame was the 1974-75 Chippewa basketball team that won the conference championship and went on to finish third place in the Mideast region of the NCAA Tournament after losing to Kentucky in the regional semifinal. Kentucky then lost to UCLA in the national championship game.
After the Chippewas’ 82-80 overtime win in the MAC championship game against Bowling Green, longtime CMU athletic director Ted Kjolhede praised the 1974-75 basketball team.
“I can’t remember any team that overcame greater odds than this basketball team,” Kjolhede said after the championship-winning team marched into Rose Arena at 2:20 a.m.
Coached by Dick Parfitt, CMU finished the 1974-75 season with a 22-6 record including a 10-4 record in MAC play.
Parfitt, forward Dan Roundfield, guard Jim McElroy, guard Leonard Drake and forward Ben Poquette were all members of the 1974-75 team that currently have their own spots in the CMU Hall of Fame.
The 1974 CMU football and basketball teams were two highlights of CMU’s athletic history dating back to 1896, when CMU football went 3-1 under head coach Pete McCormick in its first ever season.