I spent my sophomore year at Eastern Michigan in 1980, May-to-December going during the summer. The football team stunk, I went to a road game that they managed to win at Bowling Green, the front bookend of a 27-game losing streak. Their one MAC title and bowl-win came in 1987.
Basketball's been competitive, and their track team has had its moments, with Hasley Crawford winning gold in 1976's Olympic 100 meters. but football has been an issue. When I was there, it was something of a commuter school, where a number of students could drive in from the western Detroit suburbs and the others largely got out of Ypsatucky for home turf on the weekend.
With a bad team and a campus ghost-town, not to mention a stadium a mile east of the main campus, EMU's football attendance stunk, selling out only twice during that high-water mark in the late 1980s.
Thus, EMU's program bleeds red ink. Unlike it's big brother next door who rarely struggles to round up the 110,000 screaming idiots in the Big House, EMU loses roughly $900 a student on its athletics program.
Both the faculty and the student body have thus supported scrapping the football program and dropping down half a notch to the Horizon League; they've produced some good Cinderellas in March Madness; Vaplaraiso, Cleveland State and UW-Green Bay all have had their moments, and Butler made its two Final Four runs out of the Horizon before finding greener horizons in the Big East. Oakland U and the University of Detroit would have a new rival.
Big-time sports does create an environment for donors to cough up extra cash as well as provide publicity for the program, but when success is rare and publicity is often negative, it might be hard to justify. Add to the political incorrectness of football and the need to have a raft of woman's sports programs to offset the all-male football team's scholarships for Title IX purposes, you have a sacrificial pig(skin) waiting to happen.
Alabama-Birmingham scrapped their program after the 2014 season only to have donors resurrect it; it's slated to get back in swing in 2017. I don't see EMU getting such a second life if the academics have their way here.