The Eastern Michigan Eagles need new bathrooms, and coach Ron English is ready to jump out of a plane to get them.
English has pledged to skydive if EMU can raise at least $60,000 through its golf outing June 8 and other donations. Those who donate $5,000 will get to spend a day with English and staff members and skydive with him.
That money will go toward retiling the bathrooms in the team’s locker room and updating the fixtures and stalls.
Yes, it’s a long way from Michigan, where English used to be defensive coordinator, to Eastern Michigan, no matter what the map says.
”Obviously at Michigan you’re not hurting for money when you’re getting 100,000 in the stands on Saturdays,” said English, who worked about 10 miles up the road in Ann Arbor from 2003-2007.
”In the Mid-American Conference, because of our following, the size of our stadiums and TV contracts, you have to be creative in terms of finding ways to raise money to help fund your programs.”
EMU has dubbed it fundraising effort ”Time to Fly for the Eastern Michigan Football Team.” It was unveiled on the Internet Thursday with a tweet, #timetofly, and a video of English making a pitch for fans to get involved.
It won’t be the first time English has gone skydiving. Two years ago he took the leap with the U.S. Army Golden Knights in southeast Michigan.
He wasn’t necessarily looking to do it again, but the marketing firm Eastern Michigan uses suggested it.
”On one hand I have done it,” he said Friday. ”On the other, we need this money. Of course I said yes.”
English got four of his assistants, including former Michigan running back Mike Hart, to agree to jump if EMU raises at least $30,000.
English is heading into his fifth season at a program that needed a lot of work, on the field and off. He is 10-38 in four seasons, including a 6-6 record in 2011 that was the Eagles’ best in 17 years.
They took a step back, going 2-10 last year and playing lots of underclassmen. Now with three full recruiting classes on campus, English believes Eastern Michigan is ready to start trending upward.