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      NMU making changes to athletics

      NMU President Les Wong is open to making changes at the university. The plan is to eliminate sports with low participation while attempting to add new programs requested by students like men's track and field, women's golf, and fast-pitch softball.

      The impending budget crisis is resulting in a two-step plan by Wong that is aiming to attract students while simultaneously cutting programs.

      He said, "In today's economy, you can't just add, add, and add, and we have to ask ourselves what is the best fit portfolio from us?"

      The sports department is one of the first areas that could be seeing cuts as soon as June 30. NMU Athletic Director Ken Godfrey says he'll examine many areas before presenting his recommendations to the president.

      Some possible items: travel costs for teams, cost per student athlete, and interest in the sport itself by students and the community.

      But sports with high participation rates like football, hockey, and basketball, as well as sports that have received interest in recent years like skiing, soccer, and lacrosse, are all looked at as a way to draw in new students.

      Godfrey added, "When you start looking at some of the different factors, you have to look at it closely because there's a lot of different things that you have to take into consideration. It's not always black and white; you know sometimes the quality of the experience, the success of the team, and things like that, you have to take into consideration."

      Wong says the overall goal of his new plan is to look at reductions as well as investments in the future of Northern's students.