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Lawrence Tech adding four athletic programs, 200 more student-athletes for fall of 2021

By: STATE CHAMPS! STAFF, November 3, 2020, 1:46 pm

SOUTHFIELD — While many collegiate athletic departments across the country are slashing budget — and with it departmental personnel, teams and athletic scholarships — because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawrence Technological is going in the opposite direction.

LTU announced Monday plans to add 200 student-athletes, starting with the fall of 2021, by funding new programs in esports, women’s hockey, cheerleading and men’s volleyball, and adding to existing programs in women’s bowling and track and field.

“Students who wish to attend a nationally ranked university and continue to participate in their sports in college should seriously consider Lawrence Tech,” associate provost for enrollment and outreach Lisa Kujawa said in a news release. “We offer highly ranked technological degrees that lead to rewarding careers that solve some of society’s most pressing problems. LTU and the Blue Devil family wants creative, passionate, smart men and women.” 

A member of the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics, the 2,848-student private school currently offers 11 men’s and 10 women’s sports, including a football a football program recently relaunched after a 70-year absence. 

The expansion of sports over the last decade has been part of an effort to expand the school’s recruiting reach. A member fo the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, LTU added AstroTurf to its football facility in 2016, and a press box and temporary seating two years later. In 2019, permanent grandstands seating 2,300 spectators were finished at Blue Devils Stadium, in time for the second modern football season. 

By contrast, many colleges and universities have been cutting salaries and sports over the past nine months, as they deal with the historic budgetary shortfalls caused by the pandemic’s economic disruptions. 

Central Michigan cut men’s track (both indoor and outdoor) in May, while Western Michigan pared more than $6 million from its athletics budget in May, including football coach Tim Lester taking a 25 percent pay reduction, as well as the closure of Gabel Natatorium. Eastern Michigan cut the salaries of employees, including pay cuts for both basketball coaches and football coach Chris Creighton. 

The University of Michigan had to eliminate 21 jobs in the athletic department at the beginning of September, even after football coach Jim Harbaugh, men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard and athletic director Warde Manuel all took 10 percent pay reductions for the year. Michigan State cut men’s and women’s swimming in late October to save $2 million and help offset a $30 million budget shortfall. 

Interested student-athletes can click on the “Recruit Yourself” drop-down menu on the LTU athletics website.