This archived article was written by: Nathaniel Woodward
As this series has shown, understanding enrollment numbers at a university is a tricky undertaking with statistical and behavioral attributes to be considered. Enrollment can see steady growth through the addition and support of collegiate-athletic programs and the student athletes they bring with them.
One of the most recognizable symbols of USU Eastern is its mascot, the Eagle. The mascot is not only a representation of the spirit of the university, but the battle standard which Eastern’s athletic department rallies around.
Eastern boasts an impressive and diverse array of collegiate teams with varying degrees of success.
The Eagles have seen sporadic bursts of success in sports like basketball and soccer. However, the USU Eagles have a long and storied history of representing the university across the country, boasting a impressive swath of student athletes from all throughout the world.
In years past when USU Eastern was known as the College of Eastern Utah, the teams sponsored by the (then) independent college attracted mostly local athletes with the token addition from more far-flung regions. The staples in those days were the men’s and women’s basketball teams, the baseball program as well as a struggling football team during the 1980s.
With changes to higher education in the late 20th century, the football program was eliminated and the university saw no sports added for 20 years. After the merger of CEU with USU, the new USU Eastern began a enrollment-boosting effort to diversify the student body and bring a new and exciting atmosphere to a small campus struggling to find an identity.
A fews years into the merger, it was announced that a men’s and women’s soccer program would be started under the direction of coach Ammon Bennett.
The soccer program currently has the highest impact on enrollment numbers at USU Eastern with 76 students participating some 7.6 percent of the universities entire full-time enrollment.
Additionally the basketball programs brought 29 athletes, the baseball 45, softball 20, volleyball 15, dance 13 and cheer 15 for a total of 137 respectively. Added to the soccer teams the total enrollment of students athletes at USU Eastern was 213 or 21.3 percent of USU Eastern total full-time enrollment, this does not take into account multi-sport athletes. In the fall 2016 semester two student athletes in the rodeo program were added as well but those numbers could not be confirmed for spring semester.
What lays ahead for USU Eastern athletics and its effects on the struggling enrollment numbers is unknown. With the speculation that a cross-country running program being added in 2018 and with the hiring of popular local athlete and coach Chelsey Warbuton as a the new athletic director (one of only a few woman in the nation to hold that position) the future looks bright for the Eagles and USU Eastern Athletics.