Update on Senate legislation to end UO athletic subsidies

12/6/2013: Troy Brynelson has a story on the Senate meeting in the ODE, here. I’ll have a write up soon.

12/4/2013 update on “Senate President refuses to allow vote on athletic subsidies”:

After substantial pressure from many Senators, President Paris has now agreed to a process by which the Senate will be able to restore this anti-subsidy motion to today’s agenda, and vote on it. The Senate meeting is today, 3-5PM, room 282 Lillis.

Dear All,

Senator Harbaugh’s motion to end athletic subsidies will come to the floor early in today’s meeting – probably at 3:30 PM or so. He will first request that the motion be heard (which requires a majority vote) and then, assuming that a majority is gained, there will be a discussion and vote on the motion itself.

I’ll also share these brief thoughts with you at the beginning of the meeting:

Please know that my sole motivation and responsibility is to ensure that the Senate effectively fulfills its charge as the organ of shared governance at the University of Oregon.

The Senate must be a place in which discussion, debate, and dissent are encouraged and welcomed at all times. It also must use its powers wisely in order to work productively with all of its constituencies.

We have the power to express our opinions and recommendations on any matter, through the enacting of resolutions.

We also have the power to enact legislation. Legislative powers are different from our powers to express our opinions and recommendations. In my view they do not extend to setting budgetary mandates.

Part of my responsibility as presiding officer is to facilitate discussion and action within the boundaries of Senate rules. I am obliged to set an agenda that satisfies those rules. Thus, if a motion for legislation is made that I believe is not within the Senate’s powers, it is my obligation to decline to send it to the floor – whether or not I agree with the substance of the motion. Conversely, if a proffered motion is within our rules and powers, I will send it to the floor, whether or not the University President wishes me to.

But although the agenda-setting function is lodged in the first instance in the Senate president, the Senate’s democratic underpinnings trump that function, and if the Senate disagrees with me, it may override any agenda or rulings that I’ve made. I am your servant, and if you wish to grant the floor to Senator Harbaugh’s motion for legislation, I will facilitate that discussion and eventual vote with as much dedication as I would any other matter.

I’ll do all that I can to ensure an open and efficient discussion today so that we can achieve your goals.

Professor Margie Paris
President, University of Oregon Senate (2013-14)

12/4/2013 update: The Knight Commission just released new data on athletic bloat – here’s UO compared to the rest of the PAC-12. I don’t know if this includes the Jaqua Center and Mac Court subsidies – probably not.

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12/3/2013 updates: For background on the athletic subsidies and Frohnmayer’s efforts to keep them secret, read Steve Duin’s 2011 report in the Oregonian, here, and Rachel Bachman here. To his credit President Gottfredson did end the overhead subsidy, to the tune of about $500K a year. But there are millions of dollars in other subsidies left.

Today Senate President Margie Paris sent the Senate this message regarding her last-minute decision to take the motion to end the subsidies off the agenda for this Wednesday’s Senate meeting:

Dear Senators,

I’m writing to explain a decision that I made yesterday, the result of which is to remove an item from Wednesday’s agenda. This email will give you the factual background of that item and of my decision. It will also invite you to engage in discussion about the issue on this listserv. Ordinarily, the listserv is available only for brief Senate announcements, so as to avoid clogging inboxes, but in the interest of openness on this issue, the listserv will be available to Senators’ postings during the next few days.

The item that I removed from the agenda is a motion for Senate legislation. I will summarize it here, but you can read its entire text on the Senate website at http://senate.uoregon.edu/content/end-subsidies-uo-athletic-department. Entitled “An End to Subsidies for the UO Athletic Department,” the motion was sponsored by Senator Bill Harbaugh. The motion calls for four things – first, that the “Athletic Department shall pay from its budget the full cost of providing tutoring and academic support for student-athletes beginning in FY 2013-14 and that these funds should be directed to general academic purposes”; second; that the “Athletic Department shall pay from its budget the full cost of the bonds used to purchase the Knight Arena land, beginning in FY 2013-14 and that these funds should be directed to general academic purposes”; third, that “these payments shall retroactively cover the full cost of Jaqua center services and bond payments from 7/1/2013 forward”; and fourth, that “the President shall provide the Senate with a budget and a schedule for implementation for reasonable payments from the Athletic Department budget for the support of general academic purposes no later than the first Senate meeting of the 2014-2015 session.”

The motion was properly noticed and was vetted on November 27th by the Senate Executive Committee, which advised me to add it to the Senate’s December 4th agenda. I agreed, although I expressed misgivings (which I will detail below). Senator Harbaugh explained that the purpose of the motion was to enact in legislative form part of what the Senate enacted last year in the form of a resolution. That resolution can be found at http://senate.uoregon.edu/content/payments-athletics-department-academic-purposes, and it contains an additional item not called for in the current motion – a set-aside of “a sum equal to 2% of the athletic department’s prior year spending on athletics, [to be] redirect[ed] toward UO’s academic purposes, including but not limited to scholarship and student support services for low-income Pathways Oregon students, and academic merit scholarships.”

Under our University of Oregon Constitution, Senate action in the form of legislation has a particular consequence – it triggers a process requiring the University President either to implement the legislation or to engage the Senate in an effort to create mutually satisfactory legislation – and if the latter cannot be achieved, the Constitution requires a meeting of the Faculty Assembly. A resolution, on the other hand, is an expression of Senate views on any matter and does not trigger these consequences.

My misgivings about the current motion involve the Senate’s authority to enact legislation on budgetary matters. Although the Constitution is not explicit on this matter – its only express limitation on legislation is a subject-matter restriction to “issues that relate to academic matters,” a subject matter to which this motion certainly relates – it cannot bestow upon the Senate authority that the faculty does not possess, and I believe that the faculty does not possess the authority to legislate on budgetary matters. On the other hand, I believe that it is appropriate for the Senate to express its views about a budgetary matter through the format of a resolution.

I have consulted with President Gottfredson about the current motion, and he is of the opinion that the Senate does not have legislative authority in budgetary matters.

Given my conviction that the proposed piece of legislation is beyond the Senate’s authority, I decided yesterday to remove it from the Senate’s agenda. I continue to think that it is appropriate and important for the Senate to discuss the subject matter of the motion, and I have added an item under the “Open Discussion” time during Wednesday’s meeting for that purpose.

12/2/2013: It’s looking like this Wednesday’s Senate meeting will be pretty interesting. 282 Lillis, 3PM, Dec 4.

I think the motion below is pretty self explanatory – it’s a revision of what the Senate passed 19-4 last year. I revised that motion on the floor from resolution to legislation, on the argument from several Senators that we should give President Gottfredson a chance to deal with this problem. He hasn’t, so I’ve brought it back as legislation – which will be harder for him to ignore. I’ve also taken out the part requiring athletics to pay 2% of their budget to academics. This motion is just to end the subsidies, and should hardly be controversial.

I took it the motion to the Senate Executive Committee last week. They recommended that it be put on the agenda for this Wednesday’s Senate meeting. President Paris agreed. I sent her the final draft Friday and it was posted on the Senate website earlier today (Monday). Then this afternoon I got a call from President Paris saying that she had decided that it would be taken off the Senate agenda. And it has been – the new agenda is here – no motion to end athletic subsidies. Which will make it sort of hard for the Senate to vote!

Last I looked the motion itself was still sitting on the Senate webpage, here, but without any link from the agenda. In case it is taken down, I saved a pdf here. Here’s the motion in full:

An End to Subsidies for the UO Athletic Department

Number:  US13/14-12
Date of Notice: Wed, 11/13/2013
Legislation, Resolution, or Policy Adoption:  Legislation
Current Status: Notice Given

Motion:

SECTION I:

1.1 WHEREAS in 2004, the UO Athletics Task Force, which included President Dave Frohnmayer, Athletic Director Bill Moos, NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Jim O’Fallon, the Senate President, and many Senate and faculty representatives, concluded a three-year study of UO athletics with a report that stated as recommendation #1,

“The Task Force and the Athletic Department recommend a voluntary financial contribution by athletics to the Presidential Scholarship fund.”;[1]

1.2 AND, WHEREAS in 2008 the Senate passed a resolution reiterating this recommendation; [2]

1.3 AND, WHEREAS in May 2012 the UO Senate passed another resolution (endorsed by four former Senate Presidents in its stronger form legislation) requesting that President direct the Athletic Department to end subsidies for athletics starting on 7/1/2013 and start making payments for academic purposes starting in 7/1/2014;[3] [4]

1.4 AND, WHEREAS two months after the 2012 resolution President Gottfredson wrote to Senate President Margie Paris that

“One intent of the resolution is to ensure that athletics is paying an appropriate share of the costs associated with tutoring and advising of student athletes and for the arena. This is clearly an appropriate aim and one with which I am fully supportive. More analysis needs to be undertaken to ascertain the nature of these obligations while preserving legitimate expectations derived from theexisting agreements. We will expeditiously work to resolve these issues in collaboration with athletics.”;[5]

1.4 AND, WHEREAS the subsidies have not been ended, and to the contrary the payments from the Provost’s budget to support tutoring and advising at the Jaqua Center for Student-Athletes, services that are available only to student-athletes, have increased from $600K in 2008 to $1.8M for FY 2011-12 and then to $2.2M this year, after passage of the 2012 resolution. These services cost about $4,000 per student-athlete, while UO’s spending on similar services for non-athlete students averages only about $225;[6]

1.5 AND, WHEREAS the Athletic Department solicits donations and ticket surcharges for the Duck Athletic Fund, totaling ~$30M for 2012-13,[7] with the statement that,

“The mission of the Duck Athletic Fund is to raise funds to offset the expenses of student-athletic scholarships and related athletic department support at the University of Oregon.”;[8]

1.6 AND, WHEREAS in the most recently available data, for 2011-12, the Athletic Department paid only $7 million from these DAF funds to the academic side for tuition, and did not pay any of the cost of student-athlete services other than a portion of the maintenance costs of the Jaqua building;[9]

1.7 AND, WHEREAS UO’s academic budget has been paying $467,538 a year since 2009 to repay the portion of bonds used to purchase the Knight Arena land representing the area of the Mac Court land;[10]

1.8 AND, WHEREAS nine years have now passed since the 2004 Task Force report calling for voluntary contributions from athletics toward academic scholarships, during which annual operating expenditures by the Athletic Department have increased from less than $40 million to more than $90 million;[11]

1.9 AND, WHEREAS during that time the athletic department has not made any such contributions and in fact has received increasing subsidies from the academic budget.

SECTION II

2.1 BE IT HEREBY MOVED that the Athletic Department shall pay from its budget the full cost of providing tutoring and academic support for student-athletes beginning in FY 2013-14 and that these funds should be directed to general academic purposes;

2.2 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the Athletic Department shall pay from its budget the full cost of the bonds used to purchase the Knight Arena land, beginning in FY 2013-14 and that these funds should be directed to general academic purposes;

2.3 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that these payments shall retroactively cover the full cost of Jaqua center services and bond payments from 7/1/2013 forward;

2.3 BE IT FURTHER MOVED that the President shall provide the Senate with a budget and a schedule for implementation for reasonable payments from the Athletic Department budget for the support of general academic purposes no later than the first Senate meeting of the 2014-2015 session.


[4] Endorsements of former Senate Presidents at http://uomatters.com/2013/05/senate-pases-motion-to-make-athletic.html

[5] Letter from President Gottfredson to President Paris at http://senate.uoregon.edu/files/President%27s Response to US2012-13_20.pdf

Financial Impact:
Cost Neutral
Sponsor:

William Harbaugh (Economics), Senator

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23 Responses to Update on Senate legislation to end UO athletic subsidies

  1. Boo says:

    Perhaps Ms. Paris knows something about the Nike related payouts?

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  2. Cato says:

    From the UO Constitution:

    7.2.1 Legislation. Legislation shall be limited to issues that relate to academic matters as commonly understood in higher education.

    Obviously who pays a $2.2M tutoring bill is an academic matter!

    8.3 In addition to current members of the University Senate, Statutory Faculty and Emeritus Faculty shall have the right to introduce motions to the University Senate and to participate in discussions. The President of the University Senate may confer priority to the floor to University Senate members when necessary to facilitate the business of the University Senate.

    So, the Senate President can’t prevent a Senator from making a motion.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Just make the motion from the floor?
      Surely Margie will be explaining this move?

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    • Anonymous says:

      It isn’t obvious to me that “who pays” is an academic matter.

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  3. UO Matters says:

    The power to regulate academic matters means nothing without the power to direct money to academic matters. These subsidies are costing us enough money to pay for 25 new tenure track faculty lines.

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  4. Anon says:

    Looks like your univ president doesn’t have the balls to go on record and veto this, so he’s pressured your senate president into doing his dirty work for him.

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  5. moose says:

    If the Senate President just ‘believed’ otherwise, forcing Gottfredson to show a budget to the Senate on a matter she agrees is an academic matter, then there would be a motion for a legislative vote?

    Sounds rather capricious and dictatorial.

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  6. anonymous says:

    Does anyone find it odd that the Senate President, after agreeing to the agenda and the meat of the resolution from last year, didn’t rest with her own decision making ability but instead, and at the last minute, asked the opinion of the very person she would be deciding ‘against’?

    Perhaps I’m missing something here.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This simplistic thinking does us all a disservice.

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  7. anonymous says:

    Actually, what you meant to say is “this simple thinking does us all a disservice”. And quite rightly so if you, meaning the status admin quo, wants the UO to stay stuck.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    What’s was the deal with Coltrane? Any good external candidates coming out?

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    • anonymous2 says:

      Yeah, I’d like to know why Coltrane was so reactive.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Well, he is asking to be hired by the guy he was protecting.

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  9. anonymous2 says:

    OH, then there’s the O’Fallon fairy tale. Good grief. I’ve got an ear on some inspiration with the opening lines that read something like….

    “Once upon a time, there was a YAYHoo article …. and oh my, did they not understand, “interestingly enough”. Those speculative media, right? (Cross arms in front of chest here–and be sure not to mention the 25K paid to the Texas pipeline for NOTHING …remember, remember, remember….arms crossed.) And anyway, UO got caught in an NCAA blind because they … yadda, yadda, yadda … and it’s all their fault. And so forth etc.

    Act 2: WHAT? You want a job performance review after 25 frickin’ years? Give me a break. And thank you, I’m outta here.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    I overheard Sam Dotters-Katz at the senate yesterday, butt kissing as usual but also tripping over himself to bash the motion to have athletics pay their own way. He was adamant that the senate should not even discuss the motion. Yet, he is now on the committee to negotiate with Gottfredson? Shaking head.

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    • Sam says:

      Hey Glen Waddell why do you comment anonymously? Do you feel tough trashing a student anonymously? The only time I spoke to an administrator about the motion, you were the only other person close by. Pretty weak stuff bro.

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      • uomatters says:

        I welcome Sam’s enthusiastic public support for the work of this ad hoc committee. I especially look forward to his help in putting an end to the millions of dollars in subsidies that regular UO students have been paying for the Jock Box tutoring, and getting to the bottom of the strange secret deal that Dave Frohnmayer and Pat Kilkenny put together, to stick students with a $30M tab for the Knight Arena bonds.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Odd. Nobody said anything about Sam talking to an administrator. By Sam’s admission, then, I guess whoever overheard him is doing some heads up reporting. Go figure. On UOM no less.

        (You’re calling people out based on silent proximity in a public meeting hall? Paranoia meter trippin’, bro?)

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  11. Jim O'Fallon says:

    I came to the senate prepared to talk about the infractions case. Had anyone asked about the $25 K I would have said that the football program realized that Lyles was not providing the promised “national” recruiting service, and decided not to renew.

    I have no objection to a performance review. That is a matter for my appointing authority.

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  12. Old Man says:

    The December 4 Senate meeting was, indeed, interesting. (Since the video is not currently available, what follows is my best recollection of events.)
    1. The Senate over-rode a ruling by the Senate President that had disallowed a motion, by Senator Bill Harbaugh, regarding subsidies to the Athletic Department. This ruling set the stage for Bill to offer his motion later in the meeting.
    2. President Mike Gottfredson addressed the Senate under the Agenda Item “State of the University.” After reporting the usual, Mike appeared to argue against Bill’s pending motion. That action may have been out of order, since Senate Rules do not allow discussion of a motion until the motion has been made, seconded, and addressed by its proponent. No one challenged Mike on this point, making us wonder whether anyone cares about parliamentary process. (They should — without it a governing body, such as the Senate, cannot function.)
    3. During the lively discussion that ensued (all still in the absence of Bill having made his motion), Interim Chancellor Scott Coltrane chastised the Senate and/or Bill (I couldn’t tell which) for even considering such a motion. In so doing, he revealed a lack of understanding of our Constitution. That document recognizes that the President may have views on some subjects of academic relevance that differ from those of the rest of the Faculty. It then lays out a process whereby the President and the rest of the Faculty can explore these differences in an effort to reach an agreed upon plan. This process is a collaborative one, and need not be confrontational except to the extent that facts will be examined and differences of opinion will be expressed in order that those differences can be resolved. It was inappropriate for Scott to accuse anyone of confrontational behavior, when the Senate and the Senator were operating within the framework provided by the Constitution.
    Scott accused Bill and/or the Senate of jeopardizing our donor base. Does Scott really believe that our donors would disapprove of Faculty efforts to serve our students and to maintain our AAU-status?
    4. The Constitutionally proscribed process was further disrupted by the Senate’s acceptance of an apparently well-intentioned proposal that Bill and Mike (and some volunteer Senators) huddle for a couple of months in an effort to find a way, acceptable to both President and Senate, in which reductions can be made in the subsidy to the Athletic Program. Under the Constitution, this negotiation would have occurred after Bill’s motion was passed (if it was) and after the President had then expressed his unwillingness to implement the legislation as written.
    5. I expect that, over time, the University will learn to govern itself according to its Charter as codified in its Constitution.

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    • snowball says:

      Excellent summation.
      It was especially unfortunate that after you gave the Senate pause by reminding them how to properly function within the Constitutional framework instead of creating an ad hoc committee, nobody responded.

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  13. Old Man says:

    According to a Posting in OED byTroy Brynelson on Thursday, Dec. 5, Interim Provost Scott Coltrane said to the Senate:
    “I don’t know how to say this delicately, but I would kind of like to know what’s going on here … You’re setting up a confrontation with the president, who will either ignore or veto the motion…”
    As I pointed out above, the Senate (and Senator Harbaugh) were acting in accordance with the UO Constitution, which defines a collaborative, not a confrontational process. On the other hand, if the Provost did, in fact, say that the UO President might ignore legislation passed by the Senate, he was implying that the President might opt for confrontation by ignoring the Constitution. That could not end well.

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    • uomatters says:

      Thanks Old Man, I agree with your interpretation. The UO administration has been confrontational every step of the way, starting with President Frohnmayer’s extraordinary efforts to hide the extent of the subsidies.

      I’m hoping the Senate “ad hoc” motion results in a truly collaborative effort to fix this. We’ll know pretty soon.

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