It’s time for UO to drop baseball

8/21/2012: Pat Kilkenny paid for the park with a secret balloon loan from the UO Foundation that UO wouldn’t explain unless I paid the public records office $484.42:

UO students had to pay $1.54 million in subsidies for baseball last year, and even Bob Berdahl thought that coach George Horton scheduled too many away games during classes.

And now Horton is asking Mullens and UO President Mike Gottfredson for a 33% raise, to $600,000 a year. Adam Jude story in the Oregonian. Best suggestion from their comments? Pay Horton 10% of the profits. Net profits, that is.

Duck PR flack Dave Williford retires, UO reporter Kenny Jacoby wins prize

5/3/2017: Emerald reporter Kenny Jacoby’s stories about the arrests of UO’s student athletes for various assaults got him an award for investigative reporting.

UO got even more bad national press when the story came out about how Duck football flack Dave Williford had tried to take away Jacoby’s press pass over his reporting.

Now the Ducks are announcing that Williford will be retiring on June 30th.

Jacoby will be back as Emerald Sports Editor in the fall.

11/20/2017: Duck PR flack Dave Williford threatens to revoke student-reporter’s press pass

The reporter’s special crime? Publishing this story on alleged assaults by Duck athletes, including a locker-room fight that left a teammate with a concussion and an alleged attempt to strangle his girlfriend, and an alleged attack by another player that left an alumnus with a broken arm. The interview with the Daily Emerald’s Kenny Jacoby by the Oregonian’s John Canzano is here:

… Kenny Jacoby, the sports editor of the Emerald, joined me on the radio show on Friday to download on the story, and how his team’s access was threatened by the University of Oregon athletic department after the student newspaper contacted a key player involved directly. (UO failed/refused to coordinate an interview request so the students say they reached out themselves).

“We were actually called into the athletic department office and we were told if we do that again we were going to get our credential pulled,” Jacoby said. …

I know of one other Duck reporter who was also told to toe the line on reporting or have their access revoked. I know many former Emerald reporters read this blog, and if any of you have similar stories please email me at uomatters at gmail.

Williford is the same duck flack who took it upon himself to masquerade as a *UO* spokesperson in attacking the statistics used in UO economist Glen Waddell’s paper on football and bad grades, as reported in the NYTimes.

Will Trump’s NASA budget cuts delay Oregon’s 2017 Solar Eclipse?

3/29/2017 update: It’s currently scheduled for August 21. Any delay would be an economic disaster for the state. Christian Hill has the latest in the RG here:

By some estimates, a million visitors will be in the state to gaze up at the total solar eclipse and watch in wonderment as the moon’s shadow makes landfall before sweeping across Oregon in 12 minutes at more than 3,000 miles an hour.

The main event will be brief, but it’s likely to live long in the memories of its viewers.

“It’s the most important two minutes people will witness in August probably during their whole lives,” said Jim Todd, director of space science at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland.

Public agencies throughout the state are preparing for the influx of visitors who already have booked virtually all of the hotel rooms and campsites along what’s known as the path of totality.

My guess is that, with all the plans and hotel deposits, this eclipse has some unstoppable inertia behind it – but then I thought the same thing about Hillary Clinton.

8/29/2016: Duck physicists lose bidding war to Beavers for lucrative 2017 Solar Eclipse

It’s a bitter night down at the UO Faculty Club after NASA’s announcement that Corvallis – not Eugene – will have a place in the lucrative Path of Totality for the August 21 2017 Solar Eclipse. The official map is below.

Continue reading

Duck student-athletes not to talk to reporters without permission

Update: Reporter Jack Pitcher’s story on this is now up on the Emerald website, here.

3/20/2017: That has been the policy of the athletic department for years. Supposedly it will now change.

This post is related to UO General Counsel Kevin Reed’s investigation of the Duck Athletic Department’s efforts to intimidate student-reporters and prevent student-athletes from talking to the press. The UO Senate called for an investigation back in November, and President Schill commissioned it from the GCO. Jack Pitcher should have a story in the Emerald later today. Meanwhile here’s some history.

Back in 2011, Duck Football spokesperson Dave Williford took to the pages of the NYT to attack a research paper by 3 UO economists that showed a link between Duck football wins and declining grades for UO’s male students. President Lariviere made him apologize. Not clear how Pres Schill will discipline Williford over the Jacoby case.

Then of course there’s Coach Dana Altman’s successful effort to keep his players from talking to reporters after their #BlackLivesMatter protest. The GC’s report doesn’t investigate this. Odd.

Despite what the GC’s report claims, keeping control of the athlete’s ability to speak freely has been “a long-standing policy” for the athletic department for years. Below is a repost from 2012, back when the Senate was debating Randy Geller’s random drug testing policy for athletes. (Sorry the links are broken now, try the wayback machine.)

The GC’s office doesn’t seem to have obtained any emails or documents from the athletic department regarding those incidents that they do investigate – they simply rely on interviews (and one snippet from a Williford powerpoint). That’s a rather surprising lack of due diligence, given how eager the GC was to use the public records law to get copies of my emails with reporters about academic freedom.

That said, the GC’s report does make some helpful if milquetoast recommendations for improvements in the athletic department’s policies. It’s hard to believe they will be enforced however, given the GC report’s failure to hold the athletic department accountable for their efforts to intimidate Jacoby and other reporters – or even accurately describe the athletic department’s actual policies and practices.

10/9/2012 Teach your children well:

Posted yesterday on the UO athletic department’s GoDucks.com website:

There is misinformation about the University of Oregon Athletic Department’s interview policy for student-athletes, coaches and administrators. To provide clarity to this long-standing policy, all interview requests are to be arranged through the Athletic Communications office.

The practice, which is the same at all Pac-12 member institutions, is in place to help manage the interview process for individuals. Student-athletes face the unique challenge of balancing extremely busy schedules involving class, studying, practice, training room and competition. Student-athlete welfare is paramount, and that includes eliminating potentially intrusive situations.

If contacted by a media member unaware of the policy or in blatant disregard for the policy, student-athletes and athletic department personnel are instructed to contact the Athletic Communications office to properly schedule the interview. In no way does the policy require student-athletes or department personnel to refrain from sharing their views or opinions on a topic.

It’s all about protecting the athletes from excessive talking. Orwell would love that last sentence – it doesn’t require they keep quiet, it just makes it real clear that the AD will know what they say and that there may be consequences. I’d interview some “student-athletes” what they think of having big brother Craig Pintens looking over their shoulder, but … .

From what I can tell Rob Mullens and his crew felt the need to re-iterate this policy after the recent public meeting on random duck drug testing, where the lone athlete present refused to speak with Register Guard reporter Diane Dietz:

University of Oregon tennis player Lena Macomson listened intently Wednesday at a sparsely attended public hearing on the university’s new policy to require drug tests on a random basis from student athletes.

And though she appeared to be the only athlete in the room — and so the only one potentially subject to the proposed requirement to give a urine sample — she didn’t take the floor to testify as to how she felt about the matter.

Macomson said afterward that she could not speak to a reporter without first getting the permission of Andy McNamara, assistant athletic director for media relations.

Dietz got one player to speak later on the phone, obviously he caught hell for it. I wonder who tells Craig and Andy what they can say to whom?

Altman to lose NCAA tournament to Creighton in round 2, on academics

3/10/2017 update: InsideHigherEd has the bracket here:

A reminder that not all coaches exploit their players as much as the Ducks. This tongue-in-cheek bracket is based on the teams “Academic Progress Rate”, an easily scammed measure designed by the NCAA to make big-time college sports took good, and help their coaches get bigger bonuses. More on it here.

3/10/2017: Can Mike Schill and Andy Karduna’s new IAAC help UO’s student-athletes?

Kenny Jacoby had a long piece in the Emerald yesterday on the history of the IAC, PAGIA, and IAAC. The story starts with this:

Connor Johnson, a former longsnapper on the Oregon football team, said it’s a “bummer” how many athletes have to make decisions they don’t want to make due to conflicts with sports.

Almost all the time, he said — whether it’s being unable to enroll in certain majors or take classes that conflict with their practice schedules — athletes are asked to put sports above their education.

“It would be really nice to have the academic people looking out for the athletes so that they’re actually getting a decent education and what they were promised out of high school,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he would be in favor of some faculty oversight when it comes to how the athletic department spends its $120 million budget. Because all the athletic department’s decisions, he said, boil down to money.

It was the Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee’s attempt in the fall of 2013 to investigate similar complaints from student-athletes about UO’s Services for Student Athletes – including claims that revenue-sport minority athletes were particularly poorly treated – that was the immediate cause of former UO President Gottfredson’s decision to allow the athletic department and SSA Director Steve Stolp to stop coming to IAC meetings, and then to replace the IAC with the secret PAGIA – although the athletic department had been unhappy with the IAC for years.

I went to the first meeting of the new IAAC last week. AD Rob Mullens and SSA Director Steve Stolp gave the same canned presentations that they used to present to the IAC. I still remember the first time I heard Mullens brag about how graduation rates for UO student athletes were the same as for non-athletes at an IAC meeting. It’s well known that students in the non-revenue sports – particularly women in sports like tennis and soccer – have excellent graduation rates. The problem is the revenue sport athletes, who are pushed by their coaches to train more and study less. So I asked Mullens if he would break those graduation rates out by race, or gender, or for the revenue sports.

He wouldn’t, and he got mad when I pressed him on it. (I eventually got the numbers from Roger Thompson’s office, and now they are supposed to be posted on-line.) So we’ll see if Karduna’s IAAC is any more successful at dealing with the big-money people from the Duck athletics enterprise than the IAC was. It’s not off to a good start.

UO claims the Duck coach who put 3 students in hospital is “faculty”

More national publicity for UO, from CBS Sports:

The unregulated world of strength coaches and college football’s killing season

When three Oregon football players were hospitalized in January following a strenuous workout, they were being led by a strength coach certified from a track and field coaches association.

For a $245 fee, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) offers a 21-hour strength training course to become a certified NCAA strength coach in any sport. By comparison, the widely-used Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) requires 30 times as much training — a 640-hour certification process.

According to the NCAA, that track certification was all that was needed by Oregon football strength coach Irele Oderinde, who was suspended for one month due to the January workout.

… Oregon declined to provide a copy of Oderinde’s resume to CBS Sports since it is part of his faculty record. Oregon said faculty records cannot be released without an employee’s written permission, and Oderinde did not grant permission.

You can’t make this shit up.

Youtube: Chicago Prof Geoffrey Stone lectures UO Law School on free speech

Is free speech on campus dying?

If so, it’s still kicking. Friday’s engaging talk by Geoffrey Stone from Chicago Law laid out and put to rest the arguments against free speech and academic freedom one by one, then finished them off with his responses to audience questions about the increasing use of hate speech by conservatives, and safe spaces for our increasingly diverse students.

Free Speech on Campus: A Challenge for Our Times

Friday, February 17 at 4:00pm Continue reading

Econ grad gives UO $5M for PhD students

Around the O has the excellent news here:

“This terrific support from Steve Raymund, one of our most innovative and successful alumni, will have an immediate effect,” said Michael H. Schill, UO president and professor of law. “We are inspired by his confidence in our mission and grateful for his personal involvement in realizing our vision for the university.”  Raymund, a 1978 economics graduate, will become UO Foundation chair this fall. “I want to help boost the university’s overall excellence,” Raymund said. “More than ever, the university is in charge of its own fate. When you believe in the management, you want to fund their vision.”  Over time, the gift will provide $4.5 million to support doctoral students in every academic department. Schill said the entering class of 11 Raymund Fellows arrive this fall.  “Steve is answering a critical need with this gift, because a strong Ph.D. program is one of the key components to being a research university,” Schill said. “We compete head-to-head for these students with our AAU peers like Berkeley and Chicago. We’re increasing the size of our faculty, and we will need to bring on great doctoral students for each professor that we hire.”

Elsevier buys Academic Analytics competitor

2/3/2017: https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2017/02/03/elsevier-acquires-altmetrics-provider

10/27/2016: Provost drops $100K subscription to faulty Academic Analytics faculty data

This is great news. The $100K that Provost Coltrane just saved will allow UO to hire a tenure track humanities professor.

Oh wait, sorry. This comes from the Provost of Georgetown University, Robert Groves. Read his full blog post (yes, their provost has real blog, with comments) here:

With the rise of the Internet and digital records of publications, comparisons of quality of universities are increasingly utilizing statistics based on this documentation (e.g., the Times Higher Education university rankings). Many academic fields themselves are comparing the product of scholars by using counts of citations to work (through h-indexes and other statistics). Journals are routinely compared on their impact partially through such citation evidence. Some academic fields have rated their journals into tiers of “quality” based on these numbers. Platforms like Google Scholar and ResearchGate are building repositories of documentation of the work of scholars. …

In short, the quality of AA coverage of the scholarly products of those faculty studied are far from perfect. Even with perfect coverage, the data have differential value across fields that vary in book versus article production and in their cultural supports for citations of others’ work. With inadequate coverage, it seems best for us to seek other ways of comparing Georgetown to other universities. For that reason, we will be dropping our subscription to Academic Analytics.

12/11/2015: Faculty object to use of secret Academic Analytics data in tenure decisions

This is at Rutgers, InsideHigherEd has the report by Colleen Flaherty here. UO has had a contract with AA for several years, at about $100K.

The data available includes reports on individual faculty, such as this, from their website:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.47.16 PM

Obviously more information is good, but the administration holds these reports pretty tight to the vest – even the departmental level ones. Maybe our Senate will need to look into how these data are being used.

IT staff pushes back on BOT’s reorg proposal

The Emerald has the story here. Views differ:

Greg Bryant, who works in IT, felt that an internal discussion, instead of hiring investigators, would have worked just as well.

“These [IT workers] are people who have been here for decades. They’ve solved problems all the time, and they have all kinds of suggestions about how things could be better done, but they weren’t asked that,” Bryant said.

Patrick Chinn, a member of the Transform IT Advisory Board, believes that the reorganization helps the IT staff and students. He said it aims to optimize the IT  department and to improve the students’ experiences on campus.