3/5/2010: From Jack Moran in the RG
A Lane County Circuit Court judge this morning ordered University of Oregon placekicker Rob Beard to serve one year probation for his role in a Jan. 24 street brawl near the UO campus. Beard, who was originally charged with three misdemeanors including fourth-degree assault for pushing a 19-year-old woman to the ground during the fight, pleaded guilty this morning to a misdemeanor charge of physical harassment.

Unless I missed it, the RG still hasn’t published anything on the athletic department’s financial issues. The Oregonian has another story here. I imagine in the end Knight is going to bail them out, but he must like to see them squirm first.

The usual

3/4/2010: From KVAL. I’m having a hard time keeping the various assaults straight.

EUGENE, Ore. — A former University of Oregon football player arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in what police described as retaliation for an attack on another Oregon player pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to community service.

Matt Simms faced misdemeanor assault charges in connection with an incident police described as retaliation for an attack of UO kicker Rob Beard. Police said the man Simms was accused of assaulting was not involved in the attack on Beard.

On Tuesday, Simms pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of harrassment and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

Days after his arrest, Simms was released from the football team for violating unspecified team rules.

Beard was later charged with assaulting a 19-year-old woman during the same street fight that left Beard unconscious and in need of surgery. Those charges are still pending.

let’s lower the bar

3/4/2010: Betsy Hammond of the Oregonian reports:

Oregon is moving its 10th-grade tests in reading, writing, math and science to the 11th grade, saying many students need another year of high school to learn the skills covered on the tests. ….

When Oregon sophomores take the tests, a lot of them fail, particularly in math. Last year, 46 percent of 10th-graders flunked that test, 45 percent failed the writing test and 42 percent failed in science….

“It does seem unusual to move a 10th-grade proficiency set of tests to the 11th grade,” he (Jack Jennings, of some DC thinktank) said. “If you thought 10th-graders could do something, and then you shift the measurement of that skill to 11th grade, it at least raises the question of whether they have lowered the standard.”

Actually, it answers the question. And we are supposed to get these kids through college? Without lowering our standards?


3/2/2010: We haven’t heard much about the union lately. There are now 4 union organizers on campus, and given that the card check period lasts 3 months, if they are going to try for an election this academic year I would think they would want to start soon.

This editorial from the University of New Hampshire student paper is pretty angry about a threatened faculty strike:

The emerging story in today’s issue revolves around dormant talks between the university administration and the UNH chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP). The AAUP even ran an advertisement in today’s paper announcing that the university’s summer term could be in jeopardy if an agreement is not reached.

“The UNH faculty union will boycott the 2010 summer session if a contract settlement with the UNH administration is not reached prior to the final scheduling of courses,” the advertisement writes. “A similar boycott was undertaken in 1997, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of summer courses taught. In addition, some courses that were offered were staffed by under qualified instructors. For that reason, we strongly recommend that students investigate summer course offerings at other institutions well in advance.”

The advertisement reads like an ultimatum. It shows no respect for students. It casually tells them to find another institution if they still want to take summer courses. It tries to say this boycott is OK because it happened once before in 1997.

The only conclusion we can draw from this advertisement is that the AAUP has lost its way. It has veered out of control and forgotten its place. University professors are hired to teach students. That’s it. To fight over mere percentage points with the university about how much of a raise they deserve is childish and, quite frankly, offensive to students who want to use their summer vacation to further their education.    

I’m not sure I like that bit at the end – if UNH is like UO, the problem is that the senior administrators have absolutely no problem taking as much money as they can for themselves. We get more students they hire more administrators – not more faculty. We get paid 85% of PhD granting averages, they get 100%. If they want more they just raise tuition, freeze faculty salaries, and furlough the staff.  For example, the UO President’s budget has gone from $2.0 million in 2008 to $3.3 million this year. The growth in the Provost’s budget is even larger. Then there’s the $600,000 or so for the new “President Emeritus” salary and office.  Many more examples are out there. So is the faculty supposed to roll over?

More student housing

3/2/2010: From Diane Dietz in the RG:

A Portland developer building a $12 million apartment near the Matthew Knight Arena means to make the east campus — as opposed to the west campus strip — the nexus of university life. Cody’s project — with 172 student bedrooms — is immediately behind the Franklin Avenue Market of Choice. When the building opens in September, the only thing between the student residents and the new Matthew Knight Arena will be the Villard Street Pub.

The target market for Courtside will be students with modern urban lifestyles with a twist of environmental chic — and who can afford $667 to $685 for a room in a three- or four-bedroom apartment.

Sounds like a good project, but it does shift more life away from downtown, and 172 rooms and only 35 parking spaces is going to be a problem.

Weekend update:

3/1/2010: The football team apparently made it through the weekend arrest free. The cheerleading squad, on the other hand, reports a DUI. Can’t blame this one on the coach, UO still hasn”t replaced the previous cheerleading coaches Laraine Raish and Corine Lewis, who were suddenly and mysteriously fired last summer.

Over the weekend KVAL reported that the NCAA has given LaMichael James permission to live with the UO sports nutritionist while he looks for other housing:

KVAL News received the statement below from the NCAA in response to recent challenges faced by the University of Oregon athletics department related to NCAA regulations and star running back LaMichael James. The UO had sought a waiver on a possible violation of rules in the wake of charges brought against James. James was released from jail on house arrest and living with an athletic department employee, in violation of NCAA rules.

The statement in its entirety read:

“Due to some of the challenges the institution faces in this situation, a temporary waiver has been provided to the school to assist staff in working through the situation and avoid potential NCAA extra benefits rules violations. The waiver is in effect as long as the institution can show it is working to find the student-athlete permissible housing and demonstrate active involvement with the court.”

Should more americans go to college?

3/1/2010: Most of what I’ve seen on this (e.g. the Frohnmayer report) simply assumes they should, reporting clearly misleading numbers like the fact that college graduates earn more. (The average effect, not the marginal.  Because they go to college, or because they are smart enough to go to college? Doesn’t it matter what they major in?) Here’s a debate on the subject, sponsored by UVA’s Miller Center. One factoid:

Today, just under 40% of Americans 25 to 34 years of age hold a two- or four-year degree. While this number has remained stable for decades, other developed countries have seen a steady increase in their number of college graduates in recent years. America is somewhere in the middle of this group, on par with countries like Australia and Spain. Meanwhile, countries such as South Korea (53%), Japan (54%), and Canada (55%) have pulled considerably ahead of the pack.


2/28/2010: Mark Baker of the RG has a few stories today on the UO football team’s troubles. Best quote is from Eugene sports psychologist Steven Ungerleider, the author of the wonderfully titled “Faust’s Gold“, a book on the East German athletic industry. A guy who clearly knows a thing or two about how far obsession with athletics can go.

“They’re spoiled brats,” he said. “They can do anything and there are no consequences.” 

I’m guessing he’s not going to be lecturing in the Jaqua Center anytime soon. Of course, as Ed St. Clair Sr. notes in his RG letter, the team’s rate of legal problems is well below that of, say, the US Congress – who seem to have a similar disciplinary process.

AAUP troubles?

2/26/2010: has a story on troubles with AAUP union voting procedures. The AAUP and the AFT are jointly sponsoring the UO OA/Faculty union organizing effort:

WASHINGTON — An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor has forced the American Association of University Professors to redo last year’s election for the position of chair of the Assembly of State Conferences (which consists of all of the state AAUP bodies). The department found that the association did not follow proper procedures in the election it held last year.
The Labor Department’s interest in the AAUP’s elections has also been of concern to the United University Professions, the faculty union of the State University of New York, which is affiliated with both the AAUP and the American Federation of Teachers.
At the UUP’s convention this month, a proposal was made to disaffiliate with the AAUP. The motion was tabled, pending a review by UUP leaders. A spokeswoman for the UUP said that one of the issues of concern was whether the Labor Department’s scrutiny of the AAUP’s election practices might extend in ways that would lead to challenges of election practices of the UUP.


2/26/2010: In breaking news, we’ve now obtained summary data on UO’s cheese and egg expenditures. But many questions remain. Tillamook Cheddar? Oregonzola? Individually wrapped slices of processed american? President Lariviere is still refusing to tell the faculty. This stinks. And why are top UO administrators – you know who you are – still hiding the butter and milk expenditures?

Cheese & Eggs OR Sysco Portland Inc, $147,506.62
Cheese & Eggs CA US Foodservice Inc, $83,135.17
Cheese & Eggs OR Umpqua Dairy Products Company, $71,690.59
Cheese & Eggs WA Floyd Peterson Co, $46,224.04
Cheese & Eggs OR McDonald Wholesale Co, $27,250.17
Cheese & Eggs OR DPI Specialty Foods Northwest Inc, $8,424.88
Cheese & Eggs OR Core-Mark Distributors, $7,963.79
Cheese & Eggs OR BakeMark Ingredients Inc, $4,766.03
Cheese & Eggs OR Food Services of America, $2,374.02
Cheese & Eggs OR Costco Wholesale, $1,027.94
Cheese & Eggs OR Pacific Coast Fruit Company, $350.85
Cheese & Eggs CA Smart & Final/dba Cash & Carry, $302.06
Cheese & Eggs OR Market of Choice Inc, $98.67
Cheese & Eggs OR Irvin, Daniel $41.97

Slow day

2/25/2010: Not much worth posting lately. That’s a good thing. Also good, the legislature is letting us sell bonds for a new 451 bed dorm “residence hall”. What do they call them at Hogwarts?

Senate funds University of Oregon residence hall — Daily Journal of Commerce (The first step toward increasing the percentage of University of Oregon students living on campus, according to Gregg Lobisser, UO’s director of student activities, is to stop calling student living facilities ‘dormitories.’ “When people think of dorms, they think of barracks,” Lobisser said. “The term residence hall speaks more to a new model we are exploring that integrates academics with residential life.” The next step in the process is to construct a new 451-bed residence hall. The state Legislature on Tuesday approved Senate Bill 5564, which allows the state to sell $75 million in bonds to build the hall designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects on the east end of UO’s campus. But the new living facility is only the beginning of a long-term plan for the portion of undergraduates living on campus to reach 25 percent.)

One of the concerns about borrowing $235 million for the arena was that we’d bump up against a debt limit – looks like that’s not a problem, yet.

UO Foundation revenue and expenditures

2/24/2010: From the Greg Bolt story today in the RG:

According to the latest figures released by the university, the UO brought in $75.6 million in the first seven months of its fiscal year, a pace that would easily surpass the goal of $90 million to $100 million a year if it can be sustained. 
Almost two-thirds of the gifts promised so far this year are directed to academic programs and about one-third are for athletics, Lariviere said.
Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports these numbers for the UO Foundation endowment:

From June 30 2008 – June 30 2009:  $470,515,000 to $386,509,000  -17.9%

How to reconcile? The RG is reporting pledges, not money received. This is standard practice. The swings in the endowment also look pretty standard for recent years. Here is some stuff from the most recent Foundation report, from which the Chronicle numbers are taken:

The “other” category includes pledges of the sort that the RG is reporting. You should subtract 10% or so for shrinkage – while these are legally binding pledges, they don’t all come through – and another $35 million or so for liabilities tied to gifts. Again, all standard stuff.

Where does the money go? That’s harder, because state law gives the Foundation an exemption from the public records law – which they exploit pretty much to the hilt, releasing only summary data like this:

You can see that they spent more on scholarships to athletes than for merit and need scholarships. In 2009 they spent about 6x as much on athletic facilities as on academic ones – but obviously that ratio fluctuates wildly. 
The $3 million for “Salaries and Other Expenses” includes the $300,000 or so the Foundation paid to Frohnmayer to top off his state salary. We will probably never know who donated that money, or what sort of favors they might have got in return.
You can get a little more detail like the pay for the foundation President ($310,000) from the IRS 990 form here. But this is wat out of date, because the foundation takes every opportunity for allowable IRS extensions on filing these reports. Also standard practice for this business, unfortunately. The IRS is going to substantially tighten up on reporting, I think in time for the next report, due 5/15/2010.

Who pays for those athletic scholarships anyway?

2/22/2010: Seems like a good time to remind people that the UO athletics department’s claims of self-sufficiency are pretty thin. Through a very odd deal tied to a failed sports gambling game, the state Lottery Commission pays $1.2 million a year to the UO athletic department for athletic scholarships. They’ve used the subsidy to increase coaches’ salaries.

In addition, the academic side sold athletics the site for the Jaqua building for $1, paid another million in so in costs for it, and, from what we can deduce so far, paid about $5 million for the athlete only parking slots in the Matt Court parking garage now under construction – or more accurately those costs will be spread out over all people buying parking passes.

And, from Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian, earlier this year:

Oregon sports lost $1.2 million the fiscal year before Bellotti took over the athletic director’s job from Pat Kilkenny, according to a report every school files annually with the NCAA, released to The Oregonian this week in response to a public records request. The gap is significant because for the past six years Oregon athletics officials have touted their economic self sufficiency.

 Then of course there’s the tax expenditure cost of the deductibility of donations to athletics. Roughly, every dollar donated costs federal taxpayers $0.40, and state taxpayers $0.10.