Give to the UO, or to the Decade of the Duck?

No, this isn’t from the Duck Athletic Fund’s website, it’s from giving.uoregon.edu, the homepage of the UO campaign, which is supposed to be about the academic side of the fund-drive:

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To be fair, the other 4 landing pages are about academics. I guess 1 out of 5 ain’t bad. If you follow the link you get to the Duck Athletic Fund brochure, and this:

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“As one of only a handful of Division I programs that do not receive state general fund support …”

Now that’s a bold claim. None of the $2.4M the UO Provost’s office pays to run the Jock Box comes from the state’s general fund? I’m no internal auditor, but I’m thinking this claim is a stretch. And under Oregon law, it’s potentially a Class A misdemeanor:

ORS 128.886 False or misleading representations prohibited.

(1) No person shall make any false or misleading representations in the course of any solicitation of contributions.

(2) A representation may be any manifestation of any assertion by words or conduct, including, but not limited to, a failure to disclose a fact.

Southern Utahns crush Ducks in football records release

10/13/2015: It’s not really a fair contest. While for years the UO administration has used its Public Records Office and their $300K budget to delay, redact, and charge excessive fees to frustrate the intent of Oregon’s public records law, the PRO’s at most other universities are in the business of making public records public. Here’s the latest example.

Monday morning I emailed identical public records requests to UO and Southern Utah University, asking for copies of the contract for the football body-bag game scheduled for September 2017:

Date: October 12, 2015 at 10:14:21 AM PDT

To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Subject: public records request, football game contract with SUU

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for a copy of the football game contract between SUU and UO, for the game to be played in the fall of 2017.

A sample of the sort of contract I am looking for is here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/971644/uomatters/IAC/Football%20contract%20-%20Georgia%20State%20(Final%20Executed%20Version).pdf

I edit a news and opinion blog about the University of Oregon, and I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest.

I would appreciate it if you could send a pdf copy of this contract to this email address.

Thanks for your assistance

This sort of request typically takes UO a week or two. But SUU responded in less than 24 hours:

From: Jennifer Oberhelman
Date: October 13, 2015 at 9:13:01 AM PDT
To: uomatters@gmail.com
Subject: GRAMA Response

Good morning Mr. Harbaugh,

Attached is the contract between Southern Utah University and University of Oregon for a football game set for 9/2/17 in Eugene, OR requested 10/12 in the form of a GRAMA request.

Please contact me if you have any additional questions.

Thank you.
Jennifer Oberhelman
Exec. Asst. for Administration

“We don’t quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we quit playing.”

Not bad, though the record is still the 50 minutes it took Georgia State to provide their contract, and Eastern Washington’s General Counsel only took 3 hours.

So Rob Mullens will pay SUU $500K to come to Eugene. Presumably AAD Eric Roedl will get the cash by raising the price he charges ASUO for “free” student tickets  to these body-bag games:

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9/14/2015: Georgia State Panthers whip Oregon Ducks in football public records release

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Duck fundraising expansion raises questions about damage to UO’s academic fund drive

From the recent job postings, it looks like the Ducks are scheduling a major increase in fundraising effort, just as Mike Andreasen’s UO Advancement Office finally gets its academic fundraising efforts rolling. This is really bad timing. This is the time when the Duck fundraisers should be directed to shift their efforts to the academic cause.

The evidence is that athletic donations crowd out donations to academics. UO Professor Dennis Howard – holder of a Nike Philip H. Knight Chair in Sports Marketing at UO and former LCB Business School Dean – has written an excellent paper on exactly this topic, comparing data on donations to Duck athletics and to UO academics:

Both alumni and non-alumni show an increasing preference toward directing their gifts to the intercollegiate athletics department-at the expense of the donations to academic programs. Sperber’s (2000) assertion that giving to athletics undermines academic giving is strongly supported.

and

For every $100 of new revenue raised from major donors by the University of Oregon, over 80% is being directed to the athletic department. Even with the large increases in numbers of total donors since 1994, academic giving struggles to remain stable while donations to athletics experience huge growth. In three out of the past five years (1998, 2000, 2001), the total dollars donated to academics by non-alumni has fallen despite annual increases in the number of non-alumni donors. Total dollars donated to academics by alumni fell in only one year (2000), again despite an increase in the total number of donors. This suggests new donors are not making academic gifts, and current donors are shifting dollars from academic giving to donations directed to the athletic program. Additionally, as discussed above, proportional giving by alumni is predominantly directed to the athletic program. If these trends continue, total academic giving will fall for both alumni and non-alumni despite continued increases in the total numbers of both types of donors.

Stefan Verbano had a great story on Howard and his work a few years back, in the Emerald here:

The 2004 study concluded that even non-alumni are more likely to donate to athletics in the wake of successful sports seasons, redirecting much-needed funds away from flagging academic resources.

If you don’t like statistics, there are plenty of anecdotes floating around about Duck fundraisers swooping in to make asks just before the academic side’s advancement people had planned on one. I’ve even heard that while the Duck fundraisers have access to the academic side’s prospect management system, the Ducks maintain their own data on their donors, which they won’t share with the academic fundraisers.

And of course Rob Mullens has repeatedly rejected proposals that alumni should be able to get the same preference for good football tickets from making academic donations as they get from giving to the Duck Athletic Fund.

One way to encourage cooperation between the Duck fundraisers and the Academic side’s Office of Advancement would be to give the Duck fundraisers targets for academic donations as well as athletic donations, and enforce this by having the Duck fundraisers have a dual report to VP for Advancement Mike Andreassen, not just to the Duck Athletic Fund Director. That is so not happening with the latest athletic development hires:

Associate Director Of Development, Eugene & Central Oregon, Athletics, http://jobs.uoregon.edu/unclassified.php?id=5337

and

Senior Associate Director of Development, Eugene & Northern California, Athletics http://jobs.uoregon.edu/unclassified.php?id=5253

RESPONSIBILITIES:

Serve as representative of UO Athletics and the Duck Athletic Fund in Eugene and Northern California.  Manage a Major Gift portfolio.  Responsible for development activities as a member of the Duck Athletic Fund for both annual gifts to the Duck Athletic Fund and major gifts to endowments and capital projects.  [UOM: no sign this includes academic gifts.] Assist in marketing and ticket sales efforts in assigned regions.

This position will be expected to serve as the departmental liaison to assigned booster groups, provide solid stewardship to current athletic donors and play a large role in major gift fundraising efforts.

Responsible for promoting the philosophy and objectives of the intercollegiate athletics program, [UOM: Not the UO?] including adherence to all department policies and procedures, as well as the rules and regulations of the university, Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA.

Act as a major gift fundraiser, identify, cultivate and solicit major gifts.

Develop and implement a comprehensive prospecting plan for university alumni, with an emphasis on alumni living in Oregon who are potential high-end annual ($2,500+) and major gift ($100K+) prospects using tools provided by the Office of Prospect Management and Analytics.

Aggressively identify and formally qualify new prospects and existing donors through personal visits, phone calls, correspondence, events and university activities to meet fundraising objectives.

Manage a portfolio of primarily new/discovery prospects, seeking to grow the pool of engaged alumni, parents, friends and corporate supporters.

Create written proposals and case statements for solicitation of individuals and organizations.  Coordinate clearance with other development officers and administrators.

Conduct stewardship, including gift acknowledgements/thank you correspondence, recognition, communications and special events.

Collaborate with development staff, faculty, program directors, other university administrators, and volunteers to identify, qualify, cultivate and solicit prospective donors.

Identify, cultivate and solicit major gifts.

A.    Regularly meet and communicate with potential donors.

B.    Rank and prioritize potential donors.

C.    Listen to passions of potential donors, further engage them.

D.    Collaborate with athletic and campus colleagues to strategize, then solicit potential donors for gifts.

E.     Thank donors promptly and continue appropriate stewardship of them.

Serve as athletic department officer for Eugene and Northern California.  Assist with marketing, public relations, and ticket sales efforts in assigned regions.  Regularly communicate and meet with donors and prospective donors to Oregon Athletics.  Meet annual goals of attracting an increasing number of gifts to the Duck Athletic Fund.  Establish and maintain relationships to increase donation levels, season tickets, and corporate marketing opportunities.  [UOM: No annual goals for cooperating with UO Advancement’s academic fund drive.] Help ensure effective communication among development staff.

Performs special duties and projects as requested by the Assistant Athletic Director for DAF & Ticket Operations.

UO won’t release auditor’s instructions for upcoming athletics audit

9/17/2015: Move it along professor, nothing to see here. Really?

From: “Thornton, Lisa” <pubrec@uoregon.edu> Subject: Public Records Request 2016-PRR-078
Date: September 17, 2015 at 11:04:14 AM PDT
To: wtharbaugh@gmail.com
Reply-To: pubrec@uoregon.edu

09/17/2015

Dear Mr. Harbaugh-

Records responsive to your request made 9/15/2015 [for a copy of the instructions to the auditor showing what he will examine, etc.] are exempt from disclosure under ORS 192.501 (37).  However, the university has chosen to provide you with the preliminary objectives of the upcoming athletics risk assessmentt, which you can find below.

The Objectives

•  To gain an understanding of the athletics program in order to identify inherent risks.

•  Identify systems and processes along with related controls that are intended to mitigate these risks.

•  The results of this work will be used to develop a multiple year, risk based audit plan. 

The office considers this to be fully responsive to your request, and will now close your matter. Thank you for contacting the office with your request.

Sincerely, Lisa Thornton, Office of Public Records

The DOJ’s Public Records Manual says, regarding ORS 192.501 (37):

Enacted in 2011, this exemption allows, but does not require, public bodies to decline to disclose documents and information related to audits of the public body (or audits the public body is conducting with respect to other public bodies) while the audit is ongoing. In order to qualify for this exemption, the auditor or audit organization must be operating under “nationally recognized government auditing standards,” and the audit must still be ongoing. An audit is ongoing when it has not been abandoned, and the final audit report in accordance with nationally recognized government auditing standards has not been issued. Note that this exemption expressly states that it “does not prohibit disclosure of a draft audit report that is provided to the audited entity for the entity’s response to the audit findings.”

9/10/2015: Page down for latest email from UO auditor Brenda Muirhead.

5/20/2015: Audit of athletic dept risks due this fall – and another cut to Duck subsidies?

The last audit cut the subsidy for the Ducks by $555,227, recurring. How much will this one save?

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UO’s federal research funding barely tops Duck spending, after their subsidies

9/14/2015: UO announces $115M in research funding for 2014-15

Interim VP for Research Brad Shelton’s office has just released the 14-15 fact sheet here. $103.5M in federal grants:

The University of Oregon has more than doubled its research funding over the last twenty years to a total of $114.6 million in sponsored projects during the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2015. Buoyed by an uptick in federal awards, the university saw gains in its overall sponsored research funding and continued high proposal counts in 2014-2015.

Meanwhile Duck athletic spending for the 14-15 FY was projected at $98.4M. That official number excludes the $465K that Frohnmayer and Kilkenny stuck the academic side with for the cost of the Matt Court Arena land, and the $375K plus that they now make academics pay for the Presidential Skybox, and a large portion of the bonds for the Matt Court underground parking garage that the city of Eugene made UO build as a condition for allowing the arena development. These are born by regular UO parking permit holders instead of the athletics department. Then there’s the $2.1M for running the Jock Box, all paid by the academic side. Add that all up and you’ve got athletic spending of $101.5M for last year. I’m sure I’ve missed a few things, – maybe UO auditor Brenda Muirhead will find them with her new audit?

Interestingly, the original Matt Court Arena budget plan, as approved by the Senate Budget Committee’s Arena subcommittee, assumed that the Ducks would now be paying the academic side $450K for academic support services, out a total cost of $600K or so. That didn’t happen. Instead UO built the new Jock Box, which costs about $2.1M to run, and somehow the cost was switched from athletics to the Provost’s academic budget. Athletics has been paying $0. (See the “Academic Learning Center” revenue lines, in parens to indicate expenses. AD Rob Mullens and AAD for finance Eric Roedl now posts all these spreadsheets and MOU’s on GoDucks.com, thanks to a few public records petitions I made to the Oregon DOJ and an audit by the Oregon Secretary of State. His files show the numbers for 14-15 as well, but the formatting is difficult so I’m just showing them through 13-14.)

So how did the academic side get stuck with that $2.1M for the Jock Box? I don’t know. No one even knew it was happening until Jamie Moffitt let it slip out, and Greg Bolt published it in the RG in May 2011. This is the first time I’ve noticed that UO once had a plan to shift the cost of tutoring athletes to the athletic department.

Former Provost Jim Bean claimed he had an MOU saying academics now had to pay, but he would never produce it. Here’s the 2010 Arena Budget plan, followed by the actual numbers as of August 2015. The athletic legacy fund balance now exceeds the 2010 prediction by about $6M – so maybe it’s time to revisit some of these Duck subsidies?

The updated 2010 Arena plan:

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The reality:

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9/8/2015: University announces record $308M in research funding for 2014-15

That would be Oregon State University, for the year ending June 30, 2015. Press release and links to data here. Thanks to a proud Beaver fan for the link:

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University research funding reached $308.9 million, its highest level ever, in the fiscal year that ended on June 30. A near doubling of revenues from licensing patented technologies and an 8.5 percent increase in competitive federal funding fueled OSU research on a range of projects including advanced ocean-going research vessels, the health impacts of pollution and sustainable materials for high-speed computing.

UO hasn’t released our new numbers yet, the old report is here. When it is updated I’ll add the last 2 years to the “Civil War that matters” chart.

The figure on the left shows “Federal Flow Through” totals, which are the easiest to find directly comparable data. They include spending on outreach and instruction, but it’s mostly research money and the trends look similar no matter how you cut it. The figure on the right shows athletic department spending, from USAToday. (Official UO and OSU numbers for 2012.)

I know more recent data is now available. Reported Duck athletic spending has increased to $98.4M for 2014-15. I don’t have the stomach just now to track down the rest and enter it.

For more recent evidence on how UO is trying to divert money from academics to athletics, read the blockbuster report in the Register Guard about secret funding for UO’s failed 2019 International Track Championship bid. Link here.

Ducks to pay Georgia State $900K for Sept 19th body-bag game

9/12/2015: Andy Greif has the game preview in the Oregonian here – though not the financial details. Maybe UO still hasn’t responded to that public records request.

Last year GSU won 1 out of 12 football games, and brought in just $654,347 from ticket sales for football and basketball combined. So their athletic director and coach need the Ducks’ $900K  contract payment to make payday for their players themselves. GSU Coach Trent Miles’s salary is $510K, and after airfare for the team he should have that covered.

And Duck AD Rob Mullens is perfectly willing to pay Miles $900K for a blowout win. It doesn’t quite seem sporting, but that’s big-time college sports.

It also seems well above the going rate:

9/4/2015: Ducks pay EWU $450K for “body-bag” game, President Schill pays Ducks $375K for skybox seats

The contract between Rob Mullens and Bill Chaves is here. UO sat on the public records request for weeks, but EWU emailed it to me in a few days:

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And here’s the agreement between Johnson Hall and Athletics, to divert academic money towards the “presidential skybox” at Autzen, etc. That’s right, UO students pay for the president’s football skybox. It took a petition to the Oregon DOJ to pry this document out of UO, but now it is posted on the goducks website here:

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And here we’ve got athletics bitching that they haven’t got rent check yet:

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Huskies boast their subsidies are smaller than Rob Mullens’s

But Mullens claims the Ducks get no subsidies. At least they’re arguing over the right thing. Someday the PAC-12 ADs may even start doing something to help out their universities with that new TV revenue.

Just kidding, we know they’ll spend it all on raises for themselves. Adam Jude has the story in the Seattle Times, here.

Speaking of subsidies, rumor has it that I finally raised enough stink about Rob Mullens hijacking the $5M Robin Jaqua gift. He’s returned it to the academic side, which means we save $200,000 a year on the $2.2M cost of subsidizing the Jock Box athlete-only tutoring. Baby steps, but I hope this is true. We’ll know more when the UO Senate revisits the anti-subsidy motions this fall.

IAAF sells 2021 Track Championships to Eugene w/o public bidding

Update: UO’s public records office has been sitting on the RG’s request for documents about the championship bidding process since June 15. PR log here:

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4/16/2015 update: IAAF sells 2021 Track Championships to Eugene w/o public bidding

The BBC has the surprising news here:

The 2021 World Athletics Championships will be held in Eugene, Oregon, after the sport’s governing body bypassed the normal bidding process. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it was “a unique strategic opportunity” to hold the event in the United States for the first time. IAAF chief Lamine Diack said the decision was taken “in the interest of the global development of our sport”.

How much public money did the UO Foundation, Eugene, and the State secretly promise this time? I don’t know, but I expect there will be some reporters digging into this latest from the scandal ridden IAAF.

1/31/2015 update: UO Public Records office finally gives RG IAAF track bid documents – but what did the Presidential Archives show?

I’ll go out on a limb and guess that Dave Hubin’s office carefully scrubbed these records before deciding what to hand over to RG News Editor Christian Wihtol. Presumably the good stuff is in UO’s Presidential Archives though – or was, until Interim GC Doug Park got his hands on them:

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11/25/2014: Paul Weinhold was planning to mortgage UO for Track-Town’s losing IAAF bid

This latest athletics scandal is not going to help UO hire a new President – at least not the sort we need. Diane Dietz’s blockbuster story (in the RegisterGuard tomorrow, online tonight) seems to have made UO Foundation President Paul Weinhold very nervous:

The foundation’s financial guarantee to the IAAF set no upper limit on what the foundation would have been liable for if the Eugene event had turned into a money loser. …

Weinhold said the UO Foundation faced minimal risk in agreeing to cover meet losses because TrackTown USA’s budget was thoroughly vetted and reliable [Editor: Like the Knight Arena budget?]; Kitzhaber favored the legislation that would have provided millions in state support; and the foundation had confidential side deals meant to hold the foundation harmless, Weinhold said in the interview. Weinhold declined to disclose any specifics of those side deals.

“We do not believe we had any exposure, and we had agreements in place that eliminated our exposure. That should be enough for you,” he said.

He should be nervous, given Oregon’s public meetings law, and what he says about the role of the UO Board, which is subject to that law:

Weinhold said the foundation made sure the UO leadership was informed of financial guarantees being made to the IAAF.

“There was full knowledge from the (UO) board to the (UO) president of exactly what we were doing — providing this guarantee,” Weinhold said.

Weinhold said the foundation’s plan was not presented to the Board of Trustees as a whole, but rather in conversations with individuals.

“There was a review with various people at different times — the board leadership with the president with others involved.”

The Board of Trustees didn’t object, but that did not mean that the foundation had an implied approval from the board for the venture, Weinhold said.

“I didn’t say it was implied permission. We didn’t ever talk about permission. We talked about the vision, the benefit to the University of Oregon.”

And then:

“The foundation served this same role with the World Juniors this past summer,” Weinhold told the international body, “and is serving this role with the World Indoor Championships in Portland in 2016.”

The foundation describes its public mission to the Internal Revenue Service — which grants the foundation’s nonprofit status — as “supporting the University of Oregon’s mission of education, research and entrepreneurship…”

Weinhold initially said this week that the Portland meet — not at the UO and not a UO event — was a little far afield.

“That doesn’t help the university in much of any way,” he said. Then he added, “Let me back up. It doesn’t help the university in the way that the World Juniors did, or the World Championship (would have), but it was all part of a three-part series to host the World Championships.”

The foundation believed it would have a better chance of clinching the world championships if it agreed to guarantee all three events, Weinhold said.

The foundation made sure it wouldn’t violate IRS rules by backing the track event, he said. “This was reviewed by our legal counsel and our auditors,” he said.

But after 2016, the foundation has no plans to continue to be a guarantor — “not unless there’s some benefit to the University of Oregon,” Weinhold said. …

Perhaps Eugene lost because we didn’t offer IAAF President Lamine Diack a large enough bribe? I’m guessing the Foundation will try again for 2021, with still more of our money, and even less transparency.  Full disclosure: Last year the UO Foundation threatened to sue me for defamation, for posting that they were “Money laundering for the Duck Athletic Fund”. I really don’t know what to say about this latest, except to say that Milton Friedman was right about “spending other people’s money”.

UO Board Secretary Angela Wilhelm kicked Dietz and me out of the UO Board meeting about this proposal. So say what you will about the corrupt IAAF – at least they posted the video. Vin Lananna, Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, Paul Weinhold, and others trying to spend UO’s money. The whole sad thing is worth watching, but I’ve set this to start with Kitzhaber promising to chip in $20 from every Oregon taxpayer (yep, Beavers too), to help out UO’s very high-maintenance Uncle Phil:

8/2/2015 update: More trouble for the notoriously corrupt IAAF, which will be bringing its championship to Eugene in 2021 thanks to a promised subsidy of $30M in Oregon tax money from John Kitzhaber (after he got a $250K campaign gift from Phil Knight) and an open ended promise of UO Foundation support from Paul Weinhold. Page down for the video. The NYT has the drug story here:

KUALA LUMPUR — Endurance runners suspected of doping have been winning a third of Olympic and world championship medals, two news organizations said on Sunday, after a leak of thousands of blood test results from 2001-2012 threw global athletics into chaos.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper and Germany’s ARD/WDR broadcaster said they had obtained the secret data from the vaults of the global athletics governing body, the IAAF, supplied by a whistleblower disgusted by the extent of doping.

The news organizations showed the data to two experts, who concluded distance running was in the same state as cycling had been when Lance Armstrong won the seven Tour de France victories of which he has since been stripped.

“Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values,” the Sunday Times quoted Australian doping expert Robin Parisotto, one of the two scientists, as saying.

“So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have sat idly by and let this happen,” said Parisotto, an inventor of the test used to detect the blood doping agent EPO. …

Heavily subsidized Duck coach has 10 year plan to break even

No, of course I’m not talking about basketball coach Dana Altman – he’s a lost cause. I’m talking about women’s volleyball coach Jim Moore. RG columnist Austin Meek has the story here:

On paper, Moore acknowledged, the task looks daunting. According to financial documents filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Oregon’s volleyball program generated $387,000 in revenue and $1.6 million in expenses for 2013-14.

This program does give out 13 full-ride scholarships, apparently almost all to out of state-students. Let’s see, he’s losing $1.3M per year, so each scholarship costs UO $100,000. So we could eliminate volleyball and give out 50 full-ride scholarships to Oregon residents selected on the basis of academic merit or need. We’d have to drop a men’s sport too of course, because of Title IX. How about baseball? That would be another 150 scholarships, easy.

Meanwhile Altman is losing about $3M a year, or 120 merit/need scholarships. And that doesn’t count the Knight Arena bond payments.

I had to file a few public records petitions with the Oregon Department of Justice to make it happen, but Rob Mullens and the Athletic Department are now very transparent about finances – coach contracts here, NCAA docs and once secret MOU’s here:

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UO President Michael Schill is the one person who can make it happen

That’s the closing line from LCB Prof. Dennis Howard’s Op-Ed on Duck Athletics and UO, in the RG on Sunday and online here. The RG comments are pretty interesting as well. Prof. Howard and I had a panel discussion on athletic funding at the Eugene City Club in June, there’s more on that here.

I don’t agree with all of this Op-Ed. In particular there are many more hidden subsidies, and I think efforts to use Duck football to market UO academic’s side will probably be expensive and embarrassing failures. But the conclusion sure resonates:

… We can also do a better job of using athletics as an asset in our academic fundraising efforts. The Duck Athletic Fund must be fully integrated into the UO’s academic capital campaign.

Ohio State University provides an excellent model. There, athletic and academic fundraising personnel are rewarded for working together. Attractive athletic assets such as preferred seating for football and basketball are used to reward donors who give to academics as well as to athletics.

Athletics is the UO’s gateway to giving. Historically, 70 percent of those who give more than a $1,000 a year to the academic programs first gave to athletics. Importantly, a significant number of these donors eventually commit a sizeable share of their giving to academics.

Recently this trend has declined. To harness the power of our academic and athletic programs the UO needs a unified fundraising model in which athletic and academic fundraising units work collaboratively on behalf of the entire institution.

UO President Michael Schill is the one person who can make it happen.

UO could save $3M a year by shutting down basketball, mothballing Knight Arena

7/11/2015 update: Matt Prehm has an interview with Duck spokesperson Craig Pintens on basketball tickets, here:

The Ducks averaged just 6,209 fans per home game during the 2014-15 season, ranking seventh in the Pac-12. It was the lowest figure since 1992 when an average of 5,819 fans attended games at McArthur Court.

… The Athletic Department operates on zero funding from the University of Oregon [Yeah, sure it does], and so every penny can sometimes count. That’s why when Oregon decided to slash prices across the board – a 34-percent slash on average – was such a difficult decision.

The Athletic Department is reporting a near 90-percent season ticket renewal rate from last season, and while that’s well above the 80-percent renewal norm for the basketball team, it’s still a huge financial hit with the slashed prices.

… With a better marketing plan of the program, ticket costs slashed, and a better non-conference schedule Oregon is seeing early returns pay off.

No, actually this isn’t paying off. I’m no economist, but if you cut prices 34% and sales only increase by 10 points on a base of 80 – lets call that 13% – total revenue will drop. As it did. And as explained below the basketball program is now losing millions – even if you ignore the sunk costs of the $13.5M Knight Arena bond payments.

And it seems that they are prepared to lose more millions to avoid the embarrassment of having the country’s most expensive college arena sit half empty. Meanwhile, the millions in hidden subsidies from the academic continue – including the $450K we pay athletics each year for the Knight Arena land.

Meanwhile Coach Altman has also succeeded in driving away the UO student fans:

… Based on numbers given to me by [Duck PR flack Craig Pintens], the average student attendance for this season was 989 per game. Last season, they were 1,539. In 2012, it was 1,541. In 2011, it was 1,574.

5/15/2015:  UO could save $3M a year by shutting down basketball, mothballing Knight Arena

Continue reading

Former Provost John Moseley agrees with Harbaugh on athletics funding

7/1/2015: In the RG Letters, here

UO athletics should share its bounty

I don’t often agree with Bill Harbaugh, but I must admit he and Dennis Howard made a very good point in their June 26 talk to the City Club of Eugene. The University of Oregon Department of Athletics should be contributing more directly to the UO general fund for academic support.

When I was UO provost and senior vice president (1994-2006), I reached an agreement in 2000 with then-Athletic Director Bill Moos that athletics would not be subsidized from the general fund and would become fully self-supporting.

Before that, the general fund subsidized athletics to the tune of more than $1 million per year.

I assume that agreement is still being followed. If it is, the UO program is one of the few among public universities that’s self-supporting, a laudable situation. Since then, UO athletics has flourished and is now in a position to give back to the university that gave it life and has supported it through many lean years, from the 1960s through the 1990s.

I believe the suggestion that 10 percent of the Athletic Department budget be returned to the general fund is reasonable, and certainly affordable for athletics. That shouldn’t be construed as a “gift” to the UO. All athletic facilities stand on land owned by the university. (Matt Knight Arena was paid for at least in part with Athletic Department funds and is technically owned by the university.)

A 10 percent fee for the use of the land, and the UO name, seems eminently reasonable to me.

JOHN MOSELEY

Moseley was Provost when the 2004 Task Force agreement was signed. As he notes, it called for an end to subsidies. From what I can tell those subsidies did end under Moseley’s tenure as provost. But millions more crept back on the books under provosts Linda Brady and Jim Bean, and Scott Coltrane did nothing to deal with them as Provost, or as Interim President.

6/26/2015: Can we make big-time Duck sports work for UO?

Diane Dietz has the story on the Eugene City Club’s Friday talk with myself and LCB professor emeritus Dennis Howard, in the RG here. Please consider posting comments there. Some ideas that came out of the panel:

… Put the fund-raising personnel the athletics department employs and those the university employs under the same managers, Howard said. Collaborate instead of compete for contributions, he said. Do joint pitches for athletic and academic gifts. “We could do it so much better,” Howard said.

Harbaugh agreed, saying, “It would be really good if we were all in this together and the athletic department was trying to help the rest of the university.”

Harbaugh suggested the university take charge of the athletic department budget centrally, with university financial officers doling out the annual budget and the university absorbing any excess — as is done now for other UO departments.

Or, go a different direction, and cut the Athletic Department loose, encourage it to raise as much as it can and take 10 percent of revenues to pay for academic scholarships.

If scholarships were tied to wins in that way, UO professors would get their pom-poms out, he said.

Thanks to the City Club and organizers Karen Wyatt and Marty Wilde for hosting this discussion. We had a good turnout and what I thought was an interesting discussion and questions. Audio should be posted on KLCC in a day or two here. From the Eugene City Club website:

The Future of Collegiate Athletics at the U of O
Downtown Athletic Club, 3rd Floor Ballroom

… Many in the community say that the fondness for Ducks teams and other world class sporting events contributes to a sense of community pride and brings people together in a unique and spirited way. Others express concerns about the exploitation of student athletes say that the resources expended on athletics come at the expense of academics and other community resources.

Considered an international authority on sports finance, Howard was head of the Marketing Department for the UO Lundquist College of Business before becoming its Dean. He has held various positions at the UO for more than 25 years, with one five-year break to head the graduate program in sport management at Ohio State University. His PhD is from Oregon State University.

Harbaugh has a Phd in Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’s been an economics professor at UO since 1995, and has edited the UO Matters blog since 2009. His research on the neural foundations of charitable giving has been published in Science, and featured in the New York Times. He has been on UO’s Intercollegiate Athletics Committee since 2011, and this June 3rd he was elected as the UO Senate VP and President-Elect on a platform that included a call for a new UO Task Force to fix the broken relationship between Duck athletics and UO’s academic side.

City Club members will engage the speakers in a Q&A session after the presentations.

Continue reading

Civic Stadium’s replacement, PK Park, will divert money from UO academics until 2021

Today’s devastating Civic Stadium fire prompted me to look at the agreements between UO Foundation CEO Paul Weinhold, UO Presidents Frohnmayer and Lariviere, and Duck Athletic Directors Bellotti and Mullens for the UO Foundation guaranteed loans that financed PK Park, which became the Eugene Emerald’s replacement field.

One interesting clause shows that UO is using general unrestricted gifts to the UO Foundation – i.e. gift money that could be used for academic purposes – to subsidize the Duck Athletic Fund. Furthermore, the agreement specifies that UO’s academic side can’t reduce those athletic subsidies until the PK Park balloon loan is repaid, in 2021.

The full MOUs – which UO kept secret until I made a public records petition to the Oregon DOJ – are here:

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.19.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 9.20.09 PM

 

I’ve made a public records request for the accounting records:

Date: June 29, 2015 at 11:19:25 PM PDT
To: Lisa Thornton <pubrec@uoregon.edu>
Cc: Eric Roedl <roedl@uoregon.edu>

Dear Ms Thornton –

This is a public records request for BANNER accounting statements showing how much in UO Foundation general unrestricted gift funds and gifts designated to general operations (as distinct from Duck Athletic Fund or other contributions specifically earmarked by the donors for athletic purposes) have been allocated to the UO Athletic Department, for each of the fiscal years from 2008 to 2015.

I attach a copy of the PK Park loan MOU’s for 2009 and 2011, which note the existence of these allocations.

I’m ccing Duck AAD Eric Roedl, as he should be able to easily produce these records.

Perverse financial incentives add $20K to Duck AD Rob Mullens’s $700K pay

Rob Moseley has the news here:

By Rob Moseley
Editor, GoDucks.com

A strong spring fueled by NCAA championships in men’s and women’s track & field propelled the Oregon athletic department to a school-record 13th-place finish in the 2014-15 Division I Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, as announced Thursday.

The Directors’ Cup uses a points system and accounts for 10 men’s and 10 women’s sports from each school to calculate an annual ranking of the nation’s most successful athletic departments. Despite fielding just 18 NCAA programs, Oregon totaled 933.5 points to finish in the top 15 for the third year in a row, and the fourth time ever.

The Ducks remain the only program ever to finish in the top 15 with 18 or fewer NCAA-sponsored sports. Stanford, UCLA and USC took the top three spots in this year’s ranking and Cal was 12th, giving the Pac-12 five of the top 13 spots.

“The culture of excellence we’ve worked to foster with our staff, student-athletes and supporters is unique, and provides an incredible competitive advantage,” UO athletic director Rob Mullens said. “We’re competing in the toughest conference in the country and enjoying unprecedented success.”

And that success means money. While all of these sports, except football, lose money, that doesn’t mean Rob Mullens will. In Feb 2015 the UO Board of Trustees (minutes here) gave Mullens a $250K raise, to $700K, plus a generous package of performance incentives, including renewing this:

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 7.36.53 PM

The full contract is here. This clause gives Mullens every incentive to increase the number of UO sports teams, and increase the amount of money that each spends on coaches, recruiting, travel, etc. If ticket sales and TV revenue isn’t enough, he can try paying for it by raising the amount athletics charges UO’s student government for “free” tickets.

Many of the UO Trustees are business people who serve on corporate boards. Why didn’t they do what a corporate board would do, and write Mullens a contract that included incentives for reducing the financial subsidies that the Duck athletic department gets from UO? Or even give him an incentive to actually helping out the academic side, by cutting costs so and saving some money for, say, merit scholarships for Oregon undergrads?

I don’t know.