Visual Metaphor for UO’s new priorities


To the left, the sleek, overflowing (but shallow) fountain of the Jacqua Jock Box, symbolizing purity, excess, and athletics. To the right, the broken debris filled fountain in front of the Knight Library, symbolizing the corrupt, dissolute, and empty life of the mind.

Note that the jocks tricked Provost Bean into making the academic side pay for the maintenance of their fountain. I think those literature profs call that irony.

A reader sent me the idea for this visual metaphor a while ago. I’ve hesitated to post it out of fear our administration’s reaction will be to cut a few more RA positions and spend the savings prettying up the library fountain for the graduation ceremonies – which President Lariviere moved to a Monday, without consulting faculty or students, so as not to conflict with a track meet.

Ducks regress academically – 11th in PAC-12.

5/25/2011: From Rob Moseley in the RG talking about the recent NCAA release of academic progress:

Oregon’s four-year average of 941 was ninth among Pac-12 teams, and the 932 for 2009-10 was 11th among the 12 teams that will make up the conference this fall.

Oregon State scored 959 as an average, second behind Stanford, and 965 for 2009-10, third behind Stanford and UCLA. 

This is the inevitable result of an athletic department with no academic oversight picking “students” on the basis of muscles and claiming we are doing them a favor by giving them a chance to fail their UO classes free while picking up a few concussions, and bringing in big paychecks for the coaches. But don’t worry, our provost will kick in some more subsidy cash from taxes and regular student tuition for the Jock Box tutoring. And the football museum and new swimming pools should help too.

Jock Box subsidies

5/8/2011: Greg Bolt has dual front page stories on the UO administration’s complicity in subsidizing UO athletics with state tax revenue and regular student tuition, in today’s Register Guard. The first compares the dismal support services for regular students with what the athletes get at what the NY Times calls UO’s “Jock Box”:

The agreement requires the UO to run the Jaqua Center “at the leading edge of academic excellence” by substantially increasing staff and services. The cost of providing those services comes from the UO’s academic budget, not from the athletic department. It comes to almost $2 million a year, which works out to about $4,000 per student-athlete. … (vs. about $225 a year for regular students.)

Karen Sprague, vice provost for undergraduate studies, said she doesn’t disagree that a spending gulf exists between athletes and regular students. But the university hasn’t shortchanged its under­graduates, she said.
“You’re never going to close a tenfold gap,” she said. “When we think of the things we would like to have or like to be able to do, we wish we had support closer to that level. But I don’t sit around worrying about it.”

Uh, OK, but maybe you should, since Bolt’s second story points out it’s the regular students who pay for the athletes-only Jock Box extravaganza:

The rise of special academic programs for student athletes raises the question of who should pay for those services.

At the University of Oregon, the cost is borne by the UO’s overall academic budget. It’s not part of the athletics department’s budget.

The University of Oregon has boasted for more than seven years that its athletics department is self-­supporting, paying for all of its expenses with revenue it brings in from ticket sales, advertising revenue, donors and other sources. Officials have stressed that the atheletics department takes no money from the university’s general budget.

But late last year it was disclosed that the academic budget was paying the almost $2 million a year for personnel and other expenses that it takes to run the Jaqua Center for student athletes, making the self-­sufficiency claim dubious.

The story finishes up with a quote from some economist, saying that athletics isn’t all bad, but that

“They could acknowledge we (the academic side) help them too, starting with some transparency about these subsidies, and then they could pay their bills,” he said.

Dream on, fool. I wonder which provost type the UO administration will assign to attack the RG’s reporting on this, while further destroying their own credibility? Links to the Frohnmayer / Knight contracts are here. The costs are paid out of Provost Bean’s budget, he has the numbers. Last year he tried to spin them to the Oregonian, here.

Steve Duin of the Oregonian reposts the money graphs from Bolt’s story here, Margaret Soltan posts here, Jack Bog here.

Students finish finals, seize Jock Box

3/18/2011: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian:

A group of University of Oregon students today plan to enter a restricted area in the opulent academic center built for athletes by Nike founder Phil Knight and call for opening the building to all students.

Students say the top two floors of the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, a three-story $42 million glass cube built on campus last year, are reserved for student athletes.

“We just feel it is a physical representation of the separation between students and athletes and how athletes are valued above non-athletic students,” said Janae Schiller, 22, a senior majoring in sociology who plans to take part in the 1 p.m. demonstration.

Schiller said she expects at least five students and possibly dozens at the event, where some students say they are prepared to be arrested. Students say the fact this is the last day of finals may limit participation in the event.

The building, nicknamed the jock box by some on campus, is a public space on public property, Schiller said, but non-athletes are allowed on only the first floor, where there is a classroom, study rooms and a coffee shop.  …

I like Ms Schiller’s priorities: finish finals, *then* occupy a building. Here’s the follow up story – UO let the students in – but didn’t let them hang out on the couches. Strangely, neither Bill Graves story mentions that the athlete only tutoring is paid for by regular student tuition and state funds. $2 million a year. Rachel Bachman covered that story months ago.

New President promises athletic spending reforms

12/17/2010: That would be the new President of Missouri State:
“This has been a fairly laissez-faire type of institution where you just kind do what you want to do, … There’s no control, there is no policy. There really is no oversight. People just spend. That’s the inheritance we have here, that’s my inheritance.” … On the university level, Cofer has set up an executive budget committee, an academic affairs budget committee and an administrative budget committee. He has said the budget process will be inclusive and transparent.
Here at UO, our Provost is spending $2 million a year from general tuition funds on the athlete-only Jock Box tutoring operation.

In Loco Parentis

10/26/2010 update: A careful, and helpful, reader points out that the SSA email says:

For your information, each student-athlete has signed the NCAA Student-Athlete statement, which includes the Buckley Amendment Consent Declaration, which allows Services for Student Athletes the right to this information.

Not our first mistake, or our last. Our arguments, and data, about the $2.0 million subsidy remain unchallenged.

10/23/2010: Just got the quarterly request from the Services for Student-Athletes jock box folks:

Dear Instructor,

The student/s listed below are registered in your class and represent the University of Oregon in Intercollegiate Athletics. Our staff would greatly appreciate any information pertaining to the progress of these students, especially in regards to test scores, assignment grades, attendance, and missing work, as well as any other comments you may wish to include.  This helps us tremendously, in that we can evaluate a student’s progress in your class.  …

On the one hand, my understanding is that under FERPA I am not even allowed to give this information to the student’s parents, if they asked for it. I assume SSA has permission (their email does not say) but still this feels weird.

On the other hand, UO should clearly have some sort of system for early identification and counseling of students in academic trouble.

This should be for all students, not just the jocks. Particularly since the budget for SSA – $1.8 $2.0 million – comes from general tuition funds paid by all students and not from athletic department revenues or Duck Athletic Fund donations. What a scam. Anyway, how do other faculty handle these requests?

your missing subsidy assignment

10/19/2010: Today the RG prints a story on the Lariviere overtime kerfuffle and Pernsteiner’s attempt to get Lariviere to toe the OUS line on his UO restructuring plan. This is a week after Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week did the hard work getting the audit reports and emails for the stories, and only after the Oregonian has already written an editorial on the overtime.

The RG *still* has not even mentioned the Oregonian story on the annual $2 million UO subsidies for the jock box, or Provost Bean’s op-ed attempting to justify using student tuition and tax revenue to pay those costs. In combination these have nearly 200 comments on OregonLive. To the RG the debate on UO subsidizing athletics simply does not exist!

A few weeks ago the Register Guard editorial board admitted Dave Frohnmayer and Pat Kilkenny had fooled them with their claims that Matt Court would be a moneymaker. But the RG is still refusing to cover the real issues at UO. UO would be a much stronger institution if the administrators knew their decisions were going to get thoroughly aired in public. The RG simply is not doing its job on this.

Provost Bean on the jock box subsidy

10/15/2010: Provost Jim Bean’s Oregonian op-ed today is an attempt to refute reporter Rachel Bachman’s story in the Oregonian from last week, here:

Oregon athletic department uses state money for academic needs despite claims of self-sufficiency

Ducks athletes have received $8.5 million in general fund benefits in nine years while tuition has nearly doubled, state support to UO has shriveled and athletic department donations have soared.

Provost Bean’s Op-Ed in the Oregonian starts:

An Oct. 8 story in The Oregonian incorrectly concluded that the UO’s use of general fund money on academic support for student-athletes in some way invalidates the university’s pledge to maintain an economically self-sufficient athletic department.

Step one is admitting there is a problem. So far as I can tell,  this is the first time in recent memory UO has admitted it uses general fund money – i.e. money from state taxpayers and from student tuition – for athletics. The rest of the piece is a tortured attempt to argue this is not a subsidy for the athletics department. Of course it is. Does anyone believe this particular subsidy is the only one that reporters are going to find?

Ms Bachman’s article has an amazing number of comments. I strongly suggest not reading them. Bean’s article has also attracted a few, don’t read those either.

Tax deductions for Jock Box?

8/14/2010: German rich guy questions the logic. From Der Spiegel:

Peter Krämer, a Hamburg-based shipping magnate and multimillionaire, has emerged as one of the strongest critics of the “Giving Pledge.” Krämer, who donated millions of euros in 2005 to “Schools for Africa,” a program operated by UNICEF, explained his opposition to the Gates initiative in a SPIEGEL interview. …
Krämer: I find the US initiative highly problematic. You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the USA. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That’s unacceptable.
SPIEGEL: But doesn’t the money that is donated serve the common good?
Krämer: It is all just a bad transfer of power from the state to billionaires. So it’s not the state that determines what is good for the people, but rather the rich want to decide. That’s a development that I find really bad. What legitimacy do these people have to decide where massive sums of money will flow?
SPIEGEL: It is their money at the end of the day.
Krämer: In this case, 40 superwealthy people want to decide what their money will be used for. That runs counter to the democratically legitimate state. In the end the billionaires are indulging in hobbies that might be in the common good, but are very personal.

Frohnmayer speaks on Jock Box

8/10/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG has an article on the Jock Box, based on the cost estimates the Oregonian obtained from UO with a public records request. The article does not explain how the tax-deductibility of this sort of donation means that regular taxpayers picked up about half the $42 million. Nor does it explain how UO has an obligation to ensure that gifts further the academic purposes of the University. He does get a quote from Frohnmayer:

Retired UO President Dave Frohnmayer also defended his decision to accept the gift. Calling criticism of the building “both petulant and inaccurate,” he pointed out that the university has more than enough examples of what can be produced when it has to build on the cheap.

“If you want to see what low-balling construction does, just go look at Prince Lucien Campbell (Hall),” Frohnmayer said, referring to one of the least-liked buildings on campus. “Our buildings have to be built to last and they have to be built with class, and the examples of low-balling construction are among the most uninhabitable and undesirable buildings on campus today.”

PLC is pretty bad – but at least it has an academic purpose. There are no faculty offices in the Jock Box.

Frohnmayer’s decision that the Jock Box was consistent with UO’s academic mission would be easier to accept if he didn’t have such a large apparent conflict of interest. At the point Frohnmayer approved the project Knight’s assistant Pat Kilkenny had given $440,000 to Frohnmayer’s Fanconi Foundation, and Dave had appointed him AD to help move the deal forward. About half of Frohnmayer’s pay was coming through private donations laundered through the UO Foundation – donors still unknown. Who was Frohnmayer really working for?

Tublitz on Jock Box

8/9/2010: The Chronicle and several other papers quote Senate Pres Nathan Tublitz on the Jock Box:

Cost of U. of Oregon’s New Center for Athletes Draws New Debate Over Priorities

The $41.7-million cost of the University of Oregon’s new academic center for athletes prices out to more than $1,000 per square foot, about twice as much per square foot as Portland’s priciest condo buildings, according to The Oregonian. The John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, named for a founding board member of Nike and paid for by Philip H. Knight, the company’s chairman, has spurred controversy because of its opulence and exclusivity—most of it is off-limits to nonathletes. “Forty million dollars buys a lot of new faculty, reduced class sizes, better facilities for the rest of campus,” said Nathan Tublitz, a professor of biology and president of the University Senate who has previously criticized the role of athletics at the university. Phil Weiler, a university spokesman, countered that “the building was a gift,” and that donors decide where to direct their funds.

The truth is that nearly half of the cost came from taxpayers, because the gift was tax-deductible under the argument that it furthers UO’s academic purposes. Many universities use the “academic purposes” argument to tax athletic donations themselves, requiring that a certain percentage go to academic causes. But not UO. Frohnmayer approved the Jock Box despite substantial costs to the academic side.

Now Phil Knight is planning another similar egofice for the football coaches:

This new expansion would include space for a UO Football Hall of Fame and Museum, a covered parking facility for 300 cars, surface parking for 75 cars, a weight room of at least 20,000 square feet and space for a Duck Shop and ticket offices. In addition, the project would include construction of a new soccer and lacrosse complex after the existing one is moved.

But Phit’s gift does not come without costs. The license agreement requires the university to employ a facilities manager, museum curator, museum receptionist, food service administrator and a senior administrative assistant for football operations — all full time for at least six years. The university also would maintain the facilities, which could become costly. 

The RG says President Lariviere has already approved this:

“I’ve been told repeatedly since I’ve come here that there are coaches in what used to be closets and that sort of thing,” Lariviere said. “It does look to be pretty jammed up. I’m not sure that this would be absolutely the top priority for the university if we were having to pay for the building, but that’s another matter.” 

Actually, UO not only has the right to tax these sorts of donations, it has the duty to do so, because the IRS rules that allow our operations to be tax-exempt require that our non-academic enterprises benefit our academic purposes. This tax-exemption provides a huge benefit to the athletic side. At the moment the coaches have managed to capture every dime of it in higher salaries.

Jaqua Jock Box cost taxpayers $20 million

8/7/2010: From Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian. $41,677,868 total. Almost 20% more than a Gehry.

I’m no economist, but after tax deductions, this breaks down to about $22 million from Phil Knight, $16 million from US taxpayers, and $4 million from Oregon taxpayers. The gift that keeps on taking. The US Senate Finance Committee has been looking into ending the tax-deductibility of donations to university sports, when they next revisit it, this and the Arena will likely be prime exhibits.

Tack on a few more million for the value of the land UO gave Knight for $1 and the costs to the university of running, staffing, and providing parking. Not to mention the 17 page RLB consultants report that came up with the $42 million estimate. My guess is that the academic side paid that bill.

The next question would be how much the athletic boosters had to give Dave Frohnmayer to get him to approve this bizarre egofice – somewhere north of $1,440,000, just as a guess. Of course, the donors probably got tax deductions for that too!

Bring it on Mr. Slusher, you aren’t even close yet.

6/4/2010: Bill Graves of the Oregonian has a new story on the latest sports facility craziness here. This seems to be another “gift that keeps on taking,” like the Jock Box:

But Phit’s gift does not come without costs. The license agreement requires the university to employ a facilities manager, museum curator, museum receptionist, food service administrator and a senior administrative assistant for football operations — all full time for at least six years. The university also would maintain the facilities, which could become costly.

Phil Knight and Howard Slusher are rolling on the floor over the dumb shit they can get UO to agree to for some vague promise of $1 billion, someday. We pay for a football Museum Curator? That is a pretty good one, though I still think taking away the law school profs parking lot tops it. But bring it on Mr. Slusher, you aren’t even close yet.

4/14/2010: Ron Bellamy of the RG reports that Phil Knight is planning on a new building for football team, to be constructed by the legendary Howard Slusher, under the same contracting scheme used for the Jock Box.

“I’ve been told repeatedly since I’ve come here that there are coaches in what used to be closets and that sort of thing,” Lariviere said. “It does look to be pretty jammed up. I’m not sure that this would be absolutely the top priority for the university if we were having to pay for the building, but that’s another matter.”

So far as I can tell, Knight has not given a dime to UO’s academic causes since former President Dave Frohnmayer signed UO up for the the anti-Nike “Worker’s Rights Consortium”. My recollection was that Dave was persuaded by the argument of the students camping outside his office, who told him that the way to improve the lives of the poor is to get everyone to all join together and agree to stop buying what they know how to make. Some sort of complicated economic thing they learned from their sociology professor. I’m sure it made sense after the first few bong hits. But a recent commenter provides an alternative explanation for why Knight is not so happy with the faculty either:

As I remember it, the WRC was a national movement backed by students at the UO, who took the issue to the Senate, which advised Frohnmayer to join the WRC (see http://www.uoregon.edu/~uosenate/dirsen990/US9900-10.html). He did so. This was an example of faculty actually being listened to on a matter of school policy.

Here’s hoping Lariviere can convince Knight we’re not such a bad lot. He’s already talking tougher to Slusher than Frohnmayer ever did:

“Parking is obviously part of the requirements for this building,” Lariviere said. “The initial conversations I’ve had with Howard Slusher made it clear that we would have to have at least full replacement, if not more parking spaces, as a result of this.”

Back when Frohnmayer and Melinda Grier “negotiated” with Slusher for parking for the Jock Box, we lost something like 120 parking spots. We just gave them to the athletic side gratis, and paid for new ones by increasing general parking fees. Of course, Frohnmayer did get a $150,000 bonus that year from some anonymous donor.

Here’s the former law school lot. 70 spots, 2 cars with jock hang tags. 2 cars and a motorcycle is the most I’ve seen there all quarter.

NY Times on UO Athletic Scandals

5/1/2010: Billy Witz of the NY Times has a long story on the recent troubles. No citation, but they do pick up the “Jock Box” phrase coined by UO Matters:

A new learning center — dubbed the Jock Box for its glass cube design — has been built for athletes only. If athletes at Oregon want a top-of-the-line laptop, all they have to do is ask — Knight donated 550 specially engraved Apple notebooks for their use. That twist, in the wake of Masoli’s arrest, has not been lost on many around campus. When guard Mark Asper, a sociology and Spanish major, has pulled his laptop out in class, he has had classmates admire it and then ask the inevitable question. “Is that one Jeremiah could have gotten?” Asper said. “And I say, yes. They want to know: What was he thinking? I just have to humbly apologize. People say, ‘Oh, you guys are a bunch of hooligans,’ and it’s tough because you don’t have any evidence to the contrary.”…

One person keeping a close eye will be Dr. Richard Lariviere, who last summer became the university’s president. One of his stated priorities was to figure out a way to raise professors’ salaries, which lag behind national standards, despite increasingly tight state funding. Lately, his focus has been on sports. Lariviere called the spate of off-the-field troubles “unacceptable” and acknowledged in a news conference that he pushed out Bellotti, who took a job last month with ESPN. Last week, after The Eugene Register-Guard reported that Kilkenny had also operated without a contract for more than a year, Lariviere reassigned the university counsel Melinda Grier to the campus law school and announced that her contract would not be renewed when it expired in 2011.

 The story also quotes Nathan Tublitz: “The athletic department is out of control here.” I’m guessing Nathan meant to say “was”. After recent events, it’s real clear Lariviere is cleaning this mess up.

9AM Thursday in the Athletes Only Parking Lot

70 spots, 2 cars. Note the special free Jaqua Center hang tags. The full lot in the back is for the (Knight) Law School professors.

OK Mr. Slusher, you’ve proved your point. We get it. You own us.

Let me be the first to say that Nike does not use sweatshops. Phil Knight has created more good jobs in developing countries than Muhammad Yunus and Jeff Sachs combined. (Actually I’m pretty sure that is true – not that I’m an economist.)

So can we please have our parking back? 30 slots and we’ll pass everyone with playing time. 40 for 4.0’s? Please? 

Sincerely, Your UO Faculty.