Reporter hot on trail of Duck Vegas Bowl junket scandal

2/23/2018:

Senate President Sinclair broke the first rule of Vegas when he mentioned the Ice Bar escapade at a recent Senate meeting – on video. Now the press is on the trail:

Thanks Chris, next year was my turn, and you’ve gone and ruined it. How is the Senate going to find a new president-elect with this kind of scandal out there?

Fortunately our Public Records Office are experts at delaying and frustrating public records requests. I wonder what their excuse is for denying this one? Some of the long history of Duck junkets and public records is below:

3/31/2015: Hubin’s PR office finally gives Tublitz the BCS championship junket lists

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Johnson Hall working on IRS “business purpose” justification for Vegas junket 

12/3/2017:  That’s according to Andrew Nemec in the Oregonian here, who thinks this will be a disaster for recruiting. The Las Vegas Bowl is run by ESPN, so there’s no public information on how much the organizers rake in. With any luck UO’s take, after the expenses for team travel and the junkets for top JH and Senate administrators and families, will be enough to cover the $500K we paid Southern Utah for the body-bag game that gave Willie Taggart a winning season and a $100K bonus. Who goes and what it costs will be available under Oregon public records law however, since “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” is not yet listed as a mandatory exemption under ORS 192.

2016: Losing season, no bowl game.

12/28/2015: UO cuts Bowl of Ducks list to the bone

Two and a half weeks after asking, UO’s Public Records office responds to a request for the Alamo Bowl junket list:

No University employees will be receiving paid “junkets” to the Valero Alamo Bowl on January 2nd. However, the following University employees will be travelling to the Alamo Bowl as a part of the official delegation, and will be expected to perform work on behalf of the University.

Mike Andreasen
Roger Thompson
Tim Gleason
Rob Mullens
Randy Sullivan

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.

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Lorraine Davis’s brief unpaid stint as Professor Emerita ends

A month ago UO’s directory listed longtime UO administrator Lorraine Davis’s only current UO affiliation as Professor Emeritus [sic] – an unpaid honorific typically bestowed upon faculty who retire after long and distinguished careers as teachers and researchers:

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I was a little surprised to see this, since Davis’s recent work has been more focused on Duck sports than UO academics, and if not honorific has certainly been well paid:

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I’m sure these “Overload Alamo Bowl Duties” are essential to our academic mission – although I’ll be more sure after my obligatory tax deductible bowl game junket as Senate President – but has UO really sunk to the place where this crap gets you a Professor Emerita rank?

Not yet. Ms Davis’s position as Professor Emerita has now been removed from the UO directory, there is no mention of her on the Department of Educational Methodology, Policy, and Leadership’s website, and she’s now just listed on the UO website as a “Special Assistant” to our Athletic Director, President, and Provost:

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But I wonder who costs the academic budget more – Special Assistant Lorraine Davis, or “Faculty” Athletics Representative Tim Gleason?

“You could get killed for that!”: Where did Nike apparel money go?

3/5/2015: No, of course I’m not talking about the $30K that UO administrators get each year as part of the lousy apparel contract they signed with Nike. That seems like an interesting potential conflict of interest, but I’m sure UO’s Office of Internal Audit has carefully vetted it, just as they must have done with Vin Lananna, the UO Foundation, Track Town, and UO’s lobbying efforts.

I’m talking about this report by Jeffrey Gettleman in the NYT (thanks to a helpful reader for the link):

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… In the documents, Nike provided detailed instructions on how the $100,000 yearly honorarium was to be used (to cover travel costs and phone bills, among other things). No details were provided for the commitment bonus, though, even after the former employee, who worked as an administrative assistant and in other jobs at Athletics Kenya for more than 10 years, wrote to a Nike executive asking him.

In a sworn statement provided to Kenyan investigators, the former assistant said the $500,000 commitment bonus was “bribe money from Nike” so that the top officials could pay back the $200,000 from the scuttled deal with the Chinese company and then make even more by agreeing to sign up again with Nike.

The former administrative assistant requested that his name not be revealed, saying it was extremely dangerous to expose high-level corruption in Kenya — a sentiment shared by others.

“Put that away! You could get killed for that!” exclaimed a member of Athletics Kenya’s board, his eyes widening when a reporter pulled out the amended contract from Nike listing the $500,000 commitment bonus during an interview at a quiet Nairobi restaurant.

 

6/17/2015 update: The WSJ has a good summary of the apparel deal between Nike and the Brazilian soccer team, and the secret Swiss bank account side payment, here. (Gated, also try here.)

UO has its own apparel deal with Nike, some stories about that are below. The public records were heavily redacted by Dave Hubin’s public records office, so it’s unclear whether or not the same UO administrators who signed off on the deal – which doesn’t seem that good for UO –  get free shoes or other swag from the $185K annual “discretionary apparel” budget. And if they do, would that be illegal?

The UO / Nike contract and discretionary apparel list are here, and Matthew Kish’s excellent database on these deals is here.

12/18/2014 update: Athletic department ditches Nike for Adidas, gets twice the cash

Matthew Kish has the story in the Portland Business Journal, here.

McElroy was hired from the Dallas Cowboys in May and charged with increasing the department’s revenue. The Adidas deal does that. It’s worth $4.2 million annually through 2023, more than double the $2.1 million the university will receive from Nike this year.

That’s at Arizona State University. Nike’s contract with UO is far stingier – just $600K in cash. Doesn’t someone have a fiduciary responsibility to get a better deal on this?

12/9/2014 update: Which football championship team has the worst Nike contract? The Ducks.

From Matthew Kish in the Portland Business Journal:

Here’s a breakdown of Nike’s [athletic apparel] deal with each university in the playoffs. The terms cover the 2014-15 academic year [reordered in descending order of cash payment]:

– Ohio State: $2.5 million in equipment and apparel and nearly $1.5 million in cash. The university also gets $150,000 in discretionary apparel, typically for athletic department personnel.

– Florida State: $3 million in equipment and apparel and $1.4 million in cash.

– Alabama: $2.8 million in equipment and apparel, $780,000 in cash.

– Oregon: $2.2 million in equipment and apparel and $600,000 in cash. The university also gets $185,000 in discretionary apparel, typically for athletic department personnel.

But hey, we’re #1 in “discretionary apparel”!

From what I can tell from Dave Hubin’s redacted public records, $30K of that goes to our colleagues in Johnson Hall, presumably including some who signed off on the contract. So they’ll be looking good on their Jan 1 Rose Bowl junkets.

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2/3/2014 update: Under Armour pays Notre Dame $9M, Nike pays UO $600K

Nike just signed Tennessee to a new deal for $1M cash a year, plus $2M signing bonus.

1/23/2014: Our Uncle Phil drives a tough bargain. Nike’s merchandising deal with UO pays us just $600K a year. Meanwhile Notre Dame just closed on a 10 year deal with Nike competitor Under Armour for ~$9M a year. Bloomberg financial news has a report here:

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Adidas and Under Armour would love to get a marketing deal with the Ducks. Why won’t UO use this to negotiate with Nike for more money?

In part because a sweetheart deal for Nike is just part of the price the UO administration is willing to pay for the vague promise of $1B for the endowment, someday. It would pay off big in outside offers and raises for every admin involved. And perhaps also because Nike gives UO administrators $30K worth of free sneakers and clothes. Portland Business Journal reporter Matthew Kish has a thorough report on these deals, here.

Rob Mullens gets $50K for Alamo Bowl, players get $125 gift certificate

And how much did UO pay Lorraine Davis for her Alamo Bowl duties? Last year’s bowl overload was pretty lucrative:

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The NCAA’s unwritten rule is that “no black man shall make money off college football”. MLK biographer Taylor Branch’s expose is in the Atlantic, here:

The Washington Post reports on a new study on how racism drives opposition to paying college football players, here:

Racial prejudice is driving opposition to paying college athletes. Here’s the evidence.

… To find out whether racial prejudice influences white opinion on paying college athletes, we conducted a survey of opinions on “pay for play” policies using the 2014 CCES.

In a statistical analysis that controlled for a host of other influences, we found this: Negative racial views about blacks were the single most important predictor of white opposition to paying college athletes.

The more negatively a white respondent felt about blacks, the more they opposed paying college athletes.

UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens’s contract is here:

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While the Duck players get this:

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Washington Post calls for controls on big-time athletic pork

Columnist Sally Jenkins, here:

… For years, athletic directors have styled themselves as CEO-types and moaned about the difficulties of managing costs. But a Washington Post project published earlier this week shows that these so-called executives are about as fiscally responsible as Gabor sisters serving sevruga in chinchilla capes. The truth is, their deficits aren’t a necessity. They’re a choice.

Throughout The Post’s findings is the distinctly acrid smell of books cooking. The ledgers show that there is never enough money to fully comply with Title IX or cover the true cost of a scholarship but always enough to pay themselves more or to buy a new toy.

… The chair of an engineering department is not permitted to spend indiscriminately, so why should athletic directors be able to — especially when they siphon university money away from other departments to cover their overdrafts?

As matters stand, athletic departments aren’t answerable to anyone, budgeted separately from the university and almost completely unregulated. Their only real oversight comes from high-dollar donors. The reason for this is that years ago college presidents tried to wash their hands by allowing them to become stand-alone entities that raise and spend funds however they wish. Author Gilbert Gaul, in his new book “Billion Dollar Ball,” likens them to hedge funds or entertainment divisions rather than academic entities. As one Texas administrator put it to Gaul, “We eat what we kill.”

But that’s not enough, so they take from the academic side too.

Win over Cal costs UO $50K for Helfrich bonus + administrator junkets

11/7/2015: 

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Apparently this win means the Ducks are going to some bowl game, and Helfrich gets a $50K bonus for that. Then we have to pay for all the admins and their families to go along for the junket. Here’s Tim Gleason, then Journalism Dean, now Faculty Athletics Representative, at the 2013 Fiesta Bowl student recruiting event:

VP  for Enrollment Roger Thompson videotapes one or two humiliating events like this at every bowl game, so that the administrators can show the IRS there was a business purpose for their family’s holiday junket:

4/12/2015: Coach Helfrich’s raise totals more than all 1500 UO staff combined

UO has about 1500 staff workers, making an average wage of about $35,000 a year. Their SEIU local 503 is currently bargaining with OUS for a new contract. The OUS offer is an 0.5% COLA, or $175 each per year.

Meanwhile, the UO administration just found the money to give football coach Mark Helfrich a slightly larger raise:

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Here’s the message from the SEIU local:

Higher Ed Management Proposals Not Unified Across State, Return to the “Big Three,” Attack Health Care, Steps, and More Continue reading

Prediction markets give Helfrich’s Ducks 3% chance of championship

Here:

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This could save UO a lot of money. The athletic department’s report to the NCAA, here, says they lost $832K on last year’s bowl games, after you count the cost of the administrator’s junkets and the coach’s bonuses. That’s right, our coaches’ bowl game bonuses are so large that UO loses money when Ducks get into bowl games. What a scam:

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UO lost $1.5M on bowl games, and how many good students?

5/5/2015 update:

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports reports that, after accounting for the administrative junkets and $2.2M bonuses for AD Rob Mullens and the coaches, UO lost $1.5m on the Pac12 and BCS championship games:

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But surely all that publicity will help bring in new students? Actually, the latest research shows the opposite:

In this paper, we use a panel data set of university funding, applications, enrollment and the quality of students at the university measured by percentile on entrance exams from 2002 to 2009 to examine the effects of various levels of success including: BCS national championships, conference championships and AP top 25 rankings. Our results indicate, individually, that national championships and AP top 25 rankings can lower the quantity and quality of applicants and enrollees, however, conference championships can positively impact the quantity and quality of applicants and enrollees. Yet, when the [football] success measures are combined, tests reveal that overall success negatively affects the quantity and quality of applicants and enrollees.

Why? Parents are unlikely to want to pay for their children to attend a football-factory party school. Of course that’s not the message UO’s $115K Duck Advocate and PR flack Tobin Klinger posted on “Around the 0” from his all-expense-paid Dallas junket, but here’s a link to the working paper: College Football Success and the Quantity and Quality of Applicants: Evidence from the BCS.

The negative academic effects of football wins continues after enrollment. UO Economist Glen Waddell’s 2012 paper, published in the American Economic Review: Applied Economics, showed that football wins led to worse grades for current UO undergraduates – particularly for males. The effect is striking:

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Why? Just what you’d expect – after a win our students party, get drunk, and skip class:

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Not exactly a surprise to any parent who was once a student themselves, so they send their kids to a school without so many distractions. The only puzzle here is why the UO administration and its PR flacks are still pretending that big-time football is good for the academic side. Oh, right, they get a party too, and there aren’t any adults in JH to tell our administrators to get their act together.

1/9/2015: Coltrane leads Johnson Hall old guard on one more junket

Jeff Manning has the report in the Oregonian:

University President Scott Coltrane is bringing a delegation of 25, including the provost and deans of the law school, Honors College, journalism, music and dance and other academic departments. Spouses and partners are also among the delegation. All are required to participate in social events like the VIP tailgate.

Airfare and other travel costs alone will cost $50,000. The university was unable to provide an estimate of costs for food, lodging and other expenses.

… The Oregon athletic department is sending a much larger contingent to Dallas. About 570 players, cheerleaders, marching band members, coaches and administrators, as well as spouses, will be leaving Eugene Friday or Saturday, university officials said.

The euphoria over the big game can’t mask serious issues at Oregon.

There’s the revolving door in the president’s office. The UO has been through four presidents in five years. Michael Gottfredson lasted in the job just two years before he resigned in August amid a furor over the university’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against three UO basketball players.

The alleged victim sued the university on Thursday.

Instructors are disgruntled. UO graduate teaching assistants went on strike last year in a dispute over compensation and benefits. The professors also voted to unionize in 2013. Some of Oregon’s best researchers and professors have left for other institutions, a problem the administration admits has reached serious proportions.

… Oregon Law School Professor Margie Paris said the distrust and resentment between Oregon’s academic and athletic sides is nothing new. Fourteen years ago she helped lead a task force convened to examine athletic spending some deemed out of control.

Since then, athletics spending and revenue have exploded.

Paris share’s Dreiling’s misgivings about UO’s sports-centric culture. But she also believes you have to credit Knight and Nike for making Oregon relevant in the billion-dollar pop-culture industry that college sports have become.

“There’s already been a huge benefit,” Paris said. “We’re cool, we’re the Ducks.”

Yeah, that’s huge.

1/12/2015 update: Scott Greenstone has the story in the Emerald here, along with plenty of VP Roger Thompson’s usual protests that it’s all about recruiting new students, honest:

Officers of administration going include the deans of the Honors College, School of Journalism and Communications, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. The money for travel, expenses and lodging comes out of the budgets of each of these departments, so it is each department head’s choice whether or not to go.

Our student tuition dollars at work play.

Tublitz: UO is still stalling release of bowl game junketeer names

I can’t imagine why they are stalling. With luck, Prof Tublitz will get these names in time for me to post them before the bargaining session with Jamie Moffitt starts:

On Mar 13, 2015, at 10:22 PM, tublitz <tublitz@uoregon.edu> wrote:

Dear Ms Joubran:

I submitted the following request over a month ago. Can you please tell me why your response is taking so long and when I will be supplied with the requested information? It is a simple request that should not take very long to fulfill.

Thanks very much,

N. Tublitz

On 2/13/2015 2:59 PM, pubrec@uoregon.edu wrote:

Dear Mr. Tublitz:

The University of Oregon, Office of Public Records has received your
public records request for”) a list of the names and titles of all
University employees and family members who received free tickets, free
transportation and/or free accommodations to the College Football
playoff semi-final game between Oregon and Florida State played on Jan
1, 2015 at the Rose Bowl, Los Angeles CA; and, 2) A separate list of the
names and titles of all University employees and family members who
received free tickets, free transportation and/or free accommodations to
the College Football playoff championship game between Oregon and Ohio
State played on Jan 12, 2015 at AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX. For each
person, please list whether they received free tickets, free
transportation and/or free accommodations,” on 02/13/2015, attached.

The university is uncertain whether it possesses the records you have
requested. However, the university will search for the records and make
a response to your request as soon as practicable.

If documents exist and may be provided, the office will provide the
documents electronically to avoid a copy fee of 25 cents per page. The
office also charges for the actual cost of making public records
available. The charge includes, but is not limited to, staff costs for
locating, gathering, summarizing, compiling, reviewing, tailoring or
redacting the public records to respond to a request. The charge may
also include the cost of time spent by an attorney in reviewing the
public records, redacting material from the public records, or
segregating the public records into exempt and nonexempt records.

The cost of time for each employee is calculated by multiplying the
employee’s hourly wage calculation (including benefits expenses) by the
hours or portions thereof necessary to locate, gather, summarize,
compile, tailor, review, redact, segregate, certify or attend the
inspection of the public records requested.

Thank you for contacting the University with your request.

Sincerely,

Daphne Joubran
Office of Public Records
University of OregonOffice of the President
6207 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-6207
(541) 346-6823
pubrec@uoregon.edu <mailto:pubrec@uoregon.edu>

Duck PR flack Tim Clevenger shows IRS proof of “business purpose” for junket

1/1/2015 junket update:

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It’s good to see he’s found some honest work as a limo driver. Meanwhile our Chief Strategic Communicator’s team is churning out the traditional “Around the 0” stories on the obligatory charity and student recruiting events:

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12/27/2014: Johnson Hall admins take off for semi-final bowl game junkets

Last year it was the storied Fiesta Alamo Bowl. (Assuming time off for good behavior, former Fiesta Bowl Director John Junkers should be out of federal prison any day now.)

This year the Ducks have been selected by a committee including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to participate in the new College Football Championship semi-finals at the Rose Bowl. (Ms Rice is also a former Stanford Provost, and widely rumored to be the dream candidate of at least a few UO Board of Trustees members for new UO President.) I’ll wait to make the traditional public records request for the list of this year’s Johnson Hall junketeers and their travel receipts until we see if the Ducks will make it to the nationals.

Each of these bowl games typically includes a PR puff piece TV ad about the UO, with production and broadcast cost of $500K or so, a sham charity event where players and administrators put in an hour or two helping out at a food bank or similar for the TV cameras, and an undergraduate recruiting  event organized by VP for enrollment Roger Thompson.

The enrollment events typically include a few puzzled potential local undergraduates besieged by a horde of administrators desperate to get their talk with a potential undergraduate on video, just in case the IRS asks for proof that there was some business reason for deducting airfare game tickets, and per diem ($138 lodging, $71 food) for their whole family. For example, here’s former Dean of Journalism and current UO NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative Tim Gleason giving it his best shot, from last year (or maybe the year before, I’ve lost track, check the comments):

If you want to see who else took this junket, there’s video here and photos here.

Coltrane to limit bowl junkets, tells admins to watch game at home

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This is part of Interim President Coltrane’s new effort to reduce athletic subsidies and shift money towards academic excellence. Breaking news here:

The biggest cost-cutting move is just limiting the number of people who go, which saves travel and hotel costs. In 2009, the Wolf Pack did not take its band to the Hawaii Bowl. Some schools will charter either a large jet, a second jet or take multiple trips, but Nevada has consistently gone with smaller, less-expensive jets and told some support staffers that they’ll have to watch the game on TV at home.

The school also saves money by taking the less-expensive team-meal options at the hotels and not splurging on expensive rings and watches in the event of a victory.

Brian Polian is headed to his first bowl game as a head coach, too. Hired three months before Knuth, Polian has extensive history in big bowl games as an assistant coach at Stanford, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, schools where the presumption is that money is handed out like athletic tape.

And while that’s a stretch, the comparison has legs. Schools with massive athletic budgets tend to be more free-wheeling with money, and big-money bowls tend to cost more — in some cases a lot more — which can lead to red-pencil accounting.

Oh wait, that story is about the University of Nevada. Never mind. Here at UO, all indications are that our Johnson Hall colleagues, and their families, are planning their usual all-expense-paid bowl-game junkets. The next one is to the historic Rose Bowl in sunny Pasadena, for the football championship semifinal extravaganza, Jan 1.

Fiesta Bowl chief starts 8 month prison term

6/21/2014 update: The Arizona Republic has the story here. No word on how much Duck money was involved.

2/1/2013: No Policy Update: Duck administrators fly south for Felony Bowl

UO has no policy on free tickets or travel – not exactly “best practices” when it comes to claiming it’s exempt income, folks.

From: “Thornton, Lisa”
Subject: Public Records Request 2013-PRR-185Date: February 1, 2013 12:28:59 PM PST
02/01/2013
Dear [UO Matters]-
The University does not possess records responsive to your request for ” a copy of UO’s policies and/or procedures on paying for travel and tickets to away games and/or postseason games”, made 1/28/2013.
Thank you for contacting the office with your request.
Sincerely,

Lisa Thornton
Office of Public Records

1/28/2013: Ever wonder how the Ducks get our administrators to look the other way about the accounting tricks that leave the academic side holding the bag for millions in athletic department costs? Free junkets are part of it. The Fiesta Bowl has a long history of corruption, see here.
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