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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NCAA to share administrators’ perks and family junkets with the players?

4/24/2014: This is a stunning development from the NCAA, reported by Rachel Bachman in the WSJ. It must be bitter news for UO’s FAR Jim O’Fallon, who has spent his professional life taking away kids athletic scholarships for just this sort of thing:

Other changes that the five power conferences are likely to consider if their autonomy is affirmed by the board of directors in August include the following, according to an NCAA news release:

  • Enhanced insurance policies for athletes that protect future earnings
  • Greater academic support, particularly for at-risk athletes
  • Allowances for players’ families to travel to games
  • Free tickets to athletic events
  • Payment of expenses related to practice and competition such as parking fees.

1/16/2014 Alamo Bowl junket list drops admins with conflicts of interest:

Dave Hubin’s public records office is still hiding this year’s memo from President Gottfredson inviting his JH admin’s on UO paid Alamo Bowl junkets, but they’ve finally released the list itself, after a variety of sneaky delays.

It appears the Geller family was indeed left off the bus this year, consistent with the timing of Randy’s enraged “fully engaged” holiday letter to the faculty. Also missing are VP for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt and family, the Davises, strategic communicator Tim Gleason, and a number of other administrators with rather obvious conflicts of interest related to their responsibility for approving the athletic department budget, paying for its lawyers, approving employment contracts for Rob Mullens and his coaches, etc. Good for President Gottfredson on this one. Interim Provost Scott Coltrane and spouse got a trip, but after spending $2.2M for Jock Box tutoring, I suppose he wanted to see if what he’d bought was worth our money.

In totally unrelated news, U.S District Judge David Campbell has set the sentencing date for former Fiesta Bowl CEO and convicted felon John Junker for March 13. The aptly named Mr. Junker laundered Fiesta Bowl money for illegal political contributions, strip club parties, and presents for the UT admissions office when they admitted his daughter. It’s not clear how much if any money from the Duck’s 2002 appearance was involved. Meanwhile our Alamo Bowl is paying its CEO Derrick Fox well over $500K a year, while giving just $128K for scholarships. Latest IRS report here.

Given all the corruption in big-time college sports, it’s nice to see JH has finally come clean about “Faculty” Athletics Representative and emeritus law professor Jim O’Fallon, now frankly listed as athletic department staff. Of course the academic side is still paying his salary, but rumor has it he’s going to resign soon in the face of a Senate motion for a 25-year-overdue performance review. Not clear if he’ll also have to give up his NCAA infractions committee gig harassing unpaid athletes.

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1/22/2014 update: Correction from the Public Records Office on Jim O’Fallon:

On January 15, 2014 the office released documents in response to your public records request for documents released in response to the following public records request: “the names of all university employees who were invited to as well as those who actually attended the Valero Alamo Bowl for pre-game events in San Antonio, Texas. Second, if it is possible I would also like to request invoices for the costs of their trip that the University of Oregon paid for, in the form of a per diem or any comparable allowance”.

One of the documents you were given has Mr. James O’Fallon categorized as “Athletic Dept. Staff- Faculty Rep”. Mr. O’Fallon should have been categorized as “Faculty Athletics Representative”. This mistake has been corrected, and a corrected copy of this document is attached.

UO Admissions recruits top scholars

Diane Dietz has the story in the RG. Good to see Roger Thompson’s admissions office is doing more than organizing sham events to cover for our administrators’ bowl game junkets. Speaking of which, President Gottfredson’s office is now denying they have any public records showing which UO administrators and spouses got junkets “paid work related travel” to the San Antonio Bowl:

The university has searched for, but was unable to locate, records responsive to your request made 12/24/2013.  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.

Sure. Last year’s Fiesta Bowl memo is here. I wonder why JH is so secretive about this year’s list?

1/6/2014: Ducks to lose money on Alamo Bowl after administrator junkets?
Now 3 weeks, and still no memo from the public records office. But Troy Brynelson has a great article in the ODE about our administration’s tortured efforts to justify their Alamo Bowl junkets as a worthwhile admissions recruiting trip, here.

12/30/13: More than two weeks since I made this request, and UO is still hiding the memo showing which administrators got Alamo bowl junkets.

12/27/2013 update from Lewis Kamb in the Seattle Times:

For the Alamo Bowl, which pays nearly $3.2 million to the conference, the conference pays a school $1.2 million, plus up to 500 charter seats and the ticket subsidy.

“The reimbursement usually does not cover the entire bowl game expense amount,” the UW’s Sasaki said.

True, but each university also controls the size of its travel party to a bowl game — a factor that largely determines whether it financially wins, loses or breaks even.

Then there’s the $50K bonus we have to pay Rob Mullens.

12/26/22013: Ducks cancel Alamo Bowl junkets over tax issues

Or maybe they just gave them a different name. On Dec 11 I made this public records request, after hearing rumors that President Gottfredson had cut back on the number of UO administrators and spouses getting all-expense-paid trips to this year’s bowl game:

12/11/2013: This is a public records request for a copy of any email, memos, or similar announcing which UO employees will get paid junkets to this year’s “Valero Alamo Bowl”. I ask for a fee-waiver on the basis of public interest.

These trips are a potential conflict of interest for UO administrators like VPFA Jamie Moffitt, who must make tough decisions about cutting athletics subsidies after getting a sweet free vacation from the Ducks. Just to make sure the public records office knew what I was asking for, I followed up with a link to last year’s announcement – which took a month or so to obtain, if memory serves me:

12/11/2013: if you need any clarification on this PR request about junkets, last year’s announcement from President Gottfredson is here:
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Alamo Bowl brings in $10M, donates $148K for scholarships

Looks like the the Ducks are going to the Alamo Bowl.

In 2011, the last year for which data is available (IRS 990 here) the San Antonio Bowl Association brought in $10M from tickets and TV revenue from the “Valero Alamo Bowl”. They paid out $6.1M to the football teams:

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Much of this was then used to pay things like multi-million dollar coach salaries, and of course junkets to the game for university administrators and their hangers-on. (More on the UO Alamo junkets soon, meanwhile here’s the info from UO’s trip to the Fiesta Bowl last year. No word yet on the Feds efforts to seek prison time for their former CEO John Junker, and the state court has now postponed sentencing until January – apparently he’s still cooperating with the investigation. Could get interesting. I wonder how much UO money he laundered?)

They paid their CEO Derrick Fox $470,000:

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And they donated a grand total of $148,000 for scholarships: (The other $20K was to TCU.)

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In the eyes of the IRS, this makes them a non-profit.

UO and OSU enrollment

11/15/2013: Comprehensive story in the RG, comparing UO and OSU, here:

The plan is to grow the Corvallis campus to 28,000 students, up by about 75 students; increase enrollment at OSU’s Bend campus to 5,000 students, up from 936; grow the online student population to about 7,000 students; and increase the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport from a handful of students today to 500 in the future. 

At the UO, meanwhile, Thompson said he doesn’t know when the university hopes to grow again. 

“I don’t know that that’s any where on the horizon,” Thompson said. “There’s so many things the university needs to sort out before we think about growth — that’s quite a way off.”

For once there’s nothing about the wonderful influence of Duck Football on enrollment and how it justifies more athletics subsidies. Perhaps that’s because UO’s admissions yield rate, the % of admitted students that actually enroll, has fallen from 36% in 2004 to 26% in 2012. Makes you wonder how the administration is going to justify this year’s bowl game junkets?

And don’t miss this Steve Duin post on enrollment of undocumented immigrant Oregon high school graduates at Oregon universities, with in-state tuition. UO had the most, but that was only 12.

Special Agent Lorraine Davis’s secret athletics assignment

8/14/2013: I will be very surprised if Oregon’s public records law actually allows UO to completely redact the job assignment for an employee receiving an $192,278 salary, at an 0.55 FTE:

Full pdf here. While “The University” refuses to give faculty modest child-care allowances for attending talks and dinners with job candidates, UO has had no problem in the past giving central administrators like Ms Davis some rather remarkable perks. More here:

PR Office email for the latest contract:

Attached are the records responsive to your request made 08/01/2013.  Some information is exempt under OAR 571-030.  The univesity has searched for, but was unable to locate, a job description for Ms. Davis. 

The office considers these documents 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

I’ve looked at the OAR and the ORS it references, 351.065 Personnel records; rulesThe only circumstances I can imagine where they could redact Ms Davis’s job assignment would be if it said something that might be construed as a personal record of another employee, e.g.:

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to clean up the disastrous mess left behind by …. . As usual, should you be captured or killed, the Provost will disavow any knowledge of your assignment.”

No bowl junkets for new UO Trustees

7/11/2013: That’s according to the ethics law summary posted on Governor Kitzhaber’s website:

Obvious conflict of interest, might lead the trustees to make decisions favoring athletics over academics. But then those ethics rules are supposed to hold for all public officials – including junketeers like Lorraine Davis, Robin Holmes, Jamie Moffitt, Tim Gleason and Jim Bean. Fat chance:

Presumably UO will claim it’s not a game, it’s a “fact-finding mission”:

Who’s on first?

3/16/2013. What exactly are “the duties of the University President for the 2012 Rose Bowl”? And why did our students have to pay Lorraine Davis to go to Pasadena and perform them?

Who knows. The real question is how much money VPFA Jamie Moffitt will let Johnson Hall spend on these junkets next time. According to the history Nathan Tublitz has dug up – which includes UO paid trips for Moffitt and her husband – that would be quite a lot:

On 15-03-2013 16:36, Office of Public Records wrote: 3/15/2013 

Dear Mr. Tublitz- 

My apologies, Rob Mullens should have been included on the list. He
received two tickets. 

I have been informed that Lorraine Davis, who was acting Provost at
the time, fulfilled the duties of the University President for the
2012 Rose Bowl. 

Please let me know which Senior Administrators you believe are
missing from the list, and I will look into the matter further. 

Thank you,
Lisa
Lisa Thornton
Public Records Officer
University of Oregon
Office of the President
6207 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-6207
(541)346-6823

Bowl junkets and an independent UO Board

3/8/13: Thanks to the ever curious Nathan Tublitz, here’s the list of UO employees who got free Rose Bowl tickets in 2012. 635 total tickets. (It took 3 months for Dave Hubin’s public records office to release the records.) Street price was about $1700 a pop for last year, according to these market analysts. Let’s say $1500 for the 2012 UO game. (But see the comments for a discussion.) So, about $1,000,000 total opportunity cost, or enough to give the faculty a 1% raise. And this doesn’t count the travel cost giveaways – data on that is coming. This sort of thing sure buys our athletic department a lot of friends – and if they give them out to the right UO administrators, a lot of hidden subsidies from the academic side.

Just imagine what’s going to happen when they start giving these junkets to the new UO Board members. Full file here. A snippet:

A few more of our duck nomenklatura:
And check the “junkets” tab below for more on this popular and expensive topic.

NCAA academic reforms go bad

If there’s one thing the jocks understand it’s how to take the rules and run with them. Today’s excellent story in Inside Higher Ed, by Gerald Gurney and Richard M. Southall, dissects the 2003 NCAA academic reforms – pushed by former UO Pres Myles Brand – and shows how they have been subverted by athletic departments and cooperative central administrators:

Presidents of Division I universities, with the assistance of their athletics programs and some faculty enamored with athletics, knowingly accept watered-down curriculums for specially admitted underprepared athletes as the price of big-time college sport. They willingly leverage loose admissions standards with special exceptions reserved for athletes, massive remedial programs and less rigorous academic majors to maintain or achieve winning programs to keep their donors and regents pleased and proud. The promise of a world-class education and opportunity is a great hoax.

Read it all, reflect on how much of this is happening at UO, and think about what we can do about it, here, soon. Let’s start with having President Gottfredson giving the faculty access to the data on academic performance which the Senate unanimously asked him to provide by last month. 2/14/13.

Updated with PR request: UO administrators plan their Fiesta Bowl junkets

Kelly Ardis reports in the RG that Duck fans are not snapping up Felony Bowl tickets at the expected pace. But presumably our administrators have their UO paid junkets all worked out – much easier when you are spending other people’s money. How many are going, and what excuse will they use this year to convince the IRS that there’s a legitimate business purpose?

For last year’s Rose Bowl VP for Enrollment Roger Thompson set up an expensive, catered “student recruiting” event on the beach in LA, to allow administrators like Robin Holmes and Lorraine Davis get UO paid trips for themselves – and often their families too. Sam Stites had a great story on this in the ODE. That particular ruse will be a bit harder to justify in Glendale, Arizona. But you can be sure that JH’s top administrative minds are hard at work on this problem – and not much else. 12/5/2012.

So lets find out what’s under this rock:

This is a public records request for  

1) a list of the names of all UO or state employees (including e.g. state legislators) and excluding UO student employees that will be receiving free or reimbursed tickets or travel to the upcoming Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, whether directly through UO through UO Foundation accounts managed or controlled by UO employees, or through Fiesta Bowl funds related to UO’s participation in the bowl game. Please include the number in the party if family members or guests are also having costs paid through UO or the Foundation or the Fiesta Bowl. 

b) [sic] a copy of any documents showing the UO business purpose of the tickets or travel. 

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of public interest. The Fiesta Bowl has a long history of corruption. The former CEO is awaiting sentencing on multiple federal and state felony charges involving misappropriation of funds received in part from UO’s previous Fiesta Bowl appearance. The public has an obvious interest in seeing what’s happening this time. 

UO has released documents on travel to previous bowl games in response to PR requests, and these have been used for stories such as that at http://dailyemerald.com/2012/05/07/the-price-of-roses/ Such stories, based on public records or FOIA requests, are also common at other universities and have spurred reform efforts.  

Last, Oregon law limits state agency’s ability to dole out perks such as these, and these documents are essential to establishing if UO’s practice is consistent with state ethics laws.