Donors narc out Duck AD Rob Mullens to the Washington Post

WaPo columnist Sally Jenkins, here:

Appearances matter — to some people. But apparently not to those paunchy administrators who cheat captive young people to the tune of seven figures, known as collegiate athletic directors. If you think this assessment is too harsh, check out the Ritz-Carlton oceanside resort where the College Football Playoff selection committee stayed last week, at the expense of the kids who actually play the game.

The 13-member committee won’t be issuing any rankings until November, yet somehow they required a multiday conference at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, a California beachfront hotel where the cheapest rooms start at $681 a night. …

What Mullens and his colleagues could not have known was that they were being watched with mounting disgust by a couple of major collegiate donors vacationing at the same hotel. These two folks, a married couple who estimate they have sponsored 100 or so scholarships at their Big Ten alma mater, wrote me a description of what they saw because they were so “appalled” by it and believe the scene “captures what’s wrong with collegiate athletics.”

… I wrote to some of them to ask what was accomplished at the meeting that could not have been handed in a conference call or email chain? And how do they justify such expense, given that committee won’t issue its first playoff rankings until after Week 10 of the season? And how do they square a stay at the Ritz with the arguments made by some of these same administrators, such as Castiglione, whose annual compensation is over $1 million a year, that there simply isn’t enough money to pay athletes?

The first one I tried was Mullens, because he is chair of the committee. Mullens’s base salary at Oregon is $717,500, and then there are his performance and retention bonuses, which will pay him another $100,000 and $200,000 in 2019-2020.

He did not respond to an email.

Duck AD Rob Mullens looking to leave too

5/2/2019 update:

The Oregonian’s James Crepea has the scoop here:

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens is a candidate for the recently vacated position at Texas A&M, according to a source with knowledge of the search. …

Which is sort of odd, because when he got his last raise he said he wanted to stay in Eugene and raise his family here.

7/7/2017: Rob Mullens’ secret $10M 8-year porkalicious contract & perverse incentives

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Rob Mullens played short-term Taggart hiring into a fat long raise for himself

Update: In the Oregonian, here:

… The narrative will be that Taggart went 7-5 in his first season and he and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, baited Oregon into a bidding war with Florida State that resulted in a six-year, $30 million windfall. But the reality is, the Ducks didn’t do enough in structuring the original contract to protect themselves. That inept contract, and not a wonderful game of poker by Camp Taggart, is what allowed the Ducks to get leveraged. …

Of course the other interpretation of events is that Rob Mullens’s incentives are imperfectly correlated with Duck football success, and that his main concern was to impress his bosses with a plausible quick hire and then lock in his own lucrative contract before the next scandal became public. Which he did very skillfully.

12/5/2017: Another Rob Mullens hiring call goes south

No, I’m not talking about the decision to hire Dana Altman, or give Altman a raise and contract extension, or his various scandals. And I’m not talking about hiring Mike(?) Helfrich, or his raise and contract extension, or the decision to then turn around and fire Helfrich under the new contract terms costing UO $13.7M or so for buyouts which we’re still paying out.

I’m talking about the decision to hire Willie Taggart, who is now on his way to Florida State, and taking his recruits with him. No word yet on whether or not Taggart will leave his strength and conditioning coach for UO to deal with:

How much can Willie Taggart roll Rob Mullens for with a few Florida rumors?

The Emerald has the story here about how Taggart is “committed” to Oregon despite the Florida job. I’m no economist, but what’s “committed” mean in dollars?

Duck AD Rob Mullens is famously easy to roll – just ask Mark Helfrich, Dana Altman, or Eric Roedl. I’ll give my last University of Nike coffee cup to whoever provides the best estimate of how much a desperate Mullens will throw on the table this time.

Duck AD Rob Mullens gives faculty hints on how to get a retention raise

If you’re a UO professor, the only path to a significant pay increase is to get an outside offer in writing and then use it to convince your dean to give you a 10% raise to stay at UO. For most of us, this requires that we lie to colleagues at other schools about how mobile we are. You have to say things like: “My department is dysfunctional. I love your work and would like to co-author with you. My colleagues aren’t bad, for deadwood. My SO just loves Missouri weather.UO’s central administration is a disaster. My kids really want to move to a new school”, etc.

But if you’re a Duck, the retention game is a little easier. Austin Meek reports on what AD Rob Mullens had to do to get a  ~100% raise, in the RG here:

Mullens said he began contract discussions with university president Michael Schill last summer, with the two agreeing on terms before the 2016 football season. Oregon’s subsequent 4-8 finish and the decision to change coaches didn’t play into the contract negotiation, he said.

“I’d had, what, five presidents in six years? Or five in five years if you count interims?” Mullens said. “For us, this is where we want to be. We knew that. That was the biggest piece.

“Football really didn’t factor into it. If you would have asked me last summer in June or July if I saw a 4-8 season coming, I didn’t see that coming.”

When he signed his previous contract extension in 2015, Mullens was working for interim president Scott Coltrane. He said his goal in the latest negotiation was to sign a contract that would keep him in Eugene until his youngest son graduates from high school.

“We wanted some stability in an unstable business,” Mullens said. “That was important to us.”

So he traded some pay for job security? Just kidding, he got both. If this bargaining strategy has worked for any faculty, please let me know in the comments. Of course more money for Mullens means less money for others, and Meek’s article also reports on the departure or demotion of a variety of Duck staff:

Craig Pintens, whom Mullens sent to sell football tickets in Siberia:

[New Strategic Communicator Jimmy] Stanton assumed the role of department spokesman from Craig Pintens, who will focus on his roles overseeing marketing and ticketing operations.

“Those are his areas of expertise,” Mullens said. “He’s proven that. I felt we were doing him a disservice by spreading him too thin and asking him to take on these heavy lifts.

Tom Hart, who famously warned Duck players to avoid Egyptian motorcycle gang prostitutes, and never to call him on his office phone, is also out:

Hart served as the coach’s personal body guard, enforced the program’s security guidelines and monitored off-field issues. Oregon’s campus security force now provides an armed guard to patrol the field during practice.

“Willie said he’d rather use those resources in a different way to support our student athletes,” Mullens said.

I wonder who will monitor their facebook accounts now? And then there’s this:

Oregon also eliminated the position of academic coordinator for football held by Tim Bruegman. Bruegman, who’d been with the department since 2005, was in charge of “providing players with educational resources and support to help student-athletes meet eligibility standards” and “collaborat(ing) with instructors to ensure members of the football team succeed athletically and academically,” according to his Oregon bio.

Instead of using a liaison, Mullens said Taggart and his coaches will communicate directly with staff at the Jaqua Academic Center.

“He said, ‘I’ll work directly with the Jaqua staff. I’ll be hands-on,’” Mullens said.

Sure. Maybe Taggart will just teach all their classes too. Probably with a little help from Lorraine Davis, whose well-paid job as athletic fixer seems to be secure.

Athletic Director to pay University $5M for academic scholarships

That would be Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst at the University of Nebraska:

Nebraska Athletics will provide $5 million in scholarships to nonathletes, potentially providing additional aid to hundreds of students each year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

… “We’ve worked very hard and very strategically over the course of the last few years to build upon our great history and tradition and to strengthen our foundation for success — particularly as it relates to our collaborations across the academic spectrum,” Eichorst said. “It’s been an important initiative for me from day one to ground and base everything we do in athletics in academics.”

Here at UO the cash flows in the opposite direction, thanks to Duck Athletic Director Rob Mullens and his ilk.

$600K a year and Rob Mullens can’t even give UO a clean volleyball program?

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Perhaps he’s spending his time on Duck sports that pay him a bonus for “competing at the highest level of excellence.” Reporter Kenny Jacoby has the latest Duck athletic scandal in the Emerald, here:

Read the story for the really disturbing quotes, and a link to the courageous letter from UO’s former student-athletes. Here’s a snippet:

… [Former volleyball players] Crittenden and Kevorken said both talked to an athletic department official about their concerns in 2015 but Moore and Metro continued to coach.

… Crittenden said the purpose of her letter is not to “bash coaches,” but to tell the story she had previously kept quiet and encourage others to do the same. She said it’s time for athletic departments to stop being negligent when athletes come forward to them.

“I want other athletes who may be suffering in silence to know that their feelings are valid, their words are valid, and their stories matter,” she wrote.

Haylee Roberts, Canace Finley, Chloe Buckendahl and Maddie Magee were the other four players whose names and signatures appeared at the bottom of the letter to Schill and Mullens.

“We can rest easier knowing that the former coaches are no longer in a position to negatively impact young athletes and we no longer feel ashamed to identify ourselves as former Oregon Ducks,” they wrote.

This story came out just 30 minutes after the year’s second meeting of the President’s Intercollegiate Athletics Advisory Committee. Athletics Director Rob Mullens and President Mike Schill sat across from each other. Faculty Athletics Representative Tim Gleason was missing. IAAC Chair Andy Karduna was there along with 2 of the IAAC’s 8 faculty members. There was an hour long, rambling discussion of what to do about athletes who had to miss classes to travel to away games to earn money for the athletic department. Someone was supposed to have brought data on how many classes athletes miss, but they didn’t. No one asked anything about this, or any of the other recent Duck athletic scandals.

Meanwhile, Mullens’ volleyball coaches are still receiving public funds:

According to public records obtained by the Emerald, Moore and Metro will be paid according to their respective salaries through their resignation dates: May 15, 2017, and January 31, 2018, respectively.

AD Mullens buys out Duck basketball coach Don Altman for 12 Gottfredsons

11/29/2016 update: The RG’s Ryan Thornburn has the shocking details here.

Or at least I think it was the basketball coach – he’s about to drop out of the rankings too. But maybe his buyout is next year.

Meanwhile, Mullens, Altman, Helfrich and the other well-paid Athletic Department employees haven’t been giving much to the University’s Charitable Fund Drive for state and community charities:

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11/28/2016 update: Matt Helfrich wins excellent $9.4M buyout with lousy 34-44 Civil War loss

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Harbaugh brings in $174M in Nike money for university

Sports Illustrated has the details on the ~$11M a year deal here.

Meanwhile the Ducks get only $600K a year from Nike, plus free shoes and clothes for UO administrators, of course. Frances Dyke renewed this contract in 2009, and it expires November 30, 2017. This deal is so bad.

Unfortunately the Nike contract renegotiation will likely be in the hands of the Duck’s feckless – but well paid – Associate AD for Finance Eric Roedl:

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Roedl talks tough to UO students when it’s time to squeeze them for more football ticket money. But, according to the legal briefs filed over his botched attempt to buy insurance from Lloyds of London for Duck football coach bonuses, it’s not clear Roedl knows how to read a contract, much less write one:

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OK, the truth is that Cousin Jim brought in the $174M for Michigan, not me.  But my muckraking here at UO did play a small part in setting up the AD’s $100M reserve fund for the $235M arena bonds – along with work by John Chalmers (Finance) and Dennis Howard (Marketing) and the Senate Budget Committee. And my well-researched complaint to the state auditors did force VPFA Jamie Moffitt to make a modest $455K a year increase in the AD’s overhead rate. Frohnmayer and Bellotti had set up a sweetheart deal for the jocks, the auditors decided it violated state rules after the DOJ made Jamie Moffitt and Rob Mullens give up the secret MOU they’d had been hiding from the Senate IAC.

Ducks squeeze students on mandatory ticket fees as football demand falls

12/19/2015 update: 

John Solomon has the latest college football data, on CBSsports. Basketball demand is even lower, in part due to a secular trend, in part because many fans think Knight Arena is a soulless big box, and in part because some fans can’t stomach the sight of Dana Altman after how he handled the rape allegations.

So how are the Ducks going to pay for the admins Alamo Bowl game junkets, and the jock bosses bloated bonuses?

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They’ll squeeze our UO students. Since regular fans won’t pay, AD Rob Mullens and AAD Eric Roedl are doing everything they can to extract more money from the ASUO student government, as explained below.

8/3/2015 update: Duck athletics uses monopoly power to discriminate against students

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Chip Kelly returns to Eugene to pay Ducks $20K NCAA fine?

10/30/2018 update: I’ve always had a soft spot for Kelly, because he had the sense of humor to hide his $25K payoff to Willie Lyles where no reasonable person would ever have found it – in the UO libraries financial accounts:

Unfortunately for Kelly, sports reporters are not reasonable people. Kelly will be back in Eugene this Saturday for some sort of football event, and presumably UO’s General Counsel Kevin Reed will be waiting with a overdue notice:

10/12/2015: Can Chip Kelly return to the PAC-12 w/o repaying Ducks for $20K fine?

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10/12/2015: I’ve got no idea, but the sportswriters are starting to ask questions.

8/10/2013: UO tried to fine Chip Kelly $20K, but he skipped town – from a Paul Swangard tweet

From the NCAA report, here. Kelly’s contract included the clause below, but apparently he quit before UO could collect. Really. Randy Geller didn’t make any follow up efforts? Apparently not:


Contract here:

The funny part is I learned this from a Paul Swangard tweet:

Swangard is the director of UO’s Warsaw Sports Marketing program, and he’s now blocked me from his twitter feed. Let’s find out what’s going on here:

Dear Ms Thornton:

This is a public records request for any documents showing efforts by UO to collect funds from Coach Chip Kelly related to

a)  the “Termination by Kelly” clause requiring liquidated damages payments if Kelly left before the end of his contract term, and
b) the “Discipline” clause allowing UO to fine Kelly for, among other things, NCAA violations.

I’m ccing UO GC Randy Geller, AD Rob Mullens, AAD Eric Roedl, FAR Jim O’Fallon, and a few others who may have information and documents, in the hope this will reduce the time you need to spend looking for these documents.

I ask for a fee waiver on the basis of the public funds involved, the general public interest in the UO AD’s affairs, and the ability of the UO Matters blog to ensure these documents are quickly and efficiently distributed to other news media and the public.

“No responsive documents”. More here.

Helfrich & Mullens give Lillis expensive lesson on regression to the mean

10/10/2015: Apparently unaware of a basic statistical principle, Chuck Lillis and the BOT gave Mark Helfrich and AD Ron Mullens fat new contracts in February, just after the #2 BCS outcome.

It will now cost about $15M to buy out Helfrich, although there’s a 50% discount if he doesn’t win at least six games in each of 2 consecutive seasons:

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Which explains why UO paid EWU and GSU $1.5M to come to campus and lose this year. Even with those two body-bag games, six wins is looking iffy for Helfrich,  Presumably a buy-out will be too embarrassing for the BOT and Mullens, so instead they’ll give him more money, to hire some smart assistant coaches.

Expect Mullens to pay for the Ducks to go to some easy low-ranked bowl game if needed to get Helfrich to six. And expect Helfrich to bring some risky recruits to campus next year – although hopefully not as risky as Dana Altman’s.

9/22/2015: Helfrich picked perfect time to hit up UO Trustees for fat contract renewal

Cousins Jim and John are the football experts, not me. But the betting markets now give Helfrich’s Ducks a 1% probability of winning the BCS championship, without the unpaid labor of Marcus Mariota:

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That’s less than the probability that Donald Trump will be the next POTUS:

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In February the UO Board of Trustees gave big raises to Duck AD Rob Mullens and football coach Mark Helfrich, after a second place finish in last year’s championship. Board Secretary Angela Wilhelms kept the purpose of the meeting secret until the last minute, and even left the contracts off the docket of meeting materials. The board approved them with no discussion after then Interim President Scott Coltrane enthusiastically endorsed the raises:

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The contracts were made public later, and along with many perks and bonuses the Trustees basically doubled Helfrich’s base salary, which had been a mere $1.8M:

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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:

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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.

University Panel recommends dropping 8 sports

11/15/2011: From the Washington Post. The president of the University of Maryland established the panel to take control of the athletic department’s budget. The problems at UO seem similar: massive overspending on salaries, chronic deficit, depletion of the reserve funds. Dropping Duck sports – baseball is the obvious candidate – would be very unpopular with UO Athletic Department Director Rob Mullens. His pay is tied to UO’s performance in the “Director’s Cup“, a bogus competition set up by the NCAA to encourage colleges to field lots of teams. Next time we hire an ADD, we need to make sure we write a contract tied to balancing the AD budget!

Oklahoma coaches support athletes’ protests against racism. UO’s Dana Altman, not so much.

3/15/2015: From InsideHigherEd.com, here:

This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

Instead of practicing on Thursday, University of Oklahoma football players held a silent demonstration protesting the behavior of an Oklahoma fraternity that was caught on video using racist slurs while singing about not allowing black members to join the fraternity. In a statement, the football players said the video is a symptom of “a larger disease,” and called on the university to investigate and “severely discipline” responsible members of the chapter’s executive board. Two students who were seen leading the chant have already been expelled.

“The chant was not invented by the two that led it, but taught to underclassmen by people of higher authority,” the players stated. “As a team, we have come to a consensus that, in any organization, the leadership is responsible for the culture created, and in this case, encouraged.”

In an apology released by his father earlier this week, one of the expelled SAE members stated that the racist song “was taught to us.”

The football players’ statement, released on Twitter by the team’s quarterback, is one of several public responses athletes have made to the video this week. A football recruit who had committed to play at Oklahoma on Monday tweeted that he was withdrawing his commitment, and a current linebacker for Oklahoma, Eric Striker, sent a video through Snapchat furiously calling out members of SAE and other fraternities who cheer on black players when they’re on the field, only to sing racist songs behind their backs. “Same motherfuckers that talk about racism doesn’t exist are the same motherfuckers shaking our hands, giving us hugs, telling us how you really love us,” Striker said. “Fuck you phony-ass, fraud-ass bitches.”

In their statement Thursday, the players thanked the team’s coaching staff for “supporting each and every action we have taken, even when these actions may have seemed extreme.”

Of course the coaches, and the players, are not exactly saints. From Reason:

University of Oklahoma President David Boren expelled two students for racist chanting, ostensibly because the school has an unofficial zero tolerance policy on racism. But Boren had plenty of tolerance for OU football players who committed violence against women and were allowed, not merely to remain at the university, but also to rejoin the football team.

The Daily Caller News Foundation‘s Blake Neff notes that last year, freshman Joe Mixon was caught on tape punching a female student in the face. He knocked her unconscious and broke four of her facial bones. He was later convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge.

What did the university do? According to Neff:

Despite his conviction, Mixon faced a comparatively light punishment compared to the massive crackdown on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon students. He was suspended from the team for the season, but faced no other repercussions, remaining on campus and continuing to attend classes like any other student.

In February, Mixon was allowed to rejoin the football team.

Boren, at the time, said that while Mixon’s behavior was abhorrent, it was important to grant second chances.

12/10/2014: Coach Dana Altman thinks National Anthem is the wrong time to protest racism

Our fool of a basketball coach thinks he owns those players. They shouldn’t protest when he’s trying to collect his $2M paycheck, off their free labor. Fortunately we’ve still got people who hear someone sing “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave” and actually understand what it means.

Want to ask the players what they think? No. Duck AD Rob Mullens and his PR guy Craig Pintens have a rule about players talking to reporters without permission, and “Benjamin and Bell have not been made available to comment.”

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