Violate the standard assumptions

11/17/2011: Here at UO Matters our sports editors focus on the highly effective strategies that UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens and his “Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director for Finance and Administration” Jamie Moffitt have been using to squeeze every last dime from UO students and the academic side, to pay for the coach’s salaries and their own free cars.

But the Ducks are more than just a fast moving violation of generally accepted accounting principles. Coach Kelly has also been breaking many of the old assumptions of college football. And to understand that part of the athletics game, you really can’t do better than the analysis at the amazing website:

Who will pay UO’s NCAA fine?

11/11/2011: The NCAA investigation of the Kelly / Lyles deal is winding down. Many people expect a settlement this month. Maybe. One likely outcome is self-punishment: UO agrees to limits on players, gives up a bowl game, and pays a fine. Where would the money come from? Kelly’s contract is here, with this clause:

So, Rob Mullens could fine Kelly for the NCAA violations, etc. A day’s pay would be about $20,000, but there’s no upper limit and Kelly would not seem to have much recourse. Will Mullens do this? Probably not his best career move. I’m guessing the athletic department will announce they will pay, and then Jamie Moffitt will find some way to pass the cost off to the academic side.

Mullens takes another $10,000 from UO

7/25/2011: I’ve written before about the perverse “Directors Cup” incentives in the contract UO wrote for AD Rob Mullens last year. This is an NCAA competition between athletic directors for the most successful overall athletic program.

UO ranked 30th, and now the bill is due. I can see why Mr. Mullens would care about this – great for his career – but it’s irrelevant to UO and to most of the boosters, who care about football, basketball and of course track.

What UO wants – or should want – is an athletic program that does not require annual $1.1 million state lottery fund subsidies, $1.8 million UO general fund subsidies for athletic tutoring and the jock box,  $600K subsidies from UO staff, faculty, and students for the $40,000 per slot arena parking garage, and that doesn’t make the academic side shell out the $300,000 for running Jim O’Fallon’s FAR office.

So, does Mullens’s contract give him incentives for reducing these subsidies? No. Instead it rewards him for the very thing that he already cares about, and that we don’t. And it writes the options so he’s already in the money: Last year UO was 14th in this competition. This year we’re 30th. So, he pays a penalty, right? No, we give him $10,000.

Even worse, because performance in this Director’s Cup depends in part on the number of NCAA teams UO has, this clause gives Mullens a perverse incentive *not* to take the tough steps that will be needed to simultaneously keep Chip Kelly happy and wean the athletic department from the subsidies they are now receiving – drop a few money losing sports. UC-Berkeley just did this and saved $5 million for the academic side. Their AD went berserk. Tough shit.

But wait, that’s not all. At Kentucky, the athletic department’s annual report notes this:

As part of its ongoing commitment to help support the University’s goal of becoming a top-20 research institution, UK Athletics will donate $1.7 million in 2010-11 toward the university’s general fund and in support of UK’s Singletary Scholars program. During the past eight years, the department has given more than $13 million in over- all scholarship support of the University’s academic mission.

Maybe Kentucky fudges the numbers too, but at first glance, at Mullens’s last job the athletic department actually helped the academic side financially. At UO they just take. And UO’s contract with Mullens does nothing to address that problem.