Athletic Department Transparency

3/29/2010: Now that President Lariviere has apppointed Lorraine Davis as Interim AD it will be interesting to see if we can get more information from the athletic department’s financial situation. Davis’s own salary is a case in point – she’s been getting paid out of the academic budget, while working in large part for the athletic department. I doubt she’s the only person doing this.

Meanwhile Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian reports on the new Nike contract. Looks like a little new money, but nothing close to what it will take to cover the new expenses. Melinda Grier is hiding some details, apparently just because:

The contract, released to The Oregonian after a request under Oregon’s public-records law, shows the athletic department receiving a cash payment from Nike of $500,000 in 2008-09. Nike also was to provide Oregon teams with $1,950,000 in gear that year, and up to $150,000 in extra gear as requested by athletic-department officials.

The new agreement supersedes a seven-year deal with Nike that ran from 2003-2010, and shows significant increases in each category in 2008-09: up $250,000 in cash, $550,000 in team gear and $50,000 in extra gear.

But the value of the nine final years of the contract isn’t known, as UO officials blacked out the dollar amounts on the contract.

It was not clear Friday why Oregon would release to The Oregonian a full copy of the previous deal, as general counsel Melinda Grier did in Year 4 of the seven-year agreement, and a redacted copy of this one. But in recent years, Oregon has argued that its marketing and endorsement deals with private companies are trade secrets.

 And finally (from a comment, thanks!) there’s this sensible letter in the RG today: 

Bellotti payout answers needed

As a Duck Athletic Fund supporter and alumnus, I am greatly troubled by the $2.3 million payout to Mike Bellotti. In my profession (city-county management) it is a serious breach of ethical conduct to voluntarily leave a managerial position less than two years after acceptance of the job. In addition, the only time that severance payments come into play is if the manager is fired. Also, it is highly irregular to pay any form of severance in the public sector when the individual is moving on to other lucrative employment. Coaches and athletic directors may fall into a different category, but as role models in the state’s flagship public university, they should abide by similar ethical, if not legal, standards of openness and fairness to the public they serve.

I had great respect for Bellotti as a football wizard and public relations master, but we should take into account that he was already the highest paid public official in the state of Oregon’s history. As a beneficiary of the Public Employees Retirement System, taxpayers will already be footing the bill for his unprecedented retirement benefits for the remainder of his life. Shouldn’t those benefits also be made public as part of this golden parachute?

The fact that this agreement was never reduced to writing or made public also raises serious questions that should be investigated by the attorney general’s office. Supporters of the University of Oregon deserve better. I certainly will be looking for better answers before I write my next check to the UO.

Steve Bryant
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