Frohnmayer on accomodating athletics at any price

3/10/2010: UO Journalism student Bob Rodgers has posted an interview with our President Emeritus Dave Frohnmayer here, about the BCS cartel. He makes some pretty interesting points about the importance of the current system to fundraising. Frohnmayer’s term was marked by the extraordinarily high percentage of that fundraising that went to athletics, and his willingness to accept money from those donors for his own salary, laundered through the UO Foundation. Then there’s this great quote at the end:

The issue that Frohnmayer believes politicians and fans ignore, which trumps even the business side of collegiate athletics, is the strain on the academic calendar.  “They disrespect and ignore our academic calendars.”  According to Frohnmayer, having a playoff start in the first few weeks of December interferes with academics on all levels.  Even if you send a handful of student athletes, many playoff advocates do not take into account the band, cheer squads, along with the student and faculty interest in attending the game.  The amount of fervor and distraction entering dead week and finals is, “an academic disaster.”

This from the man who moved UO’s graduation to the week before final exams, to accommodate a track meet. One of Richard Lariviere’s first acts as President was to move it back. The ODE reported:

Critics enfiladed the University for the original date change, saying it was an inconvenience to students that would cut into the hours available to take exams. Biology professor Nathan Tublitz went as far as to write a commentary in the Register-Guard saying the move evinced what he called then-University President Dave Frohnmayer’s commitment to athletics at the expense of academics.

“This decision to prioritize athletics over academics, inconveniencing thousands of students and their parents, might have been excusable were it not the latest in a long line of similar decisions,” Tublitz wrote, going on to question Frohnmayer’s salary and, by implication, his integrity in accepting $265,000 in payment from an unnamed donor through the UO Foundation.

Frohnmayer responded with an angry commentary of his own, accusing Tublitz of factual inaccuracies. “This is not just any track meet,” he wrote, “but the NCAA National Championships – an event that will pump millions of dollars into the local economy and is part and parcel of the rich track and field heritage of the UO.”

I know it takes a certain amount of disregard for the truth to be a successful politician …

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