Legal issues

4/3/2010: A reader points us to this devastating analysis of the Bellotti payoff, by Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian. I think it’s unfair to blame this on Lariviere, it’s got Frohnmayer’s fingerprints all over it.

The University of Oregon’s $2.3 million golden handshake for resigning athletic director and former football coach Mike Bellotti appears to be outside standard practice for public and private sector organizations, and raises serious questions about UO’s leadership and governance, according to legal and executive compensation experts….

“It’s easy to vilify Mike Bellotti,” he said, “but where we should be holding someone accountable is university president Richard Lariviere and the board of directors.”

Lariviere, who started as UO president on the same day Bellotti became athletic director — July 1, 2009 — inherited the contract issues from his predecessor (Ed: that would be he who cannot be named), though the negotiation of the controversial severance agreement was his responsibility.

UO leaders released an explanation of the payout Wednesday night, but have been silent since. Lariviere is in China, and did (not) respond to requests for comment. In his absence, not a single other university executive was available to answer questions on the subject, according to Phil Weiler, a university spokesman.

“These are questions for the president,” he said.  …

This is hardly the only questionable employment contract at the UO. Frohnmayer hired OIED VP Charles Martinez without an affirmative action search and Provost Bean let him break the usual conflict of commitment rules and collect two salaries. Frohnmayer set up the UO-Bend program so that former Provost John Moseley could have a nice retirement gig – at the cost of millions to UO. UO General Counsel Melinda Grier knows all about these scams. She helped set them up.  Lariviere has done his best to ignore both. The question is whether he can contain this particular scandal.

Given that UO General Counsel Melinda Grier is also an Assistant Oregon Attorney General, and that AG John Kroger appointed her husband Jerry Lidz as his Solicitor General last year, I’m thinking blaming these lapses on her is not necessarily the best strategy – for Lariviere.

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