12/30/2014 update:

Bloomberg reports that Duck football players have $1.38 million in bonuses riding on bowl games, in the Oregonian here. Oh, wait, this is the NCAA, so it’s all for the coaches. About half of that is already due. Plus the Johnson Hall junkets, of course. I wonder where our AD Rob Mullens will get the money? Oh, right …

12/1/2014: Ticket revenue flat, so Ducks hit up students for more ASUO money

Short version: The Ducks have hit price resistance from their regular fans, so they want to raise the fee to student government to $90 per student, to provide “free” tickets.

With the football team doing so well you’d think that ticket revenue would be soaring. Actually, the Ducks seem to have hit the peak of their TR curve when it comes to ticket prices. In 2011-12 the Ducks sold $24,972,647 of tickets to regular fans, and for 2014-15, they are projecting $26,240,000, for a 5% increase. If you include the mandatory Duck Athletic Fund “contributions” needed to get season tickets, the total is up from $52M to $54M – only 4% cumulative, over 4 years. And that’s an estimate from before the basketball rape allegations became public. There’s no mystery to this – why pay the Duck Athletic Fund $5K for season tickets when you can buy a giant flat screen TV and a year of cable for half that?

Fortunately the athletic department still has a captive UO student market to squeeze. Here’s how this works. ESPN needs some student bodies for the TV cameras to focus on, and the athletic department needs to convince the IRS that big-time sports is part of UO’s tax-deductible academic mission. But our students have plenty of other things to do, and there won’t be enough to fill up Autzen, if they have to make the explicit choice between a ticket and, say, a textbook.

So instead of charging students by the game, which would make them see what they’re really paying, the athletic department cuts a package deal with UO’s ASUO student government, paid for with a chunk of the mandatory fees added onto UO tuition. ASUO then gives tickets away to interested students, using an internet lottery of sorts if the quantity demanded exceeds the quantity supplied. (Which at a price of $0.00 it usually does, at least for football games. Not so much for basketball, even before the rape allegations, and even with a Phil Knight bobble-head thrown in).

So what’s a reasonable price for the ASUO’s ticket package? Given the importance to ESPN of being able to show some students, and flat demand from regular fans, the truth is that the Duck Athletic Department would probably be willing to *pay* the students to show up. And indeed, other universities have dealt with dropping student demand by giving away burgers and gifts to those who stay for the cameras until the end of the game.

But here at UO, AD Rob Mullens and his finance guy Eric Roedl have been raising the price they charge ASUO, and they’re going to try and increase it again this year. The AD charged ASUO $1,515,045 in 2011-12, and are projecting $1,766,552 for 2014-15, for a 15% increase over four years. That’s about $90 per student, for “free” tickets.

Yes, even the students who never go to a game will pay $360 to the athletic department over their 4 years. The documents are here. The student charges are under “incidental fees”:

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 4.20.16 PM

Of course, the flip side of the big-screen TV’s is that athletics cable deal revenue is now so large that the PAC-12 has to hide much of it, to prevent the UO Senate from getting a hold of its share, and wasting it on something like academic scholarships. And don’t get me started on the other large and increasing subsidies the athletic department gets from student tuition money. More on that here.

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9 Responses to

  1. Jack Straw Man says:

    You write: “And don’t get me started on the other large and increasing subsidies the athletic department gets from student tuition money.”

    Please, please, please get started. Sports is the biggest problem with this university, hands down, bar none, no contest. It poisons everything. It makes a farce of our claims to academic excellence. If I had my way we’d get rid of *all* the sports programs, but if that’s not on the table then at least let’s complain, loudly and consistently, about every last cent that gets shunted away from academics to athletics.

    (I know you already do. Thank you for that.)

    • Larry Wayte says:

      Sports aren’t the problem, it’s the win-at-any-cost attitude that’s the problem. Harvard and MIT both had undefeated football teams this year, but I don’t think their academics will suffer much from that. They compete in leagues where there is a balance between athletics and academics. National championships and national TV broadcasts are not their goal. But UO wants to compete with Alabama and Florida State in football, and the money that requires (particularly to draw recruits) ensures that will be the commensurate level of academics here as well. (NYT article on MIT football: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/28/sports/ncaafootball/mit-is-10-0-and-finding-success-in-ncaa-division-iii-playoffs.html)

      • Jack Straw Man says:

        Puh-leeze. I went to Harvard, and the reason sports at Harvard don’t corrupt everything at Harvard is that nobody at Harvard gives a flying f*** about sports. Until you can say the same thing about UO, it’s not safe for us to have sports programs. Sports for most American schools are like booze for alcoholics: moderation is constitutionally impossible, so you either totally surrender (like UO has) or go cold turkey.

        • anon says:

          Sports at this level is inevitably a “Red Queen” race ,where the participants have to constantly find new ways to spend money in order to just keep up with the competition. The prize is to be one of the handful of athletic departments that make a small amount of profit. For everyone else, it is taking student fees and general fund money on the order of $5M-$25M a year.

          If any of us went to a bank and asked for a loan to buy a franchise that had a 95% chance of losing millions a year, with a business plan that called for always spending all money coming in, including a CEO salary of 10% of revenue even if the business is losing money, we’d be laughed out the door.

        • Larry Wayte says:

          Here’s a picture of a Harvard football game:(http://www.gocrimson.com/information/facilities/harvardstadium)
          You may not have have been one of them, but It looks to me like a few people do care about Harvard football. You present a false dichotomy between surrendering to the insanity of big-time college athletics or quitting cold turkey. Harvard is an admittedly unlikely example for UofO to consider, but closer to home we could look to Cal. They will likely never again win a Pac-12 championship, no less a national championship. But they play an entertaining style of football and occasionally come up with a morale-boosting upset. They also compete at a high level in most of the “lesser” sports. Cal offers a model for finding a suitable balance between academics and athletics in a large, “public” research university. Why can’t we strive for that here?

          • Jack Straw Man says:

            So it sells out for the Harvard-Yale game. But that’s not about football: that’s about a school rivalry that goes back, literally, centuries. That’s like saying Oregonians care about football because the Civil War sells out. A better measure is attendance at a normal, non-marquee game – such as the Harvard-Dartmouth game I attended where the crowd wouldn’t have even filled one section of the stands.

  2. Anon says:

    So, basically student government is subsidizing a drunken party at Autzen, followed by alcohol induced rapes after the students leave the game for frat parties.

    The Emerald has a story today on how bad this has become at UO.


  3. Old Grey Mare says:

    I invite folks to check out the Chronicle cover story today, on campus drinking. Take a look at the end of the third paragraph. There we are with our aspirational peer institutions.


  4. SB says:

    Thomas Boyd is the photographer not the writer