2/21/2015 update: That’s the vote from today’s ASUO meeting.
Duck Athletic Director Rob Mullens is now in the difficult position of having to choose between:
a) taking the same $1.6M as last year and being revealed as the sort of person who would try and bluff our students for money, or
b) cutting the ticket allotment and being revealed as the sort of person who would take revenge on the students over $50K, after getting a $250K raise himself.
Presumably he’ll figure out some way to take the offered 0% increase and try and save face. My guess is this will involve a donation from some Duck booster who suddenly finds it in his heart to give a little to UO students.
By rejecting the Duck try for a 10% increase, our students are leading the way to the March 4th meeting of the full UO Senate, which will consider legislation to hold the Athletic Department to its 2004 promise to start making payments to UO’s academic side for academic scholarships. The student vote is a hopeful sign that maybe UO can finally figure out how to balance the interests of the Duck’s big-time sports enterprise and its well paid coaches and AD’s with those of UO’s cash-strapped academic side.
2/21/2015 update: Meanwhile, the University of Akron is *paying* its students to go to basketball games, in an effort to build some buzz for TV. And in cash – not just Uncle Phil bobbleheads.
Ironically, as Fox Sports points out, if Akron were to give the *players* $5 for showing up for each game, they would swiftly bring down the wrath of UO’s Jim O’Fallon and his NCAA infractions committee.
2/20/2015: Lubash and ASUO Student Senators call out Eric Roedl out on his ticket threat
Letter to the Daily Emerald, written by UO undergrad and Truman Scholar Andrew Lubash, and signed by 13 other Senators and 3 ACFC members, here:
… Out of the $15 million ASUO budget, students spend $1,695,348 paying for the football and men’s basketball ticket lottery. This comes down to about $71 per year that students pay through their mandatory fees for the chance to go to our athletic events. We, the undersigned, think this is too high. …
However, when the ASUO began negotiating with the Athletics Department this year, we were surprised to find out that not only was there absolutely no chance they were going to give us more tickets, they were requesting $169,000 more from students than last year, for the same number of tickets. A 10% increase!
We were infuriated.
Now, they say that they will likely begin cutting student football tickets if we don’t give them at least a 3% increase (~$50,000). Their actions are greedy and deplorable. They’re acting like a business focused solely on profit, when they should be working towards supporting the academic side of this university. Why isn’t there an expectation on our campus that athletics give back to students? Students aren’t even guaranteed a ticket.
… After an article came out in the register Guard saying that the Athletic Director would fundraise millions in order to pay for his own salary increases ($700,000/year) and those of other Athletic department staff, we had had enough. We find it fundamentally unfair that the Athletic Department can find it within their hearts to fundraise for themselves, yet they resort to threatening to cut student tickets if the ASUO does not give them their requested increase. Is it actually that hard for them to raise $50,000 on top of the millions they already plan to raise? We don’t think so.
… At some point, someone needs to stand up and shine a light on the enormous difference that exists between what the Athletic Department deems as “necessary” and what students deem as excessive. Many of us struggle to afford our education as it is. We should not stand for our own Athletic Department to treat us as another lucrative source of funds to line their own pockets with. It’s time for them to start giving back and support students of all financial backgrounds.
We don’t understand how the ASUO, in good conscience, could increase the Athletic Department’s budget $1 unless we guarantee that students get more football ticket. If more tickets is not an option, we should not agree to charge students more for the same amount of tickets.
[Signed by 17 Student Senators, etc.]
2/19/2015 update: Duck’s Eric Roedl threatens to cut student tickets unless they pay 10% more:
Actually, our students have already talked him down to a 3% increase, and Roedl’s latest threat seems pretty unlikely, given that Scott Coltrane just told the UO Board that athletics would have no problem coming up with millions to pay for raises for Helfrich and Mullens.
But Roedl’s giving it a half-hearted effort anyway. Gotta try and cover his own $42K raise, I suppose:
From: Eric Roedl
Date:02/19/2015 4:05 PM (GMT-08:00)
To: [student name redacted]
Cc: Laura Jorgensen
Subject: Student Seating Options
[Student name redacted]
Attached ticket calculator contains two options:
1. Represents a 3% increase to I-Fee as discussed with no impact to student seat allocation.
2. Represents a 0% increase to I-Fee. Under this model we would likely [emphasis added] reduce the number of football seats per Pac 12 Game (Utah, Wash. St., Cal, USC, Oregon St.) by 300. We would then increase the number of Pac-12 Season Student Season Ticket Plans available for student purchase (at a price of $300 per package) by 300.
Please review and let me know if you have any questions or thoughts prior to submitting.
2/10/2015 10:30 update: AAD Eric Roedl fails to talk students into paying more
The committee can’t agree, so the default recommendation of $0 goes to the ASUO Senate, for a Feb 24. vote. That’s a $1.6M cut from last year. Rob Mullens has two weeks to raise the money from donors, twist enough arms in the student senate to get a bailout, or convince Scott Coltrane to stick to the threat of a cut in tickets if the students don’t pay up.
The compromise plan should be to switch to a voluntary athletics fee. Roedl hates that idea because he wants to hide the true cost of “free” tickets from the students.
8:00 AM Tuesday, Now, in the EMU Rouge River room.
Lubash is giving Roedl a brutal beating. Roedel is trying to cram down a mandatory student fee increase, the day after the AD announced it had the funds to give $2M in raises to the coach and athletic director.
My guess is Roedl bails and leaves the money on the table, but who knows? Students will have to play hardball, and he’s spewing doubt and confusion.
Student asks what would happen if they cut the IFee? Roedl won’t say.
Lubash: You say you can raise money to pay for coach’s raises. Why not go out to you donors and ask for money to pay for cuts in student ticket prices.
Hansen: Notes that the AD estimate for ticket values assumes demand curves don’t slope down. Ben assigns failing grade.
Schlegel: Never a campaign among donors to get donations for student tickets? Roedl: Not to my knowledge.
I gotta go, sorry no more live-blog.
3:30 PM update: UO Board approves fat raises for Helfrich, Mullens. Ducks want more student cash.
Diane Dietz has the story, here.
It’s tough listening to Coltrane push this on the Board: “The cost of these contracts is borne entirely by athletics”. Sure, if you ignore the millions in hidden subsidies from student tuition money.
The brown-nosing at this meeting is pretty deep. The trustees did have some tough questions about the Falling Sky contract to sell beer to the students at the new EMU though.
2/9/2015 update: That’s what’s happening today, in 15 minutes, at the Board’s EAC meeting. Angela Wilhems is still hiding the contracts, but it looks like Mullens will get a $250k raise to $700K, while Helfrich will go from $1.5M (if I remember right) to ~$3.5M. Plus a plethora of bonuses, of course.
Well this certainly explains why Mullens has been trying to get more money out of the UO students. More on that below and here.
2/9/2015: With Matt Court attendance < 50%, Mullens wants to raise student fee
According to this new report from the OC Register’s Ryan Kartje, Oregon’s basketball attendance is down 24% from last year. Word is the student section was half empty tonight.
But apparently that’s not going to keep Duck Athletic Director Rob Mullens and his AAD Eric Roedl from trying to raise the mandatory fee they charge UO students for tickets. Kaylee Tornay has the report in the Daily Emerald, here:
The Feb. 6 budget hearing between the athletics department and the Athletics and Contracts Finance Committee, which determine annually the amount and price for student ticket distribution for football and men’s basketball games, led to yet another stalemate in reaching an agreement. The ACFC approved a proposal of an 18.9 percent decrease to the Athletics Department’s current ASUO budget. Later, this decision was overturned due to faulty voting processes, according to ACFC Chair Andrew Lubash.
The budget hearing was the second held this year to work out how much it will cost students next year, regardless of whether they attend athletic events or not, to receive the same amount of tickets to athletic events that they received in the 2014-2015 school year. Students pay for 5,448 tickets per regular season football game and 1,854 per basketball game. These are distributed via a lottery system (when you log onto goducks.com and watch the O spin for an hour hoping to get a ticket) that is funded by a percentage of the Incidental Fee, which each student pays every enrolled term.
This year the student body as a whole paid the Athletics Department $1,695,348 for the ticket lotteries for football and men’s basketball. The Athletics Department opened negotiations this fall requesting a 10 percent increase to provide the same amount of tickets for the 2015-2016 year. This would mean an additional $169,535 and would bring next year’s total to $1,864,883.
The ACFC met with Athletics on Jan. 16 and negotiated the request to a possible 3 percent increase rather than 10 percent. That would mean students would pay $50,860 more than they did this year. However, no official agreement was reached, and the ACFC discussed the athletics budget again in a meeting on Jan. 30. Ronnie Grenier-Hemphill, the chief liaison between the Athletics Department and ACFC, informed the Committee that Eric Roedl, Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director of Finance, had brought up the possibility of having to cut the amount of tickets, if anything less than the 3 percent increase were approved.
The Emerald followed up with Roedl on the matter and he delivered the following comment:
“Maybe we’d adjust the ticket allotment in some ways to more accurately reflect the value and the money that’s being transacted…we’d continue to have dialogue to find something that works for everybody.” Roedl said.
Funny, I don’t remember anything about falling attendance in Roedl’s powerpoint, when he was hitting up the students for a 10% increase.
If the students do pay this, where will the money go? To people like AD for Finance Eric Roedl, who’s already managed to scrape up the funds to give himself a $42K raise, to $212K, in just two years:
It turns out the ASUO committee tie-breaker vote reported below was disallowed. They are going to meet again Tuesday 8AM (in the Rogue River room, I think) to try again. Presumably AAD Eric Roedl will be there, hat in hand.
If the committee can’t come to an agreement, the athletics department will get $0 from ASUO, although they’ll still get the millions in other subsidies described here and below.
AD Rob Mullens will then have to decide if he wants to cut the UO students off from access to the Autzen Stadium Student Section, or take other steps to limit student access to Duck games. Which would be political suicide for the Duck Athletic Department, so presumably the AD is engaging in some heavy student arm-twisting this weekend.
Of course Mullens couldn’t implement the nuclear option without the approval of Interim President Scott Coltrane. So, what do you think readers? What are the chances Scott Coltrane would let Rob Mullens cut the number of student football tickets?
2/6/2015 2:30 update: ASUO Committee votes to cut the mandatory student fee for Duck athletics from $1.6M to $1.3M
Short version: The Ducks have hit price resistance from their regular fans, so they want to raise the fee to student government to ~$80 per student, to provide “free” tickets via a lottery. This is the second meeting of the ASUO committee that will recommend yes or no. The first meeting is described below. As usual, our students run an excellent meeting and the discussion is very polite, direct, and well informed.
At the last meeting, Duck AAD for Finance Eric Roedl asked for a 10% increase, to $1.8M:
After getting a thorough shellacking by the students, he doesn’t show up this time. In fact he already’s dropped down to asking for a 3% increase. The students are skeptical of even that. Many ask why any mandatory student fee money should go to athletics.
Their most favored option seems to be to move to a model where students can opt in to pay a voluntary feee to athletics, for a lottery for football tickets in the same student section as now, and free tickets for basketball and other less popular sports. The voluntary fee would be higher, but only those wanting to go to games would have to pay it. The athletics department likes the current system, because it isolates them from the free-market, and hides the true cost of the tickets from UO students. (If you ask students, most will tell you they pay nothing for the chance to enter the ticket lottery. They’re quite surprised to learn how much it really costs.) This change would take a while to implement however.
As the discussion evolves it turns out that the Ducks aren’t just making ASUO pay for the tickets, they’re also adding on a DAF “donation fee”. Wow – is this whole scheme legal? I’d check the legal opinions from UO’s General Counsel’s office, but I had to give those back. Bummer.
In the end, of course, Roedl discounts everything, perhaps to account for the fact that the IRS deduction on the “donation” isn’t worth anything to student government, but most importantly because student demand is pretty price-elastic, so a bit of price-discrimination is profit maximizing for the Ducks.
A committee member proposes a cut from $1.6M to $1.3M, for the same number of tickets, instead of the increase to $1.8M Roedl was shooting for. Roedl’s response, by email, is to try and confuse the students with some accounting jargon.
Student question: What might Roedl and Mullens do if ASUO cuts the subsidy – would they cut the student tickets off? No more tickets? Oh My God!
Fat chance. Their salaries depend on being able to credibly claim the Ducks are part of UO’s academic mission – no students, no IRS tax deductions for the donors, and taxes on the ESPN money etc. That’s the death penalty for college football – or at least a big salary cut for some well paid AD employees.
The AD budget is apparently $98M. The $300k we’re talking about here is roughly one day of revenue for them. Their revenue went up about $10M last year. This money is a a rounding error to them.
Lubash: I have a problem with requiring students, many of whom are borrowing money to pay their tuition and fees, to pay the athletic department money $71 a year for a chance to buy a ticket that they might not even want. Yes, I ran on a platform of getting more tickets – and on fiscal responsibility. The athletic department is not going to agree to more student tickets. So lets at least reduce the cost of the tickets that we can get.
At around 4:45, after a lot of well considered discussion, the committee votes 4-3 to recommend to the full ASUO that the fee to athletics be cut from $1.6M to ~$1.3M. If AAD Eric Roedl doesn’t like it, he’s 72 hours to put together an appeal and bring it to the committee on Monday. So stay tuned!
2/6/2015 11:00AM: 2:30-4 in Chapman 204. See below for background.
Rumor has it that AAD Eric Roedl might not show. He got angry about having to answer questions from students last time. Just like he got angry about having to answer questions from the faculty last year, and stopped coming to the IAC meetings.
Here’s the agreement between Johnson Hall and Athletics, to divert academic money towards the “presidential skybox” at Autzen, etc. That’s right, UO students pay for the administrator’s football skybox. It took a petition to the DOJ to pry this document out of UO – now it’s on the AD’s website, here.
And here we’ve got athletics bitching that they haven’t got rent check yet:
1/16/2014:ASUO meets with Athletics Department’s Eric Roedl on student tickets subsidy increase
Semi-live blog. Usual disclaimer, nothing is a quote unless in quotes.
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. This is the meeting of the ASUO committee that will recommend yes or no. As usual, our students run an excellent meeting and do a very professional job putting tough questions to AAD Eric Roedl.
Andrew Lubash, Student Chair, many student Senators, and Eric Roedl and Laura Gordenson (?), AAD for ticket sales, plus a few other AD minions.
Roedl makes his pitch: Culture of excellence … Exceptional student athlete experience. School spirit and pride. 100K students interactions.
Room fills up with students.
Roedl: “I don’t know how many of you were at Rose Bowl…”. Ticket Agreement. We want to have “best student support” Benchmark is we want to charge students 50% of regular season ticket price, it’s now only 41%.
Repeats claim that athletics is self-supporting. Leaves out hidden subsidies. ASU voted new student fee. $100. Proposal is for a 10% increase in fee, from 41% to 45% of season ticket price.
Committee chair (?) proposes 4% increase. $72 in student fees per student. (Why are students paying for Mac Court a second time, and also for tickets at Matt court?)
Student: What about all your new money from ESPN?
Roedl: We’ve got a big budget, but thin margin…
Lubash: Student government has 5% cap on fees. Athletics is our biggest expenditure. CSL: Current Service Level. So when you say 10% you are saying it costs 10% more to provide same # of tickets. Is this accurate?
Roedl: TBD. But not looking at ticket price increases for next year. You are the only ones we can still squeeze. Cost really hasn’t changed, nor has market value of those seats:
Lubash: Every other contract we require a CSL contract. You didn’t. You’re just trying to catch up to the 50%. I think it should be less. Students should be getting a significant discount to go to our own team’s games.
Roedl looks glum.
Lubash: This is a negotiation. A lot of students don’t go to games and don’t want to pay the $72 for a chance to get a ticket. Some of those students elected me …
Student: True of all groups we spend i-fee money on.
Student: I did some research. ASU’s student government will get 1/4 of the football tickets for students. We get 8%.
Roedl: We don’t take money from the general fund…. (Sure you don’t.)
Student: I’m looking at your math. How do you figure the “fair market value” for a basketball ticket? (When you’ve got Dana Altman as coach …)
Roedl: Supply and Demand. Lots of empty seats though.
Student: What do you do with the tickets that ASUO pays for but the students don’t use? Looks like you resell them?
AAD: Rare that we resell football tickets. Lots of basketball games though.
Student: At what price?
AAD: Whatever we can get.
Student: Student fees go for the tickets, then you resell them and keep the money?
Roedl: If we ever sold out Knight Arena, it might happen. But that’s a pipe-dream.
Student: Tell us more about how you set your budget.
Roedl: Every year we balance our needs with the available resources. Everything left over goes to our exorbitant salaries.
Student: Tell us more about student discounts at other PAC-12 schools…
Roedl: It’s complicated, every campus uses a different model to hide the true cost of athletics.
Student: What would you do differently if we only gave you a 3% increase?
Roedl: We’re open to changes, every little bit helps though.
Student: What would you do differently if we only gave you a 3% increase?
Roedl: That’s a tough question to answer. But every dollar is important to us, and we’re worth it. But we understand we need you students to show up at games. (Or we’ll lose our tax exemption and have to cut our salaries.)
Hansen: You need the students showing up at your games so ESPN can put them on screen. Not a college game without them. You should pay the students to show up.
Roedl: We need the money.
Iverson: The opportunity cost of every $ athletics gets is a $ some other ASUO program won’t get. Many other deserving student programs.
Lubash: We need to come out with a number. I want to keep the number of tickets the same, or even increase it. But I haven’t seen any evidence from the AD why fees should increase. It now costs our students $72 a year just to get a chance to enter the lottery. Students somehow think it’s free. We need to see some reasoning behind this increase. You need give a positive economic argument about costs increases, not a normative, ideological argument that 50% is fair. I’d reply that 33% is fair.
Roedl: Tries to argue that ticket prices are the opportunity cost, then changes his mind. (But regular ticket prices have leveled off).
Lubash: You haven’t shown us the numbers to justify this increase. If you were me what would you do here?
Roedl: (More nonsensical spin.)
Students continue to beat up on Roedl. He looks like he’s willing to give the tickets away, if they’ll just let him out of the room.
ASUO President Gutierrez: Appreciate how passionate people are about Ducks, that’s why I am suggesting 3% increase. AD should be able to find the extra money themselves.
Student: Proposes that we schedule another presentation from the Athletics Department to get them to present more specific budget numbers to justify their requested increase.
Senator: We should be paying zero. This is ridiculous.
Dusseau: Lack of transparency from the athletic department. AD has the resources to pay for this themselves. If not, get the money from the bloated JH budget.
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”:
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.