A modest proposal to raise $7.5M for faculty pay and hiring by small athletic cuts

The Athletics Department is expecting $98,350,368 in total revenue this year, mostly for football and a little from basketball. The money is then distributed among the many money losing sports, shown in red in the table below, so as to make sure there is no surplus for the academic side. (These data are from the athletic department at http://www.goducks.com/fls/500/pages/athlfin/FY15Budget.pdf)

Notre Dame’s athletic program is slightly larger than UO’s and it give an estimated $12M to $20M back to academics. What would it take to do something similar at UO? The secret is to keep football profitable, make sure mens and women’s basketball doesn’t lose any more than they already do. and don’t touch track and field for historic reasons.

Give these constraints, we could either drop a few money losing other sports, or cut back on their expenses. Cutting expenses seems simple. As you can see a modest 30% cut in costs for the money losing sports (leaving M&W basketball as well as football and track untouched).would generate $7.5M in recurring money for the academic side. I assume that the expense cuts would also cut revenue.

This would take these 10 small athletics programs back roughly to where they were in 2005, and generate $7.5M for UO academics.

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32 Responses to A modest proposal to raise $7.5M for faculty pay and hiring by small athletic cuts

  1. that effing Dog again says:


    If we take that 7M and divide it by the approximate 2000 instructors at the UO we each get 10 GOATS!

  2. The Truth says:

    Please fix every time “loose” is written where it should say “lose”. This is my most-hated error that seems to occur commonly on the internet.

    • uomatters says:

      thanks, fixed

    • More Nit-Picking says:

      Would also read better as “money-losing sports” rather than “money losing sports.” Or maybe “football-subsidized” sports, haha.

      • Thom Aquinas says:

        … actually it should be “academically-subsidized sports” but even better is: “academically-irrelevant sports”….

        • just different says:

          Please. How many academic programs are “business major-subsidized programs” or “employment-irrelevant programs”?

          • UO Grad Student says:

            How about mortgage-sized student loan debt-subsidized with no career prospects? Rolls right off the tongue.

  3. Outsider says:

    Not even economists with good ideas are supposed to infringe on the sacred complex that is athletics. Haven’t the crowned stewards of this institution, who have managed it so well, made that clear yet? It’s austerity for academics and because athletics is now entertainment and pleases those who want an advertising platform, it shall not be encumbered by those who remember the purpose of a university.

    • charlie says:

      Man, I’m so glad you brought sanity to this here thread. Here is another university which has also had a remarkable increase in national stature, all due to their outstanding football team, so much so, they’re firing History professors….


      Who needs history departments when you have a blue football field?

  4. notasportsguy says:

    Not a critic of uom in general, but this is a low quality post. 30 percent cut isn’t modest. I think there would also be ramifications in terms of donations from major givers.

    • uomatters says:

      Just trying to get the conversation started. Cuts could be much smaller if football etc. shared in them a little.

    • Jack Straw Man says:

      This is a fantastic post. The idea of defunding our sports programs should be raised frequently and loudly. The only donors it will frighten away are the kind who don’t want to support academics anyway. The only loss will be to the sports programs, and from the point of view of academics at UO, that’s no loss at all.

      • Ben says:

        Meanwhile some of the largest academics donors at OSU are also some of the largest in Athletics. You are naive if you think there isn’t a correlation.

        • charlie says:

          The fact that any correlation exists is THE problem…..

          • Ben says:

            Why is that a problem? Just look at the math!

            Academics has 5 donors. Athletics is successful in competition. Academics now has 6 donors.

            If this can be done as Notre Dame does, where Athletics nets a profit and actually diverts millions into academics each year, just what is bad in this picture?

            If athletics is responsible with its budget and is held accountable by Academics, the only “problem” is when hatred of academics blinds anyone into forgetting the tangible benefit that properly-run athletics brings to the university.

          • charlie says:

            The reason it’s a problem is what happens if the football team begins to lose? Then what? Throw more money at a game, in order to get people to give to the academic side? Keep in mind that U Of Owe football has been in a remarkable run, much of it due to USC’s transgressions, the other Northwest teams, especially Washington, being at a low point in their programs. That’s not going to stay the same. All U of Owe has to do is lose more than a couple of conference games, it falls out of national title chases, you begin to lose your prominence. If you’re claiming that that national stature is getting money for the academic side, not only will there never be any brake on athletics, you will also see a collapse in academic funding once it goes away. Bad form to think that things will constantly stay the same, but plan that it will

            U of Owe doesn’t have the national prominence of an ND, which, by the way, is a charter member of college football, has a huge amount of goodwill, being the only catholic uni with a national following for its program. It also has an over eight billion dollar endowment.


            Even if it’s football team fell off the national title hunt, the academic side could survive, simply with what they have in reserve. I highly doubt that U of Owe can.

          • Ben says:

            Bad football is still profitable. The only variable is how many other sports are freeloading.

          • charlie says:

            Sorry Ben, not really. The arms race has major casualties, just ask U of Chicago, when they dropped their football program decades ago. Just recently, UAB got rid of football, due to the fact that if they wanted to be competitive, they would be required to spend $50 million, much of that in debt issuance for facility upgrades. UAB’s only the start, other schools will be forced to do the same.

            And as pointed out earlier, football success doesn’t always equate with academic prosperity. Boise State has significantly increased exposure by way of their football program. Despite that, they’re firing History professors. Even Notre Dame, which you cited, came very close to shutting down during the later part of the Depression and WW2. Not enough students to keep the place running, despite the Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne and Subway Alum. What saved ND was that, during the war, the Navy used the school for it’s officer’s training program, creating enough cash flow to stave off bankruptcy. In gratitude, ND will always have the Middies on their football schedule.


            It’s extremely precarious to premise a uni’s academic future on football. U of Owe dodged a bullet a few years ago with the 2A, what happens if the next time they don’t, and major sanctions are enforced? What happens if they lose ten scholies, banned a couple years from post season play? What if injuries to key players accomplishes much the same thing?
            What happens to the academic donations that are predicated on outstanding football teams? U of Owe has a very thin margin for error…..

          • just different says:

            Each comment in this thread is convincing me that running a $40M football program is grotesquely exploitative, whether or not it’s good for the university as a whole (whatever that means). I feel physically sick just reading all this.

  5. that effing Dog again says:

    Independent of the quality of the argument, there is much good information presented in this raw data.

    1. Clearly the Men’s baseball team is a big loser for this re-activated sport.

    2. The revenue associated with both M & W basketball ticket sales is not very good – of course further complicating the Matt Court pay back timescale.

    3. I was surprised, given this is Track Town (pizza) that Track and Field had such large losses. Perhaps this is a case of lots of assistant coaches and the like.

    4. I would suggest adding an additional column which would be direct expensive divided by revenue.

  6. uOAlum says:

    How do the subsidies from the academic and student fee side fit into the spreadsheet?

    • uomatters says:

      student ifee money gets counted as ticket revenue. The jock box, Mac court area bond payments etc are all paid for by the academic side and don’t show up here at all.

  7. DuckandCover says:

    One problem with this type of proposal is the potential problems with Title IX compliance, if the “direct expenses” include student scholarships, since Title IX compliance is calculated in part based on balancing funding available to male and female athletes. Many of the costs associated with the money-losing sports would be hard to reduce by 30%–travel to competitions and the like, required by the conference and the NCAA for in-season and post-season competitions.You could perhaps get a bit of money from reducing coaching staff, but if the money came from student scholarships (i.e., cutting the size of teams or the number of scholarship athletes), it would be hard to make across-the-board cuts to both men’s and women’s sports, but not touch football (the largest sport, all scholarships going to men), without getting into compliance trouble. It would be better to eliminate whole men’s sports programs entirely.

    • that effing Dog again says:


      it would be useful to know all that is considered a Direct expense

    • anonec says:

      We can’t cut basketball because of Matt Knight Arena… So let’s cut baseball and rent out the stadium to the Emeralds.

      Or let’s rent out the entire AD to donors. They get control and UO gets royalties for using the name… Until then, cut program after program until they get the message.

      Maybe Kevin Costner can sing again in Eugene… in Matthew Knight Arena… win-win.

      • Sports Fan says:

        Judging from the crowds at PK Park this past weekend, no one will miss the UO baseball team except Oregon State baseball fans, since they seem eager to fill the place.

  8. why bother? says:

    Why have so much money going to so few people that are not directly promoting the mission of the University? The vast majority of students and faculty gain no measurable benefit from the AD (as illustrated by the number of student tickets as a percentage of the student body. Those seats must be reserved for the rabid sports parents whose parents will beat up your honour role student.

    Cut men’s tennis, golf and baseball…no one will notice. Are cheerleaders counted in the acrobatics and tumbling category for Title 9?

    Go Euro-style and cut the sporting nonsense from the University. The fans can go watch the Eugene Ducks semi-pro teams and the University can work on digging out of the ditch.

    • UO Grad Student says:

      Maybe because I’m a former college athlete I have a soft spot for athletics at universities. Admittedly, I played at a DIII school that truly prioritized academics, but student athletes (at least at the time) were repeatedly shown by studies to have better time management and perform better in school.

      So maybe athletics doesn’t provide something for the whole of the athletic mission of the university, but I guarantee it does to the athletes playing the sports.

      And regarding the rabid sports parents- a lot of them were parents of kids in sports who also made honor roll. Probably an unfair characterization to say they want to beat up honor roll students.

      But really, as much as it makes a bunch of people feel better to say we need to wholesale slash athletics programs, is this really, truly a feasible solution at this time? Maybe we should focus on actually attainable goals.

      Finally, I think the cheer/tumbling teams are clubs and therefore don’t count for Title IX dollars. I’ll have to check on that though.

      • just different says:

        I was also a DIII student-athlete in a who-cares sport, and I hear you about that. And I was a walk-on. That seems to me to be how college sports should be done–as one of many ways a university can enhance students’ college experience. It’s backwards when the student-athletes are instead made responsible for enhancing a school’s reputation. That’s when things start to get out of control.

      • Jack Straw Man says:

        Here’s where I’m coming from. I can live with some degree of college sports. Maybe your school had the balance right. UO doesn’t have the balance right. It looks like the only way to recover is to start slashing. I can live with a compromise – if the admin offers one. But as long as their position is “let’s constantly increase funding for all athletics programs while simultaneously squeezing the academic side,” then my position is going to be “let’s eliminate athletics entirely.”

  9. Dreamer says:

    Why don’t we just require that every donation earmarked to athletics be accompanied by an equal donation to academics? Oh, right, because the UO Foundation is in charge of all the fundraising, and it’s an independent, private entity. At least independent from the University — probably not from the donors. How exactly again did this public University’s fundraising arm and its priorities come to be privatized?

    • Why bother? says:

      Anyone can play sports during their college time and it is simply not clear why the study body has to pay for it. One example is club vs varsity sports. Another is the tennis player on scholarship and the coaches on staff. Keep the tennis fields, cut the dollars, let them play if they like it so much. Simple. Just like all the non schollie runners on the Pre trail everyday. Also, UO has a very small stadium and a small fan base for sports other than football. The build it and they will come lie is proving truer everyday.

      Apparently the “….beat up your honor roll students…” bumper stickers are not popular anymore in track town.

      Slashing athletics is becoming the only option for school that do not want to slide into an academic wasteland.

      Walk on athletes for everyone and save the sinking ships.