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UO lost $1.5M on bowl games, and how many good students?

5/5/2015 update:

Jon Solomon of CBS Sports reports that, after accounting for the administrative junkets and $2.2M bonuses for AD Rob Mullens and the coaches, UO lost $1.5m on the Pac12 and BCS championship games:

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But surely all that publicity will help bring in new students? Actually, the latest research shows the opposite:

In this paper, we use a panel data set of university funding, applications, enrollment and the quality of students at the university measured by percentile on entrance exams from 2002 to 2009 to examine the effects of various levels of success including: BCS national championships, conference championships and AP top 25 rankings. Our results indicate, individually, that national championships and AP top 25 rankings can lower the quantity and quality of applicants and enrollees, however, conference championships can positively impact the quantity and quality of applicants and enrollees. Yet, when the [football] success measures are combined, tests reveal that overall success negatively affects the quantity and quality of applicants and enrollees.

Why? Parents are unlikely to want to pay for their children to attend a football-factory party school. Of course that’s not the message UO’s $115K Duck Advocate and PR flack Tobin Klinger posted on “Around the 0” from his all-expense-paid Dallas junket, but here’s a link to the working paper: College Football Success and the Quantity and Quality of Applicants: Evidence from the BCS.

The negative academic effects of football wins continues after enrollment. UO Economist Glen Waddell’s 2012 paper, published in the American Economic Review: Applied Economics, showed that football wins led to worse grades for current UO undergraduates – particularly for males. The effect is striking:

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Why? Just what you’d expect – after a win our students party, get drunk, and skip class:

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Not exactly a surprise to any parent who was once a student themselves, so they send their kids to a school without so many distractions. The only puzzle here is why the UO administration and its PR flacks are still pretending that big-time football is good for the academic side. Oh, right, they get a party too, and there aren’t any adults in JH to tell our administrators to get their act together.

1/9/2015: Coltrane leads Johnson Hall old guard on one more junket

Jeff Manning has the report in the Oregonian:

University President Scott Coltrane is bringing a delegation of 25, including the provost and deans of the law school, Honors College, journalism, music and dance and other academic departments. Spouses and partners are also among the delegation. All are required to participate in social events like the VIP tailgate.

Airfare and other travel costs alone will cost $50,000. The university was unable to provide an estimate of costs for food, lodging and other expenses.

… The Oregon athletic department is sending a much larger contingent to Dallas. About 570 players, cheerleaders, marching band members, coaches and administrators, as well as spouses, will be leaving Eugene Friday or Saturday, university officials said.

The euphoria over the big game can’t mask serious issues at Oregon.

There’s the revolving door in the president’s office. The UO has been through four presidents in five years. Michael Gottfredson lasted in the job just two years before he resigned in August amid a furor over the university’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against three UO basketball players.

The alleged victim sued the university on Thursday.

Instructors are disgruntled. UO graduate teaching assistants went on strike last year in a dispute over compensation and benefits. The professors also voted to unionize in 2013. Some of Oregon’s best researchers and professors have left for other institutions, a problem the administration admits has reached serious proportions.

… Oregon Law School Professor Margie Paris said the distrust and resentment between Oregon’s academic and athletic sides is nothing new. Fourteen years ago she helped lead a task force convened to examine athletic spending some deemed out of control.

Since then, athletics spending and revenue have exploded.

Paris share’s Dreiling’s misgivings about UO’s sports-centric culture. But she also believes you have to credit Knight and Nike for making Oregon relevant in the billion-dollar pop-culture industry that college sports have become.

“There’s already been a huge benefit,” Paris said. “We’re cool, we’re the Ducks.”

Yeah, that’s huge.

1/12/2015 update: Scott Greenstone has the story in the Emerald here, along with plenty of VP Roger Thompson’s usual protests that it’s all about recruiting new students, honest:

Officers of administration going include the deans of the Honors College, School of Journalism and Communications, the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Education. The money for travel, expenses and lodging comes out of the budgets of each of these departments, so it is each department head’s choice whether or not to go.

Our student tuition dollars at work play.


  1. Leo 01/09/2015

    The one on the right looks like Lorraine.

  2. nauseated 01/11/2015

    Tobin Klinger is a treasure. His crisp, lively dispatches from Dallas are enlightening and energizing. And that Roger Thompson seems like a live wire! I’d rather be water boarded than spend a weekend with the likes of these two.

  3. Anonymous 01/11/2015

    Roger Thompson knows this part of his job is complete bullshit. But he’s a professional.

    • uomatters Post author | 01/11/2015

      Use a screen name

  4. Anonymous 01/12/2015

    You can’t have it both ways. If you are going to tell UAUO, the GTFF, etc. that the well is dry, you can’t turn around and defend the six-figure cost of the junkets by saying that recruiting just 6 or 7 students will bag the university $1 million. Because that sounds like it’s pretty easy to raise money (just raise out-of-state admissions by the matriculation rate times 6), and you just said it isn’t.

  5. The Truth 01/12/2015

    I wonder if Thompson can provide any evidence against the null hypothesis that enrollment would be the same in the presence of identical results by the football team itself but without the presence of administrators and their families at the game.

    • Not clip art 05/05/2015

      While that’s a great site (had a lot of fun there) I think that this correlation is arguably justified.

  6. Ben 05/05/2015

    Is this before, or after factoring in the bowl payouts?

    For example, playing in the Rose Bowl, oregon got $23.9 million. After subtracting their own expenses, they get 1/12 of that revenue, splitting the rest with the conference.

    Unless that is already factored in and I just don’t see it, or there are other expenses not covered here, it looks like they had a net gain of around $2 million for the Rose Bowl.

    Either the payouts were missed, or I missed something (which, given my track record, is probable).

  7. uomatters Post author | 05/05/2015

    It’s my calculation from this quote:

    Oregon listed a net gain of $1.3 million for two playoff games when factoring $4.9 million in Pac-12 reimbursements and $650,501 in credit card fees for tickets (2.5 percent of sales). The Ducks spent $2.2 million on bonuses not included in the net gain. Oregon reported a net loss of $677,004 for the Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara, California.

    But the story is unclear on other revenue. I’d love to hear there was a profit that the Ducks could use to reduce their academic subsidies!

    • Ben 05/05/2015

      The AD’s response to the bonuses will be that success always breeds higher donations and more ticket sales. It would be a really interesting study to figure out the actual net profit when looking at those trends. My guess is the end result would bolster your stance that they should not receive academic funds.

    • Anon 05/05/2015

      I thought we learned through Rob and Eric when they were negotiating with the ASUO that “committed tickets” should be thought of as expenses equivalent to their full retail prices. Oh, only when it advantages the AD, is that it?

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