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Tuition & fee board met Friday 10:30-12 to discuss athletics cuts

Last updated on 04/22/2019

Just kidding, they’re actually talking about cuts to museums, OA’s and staff, and increasing in-state tuition. There is no sign that the Rob Mullens and the Ducks will even be asked to cut their bloated budget or the subsidies they take from the academic side. This recent report in Oregon Business, by Caleb Diehl, has an excellent story on the subsidies UO’s academic budget gives the Duck Athletic empire, here. Some snippets:

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a nonprofit that regulates college sports in the U.S., oversees a $13 billion college sports industry powered mostly by its premier league, Division I. The University of Oregon and Oregon State make millions off lucrative TV contracts, ticket sales and apparel deals. The 2018 budget for the University of Oregon athletic department, fueled almost entirely by men’s football and basketball, was $113.2 million.

The large amounts of revenue generated by college athletics stand in contrast to the frugality of academic departments at Oregon’s public universities, which decry the continual decline in state funding for tuition. In an era of record student loan debt and escalating tuition fees, academic departments are trimming costs wherever they can. But athletic departments continue to spend freely and even accept money from academia that could fund academic programs. Oregon Business examined their budgets and contracts, received through public-records requests.

The University of Oregon athletics department reports to the NCAA that it doesn’t get any funding from student fees. But in fact, the department’s critics say students pay athletics a combined $5 million a year at the very least.

The university does not publicly acknowledge these subsidies, leading to what Kenny Jacoby, an alum who covered athletics spending for the online student news site, Daily Emerald, calls “the greater myth of self-sufficiency.” The department shows a balanced budget, he says, but “a lot of this stuff at UO is spelled out in building contracts, memoranda of understanding, ASUO [student and faculty government] financial arrangements.”

One of these financial arrangements governs revenue from ticket sales. All students chip in to watch sports, whether they’re fans or not. In 2017 the student government paid $1.7 million for tickets to games. The amount is specified each year in a contract between athletics and the school senate, a governing body representing the interests of students and faculty. The money comes out of the student government budget, funded by part of a mandatory $250 student fee.

The academic budget also pays around $2.2 million (as of 2014-15) for student-athlete tutoring. This service comes at a much higher cost than tutoring for nonathletes. Athletes get their tutoring inside a $41.7 million modernist cube called the John E. Jaqua Center. The university drops $4,000 a year on academic support for each athlete, according to a 2014 University of Oregon senate estimate. Nonathletes get $225 each.

The academic side also remains on the hook for athletics subsidies it agreed to in a 2009 memorandum of understanding that then-president Dave Frohnmayer signed with the athletic department. Nike founder Phil Knight donated a portion of the funds for the Matthew Knight Arena, a new basketball stadium, but the university paid $22.2 million using tax-exempt general obligation bonds for the land.

The athletic department couldn’t pay all of the debt service on the land and facility, so they turned to academics. Consequently, roughly half a million dollars comes out of the academic budget each year for a quarter of the debt service on the bonds. Another $375,000 a year pays for luxury box seats for the university president, and more goes to debt on an underground parking garage.

But since the Holy Duck Empire subsidies won’t be cut, here are some potential increases to in-state undergrad tuition, from VP Moffitt. They range from 5% to 22.5%:


  1. honest Uncle Bernie 04/19/2019

    I wonder why UO doesn’t just tell the athletic department to pay for the $2.2 million of tutoring out of their own funds. Are they afraid of something? e.g. the AD providing tutoring at much lower cost than UO perhaps? Or the wrath of Phil Knight, with risk of losing out on future largesse from him? Or is there some long-standing agreement that we just don’t know about?

    I have wondered about this for a long time.

    • Environmental necessity 04/19/2019

      Same reason you don’t tell your boss to take a cut.

      • May 8 04/20/2019

        UO day at the capitol is May 8. You can sign up as part of the official delegation to let our legislators know that UO blew their budget this year on athletics excess and raises for top administrators.

        Tell our legislators not to backfill money for UO until the University can commit to balancing their budget in an equitable way, and not just on the backs of academics, classified staff, and in-state students.

        UO’s budget has been one big dinner table, and it has been clear athletics and admininstration get invited to feast first while the rest fight over who gets the leftovers. Subsidizing the feast with legislative dollars instead of donor/trustee dollars means there will be no end to the raid on academic coffers. Instead let legislators know that our donors already promised plenty of money when setting up the board of trustees, and we will start having athletics subsidize academics instead of the other way around. Stay strong and know your facts to dispell the false narratives that athletics doesn’t use academic money, or that it’s a seperate untouchable budget, or that we somehow don’t have too many top administrators making ridiculous amounts of money. Demand Schill take a pay cut equal to the highest pay cut any other department is asked to make due to his fiscal irresponsibility. This is his and the Board’s burden, not that of the legislature.

        • Eyeroll 04/22/2019

          Well noted. It is indeed ironic to be asked to lobby the legislature for more money when we neither know, nor trust, nor necessarily approve how the university leadership would spend it.

    • oldtimer 04/20/2019

      The additional tutoring costs for student athletes should, in my view be a shared responsibility. what share? 50/50 is a natural place to start. even that would return about a million a year to academics.

      • Eyeroll 04/22/2019

        If tutoring spending on non-athletes is $225 per student, that’s the figure I’d start with for subsidy from the academic budget for tutoring athletes. Let the Athletics Dept come up with the other $3775 per athlete.

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