NY Times on UO Athletic Scandals

5/1/2010: Billy Witz of the NY Times has a long story on the recent troubles. No citation, but they do pick up the “Jock Box” phrase coined by UO Matters:

A new learning center — dubbed the Jock Box for its glass cube design — has been built for athletes only. If athletes at Oregon want a top-of-the-line laptop, all they have to do is ask — Knight donated 550 specially engraved Apple notebooks for their use. That twist, in the wake of Masoli’s arrest, has not been lost on many around campus. When guard Mark Asper, a sociology and Spanish major, has pulled his laptop out in class, he has had classmates admire it and then ask the inevitable question. “Is that one Jeremiah could have gotten?” Asper said. “And I say, yes. They want to know: What was he thinking? I just have to humbly apologize. People say, ‘Oh, you guys are a bunch of hooligans,’ and it’s tough because you don’t have any evidence to the contrary.”…

One person keeping a close eye will be Dr. Richard Lariviere, who last summer became the university’s president. One of his stated priorities was to figure out a way to raise professors’ salaries, which lag behind national standards, despite increasingly tight state funding. Lately, his focus has been on sports. Lariviere called the spate of off-the-field troubles “unacceptable” and acknowledged in a news conference that he pushed out Bellotti, who took a job last month with ESPN. Last week, after The Eugene Register-Guard reported that Kilkenny had also operated without a contract for more than a year, Lariviere reassigned the university counsel Melinda Grier to the campus law school and announced that her contract would not be renewed when it expired in 2011.

 The story also quotes Nathan Tublitz: “The athletic department is out of control here.” I’m guessing Nathan meant to say “was”. After recent events, it’s real clear Lariviere is cleaning this mess up.

More Bloat 2

4/29/2010: Diversity Vice President Charles Martinez is paid $146,537 by UO for his 0.75 FTE appointment at UO. (The stipend is really just extra salary, paid from a fund that was set up to compensate faculty for administrative work. The administration has been using these instead as a device to boost their own pay).

This would logically give Martinez 10 hours a week left over for outside work. But the IRS reports he actually works 25 hours off campus at OSLC:

The OSLC pay comes from federal grants, and if these were run through UO, Martinez would not be allowed to double dip like this. UO’s rules allow 1 day in 7 for outside work. Even adjusting for the 3/4 time appointment he’s way over. When he was hired by John Moseley in 2005, Moseley gave him a verbal promise the rule would not be enforced for him. Jim Bean apparently put that in writing last year. (Bean also put Martinez up for tenure, in a highly unusual last minute move, and then refused to show the faculty committee his letter explaining his decision.)

Given all this outside work – 25 hours a week – you might wonder how Martinez gets his job as UO Vice President done. He’s not on campus much. Try to set up a meeting, and he will want to meet at OSLC, or in a nearby coffee shop. He’s notorious for foisting all his duties off on his assistants.

Now Lariviere is letting him hire a new “Strategic Communications Specialist” to do more of his work for him. Amazing. Another $52,000-64,000 FTE, 0.5 time position.

At least they’re doing an affirmative action search. Now when are you going to do one for Martinez, President Lariviere? Are you sure the legal advice you got on his double-dipping and AA compliance – from Melinda Grier – was solid?

Have you found anyone on campus – other than Jim Bean and Charles Martinez – who thinks Charles Martinez is the best we can do as Vice President for Diversity? Regardless of what they think, shouldn’t we have an open, national, affirmative action compliant search for this position? Or at least a job description? Apparently Doug Park and Melinda Grier couldn’t find a written contract for Charles Martinez either:

From: “General Counsel”
Date: Sep 28, 2009 2:49:22 PDT
To: Professor X
Subject: RE: public records request, Martinez exemption letter

Dear Professor X:

The only public records we have been able to locate that are responsive to your request for documents “describing OIED VP Charles Martinez’s current job responsibilities” may be found at http://oied.uoregon.edu/staff/dr-charles-martinez-jr.  The University is waiving the costs associated with responding to this public records request.

Sincerely,

University of Oregon
Office of the General Counsel

Kroger makes it official: Grier is the scapegoat for Frohnmayer and Kilkenny

4/30/2010 update: Greg Bolt has a story about this in the RG. Not much new except this:

Some attention also focused on former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, who in 2005 had assigned responsibility for personnel issues in the athletic department to Grier’s office. Frohnmayer was winding down his presidency when Bellotti announced that he would take over as athletic director. Frohnmayer couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Thursday. But in earlier comments he said that although he had asked Kilkenny to negotiate a contract with Bellotti he had no direct role in those talks. But without mentioning Frohnmayer, Lariviere made clear he wouldn’t have handled the situation that way. “No one negotiates the contract of his or her successor,” Lariviere said. “That’s just part of the culture. Everyone understands that.”

Still no explanation from Frohnmayer of his role, still no defense of Melinda Grier, who worked for him for 12 years. He has been waiting to see the AG’s report, so he’ll know exactly how much of the truth they unearthed, before he goes on the record with his version. “No criminal wrongdoing” is a big relief for Dave!

What’s Frohnmayer going to tell the first reporter who asks him about decision to give control of athletics to Kilkenny the year after Kilkenny started his $440,000 series of donations to Frohnmayer’s Fanconi Foundation?

4/29/2010: Ok, I was part wrong. The Oregon DOJ investigation report rips into Melinda Grier. This won’t get her disbarred – believe me, I’ve tried that – but it is a reasonably well-documented hatchet job and I can’t imagine anyone who reads it hiring her as an attorney. Ever. But of course Frohnmayer walks. For starters:

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger today announced that a Department of Justice review found deficient legal representation, but no criminal wrongdoing in the handling of former University of Oregon Athletic Director Mike Bellotti’s contract.

Here’s the report. It is public because Lariviere insisted that Kroger make it public. Thanks. A key date in the events was April 20, 2009, when Grier was first asked about a written contract and when Frohnmayer was still President. Lariviere was obviously blindsided and had no responsibility for the lack of a contract. The report makes clear he did the best he could with a disaster.

The report does not mention the previous Oregon DOJ ethics investigation of Melinda Grier. That investigation was of false statements Grier made to the US DOJ Civil Rights Division, during their investigation of UO’s minority faculty recruiting procedures. Associate AG David Leith was in charge of that investigation (on which he spent well over $20,000), as well as of the report released today.

I’m surprised at the depth of this new investigation and the vehement tone of this report from Kroger. Somebody is pissed. My guess? David Leith and John Kroger went out on a limb for Melinda Grier, covering up the civil rights investigation and a raft of previous issues. Jean Stockard’s case would be another exmple – cost the state $500,000 plus fees. When this came up, they decided it was the last time she would make trouble for them.

UO’s Public Records Officer, Doug Park, gets off without a mention in the report. Oregon law gave Park responsibility for responding to the repeated public records requests for Bellotti’s contract. Presumably he passed them on the Grier, instead of doing his job. Lariviere has already announced he will take this responsibility away from Park. Good enough. We’ll see if the new GC will keep Park and the other longtime Grier assistant, Randy Geller.

There is not a word about Kilkenny. Dave Frohnmayer, of course, gets off untouched. Still no public word from Frohnmayer on his role in the Bellotti contract, on the firing of the woman who served as his principal legal advisor for 12 years, or on the AG’s judgment that she was incompetent.

Meanwhile Frohnmayer is still collecting his $245,700 in UO pay, still collecting a second paycheck at Harrang, Long, et al., and a third paycheck from Umpqua Bank. His former Provost, John Moseley, is still getting paid by UO on a questionable PERS retirement buyout deal, set up by Frohnmayer, while he runs a fishing retreat on the Deschutes. No kidding, you can rent a lodge from him here. The Oregon Government Ethics Board investigator wanted to pursue this, the board voted him down. The guy Frohnmayer appointed VP for Diversity 5 years ago, Charles Martinez, is still working for UO without any kind of affirmative action compliant search, and he’s still double dipping at another job off campus. Sleaze.

How many of these deals did Melinda Grier also have her fingers in? How much more is there? It’s going to be a while before the shit gets cleaned up, but this is a start.

Audit and DOJ reports on Frohnmayer/Belotti deal

4/28/2010:
At 11AM tomorrow the OUS Board meets and will hear a report from their auditor, Pat Snopkowski, on the Frohnmayer / Bellotti oral contract scandal – or as they call it in their docket, “A UO Athletics Matter.”

I’m expecting a coverup, based on how the OUS Audit Division handled former UO Provost John Moseley’s golden parachute contract and expense account abuse. But things have changed around here recently, and maybe I’ll be surprised.

In related news, Oregon DOJ spokesperson Tony Green assures me there will be a public report from the DOJ’s investigation of the situation. Though he’d really prefer that I don’t use that word “investigation”. Sorry Tony.

Associate AG David Leith is in charge of this non-investigation. My wild guess is the DOJ will not find much from their non-investigation. A real investigation would likely implicate former UO General Counsel Melinda Grier (wife of Oregon Solicitor General Jerry Lidz), UO Assistant GC Doug Park (officially, UO Public Records Officer, in reality just following orders) and of course Dave Frohnmayer (Saint, former Oregon Attorney General, and currently working at Lidz’s law firm, Harrang, Long et al, while collecting his $245,700 UO sabbatical pay on the side.) Better not to turn over that rock. And Leith has a history of deflecting ethics investigations of Melinda Grier, like this one from last May.

At 6 PM, the Mike Bellotti tribute dinner begins. Still 6 tables left. All proceeds net of costs benefit the Athletic Director’s discretionary fund. Lorraine Davis needs more money?

Is UO Matters a news organization?

4/28/2010: Many bloggers are wondering about their legal status in the wake of the seizure of the computers of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, the guy who blogged about the iphone HD. Is a blog a news organization? Was he a journalist? If so, apparently CA’s “shield law” says the gov’t needs a subpoena, not just a warrant, to search his computer.  FWIW, at least according to one US Government agency, UO Matters is a news organization and as such is entitled to expedited FOIA requests and a higher threshold before fees will be charged.

Parking 2

4/27/2010: Parking pdate:

The ODE follows up their excellent reporting on parking with an angry editorial:

… What’s more, more than a third of the 377 spots in the arena parking structure are reserved for users of the Jaqua Academic Center for Student-Athletes. DPS paying for the arena structure bond in this way is a disservice to those who spent and continue to spend years paying parking fines, buying parking passes and feeding the ever-hungry meters, as little will improve for them. Instead of 514 new parking spaces, the campus community has been relegated to only 242 spaces, which won’t be enough as enrollment continues to increase.

The only thing missing is the info on who approved the decision to put DPS in debt to help fund the arena. Dave Frohnmayer and OUS Chancellor George Pernsteiner.

4/21/2010: Part 2 of Dave Martinez and Alex Tomchak Scott’s Daily Emerald series about parking. Basically, UO students and faculty will be paying about $5 million in higher parking fees and fines to provide convenient underground parking for the athletes at their Jaqua Jock Box, and another $10 million to pay for part dedicated to the arena. But UO athletics is self supporting, right?

Our Uncle drives a tough bargain – or perhaps Frohnmayer just drives a lousy one has his own reserved spot and doesn’t give a shit. Or maybe it was the $150,000 bonus he got from anonymous UO boosters?

If you pay a parking ticket doled out on the University campus, chances are you’ll be helping to pay off debts accrued on the parking structure under construction beneath the Matthew Knight Arena. University officials estimate the 377-spot underground garage will cost about $15 million by the time it is finished, although some have estimated it will cost as much as $18 million. … To repay that bond, the University placed the financial burden on its Department of Public Safety, which administers parking on campus. …

“A lot of people don’t understand why our prices went up as much as they did,” Horner said. “And, well, it’s because we have to balance our budget, and it’s really difficult to do that when you have that kind of financial responsibility.” The price of student parking passes has already been doubled from last year to this year, and Horner said it’s unlikely they will increase again soon. However, the price of faculty parking is set to increase from $300 to $400. ..

DPS had been in the process of fomenting plans for different structures. …
Instead, the University went ahead with plans to build the Knight Arena garage. Because it is underground, Horner said, it will cost three times as much as an above-ground structure would have cost. Of the 377 spots in the new structure, 135 — more than a third — will be reserved for the Jaqua Academic Center for Student-Athletes, meaning they will likely be used exclusively by student-athletes. …

“Dear God, I think I hate it,” said (student) Sen. Demic Tipitino, often a proponent of the University administration, later adding, “I have a problem with me getting a ticket when I’m studying in the library to bail out the athletic department. That’s some shit.

Here is Knight’s contract on this with Frohnmayer:

Goodbye Kilkenny

4/27/2010: Lariviere leaves no doubt who is in charge. From Ron Bellamy in the RG:

Lariviere said that at times he re-directed Kilkenny when he felt that the search was heading in a direction with which he wasn’t comfortable. “Not that Pat was promoting a particular person, but a name or two would come up,” Lariviere said. “I think at last count, we had five coaches who have won national championships who were interested in this job. … There were at least two of them that I would not have allowed to be the coach at the University of Oregon, because they didn’t share the values we were looking for here (in) looking after student-athletes’ academic and personal success.”

30 minutes after the ceremony Kilkenny was in his jet, leaving Eugene.

But Bellamy’s article goes on to show that Kent’s teams had better academic performances than Altman’s. And of course his contract gives him bonuses for wins and ticket sales that are about 5 times the $120,000 bonus for academic success. That reveals UO’s preferences – we’ve got a $16.5 million nut to make on those bonds, every year starting now. Kilkenny and Frohnmayer may not be in charge, but their past decisions don’t leave Lariviere much of a choice.

Not very well coordinated bullshit:

4/26/2010: Jamie Moffitt has been put in charge of the Athletic Department’s finances. Excellent move. But read the bullshit in the RG story, from our new Interim AD Lorraine Davis:

“The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has experienced a period of rapid growth and success. This new position will help the department to develop and implement the necessary budgeting, financial, human resource, and contractual practices to support this expansion,” she said. “A key element of Jamie’s role will be assessing the department’s ongoing needs,” Davis said.  “Jamie and her team of financial and human resource professionals will ensure that the organizational structure, staffing, and financial resources are in place to achieve department priorities.”

“I felt there needed to be a high-level finance and administration person to coordinate all the functions of budgets, finances, human resources, strategic planning and contracts,” Davis said. “It’s not as coordinated as it needs to be.”

No kidding. Not very well coordinated, that’s the biggest problem with our athletic department? Compare this with what President Lariviere said:

“In the past this university has not followed acceptable business practices. That will not continue under my administration.” 

Here’s hoping he can quickly hire an AD that isn’t entirely beholden to the old guard, and that Lorraine can go back to proctoring exams for athletes and arranging the recruit / sorority girl mixers, while paid out of of the Tenure Reduction Program budget on the golden parachute contract she got from Frohnmayer. Not that we’re jealous.

Lariviere on Knight

4/25/2010: From Steve Duin’s column in the Oregonian, well worth reading it all:

“I’m looking at the Knight Library,” Lariviere said. “I have my back to the Knight Law School. And I can name several of the professors sitting in the 22 Knight-endowed chairs. We are incredibly lucky Penny and Phil Knight love this place so passionately.”

I came to UO in the middle of the building boom paid for by Phil Knight’s philanthropy. Library, law school, and then the Knight chairs. This all came to an end when Dave Frohnmayer signed UO up for the well-intentioned but naive anti-Nike Worker’s Rights Consortium. (But remember, many of the faculty supported this too.)  Knight immediately lost all trust in Frohnmayer’s judgment and said so very publicly. He then shifted all his academic giving to Stanford. Lariviere is rapidly earning back the faculty’s trust, I hope he earns Knight’s too.

In the end I think Richard Read of the Oregonian had the best take on the misguided idealism of the WRC supporters. What are those “exploited” Nike sweatshop workers actually doing? Saving their paychecks, sending the money home to build houses and finance new businesses for their families, sending their kids to college. That’s the life we choose – why do we think we should deny it to them? Who is doing more for these people – the WRC, or Phil Knight? Not that I’m an economist.

Anyway, from Duin’s version, the most interesting person in all this is Howard Slusher.

Where’s Frohnmayer?

4/23/2010: The Daily Emerald, RG and the Oregonian have stories on the Grier firing. The RG includes a picture of the $2.3 million hug – thanks Greg!

Dave Frohnmayer has not yet said a word in public about the Bellotti scandal or about the firing of the woman who served as his legal advisor for 12 years. Obviously Frohnmayer was behind Grier’s many years of stonewalling public records requests, and he had ultimate responsibility for the Bellotti fiasco. So why no interviews with Frohnmayer?

Apparently he’s somewhere in the EU. Given that UO is paying him ~25,000 a month, I wonder if he filled out the required Sabbatical Travel form justifying his absence during the term – or if it is just a vacation? Regardless, the reporters have his (UO paid) cell phone number and his email address. You could also reach him through his second job at Harrang Long Gary Rudnick, Tel: 541.485.0220.

Dave loves to talk to the press, especially when it’s about him. Every story about the verbal agreement mentioned that Lariviere was in China and wouldn’t respond til he returned. But still not even a “no comment” or “unavailable” from man at the root of the fiasco, Dave Frohnmayer?

Wait until the law school prof’s hear about this:

4/22/2010: Rumor control Reports in the RG and Oregonian explain that Melinda Grier will be given a one year terminal contract at the Knight Law School, apparently at her full $183,00 salary. Under Brad Shelton’s new budget model it looks like the law school will have to pay her salary and benefits out of law school student tuition money. Or maybe we will all pay?

Frohnmayer’s emeritus deal ($245,700 in salary, $186,000 for expenses, $25,000 for assistants) also gives him an office in the law school. Maybe he and Melinda will co-teach a course on how to break Oregon’s public records law?

We are now paying over $1 million a year just in salary for the obvious administrative deadwood. It’s going to be hard to justify a tuition increase without some cuts in this.

Update: Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago law school thinks dumping Melinda on the law school is outrageous.

Lariviere fires Melinda Grier, wants replacement by Friday

4/22/2010: From Jeff Manning at the Oregonian. Obviously Lariviere has some guts and he is now taking charge:

Melinda Grier, the attorney at the center of a controversy surrounding the University of Oregon athletic department, appears to be on her way out.

University President Richard Lariviere and Oregon Attorney General John Kroger have reached out to a handful of potential replacements as UO’s general counsel in recent days. Officially, the university’s general counsel is part of Kroger’s staff….

Grier, who did not return a message seeking comment, has come to personify the culture of secrecy that has developed at the university, particularly with regard to its athletic department. Grier repeatedly rejected or sat on requests from the media for additional financial details about Bellotti’s contract and a number of other high-profile athletic department issues.  ….

Neither Lariviere nor Kroger would comment, but four sources confirmed that the university president is searching for a successor. Paul Kelly Jr., a Portland attorney and president of the State Board of Higher Education, said he learned Wednesday that Lariviere had made the decision. The other sources asked to remain anonymous. …

Kent Robinson, long-time federal prosecutor in Portland, has emerged as one candidate to replace Grier. Robinson is a respected veteran prosecutor who for years has worked in a senior role at the U.S. attorney’s office. …

Fantastic news for UO. Melinda covered up for Dave Frohnmayer for years, and her office is piled high with documents on the sleaze. She is taking the fall for his decisions – because she never had the guts to say no to him. It will be interesting to see how much of it now comes to light.

Not so good for the tight circle of administrators she has been protecting. There will be a lot more turnover to come. Very good sign that Lariviere is apparently not considering either of Grier’s assistants, Doug Park or Randy Geller for the job. Ms Grier is the wife of Jerry Lidz, appointed Oregon Solicitor General by AG John Kroger. This decision must have been politically difficult for Lariviere.

UO Matters would like to claim some credit for this – we pursued ethics complaints against her with the state DOJ and the Oregon Bar – but the truth is she got fired because she embarrassed Lariviere in the newspapers, and the newspapers only cared because it was about sports.