5/24/2010: From Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian:
Lariviere recounted when Bellotti told him — amid his first year as athletic director after stepping down as football coach — that ESPN was seeking to hire him.
“That’s when he told me that we owed him a great deal of money as a result of his employment relationship,” Lariviere testified. “A very great deal of money. A surprising amount of money.
“I, of course, immediately asked the general counsel what his contract called for. That’s when I discovered there was no contract.”
Things will get more interesting when the people donating the money to pay Bellotti the $3 million he did get from UO realize their donations are not tax deductible, because they are for the benefit of a specific individual.
Meanwhile, because the athletic department has raised the minimum required donations for tickets in order to pay for the Arena and various other extravagances, regular UO donors are cutting back on gifts to pay for the new Alumni Center. So UO is asking people who typically give to academic causes to give to the Alumni Center instead. And they are. But, of course, all this is hidden in the black hole of the UO Foundation – which is not subject to Oregon’s public records law.
To put Bellotti’s $7 million request in perspective, the first year of Lariviere’s effort to move UO faculty salaries towards comparator levels will cost $9.6 million.
5/22/2010: Normally when you make a request to the Oregon DOJ for public records, you get a reply from DOJ Attorney Michael Kron, the DOJ’s Government Transparency Czar. So when I asked for the full report on the Bellotti investigation, I was a little surprised to get a denial from the DOJ’s political spokesperson instead. Tony Green simply says:
We have determined that the records you requested are privileged as part of a legal review done for the Attorney General. Because there remains a risk of litigation around the underlying issues, the Attorney General does not intend to waive that privilege.
Director of Communications & Policy
Oregon Department of Justice
Interestingly, when we asked UO Assistant General Counsel Doug Park, he sent us a copy of the public records requests for the Bellotti contract (one is below, here’s the other one). These are the ignored PR requests for written contracts which led to the firing of Melinda Grier – so far as the public knows.
Why did UO’s lawyer Doug Park release these documents – even though they also show that he was not doing his job as UO’s Public Records Officer? Because UO President Richard Lariviere made him release them.
Why won’t the DOJ release their stash of similar documents? Because Melinda Grier is the wife of Solicitor General Jerry Lidz? Because they believe the documents will embarrass former AG Dave Frohnmayer? Because they are afraid it will set a precedent, and then they will have to release the details regarding the firing of former DOJ environmental counsel Brent Foster? Because they are afraid someone will take the details to the Oregon Bar and open a whole new can of worms?
In any case, UO is now more transparent than the Oregon DOJ – at least with regard to the Bellotti payoff and Melinda Grier’s role in it.
The Oregon House Committee on Education is having a hearing on this Monday at 8AM. See http://www.leg.state.or.us/committees/ We will learn a little more then, maybe. The committee chair is Sara Gelser, Rep.SaraGelser@state.or.us, if you want to email her and ask her to encourage release of the full Bellotti report.
5/22/2010: Rachel Bachmann in the Oregonian reports on two legislative hearings regarding UO: Democratic State Senator Rick Metsger will investigate allegations from union groups that money from the $200 million state bond sale for arena construction has been spent illegally, and
…, the House Education Committee will hold a separate hearing at 8 a.m. Monday to address issues of Bellotti’s buyout. Most hearings can be viewed online at www.leg.state.or.us/listn. At the 1 p.m. arena hearing, Williams and a university representative are expected to testify, and representatives from the secretary of state’s office will report on the progress of an arena-project audit they launched last month.
correct link for feed is here: http://www.leg.state.or.us/committees/
5/18/2010: Here’s an interesting article by Duck tight end and UO business school student David Paulson, on CNBC. He writes about a lawsuit arguing that the NCAA should not be able to use a player’s likeness after graduation without permission and compensation.
The current situation is essentially indentured servitude: the NCAA has set it up so no player earns anything beyond subsistence, the universities are lucky to break even, and the coaches get all the profits. Those coaches know how to work a scam! But the NCAA is pushing it with the argument that they forever own the rights to the players’ likenesses. Mr. Paulson writes a good article, with many surprising facts and arguments:
Ed O’Bannon decided it was time for someone to stand up to the NCAA when his friend showed him a video game that featured him and his UCLA team. “My friend said, ‘The funny thing about this is you didn’t get paid,’ ” O’Bannon recalls. “He laughed pretty good and I just sat there thinking, ‘Wow, that’s true.’ My reaction was a little bit of embarrassment, but I was also disappointed that no one told me that they were going to be using my likeness to make this video game. They never sent me any paperwork. I didn’t release my face or my likeness.”
It seems like the NCAA doesn’t want anyone using a players’ name to make money besides them. For instance a college athlete cannot even use his name to run a football camp to make some extra money. It doesn’t seem fair that the NCAA is the only one with rights to make money off of college athletes. I think some changes need to be made to give some of the rights back to the players.
This will be a long fight, once this principle is established there will be a large increase in the income of college football players and an offsetting fall in the coaches’ take. I’d love to hear Howard Slusher on it!
5/10/2010: David Moltz and Doug Lederman of Insidehighered.com write on the US DOJ anti-trust investigation of the NCAA and what it might mean for college athletes. Also see Libby Sanders in the Chronicle, here. Currently the NCAA acts as a hiring cartel to prevent athletes bargaining for a better deal – like, say, their coaches do. Did you know that UO’s scholarship offers are year by year, and that they can revoke a scholarship for a student who is doing well academically, but is injured and unable to perform athletically? Does anyone know if this has happened here? No 4 year guarantees for the players – not even on tuition – but the coach gets 7 years at $2 million per.
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.
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?
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.
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.
4/16/2010: Wondering how Pat Kilkenny’s search for a new basketball coach is going? Me neither. But I was curious about how sports columnists are tracking his movements. Turns out it’s public info, and on the web:
Here’s the link for his tail number: http://flightaware.com/live/flight/N228PK
Note: We’ve been asked how much Lariviere’s consulting contract paid. Looks like $70,000 a month. (Maybe only $35,000 a month.) It’s funny how it’s never the right time politically for faculty and staff raises, but politics never seems to be a problem when it comes to pay for administrators. Ha Ha.
4/12/2010: President Larivere took office July 1 2009. But he was actually getting paid on a consulting contract starting around April. In March, he started an official blog, here. From the topics you can get a taste of how athletics has dominated his first year. Ignoring the inevitable fluff, almost all of the substantive posts are about various crises in the athletic department – and this is without anything on Bellotti’s payoff. I’m guessing that’s fairly close to how he has had to divide his time. I know the academic side gets many hard-to-measure benefits from athletics. This is just one of the many hard-to-measure costs
4/8/2010: 2 years ago, when Frohnmayer and Kilkenny were selling the Legislature on the arena bonds and they didn’t believe the ridiculous revenue predictions, Frohnmayer said UO would create a special reserve fund to cover shortfalls by adding a $1 surcharge to all athletic tickets. So what’s the balance up to on that by now?
From Melinda Grier’s office:
The University of Oregon has received your public records request for an accounting statement showing payments and disbursements involving the Arena Bond Reserve Fund from its establishment to the present. Deposits to the fund will be applicable to all tickets sold starting July 1, 2010. Accordingly, the University does not yet possess documents responsive to your request.
It’s zero. They decided not to start building a reserve until they were also repaying the bonds! But the restrictions on how they can spend this – they can’t until all of Knight’s money is gone – will knock another $600,000 or so out of the Athletic budget next year.
problem with Lariviere’s plan to use new donations to the athletic department to fund Bellotti’s payoff, from Lewis and Clark Tax Law Professor Jack Bogdanski. The IRS says “You cannot deduct contributions to specific individuals, … “. That rule will approximately double the cost to the donors of the buyout. Plus they may have to pay a 10% gift tax. Of course, Bellotti won’t have to treat it as earned income – so it will be worth twice that to him. Or maybe Melinda Grier can figure out a way to scam the IRS on this too?
4/7/2010: From Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian:
“This institution did not follow acceptable business practices in the past,” Lariviere said. “That will not be repeated under my administration.”
and Greg Bolt in the RG:
The university’s legal department late last month said it didn’t realize that there was no contract for Bellotti until last winter, after Bellotti told Lariviere of the ESPN job possibility. However, The Register-Guard had been asking the legal department since the previous summer for the document but received no reply. The newspaper submitted requests for the contract on June 25 and Nov. 11, and again on Jan. 14.
Asked about the UO’s failure to respond to those requests and the difficulty of getting public records in the past, Lariviere acknowledged the university has not lived up to the spirit of the open records law and pledged changes.
“As a result of our discoveries in this, we are going to change a lot of the university’s practices,” Lariviere said. “At this point I can’t tell you exactly what the response will be to any individual request, but I can tell you we will be as responsive, open and transparent as we possibly can be.”
4/6/2010: From reporter John Hunt in The Oregonian:
Are you a donor with money still burning a hole in your pocket? Do you feel those nine months went by so quickly that you haven’t adequately thanked Mike Bellotti for his work as athletic director?
Well, for $75 a plate, you can attend a Mike Bellotti tribute dinner.
There will even be a silent auction to raise more money. For what, you ask?
The funds will “be dedicated to covering the costs of the Tribute to Mike Bellotti event,” according to mikebellotti.com. Any overages, it said, will be deposited in the “Athletic Director’s Discretionary Fund.”