Red Ink for athletics

3/20/2010: Bellotti has now resigned – giving UO 2 weeks notice to find a replacement. He and Kilkenny left the athletic department over budget and with no financial reserves. There will be an easy $20 million per year in new expenses coming on line – arena bonds, new basketball coach, new high salaries for all the assistants, etc. Knight is committed to $20 million per year in donations for the next 5 years, but other donors are apparently not coming through as planned. Good time to split, I guess. And according to Ron Bellamy of the RG, President Lariviere has agreed to pay Bellotti another $2.3 million after he steps down, apparently on the basis of verbal promises made by Frohnmayer and Kilkenny.

Ken Goe of the Oregonian writes:

So, who is running the show? Knight? University President Richard Lariviere? Former interim athletic director Pat Kilkenny, a wealthy, retired insurance executive and still an athletic department adviser? General Counsel Melinda Grier?

Grier seems to have her fingerprints on any number of controversial decisions, including that $2.3 million gift Bellotti will take with him as he walks away. 

3/7/2010: Greg Bolt of the RG has a story on the athletic deficit today. Bolt’s story avoids the logical followup questions. For example, when Bellotti says:

At this point we’re doing OK,” he said. “Are we out of the woods? No, simply because of the economy. And we had some tuition increases, and all those things affect our bottom line.” The athletic department pays the UO the value of scholarships the athletic department awards, so when tuition goes up, that increases the department’s costs.

The logical followup would be “Yes, those economists really screwed you over – not to mention all those people who lost their jobs – with that recession thing.  But tuition costs went up by $820,000, $230,000 of which was covered by a one time increase in what you are given from state lottery funds. Your overall spending, however, is up by $3.2 million. How much did coaches salaries increase? How much will they increase in the current budget? Can I see your current budget? Do you have one?”

Similarly, when OUS Finance VP Jay Kenton says:

“This is not indicative of a problem, and in no way, shape or form is this a major issue,” he said. “It’s kind of a minor timing issue.”

It might be good to remember that Kenton is not going to say he screwed up and let the athletic department break the rules. Contrast Kenton’s statement with what the State Treasurer’s report on the Arena (prepared by Bill McGee of the DAS) says:

“The scenario leaves the Department with a annual cash balance of less than one percent of projected expenditures through 2031, which is low for a department that is expected to be self- sustaining. By comparison, Board of Higher Education policy sets a goal of five to fifteen percent for total institutional cash balances.”

Emphasis added – because actually the balance is now negative 1% before they have started paying any of the arena bonds. The State is saying the athletic department would need to set aside ~$6 million in cash reserves to meet the standard the OUS Board uses.

Bolt’s overall conclusion seems pretty reasonable though – with the $20 million per year in Knight donations, athletics can cover this deficit and its other new costs, but barely. Their plan seems pretty transparent and perfectly normal – spend every penny they can bring in on higher salaries for themselves. They just went a bit too far this year is all. Next year they’ll be replacing Kent. This is going to be just fine, I’m sure. Just like those economists told us about the housing bubble.

None of these stories have reported on whether or not the athletic department has actually been setting aside the $1 per ticket surcharge for Arena repayments that Frohnmayer told the legislature he would institute. Does anyone know about that?

3/4/2010: From Bill Graves at the Oregonian:

Despite winning football seasons in recent years, sports finances for Oregon State University and the University of Oregon both fell in the red by the end of the last fiscal year, according to a report the State Board of Higher Education’s finance committee will review Friday.

Oregon State intercollegiate athletics’ ending balance, what the board calls working capital, was $5.9 million in the hole as of June 30, 2009, and the University of Oregon’s sports programs posted a $642,000 deficit.

State Board policy requires universities to keep their ending balances positive. The board probably will ask administrators from each university to come up with a plan to bring working capital, current assets minus liabilities, into the black. …

The university attributes its negative ending balance last year to the recession and, as with Oregon State, problems collecting on $2.2 million in pledged donations. One factor in the Ducks’ favor in the next budget period — appearing in last season’s lucrative Rose Bowl, which was played on Jan. 1.

Oregon’s athletic department officials did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. But in the report to the State Board of Higher Education university officials wrote, “Due to the weakened economy, the cash for all of the pledges had not been received prior to year end.”

The deficit is old news but there are many odd things here. This report ends in June 2009. At that point UO’s athletic department had increased its spending $5 million compared to the previous year. So some but not all new spending – e.g big raises for the coaches – is in the budget. This $5 million in new spending – not $ 2 million in missing pledges – is the obvious cause of the deficit, not “the weakened economy”. More of a problem, there’s lots of new spending coming that is not in this report: like the Arena bond repayments, at $15 million a year and Kelly’s new contract. There’s some revenue too of course, from the Rose Bowl. Meanwhile, why haven’t Knight’s “Athletic Endowment” funds been tapped? Are they here yet? The AD plan for dealing with this deficit – which will be a public record – might be pretty revealing. Meanwhile some info is available in the OUS Board meeting agenda – see p 93, here, highlights below:


The UO Athletics working capital, as of June 30, 2009, was a negative $642,000, a decrease of $1.4 million from prior year. The UO Athletics ended FY 2009 with negative working capital and is not in compliance with the Board’s directives relating to deficits. The deficit reflects a cash flow issue. The UO Athletics is addressing this issue and ensures compliance with Board policy. The UO Athletics continues to operate without any direct institutional support.

The UO Athletics departmental debt burden for FY 2009 is 5 percent. Although this ratio is typically used on an institution-wide basis, a higher debt service ratio indicates that an entity has less flexibility to manage the remaining portion of the budget and to fund other strategic initiatives. The UO’s 5 percent debt burden ratio for FY 2009 is lower than the generally accepted threshold of 7 percent for an institution, as a whole. It is noted when the arena project full debt payment begins in FY 2012, the debt burden ratio will be approximately 25 percent.


As with nearly all sectors of private and public industry, the UO Athletics was negatively affected by the recent and ongoing downturn in the national economy. The Net Operating Loss shown on these financial statements is reflective of that. At June 30, 2009, nearly $2.2 million in pledges made to the Duck Athletic Fund, a component of the UO Foundation, remained outstanding. In prior years, these pledges were realized in a timelier manner and the cash transferred to UO Athletics prior to year-end. Due to the weakened economy, the cash for all of the pledges had not been received prior to year end, but was in-hand at the UO Foundation prior to August 31, 2009, and was transferred to UO Athletics in October 2009. This timing difference related to pledge fulfillment was both unprecedented and unanticipated. It also reflects a misunderstanding between UO and OUS about how pledges to be paid to the UO Foundation could be reflected on the UO Athletics books.

My apologies

3/14/2010: My apologies for all the sports stuff lately. Here’s a little more, on what it takes to win at college football. Looks like it’s mostly a willingness to recruit players who are not going to graduate. From

The graduation rates in The Bootleg’s analysis are the NCAA’s “Graduation Success Rates” (GSRs), which were introduced four years ago. The Graduation Success Rate reflects the percentage of athletes who graduated within six years after starting college. The GSR doesn’t count outgoing transfer students, so long as they were in good academic standing. So, losing players due to transfer generally does not hurt a school’s graduation rate. Incoming transfers are included in the GSR calculation.
The graduation rates in this analysis are “four class” graduation rates – that is, combined graduation rates for the four most recent classes for which information has been reported. The classes covered by this year’s analysis are the classes that would have graduated in the years 2004 through 2007, assuming a five-year track to graduation.

Football Graduation Rates: Pac-10
Stanford 89%
Washington 69%
Cal 64%
Washington St. 62%
Arizona St. 58%
USC 58%
Oregon St. 57%
UCLA 51%
Oregon 49%
Arizona 41%
Bottom 10 Football Grad Rates: Division I-A
San Jose St. 33%
Arizona 41%
Oklahoma 45%
Fresno St. 46%
Hawaii 47%
Florida International 47%
San Diego St. 48%
UAB 48%
Texas 49%
Oregon 49%
Georgia Tech 49%
Eastern Michigan 49%

Oregon has joined Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas in the race for the bottom. As the Ducks’ football fortunes take wing, their graduation rates are flying south.

Grad Rates for African American Football Players: Selected Schools
African American Caucasian Difference
North Carolina St. 43% 94% -51%
Auburn 48% 94% -46%
Arkansas 40% 78% -38%
UCLA 31% 68% -37%
Georgia 48% 83% -35%
Miami 65% 100% -35%
Mississippi 60% 94% -34%
Utah 48% 82% -34%
Texas 37% 69% -32%
Georgia Tech 41% 73% -32%
Oregon 39% 70% -31%
Biggest Difference in Grad Rates Between Football Players and All Students
Major Programs
(Difference of 15% or more)
Football Players All Students Difference
UCLA 51% 89% -38%
Texas 49% 77% -28%
Georgia Tech 49% 77% -28%
USC 58% 85% -27%
Virginia 68% 93% -25%
Cal 64% 88% -24%
Texas A&M 55% 77% -22%
Georgia 57% 76% -19%
Maryland 60% 79% -19%
Michigan St. 56% 74% -18%
Arizona 41% 57% -16%
Oregon 49% 65% -16%
Michigan 71% 87% -16%
Oklahoma 45% 60% -15%
BYU 61% 76% -15%
For an explanation of the calculation of these “graduation rate gaps,”
see the note at the end of the analysis.

UO students think UO has fired the wrong Coach

3/12/2010: The Daily Emerald editors on Bellotti’s decision to fire Kent, and keep Kelly:

Kent is clearly not a loser but one of the most successful men’s basketball coaches to grace McArthur Court, and yet his greatest achievement is found off the court. The basketball team, according to the NCAA, has a non-federal graduation rate above the national average (73 percent compared to 64 percent) and the second-highest rate in the Pac-10.

Compare that to the football team, which has a non-federal graduation rate well below the national average (49 percent compared to 67 percent) and the second-lowest rate in the Pac-10 conference but came in first in wins in the Pac-10.

Meanwhile, the Oregonian is reporting that Bellotti has decided that running the athletic department is not for him, and he is looking around for sportscaster jobs.

The usual

3/11/2010: I’d hope this leads to some housecleaning at the athletic department – but I doubt it. Two stories from the RG website:

LaMichael James to plead guilty to something – presumably something that doesn’t sound as bad as attempted strangulation.

And, quoting:
University of Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli is being charged with second-degree burglary in connection with an alleged theft from a campus-area fraternity house, according to court records. Masoli and former UO wide receiver Garrett Embry will both be arraigned on the charges Friday afternoon in Lane County Circuit Court, records show.

Looks like KVAL scooped them on that, by quite a bit.

Frohnmayer on accomodating athletics at any price

3/10/2010: UO Journalism student Bob Rodgers has posted an interview with our President Emeritus Dave Frohnmayer here, about the BCS cartel. He makes some pretty interesting points about the importance of the current system to fundraising. Frohnmayer’s term was marked by the extraordinarily high percentage of that fundraising that went to athletics, and his willingness to accept money from those donors for his own salary, laundered through the UO Foundation. Then there’s this great quote at the end:

The issue that Frohnmayer believes politicians and fans ignore, which trumps even the business side of collegiate athletics, is the strain on the academic calendar.  “They disrespect and ignore our academic calendars.”  According to Frohnmayer, having a playoff start in the first few weeks of December interferes with academics on all levels.  Even if you send a handful of student athletes, many playoff advocates do not take into account the band, cheer squads, along with the student and faculty interest in attending the game.  The amount of fervor and distraction entering dead week and finals is, “an academic disaster.”

This from the man who moved UO’s graduation to the week before final exams, to accommodate a track meet. One of Richard Lariviere’s first acts as President was to move it back. The ODE reported:

Critics enfiladed the University for the original date change, saying it was an inconvenience to students that would cut into the hours available to take exams. Biology professor Nathan Tublitz went as far as to write a commentary in the Register-Guard saying the move evinced what he called then-University President Dave Frohnmayer’s commitment to athletics at the expense of academics.

“This decision to prioritize athletics over academics, inconveniencing thousands of students and their parents, might have been excusable were it not the latest in a long line of similar decisions,” Tublitz wrote, going on to question Frohnmayer’s salary and, by implication, his integrity in accepting $265,000 in payment from an unnamed donor through the UO Foundation.

Frohnmayer responded with an angry commentary of his own, accusing Tublitz of factual inaccuracies. “This is not just any track meet,” he wrote, “but the NCAA National Championships – an event that will pump millions of dollars into the local economy and is part and parcel of the rich track and field heritage of the UO.”

I know it takes a certain amount of disregard for the truth to be a successful politician …


3/7/2010: Coach Kelly is not saying what discipline there will be for the player who attacked the 19 year old girl. Meanwhile, another DUI. Actually just a minor in possession since he was trying to drive the wrong SUV, his keys didn’t work and the owner didn’t press charges.

Given this string of troubles, it’s hardly surprising that Bellotti has fired a coach. But not Kelly, it’s Ernie Kent:

Any discussions of Kent’s coaching accomplishments and value to the program have to include his players’ graduation rate. The Ducks have the Pac-10’s highest NCAA Academic Progress Rate (975), almost 50 points higher than the average Division I team.


3/5/2010: From Jack Moran in the RG
A Lane County Circuit Court judge this morning ordered University of Oregon placekicker Rob Beard to serve one year probation for his role in a Jan. 24 street brawl near the UO campus. Beard, who was originally charged with three misdemeanors including fourth-degree assault for pushing a 19-year-old woman to the ground during the fight, pleaded guilty this morning to a misdemeanor charge of physical harassment.

Unless I missed it, the RG still hasn’t published anything on the athletic department’s financial issues. The Oregonian has another story here. I imagine in the end Knight is going to bail them out, but he must like to see them squirm first.

The usual

3/4/2010: From KVAL. I’m having a hard time keeping the various assaults straight.

EUGENE, Ore. — A former University of Oregon football player arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in what police described as retaliation for an attack on another Oregon player pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to community service.

Matt Simms faced misdemeanor assault charges in connection with an incident police described as retaliation for an attack of UO kicker Rob Beard. Police said the man Simms was accused of assaulting was not involved in the attack on Beard.

On Tuesday, Simms pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of harrassment and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.

Days after his arrest, Simms was released from the football team for violating unspecified team rules.

Beard was later charged with assaulting a 19-year-old woman during the same street fight that left Beard unconscious and in need of surgery. Those charges are still pending.

Weekend update:

3/1/2010: The football team apparently made it through the weekend arrest free. The cheerleading squad, on the other hand, reports a DUI. Can’t blame this one on the coach, UO still hasn”t replaced the previous cheerleading coaches Laraine Raish and Corine Lewis, who were suddenly and mysteriously fired last summer.

Over the weekend KVAL reported that the NCAA has given LaMichael James permission to live with the UO sports nutritionist while he looks for other housing:

KVAL News received the statement below from the NCAA in response to recent challenges faced by the University of Oregon athletics department related to NCAA regulations and star running back LaMichael James. The UO had sought a waiver on a possible violation of rules in the wake of charges brought against James. James was released from jail on house arrest and living with an athletic department employee, in violation of NCAA rules.

The statement in its entirety read:

“Due to some of the challenges the institution faces in this situation, a temporary waiver has been provided to the school to assist staff in working through the situation and avoid potential NCAA extra benefits rules violations. The waiver is in effect as long as the institution can show it is working to find the student-athlete permissible housing and demonstrate active involvement with the court.”


2/28/2010: Mark Baker of the RG has a few stories today on the UO football team’s troubles. Best quote is from Eugene sports psychologist Steven Ungerleider, the author of the wonderfully titled “Faust’s Gold“, a book on the East German athletic industry. A guy who clearly knows a thing or two about how far obsession with athletics can go.

“They’re spoiled brats,” he said. “They can do anything and there are no consequences.” 

I’m guessing he’s not going to be lecturing in the Jaqua Center anytime soon. Of course, as Ed St. Clair Sr. notes in his RG letter, the team’s rate of legal problems is well below that of, say, the US Congress – who seem to have a similar disciplinary process.

Who pays for those athletic scholarships anyway?

2/22/2010: Seems like a good time to remind people that the UO athletics department’s claims of self-sufficiency are pretty thin. Through a very odd deal tied to a failed sports gambling game, the state Lottery Commission pays $1.2 million a year to the UO athletic department for athletic scholarships. The athletics department has used the subsidy to increase coaches’ salaries. This whole fiasco started when “the Oregon Legislature voted to ban the Oregon Lottery’s NFL-betting games to meet a condition from the anti-gambling NCAA.” Clearly, gambling is not for everyone but when you check out some of the biggest wins people have had payout, it’s easy to see why they might have thought they would fare better. The fact that they tried to set up a sports gambling game clearly shows that the business side is not doing very well at all. Luckily there are still many websites for gambling that people can choose from, in case they were looking forward to getting into this one. From slots to free spins (you could check out if you would be interested), there are many bonuses that these online casinos could provide you people to earn a winning bonus and start off their winning streak! And not only various websites, but there are also apps too, that could be used to get your hands all warmed up for gambling! Websites such as have games such as mega88 agent online for those who would like to flex their gambling and casino muscles, however, the coaches’ salaries have well cared for it looks like, so they did not need the gambling game after all.

In addition, the academic side sold athletics the site for the Jaqua building for $1, paid another million in so in costs for it, and, from what we can deduce so far, paid about $5 million for the athlete only parking slots in the Matt Court parking garage now under construction – or more accurately those costs will be spread out over all people buying parking passes.

And, from Rachel Bachman of the Oregonian, earlier this year:

Oregon sports lost $1.2 million the fiscal year before Bellotti took over the athletic director’s job from Pat Kilkenny, according to a report every school files annually with the NCAA, released to The Oregonian this week in response to a public records request. The gap is significant because for the past six years Oregon athletics officials have touted their economic self sufficiency.

Then of course there’s the tax expenditure cost of the deductibility of donations to athletics. Roughly, every dollar donated costs federal taxpayers $0.40, and state taxpayers $0.10.

the beatings will continue until …

3/1/2010: The football team apparently made it through the weekend arrest free. The cheerleading squad, on the other hand, reports a DUI.

2/22/2010: Rumor is that a Lane County Grand Jury is investigating the Masoli / Embry laptop assault and will make a decision this week.

2/22/2010: James apparently beat up his girlfriend – a UO student – and now the Athletic Department is falling all over itself,  trying to persuade the court that he should be given a special exception and allowed back on campus. So that he can keep his eligibility to play football in the fall. That will teach the rest of the team a valuable lesson. The judge isn’t going for it.

2/21/2010: Coach Kelly draws a line in the sand – not at trying to strangle your girlfriend, but at using Facebook to criticize him. From the Oregonian:

The post read: “How you (expletive) kick kinko (sic) off the team on some weak (expletive). … he slipped up but ive been slippn up, and I’m still here, that (expletive) … could damage for the ducks, that (expletive) is weak, weak (expletive), quote me.”

Reached Sunday by phone, Kelly said Holland was dismissed for a “violation of team rules.” Asked if the violation had anything to with Holland’s Facebook status update, Kelly said: “I won’t get into the specifics, but you’re smart enough to figure it out.”

2/20/2010: Back in the day this would have been newsworthy, (Bellotti’s Nanny was cussing out the reporter too?) and worth a full blown coverup attempt by the athletic department. Bellotti suspended his son for 3 games, but told the press he wasn’t playing because he had the flu. But at point this getting through Friday night with just a 2AM underage DUI while uninsured, for one UO linebacker (not clear if the other two guys were on the team) is probably a relief:

Mere hours after Oregon coach Chip Kelly answered questions about his team’s slew of off-field troubles, Ducks linebacker Kiko Alonso was picked up for drunk driving. “If a player doesn’t live up to the standards we have for the football program, then they’re not going to be here,” Kelly said Friday. “But I’m also not going to follow our kids around every Friday or Saturday night so I can see what happened to them.” Kelly almost made it through Friday night, but at 2:19 a.m. on Saturday morning, Alonso was stopped at the 7-Eleven on East Broadway in Eugene and cited for DUII.

Less than 12 hours after Kelly reads them the riot act. They know Kelly won’t make his $2 million a year without them. And they realize UO is so far in the hole to Phil Knight that Lariviere can’t do anything either. Party on!

Lariviere decides to update his statement: 2/20/2010 PM Version. Given Bellotti’s role in hiding past discipline problems and the recent string of new events you have to wonder exactly what it will take for President Larviere to stop saying he has “every confidence” and “full confidence” etc. in these guys. Obviously they run their own shop and he has no more control over them than they do of their players.

The University of Oregon has clear expectations of how its student athletes are to behave both on and off the field of play. Lately, several of our athletes have fallen far short of these standards. This is simply unacceptable. The University of Oregon does not tolerate inappropriate conduct from any of its students. I know athletics director Mike Bellotti and head coach Chip Kelly share my concern about recent events involving UO players and are working hard to address these incidents. I have every confidence that they will restore the UO athletic program’s long and proud tradition of sportsmanship and integrity. Our loyal fans and alumni expect no less and neither do I.

2/20/10 AM version.

We do not have all the details regarding the alleged incident involving a University of Oregon football player. I have full confidence in Athletics Director Mike Bellotti and Head Coach Chip Kelly to address this situation appropriately, and to keep me fully informed. Our student athletes are students first, and our response will be the same as if it were any other student. 

2/19/2010:  The story from the Oregonian describes UO’s response – it’s a little different from what the average student would get:

EUGENE – James Harris, the self-proclaimed “fireman” for the Oregon athletic department, has come to the rescue of another Oregon running back: LaMichael James. Harris, the Ducks life skills director who helped guide LeGarrette Blount over his “academic and behavioral ladders” in the wake of punching an opponent on national television, will now provide James with a temporary residence in his Eugene home in the wake of domestic violence charges that landed the 20-year-old in jail earlier this week. “It’s my job to support the athletes within the boundaries of the NCAA and the law,” said Harris, who would not confirm that James is his new temporary housemate although Harris’ address appears on the release agreement The Oregonian obtained Friday.

2/17/2010: This is getting sad. From USAToday, and more details from KVAL. Strangulation?

Oregon running back LaMichael James has been arrested by Springfield police. The 20-year-old tailback was taken into custody Wednesday and lodged at the Lane County Jail on misdemeanor charges of menacing, strangulation and assault. Springfield police said they were not ready to discuss details of the incident.

2/16/2010: While nobody is talking about Masoli and the Macbook Pro, we do hear this from KVAL: 

Police have made another arrest in an assault that put a University of Oregon football player in the hospital last month, citing the injured player himself on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.

2/1/2010: The Oregonian is reporting:

UO now claims they took Embry off the roster *before* the alleged heist – funny they forgot to mention that until now.

1/31/2010: The UO athletic department is trying to keep a lid on things until signing day, with mixed results. From the RG this weekend:

UO player cited after man beaten at party:  … Eugene police who were called to East 16th Avenue and Mill Street at 12:34 a.m. Saturday cited Matthew Ryan Simms, 20, (207-pound junior defensive end from Salinas, Calif) on misdemeanor simple assault charges. Simms was released pending a future municipal court appearance, police spokeswoman Melinda Kletzok said. She would give no further details.

Second LCC student arrested in beating: Eugene police arrested a second man Thursday in connection with the Sunday assault on University of Oregon football player Rob Beard. … Eugene police spokeswoman Melinda Kletzok said police are not releasing any other details about how they came to arrest Hawkins and Peterson, citing the ongoing investigation.

Week-old frat theft still generating buzz, silence: No one — not the police, not the University of Oregon, not the complainants or the accused — is releasing any new information about a case that has kept online news sites, blogs and Twitter accounts humming for almost a week now with rumors after an alleged theft last weekend by two University of Oregon football players at a campus fraternity house. … There have been no developments in the case but it is still open and under investigation, police spokeswoman Melinda Kletzok said Friday.

9AM Thursday in the Athletes Only Parking Lot

70 spots, 2 cars. Note the special free Jaqua Center hang tags. The full lot in the back is for the (Knight) Law School professors.

OK Mr. Slusher, you’ve proved your point. We get it. You own us.

Let me be the first to say that Nike does not use sweatshops. Phil Knight has created more good jobs in developing countries than Muhammad Yunus and Jeff Sachs combined. (Actually I’m pretty sure that is true – not that I’m an economist.)

So can we please have our parking back? 30 slots and we’ll pass everyone with playing time. 40 for 4.0’s? Please? 

Sincerely, Your UO Faculty.