Jocks’ secret spending hurts new partnership

7/18/2012: There have been a few editorials in Oregon papers dealing with the Penn State Paterno/Spanier/Sandusky football scandal. The Daily Astorian editors are the first I’ve seen to explicitly compare the lack of institutional control that led to Penn State with UO’s lack of institutional control of its own athletic programs:

The corrupting influence of too much money is just as apparent in big time football as it is in America’s wars of occupation.
In a decade when so many Americans are struggling for financial survival, it is startling to observe sectors that are awash in money – and notice that they are the worse for it.
The pedophilia scandal at the Pennsylvania State University is an example of how big money corrupts institutions by creating immunity for one class of people – football coaches – to the point where a sickening pattern of crime was tolerated and enabled.
Writing to The New York Times, Thomas Heiden of Stratford, Conn., commented that, “As long as there is so much money in college football, and as long as there are separate dorms, dining facilities and disciplinary procedures for players and coaching staffs, there will continue to be scandals.”
With Nike money, the University of Oregon has grandly segregated athletes. Moreover, the UO’s deal with football coach and athletic director Mike Bellotti was eye-catching, even in this era of excess. Bellotti is Oregon’s biggest beneficiary in the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). His monthly PERS payment is in excess of $40,000. In any decade, that is out of whack; in ours it is obscene.
UO football lives in a universe quite separate from the rest of Oregon higher education, and that’s not healthy.

There is such a thing as having too much money. That is especially apparent in our foreign wars of occupation – Iraq and Afghanistan – where billions have been wasted or stolen. It is especially galling that the profligate waste was money America really didn’t have, because these wars were waged on credit. A president and a Congress didn’t have the intelligence or courage to raise taxes to pay for the wars.
Historians note similarities among nations that decline. The warped American values apparent in last week’s news qualify.

Soon UO is going to go to the legislature to argue for more independence from the state. Phil Knight is a big supporter of that effort. I’m guessing that many more people are going to be asking questions like those above. One reply would be to show evidence of real faculty oversight of athletics and real transparency. But Bob Berdahl has weakened both these efforts at UO. I hope Mike Gottfredson understands that he needs to do a 180 on them if he wants to be able to present a credible argument for more independence.

Duck drug testing follow-up

UO General Counsel Randy Geller’s previous modification of the Oregon rules on drug testing to suit the needs of the NCAA cartel was in 2010:

Geller appears to have notified the Senate of what he planned to do:

and shown us the proposed changes:

But that was when Lariviere was president. From what I can tell this time there was no notification at all – not even of the Senate Intercollegiate Athletic Committee – until the papers broke the story. The public hearing is, of course, scheduled for summer, when the students are gone. Last time he did it over winter break. 7/14/2012.

Football stadiums lower employment and wages

7/5/2012: At some point in the next few years the UO athletic department will announce plans for an expansion of Autzen stadium and Hayward field. We can expect that they will argue that sports has spillover economic benefits for Eugene. This is a dubious idea theoretically, since when people spend more on sports they spend less on other things. And it is not supported by the evidence. From a paper on NFL stadiums by the economist Kurt Rothoff:

Public subsidies for professional sports stadiums are often used as a means to stimulate economic development in local communities. Economic impact studies, as well as the politicians pushing them, claim that stadiums will induce job creation and revenue expansion. Using data on metropolitan statistical areas, academics find little to support the claims that stadiums help create jobs and increase the income in the local economy. This paper adds to the current literature by using detailed county level data to analyze the effect of a stadium on a smaller area around the stadium.

This study finds that employment within these industries (clothing, drinking, food, hotel, and liquor) have mixed results when a franchise is present, this is consistent with Coates and Humphrey’s (2003). However, although most of the payroll data is insignificant, the coefficients that are significant are all negative. This also supports Coates and Humphrey’s (2003) findings that real per capita income falls when sports franchises are present.

Taylor Branch proposes transparency on athletics

The famed Pulitzer prize winning historian of the civil rights movement has turned his attention to college sports and the NCAA hiring cartel. His 3 point program for reform is here – it starts with transparency:

At any college or university that hosts an intercollegiate sports program, the principal stakeholders must be assured candid, complete, and verifiable records for athletic revenues and obligations as well as for academic standards and performance. These records should be open for public inspection and accountability, subject only to appropriate privacy protections for the identity of individual students.
The body of sports stakeholders should include representatives of the school’s trustees and administrative leadership, its athletic department, its faculty, and students both on and off its sports teams.

Transparency regarding Duck athletics is exactly what Bob Berdahl tried to destroy – first when he insisted that all requests from the Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Office for information from athletics be vetted by his office, and second when he rescinded President Lariviere’s fee waivers for public records requests, and third when he allowed the General Counsel’s office to take charge – despite their obvious conflict of interest.

Check the many fees and long delays for simple recent requests like contracts and invoices in the UO public records log, here. I’m not saying Lariviere was perfect, but his public records policies and practice were far, far better than what Berdahl has done. The fight to restore some level of transparency at UO will start again when Gottfredson takes office Aug 1.

Brian McWhorter elected IAC Chair

Results just in. I interpret this as a sharp rebuke by the UO Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee to Interim President Berdahl’s efforts to repudiate the 2004 Task Force report and the 2006 NCAA certification report, his efforts to gut the committee’s charge and shared governance, and Rob Mullens’ efforts to take UO student tuition for his own purposes while claiming to be self-supporting. Or maybe people just thought Brian would do a better job representing the diverse interests on the committee than Dev has done in the past. 6/7/2012.

Senate election results, if it matters

5/19/2012: Bob Berdahl’s threats to veto faculty votes on who will chair our committees are getting more strident. And the administration has been setting up its own committees on important issues like policing, without even consulting the senate. But FWIW the senate and committee election results are now posted here.

Update: A comment posted by Pres Berdahl:

Once again, Bill Harbaugh tries to stir dissent with misinformation. I have NEVER threatened to veto Senate committee chairs. All I have ever said is that we could not bring to the Senate Transparency Committee a discussion of public records fee policy so long as the chair of that committee, Bill Harbaugh, has a conflict of interest about fee policy. This is not threatening to veto committee chair selections.

This comment raises still more questions – Berdahl is going to ignore the charge of a senate committee, purely on his own judgement about what constitutes a conflict of interest? Right.

On the veto issue, here’s an email from him to the IAC a few days ago, emphasis added. Berdahl is correct about his veto threat point, in that this is not an explicit threat to veto the faculty’s vote on who should be IAC chair.

On Fri, 18 May 2012 17:25:21 +0000, Bob Berdahl wrote:

This will be my last word on this matter.  I am not going to waste
any more time on it.  You asked that I publicly acknowledge that the
athletic department is not self- supporting, based on the USA piece. I
did so.  Although the USA data included revenue that may be
challenged, as I pointed out, I accepted the 2.8% as the number to be
compared to other universities.  By that number,  which is the only
apples to apples number we have, UO’s subsidy is lower than 212 out of
227 universities.

Now you seem to be rejecting the USA report because you think the
number is higher.  And you cite the other subsidies the university
provides.  My response is simply that everywhere i have been, the
universities provide similar services.  The UO is not unique in this
no matter what you may think.  And many of those services — general
counsel, public records, public safety, senior management,
parking–are provided all auxiliaries.

You reject the notion that athletic scholarships paid to the
university are a source of revenue for the university. Tuition is not
counted by USA, so it is not a part of that calculation.  However,
because non-resident tuition  subsidizes the education of residents —
non-residents pay more than the actual cost of education, the
difference between the cost of educating students and what the
athletic department pays is revenue to the university.

None of these calculations, of course, count the intangible benefits
— the visibility via television exposure, the enthusiasm of alumni,
the benefit to the city and local businesses that come from the
athletic program.  These intangible benefits can’t be measured, but
they are real.

Thus, I conclude that the only analysis of the institutional support
for athletics, the one you asked me to respond to, shows the UO to
look very good  compared with other Division  1 schools.

I do not think that an uncritical booster should be chair of the IAC, but neither do I believe a relentless and unfair critic should chair it either.

Please share this email with the entire committee.

Bob Berdahl 

Earlier correspondence between Berdahl and the IAC is here. There’s been a lot more lately, I’ll post when I get a chance in a day or two. For now I’ll just point out that Berdahl’s comments on athlete tuition (which originate with Jim Bean) would make sense, except for the fact that we don’t have a shortage of non-athlete out-of-staters willing to come to UO and pay the tuition.

And most of those are better students than the out-of-state athletes that the AD recruits. Many of those players (though certainly not all!) have academic records that require special dispensation from the admissions office. And they then require the $2 million in special jock box tutoring, subsidized by tuition money from the regular students.

It quacks like a subsidy, and it is a subsidy. I hope our next president will recognize that fact, and then move on to helping us reduce it, instead of trying to subvert the work of the IAC.

Partying with our students’ scholarship money

Update: Rebecca X gives a student viewpoint on this excess and extravagance, in the OC.

5/8/2012: Sam Stites of the ODE has a great expose of the administration’s Rose Bowl junket. How can 56 people spend $120,000 on airfare to LA? Believe what you want about Duck football attracting students to UO or encouraging alumni to give to the academic side. But why should we pay for top administrators (and some of their families, and some student leaders) to have a big party in LA? Looks like the bill was about $4,000 each.

This is from an athletic department that tells the Senate IAC they can’t afford to make the contributions to academic scholarships that Moos and Frohnmayer agreed to in 2006. And Rob Mullens has said he has no plans to get his budget into shape to do this. He needs some oversight to help him get with the program.

Meanwhile the new Berdahl/Geller public records fee-waiver crackdown will make it harder for reporters like Mr. Stites to get these kinds of documents from the UO administration. Less transparency, less trust.

President resigns after being caught manipulating faculty senate

4/11/2012: That’s what happened at the University of Illinois 3 weeks ago:

Hogan has been under fire since early January, when his chief of staff, Lisa Troyer, resigned after being accused of posing as a faculty senator in anonymous emails sent to a faculty group to influence its debate. Troyer said she did not write or send the emails, but an outside investigation determined she was the likely author.

I don’t think Interim President Berdahl’s use of administrative members of the Inter-collegiate Athletics Committee (Jim O’Fallon? Rob Mullens?) to forward him the emails on internal committee debates, or his efforts to get Dave Hubin to secretly persuade administrative members of the UO Senate to stall motions on the IAC charge are anywhere close to this. They are just a sign of the pervasive contempt that the UO administration has for the UO faculty and for the idea that those faculty should have any substantive role in the administration of the university.

Earlier this year Berdahl rejected a proposal to add just one faculty member to his “Executive Leadership Team”. One too many, I guess. Then there was the matter of former IAC chair Dev Sinha setting up a listserv for the executive committee, secretly adding Rob Mullens and Lorraine Davis to it, and then telling the IAC executive committee members that the listserv only included faculty. But that was last year, before Berdahl’s time. Of course, Mullens and Davis both knew all about this and kept their mouths shut, presumably while reading the emails. But surely that’s not a crime.

Berdahl to IAC: stop asking hard questions

3/19/2012: Interim President Bob Berdahl thinks the UO Senate Intercollegiate Athletics Committee is asking too many hard questions about athletics, and he is going to rewrite the committee’s charge to make it easier for the athletic department to have their way with UO.

From what I can tell this is the first time in UO history a president has gone after a Senate committee like this. In addition, the administration now appears to be attempting to repudiate the 2004 Athletics Task force report, a 3 year joint effort of the UO administration, the athletic department and Senate that produced this 12 point blueprint for athletics reform at UO. This was commissioned by then President Dave Frohnmayer and signed off on by everyone from Jim Earl to Dan Williams to Bill Moos.

There is a series of recent emails between IAC chair Tublitz and Berdahl posted on the UO Senate website, here. Read them all to get the context. Here is an excerpt from Tublitz’s report to the IAC on his meeting with Interim President Berdahl last week.

He [Berdahl] gave several examples where this year’s IAC had improperly strayed into oversight:

a) Requesting information about NCAA violations;
b) Asking for financial information such as donations that had nothing to do with academic issues;
c) Making too many requests to the Athletic Director.

I [Tublitz] pointed out that these items are in our current charge to which the Interim President replied that he would not have approved the current charge if he was president at the time the current charge was adopted.

The Interim President also stated that other items in the current charge such as being involved in appointments of head coaches were also well outside the proper consultative role of the IAC.

We discussed the fact that the current charge and several issues discussed in the IAC this year came directly from the 2004 Athletic Task Force (ATF) report. I noted that the report had been submitted to the Senate by the entire ATF committee, including Mr O’Fallon as FAR, then Athletic Director Bill Moos and then VP for Administration Dan Williams speaking on behalf of then President Frohnmayer and the central administration. Jim O’Fallon strenuously objected to the commonly held notion that he, AD Bill Moos and the administration had approved the Task Force report even though their names were on the final report and the Senate adopted it. The Interim President said that he had consulted with former President Frohnmayer who said he did not “sign off” or approve the 2004 Task Force report.

The Interim President was adamant that the IAC should:

a) Not change its charge;
b) Not change its membership (refer to footnote 1 below);
c) Send all requests to his office; and,
d) Adhere to a more consultative approach.

He also said that he did not trust the committee to follow its charge, that he had full authority to regulate the charge and membership of the committee, and implied that he had considered dissolving the committee.

Current charge here. The IAC has indeed been asking a lot of questions, and it has dug up a lot of previously hidden information – including info on subsidies and secret agreements between Frohnmayer and former AD Kilkenny, now posted for all to see on the athletics department website here. The IAC’s most recent accomplishment has been to make the AD post a copy of UO’s 2006 NCAA certification review – or at least part of it – here. Interesting reading. And you can bet there will be more to come.

“Those kinds of things are extremely damaging.”

That’s UO’s Interim President Bob Berdahl, discussing athletic scandals. Results from a survey of college and university presidents show:

Exactly 75 percent of the presidents surveyed said colleges and universities spend too much on athletics, and only one out of every seven — just 13.1 percent— said that the presidents of big-time college athletics programs are in control their programs.

From Sam Stites in the ODE. More complete results here. 3/15/2012.

A real hero

3/2/2012: Dave Duerson was a former college and NFL football star, suffering from brain injuries induced by concussions and repeated MTBI on the field. He was in denial for years, but in 2011, age 50, he realized the brain damage was serious and irreversible and was making him a violent threat to his family. So he shot himself in the heart. Why the heart? He wanted his brain to be used for research that might help other football players. And it was:

Sort of puts Chip Kelly’s troubles in perspective. Full report in the British newspaper The Guardian, by Ed Pilkington.

Advisory group on athletic’s financial sustainability appointed

That would be at UC-Berkeley:

The Chancellor’s Advisory Council on Intercollegiate Athletics Financial Sustainability has been asked to:

  • develop an understanding of the recent and current financial and competitive state of the Intercollegiate Athletics program;
  • assess alternative approaches to promptly putting the IA program on a financially sustainable course;
  • assess possible impacts of changes in the scope of the department on philanthropy to academic programs;
  • develop a short list of promising alternatives, including the pros and cons of each.

While the University Athletics Board and the Academic Senate’s “Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics” are exploring similar issues, the chancellor identified an opportunity to generate fresh perspectives through focused interaction between two of the campus’s most important constituencies.

Here at UO, our administration is still in denial about the true costs of the academic subsidies of our athletics programs.

Sandusky scandal’s costs approach Bellotti’s

2/14/2012: From the Philadelphia Inquirer. Penn State has now begun to post documents about the scandal and about university operations in general (budgets, contracts) at

Meanwhile here at UO we still don’t know what the Kelly/Lyles scandal will cost – just that the jocks have convinced Randy Geller that the academic side must pay half the costs so far. And NYT columnist Joe Nocera continues spelunking the sewer that is the NCAA:

The N.C.A.A. despises sports agents — hates them so much so that it once helped promulgate an anti-agent law. As of January 2010, according to the N.C.A.A.’s Web site, that law had been passed by 40 states. A player who takes an “improper benefit” from a sports agent loses his eligibility. A player who gets drafted out of high school — this happens in baseball as well as hockey — and engages an agent to talk to the pro team that drafted him loses his eligibility. Indeed, the mere act of signing with an agent is enough for a player to lose his eligibility. N.C.A.A. “scandals” involving agents and athletes are almost as common as recruiting scandals.

The N.C.A.A. claims — as it always does — that it is acting to protect its athletes “from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.” But this is classic N.C.A.A. Orwellian spin. Its true purpose in preventing athletes from engaging with agents while in college is to exacerbate their exploitation. The professional and commercial enterprise doing the exploiting, of course, is college sports itself.

“It’s all about control,” says Don Jackson, a lawyer who specializes in representing athletes who have run afoul of the N.C.A.A. Teenage athletes with agents are far more likely to make informed decisions about their lives than athletes acting on their own. Instead, athletes have to rely on coaches and athletic administrators, whose primary interest is the school, not the player.

I’d have written “athletes have to rely on coaches and athletic administrators, whose primary interest is themselves, not the player.” These exploiters will leave UO in a heartbeat for a better offer – but if an athlete tries that, the NCAA enforcers will take away their eligibility!

Chip Kelly to leave UO for Buccaneers

1/23/2012: Or maybe that offer wasn’t rich enough, according to the latest from the RG
and Canzano.

1/22/2012: I didn’t check, but I assume that’s some sort of a football team, not a rum drink with an umbrella. Story here. More here. Under the NCAA college football is so corrupt it soils everyone who touches it, even an apparently good guy like Kelly. Presumably he’ll leave UO holding the bag for any NCAA penalties regarding Willie Lyles. According to Kelly’s contract Rob Mullens could fine him to recover UO’s costs, but I don’t think Mullens has got the stones – and anyway, it’s just the academic side’s money. His UO contract is here.

Even ignoring the possible infractions, Kelly will have to pay UO some serious money to break his contract – $3,750,000 by my count. What do you bet the athletic side tries to keep it all?

 More here: