University drops FBS football to focus on academic programs, research

InsidehigherEd has the story here:

This is not a trivial decision, but it’s the right decision,” Chuck Staben, the University of Idaho’s president, said in an interview Wednesday.

“What attracts students to our institution is the quality of academic programs, the great outcomes and the preparation for life after college. It’s a great research institution. Football and athletics just complements that. We’re choosing to ensure that students can compete on the field and get a great education.” …

In Rare Company

In 1939, the University of Chicago abolished its football program and, a few years later, withdrew from the Big Ten Conference, a league it co-founded.

Chicago was home to the first recipient of the Heisman Trophy, multiple Big Ten championships and 11 future Hall of Famers. But Robert Hutchins, the university’s president, wanted the university to be known for its academics, not its athletics, and cut the program. The football team returned in 1969, but as a member of Division III.

The decision forever made Chicago the model of institutions that have gotten by just fine without big-time sports. Staben, while explaining Idaho’s decision in an interview this week, referenced Chicago as “the classic example” of an institution successfully leaving top-tier college sports behind. Chicago remains the example, in part, because so few others have followed suit.

Meanwhile here at UO, big-time football is a huge moneymaker, with TV revenue increasing at about 6% per year. But none of the profits support the university’s core academic mission. The athletic department keeps it all plus whatever they can skim off the academic budget, and they spend it on coach’s salaries and subsidies for their many money losing sports.

Meanwhile Duck football has failed to bring in the new undergraduates that boosters such as Pat Kilkenny, Dave Frohnmayer, Rob Mullens, Brad Shelton, and VP for Enrollment Roger Thompson have promised:

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Mike Bellotti’s winning 2001 season was followed by a small enrollment increase, and his mediocre 2002 season by a decrease. But the large increases from 2004 to 2008 occurred during a string of mixed football seasons, with the 2008 peak coming after a decent but not spectacular finish at #24 in the coaches poll. New freshmen enrollment dropped in Fall 2010, after Chip Kelly’s #11 2009 season, and it has been essentially flat ever since, despite football finishes ranging from #9 to #2, and UO’s need for new students to make up for the decline in the number of credits students have been taking.

This lack of correlation at UO is matched by the experiences of other schools. The latest research shows that football wins are, at best, an expensive way to get slight increases in applications from mid SAT range male students. Not every parent wants to spend $45K a year sending their child to a football-factory party school.

University DBAGs money-losing baseball and golf programs

The first response of the University of North Dakota administration to the need for budget realignment was to cut sports, not academics. Story here. The faculty had just demanded more transparency about sports subsidies, here.

Cutting these mens sports at UO would save about $4M a year, depending on how you apportion the Ducks unallocated expenses.

DBAG alert: 12.4% cuts to UO Library acquisitions

The link is here, courtesy of an anonymous correspondent. Duck athletics used to contribute $50K a year to the library. With football revenue increasing so quickly it’s getting hard to spend it all on coach’s salaries, now seems like a good time for Library Dean Adriene Lim to hit up Athletic Director Rob Mullens, and ask him to restart that tradition with some serious money – serious by Library standards that is. Rounding error to the Ducks:

Library Collections News – Updated 4/28/16

Spring 2016:  Library to Reduce Spending on Collections

Collection Reduction:   On April 6, 2016, a memo went out from the Dean of Libraries, Adriene Lim, to the campus community announcing the need for reductions to library collections in FY 17.  These reductions stem from a $115,000 cut to the collections budget as a result of the UO’s current budget realignment process, compounded by a reduction of $450,000 due to the lack of increases to cover inflationary costs.  During the month of May, library subject specialists will work with UO faculty to develop reduction plans to offset the campus-mandated cuts as well as the erosive effects of Inflation on library materials. The reduction targets for each discipline have been finalized (see below). If you have questions or concerns, please contact the appropriate subject specialist. As always, the UO Libraries will continue to provide robust resource sharing services to help supplement local holdings in order to meet the research and instruction needs of faculty and students.

Reduction Targets to cover inflation in FY 17:  Fixed costs were subtracted from the allocations for each discipline (i.e., a dollar amount representing actual expenditures) producing an across the board reduction of 12.4% on all funds over $3,000 (funds under $3K are being protected from the cut).

Collections Reductions FAQ

De-Budget Advisory Group (DBAG) needs your help on what to de-fund

A few years back VPFA Jamie Moffitt set up a “Budget Advisory Group” (BAG) to help her sort through the proposals for millions in dollars of urgently needed new funding – stuff like giving the library enough money to keep its book-buying budget from shrinking, upgrade the wifi, retention money for faculty, and so on. The BAG advises Moffitt on how to spend $1M or so – though of course JH gets the final call.

I think it was in 2013 that the BAG allocated $500K, plus $150K recurring, on a computer system to interface the newly armed UOPD with the EPD. I was on the BAG this year, I think all the money ended up going to wifi and IT consultants, except maybe a token amount to the libraries. Chump change when VPFA Moffitt is giving $10M to bail out Dean Moffitt’s law school.

Obviously the BAG needs more money to work with. Therefore I’m following up on today’s Senate Realignment Town Hall with a proposal for a De-Budget Advisory Group (DBAG) composed of faculty, OA’s, staff, and students. Its charge will be to search for things that UO really should stop spending money on. Membership will determined by the waste and irrelevance to UO’s core academic mission of the expenditures that self-nominees identify for de-funding.

The DBAG concept has already been enthusiastically endorsed by at least one senior UO administrator – but it’s up to all of us to make it work. Your suggestions are welcome in the comments.

4/26/2016: Senate Town Hall on Realignment, Wed at 3:30 in Straub 156:

University Senate Town Hall meeting

The University Senate will be hosting a Town Hall meeting to discuss the impact of the resource realignment process on academic units. All members of the university community are welcome to attend.

April 27, 2016 in Straub 156 from 3:30 P.M. to 5:30 P.M.

The forum will address the principles, goals, processes, and results of the realignment thus far—with an eye to our institutional future.

If you are unable to attend in person, you can access the live-stream here: Watch Live