UO Foundation and athletics

12/28/2010: For the 09-10 fiscal year the UO Foundation brought in $31.7 million in outright gifts (as opposed to deferred gifts or gifts for buildings.) $18.1 million of that was for athletics. More on this later, still crunching the data.

Senate Agenda

12/1/2010: The Senate meets today, agenda here. A report from President Lariviere/Provost Bean on the Riverfront Research Park should be interesting, given recent revelations about UO’s apparent failure to follow the development procedures. I suspect the statement will be limited, given the potential for a lawsuit from the developer.

France Dyke will talk about parking. Don’t expect any answers about why fees have been raised $600,000 per year to pay for the underground arena parking garage, which cost about $50K per slot. She has been asked this many times, and she’s committed to not explaining the subsidy, ever. The only question is what combination of strategies she will use this time:
a) read from prepared statement, then feign ignorance
b) obsequiously thank the questioner and say her staff will look into it
c) act like the questioner is being unreasonable for not accepting a non-answer

Paul Weinhold of the UO Foundation will speak. This is part of a burst of transparency designed to build support for Lariviere’s restructuring plan. Don’t ask why the Foundation is spending donor money building extravagant offices for themselves and UO Development in the new Alumni Center, instead of on classrooms. Don’t ask how hard we had to work explaining to increasingly skeptical donors why this was the #1 priority for UO. None of your business, you ungrateful student professor punk. Really, this is best for you. Trust us. By the way, we are not going to agree to be subject to the Oregon public records law. Ever.

Cal-State schools using foundations to avoid public records laws

8/25/2010: From Carla River in the LA Times.  The Oregon DOJ has recently ruled that the UO Foundation is similarly exempt. Searching through the UO Foundation’s reports to the IRS, you come across tidbits like that below. And people think PERS is a benefits scam. This is from 2005, salaries have risen considerably since, but this benefits windfall seems to be one time. What else is the Foundation up to? None of the faculty’s business, they know what’s best for us. Move it along, you ungrateful punk.

Richard Sundt on RG Letter and UO Foundation

Richard Sundt emailed us a bit more background on his RG letter, regarding the full page ad from the UO Foundation Trustees on the Knight donations:

What I wanted to say in the ad, but dropped it (and a few other things) in order to observe the 250-word limit, is that this was a FULL page ad, in the form of a short letter to the Knights (RG, A5,  18 Aug 2010) .  The size and prominence of the ad is one of the issues and reveals the political nature of this very special thank you.  The timing is also an issue, prompted by having to defend a $41 million gift which has come in for criticism as of late.

Thus, the nature, tone and purpose of the letter goes beyond what is appropriate in terms of a Foundation word of thanks, and that is why, if the Foundation wants to politicize Knight gifts, then it should be at the board members’ expense. Then, too, it should not be written on behalf of anyone but themselves.

Clearly part of the agenda, as you note, is to put academics in its place, as ungrateful of Knight’s generosity, by outlining all major academic donations, and generalizing on athletics, which is the far vaster recipient of Nike largesse. Finally, the letter says nothing about what the faculty (with often little or no help from Knight (by the way only part of the Knight Library is a Knight gift) have contributed to the excellence of the University of Oregon (see letter transcribed below). 

Then, on the moral side of this, some have given far more relative to their means than have the Knights, but their contributions are not thanked in the same public way. 


The text of the RG Ad: 

Dear Penny and Phil, On behalf of 180,000 alumni worldwide, students and faculty, we thank you for your generous support of the University of Oregon over the years.  From the Knight Library, to the Knight Law School, to endowed chairs and professorships across campus, to athletics, your time and money have helped to make the University of Oregon the excellent institution that it is today. Thank you for just doing it. Sincerely, University of Oregon Foundation Board of Trustees

I hope that the Foundation trustees will use this episode to try and build some bridges to the faculty and students. There is a lot of very understandable ambivalence about the Arena, the Jock Box, athletics in general, and Phil Knight’s role in particular. Instead of reasoned discussion, we get this sort of silly boosterism from them. Not good.

UO Foundation thanks Knight

8/21/2010: Richard Sundt from Art History has a letter in the RG on the recent advertisement the UO Foundation put in the RG. I didn’t see it but apparently they thanked Phil Knight for his contributions to UO Academics, while studiously ignoring his much larger contributions to athletics.

Board members should pay for ad

In the Aug. 18 Register-Guard, University of Oregon Foundation trustees placed an ad thanking Phil and Penny Knight on behalf of faculty and others for their “generous support of the University of Oregon.” The timing of this tribute suggests that John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes criticism has touched a raw nerve.

The ad is troubling in several ways. A percentage of all gifts to the UO is taken by the foundation to subsidize its expenses. Fair enough. But none of those funds should be used to thank donors (and just one in particular). At the very least, funding should come directly from the pockets of board members. The ad shows the skewed agenda behind the tribute: Knight contributions to academics are listed in detail (library, law school, endowed professorships). On the other hand, Knight’s contributions to athletics are not enumerated at all: Why not list Matt Court, the Jaqua Center, Autzen, the new coaching offices and perhaps the Casanova and Moshofsky centers?

At this point, I can make only small donations to the UO. Later I may give more, but even then the amounts will be a blip on the foundation’s spread sheet. Still, on principle, I will not give funds to my department, pay dues to the friends of campus museums or pledge to KWAX until board members pay for their recent ad and place another (at their expense) thanking the Knights for every athletic facility and coaching salary supplement they have paid for over the years.

Richard Sundt
UO associate professor of art history

On balance I think I disagree with Sundt’s argument that the Foundation shouldn’t pay for these sorts of ads. I think they are a part of the the exchange of prestige for money that is the basis of most philanthropy.

But I do think that the UO Foundation’s secrecy has become a serious problem for UO. The Oregon DOJ has recently ruled they are exempt from Oregon’s public records law.  The bulk of their decisions are hidden from the public and the university community – despite the fact that they are chartered by the state for a public purpose, and that they are able to give their donors a valuable public resource – tax deductions worth about 45 cents on every dollar donated. The reports they do release are too aggregated to reveal anything useful – except the odd tidbit about extraordinary benefits payments to their retiring President, or giving the athletic department $13 million for student athlete support, only $6 million of which the department actually spent on that. So far as I can see there is no faculty representation on the Foundation’s board.

This story discusses a bill in the California Legislature to bring the university foundations there under the state’s public records law:

Lawmakers voted unanimously to require those organizations to comply with the California Public Records Act. A loophole in the law previously has allowed the nonprofits to bypass the disclosure requirements that apply to higher education institutions.

I’ve asked Oregon AG John Kroger to the same here, in his upcoming public records reform proposal to the legislature.

Athletic scholarship discrepancy?

7/17/2010: In the 2007-2008 FY the UO Foundation reports disbursing $13 million to UO for athletic scholarships. This money presumably comes from Duck Athletic Foundation donations fans must make to be eligible for season tickets. The $13 million figure comes from the public annual report the foundation must file under state law. They reported similar numbers to the IRS on the 990 forms they must file to maintain tax-exempt status, and to ensure donations to them are tax deductible.

However, the UO athletic department reports they only spent $6.6 million on student-athlete scholarships that year. This number comes from UO’s internal accounting system, and also seems to be what UO reported to the NCAA. (Courtesy of USAToday’s database.) And since athletics gets another $1 million or so from state lottery funds, also dedicated to scholarships for athletes, it looks like there was a $7.4 million gap between what the athletic department received in funds earmarked for scholarships, and what they actually spent on scholarships. In other years, the gap is more like $3 – $4 million.

Uh, I wonder where the rest of the money went, coach?

Spreadsheet numbers for the Athletic Department, from UO’s BANNER accounting system. More here.

There seems to be a bit of a gap.

University Foundations

5/10/2010: Pablo Eisenberg of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute writes about problems with university foundations. The UO Foundation suffers from many of the issues he raises, particularly excessive secrecy. Their IRS 990 form is due next week – we’ll be sure and post a copy. Here’s last year’s. The first time I asked the foundation for one of these, they “accidentally” left off the appendix showing a one time $152,536 bonus payment to their president.

UO Foundation revenue and expenditures

2/24/2010: From the Greg Bolt story today in the RG:

According to the latest figures released by the university, the UO brought in $75.6 million in the first seven months of its fiscal year, a pace that would easily surpass the goal of $90 million to $100 million a year if it can be sustained. 
Almost two-thirds of the gifts promised so far this year are directed to academic programs and about one-third are for athletics, Lariviere said.
Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports these numbers for the UO Foundation endowment:

From June 30 2008 – June 30 2009:  $470,515,000 to $386,509,000  -17.9%

How to reconcile? The RG is reporting pledges, not money received. This is standard practice. The swings in the endowment also look pretty standard for recent years. Here is some stuff from the most recent Foundation report, from which the Chronicle numbers are taken:

The “other” category includes pledges of the sort that the RG is reporting. You should subtract 10% or so for shrinkage – while these are legally binding pledges, they don’t all come through – and another $35 million or so for liabilities tied to gifts. Again, all standard stuff.

Where does the money go? That’s harder, because state law gives the Foundation an exemption from the public records law – which they exploit pretty much to the hilt, releasing only summary data like this:

You can see that they spent more on scholarships to athletes than for merit and need scholarships. In 2009 they spent about 6x as much on athletic facilities as on academic ones – but obviously that ratio fluctuates wildly. 
The $3 million for “Salaries and Other Expenses” includes the $300,000 or so the Foundation paid to Frohnmayer to top off his state salary. We will probably never know who donated that money, or what sort of favors they might have got in return.
You can get a little more detail like the pay for the foundation President ($310,000) from the IRS 990 form here. But this is wat out of date, because the foundation takes every opportunity for allowable IRS extensions on filing these reports. Also standard practice for this business, unfortunately. The IRS is going to substantially tighten up on reporting, I think in time for the next report, due 5/15/2010.

UO Foundation loses $84 million

1/29/2010: From the Chronicle:

From June 30 2008 – June 30 2009:  $470,515,000 to $386,509,000  -17.9%
From June 30 2007 – June 30 2008:  $455,583,000 to $470,515,000     3.3%
From June 30 2006 – June 30 2007:  $365,859,000 to $455,583,000   24.5%

These lump together investment gains/losses and spending/new gifts. Really bad news but hardly unique to UO. Still, you’d think Lariviere might take it as a chance to cut back on the administrative bloat. But apparently you’d be thinking wrong.

"Big Ideas" or better pay than Missouri?

6/10/2009: Update on Frohnmayer’s Foundation slush fund: Apparently he has been in a mad rush to spend $1 million in leftover money as quick as possible. Anyone with details, post a comment. We’re guessing this money is not going to Faculty!

Provost Bean has now selected UO’s next “Big Ideas” which will … well, we don’t really know what it means to be a big idea. All of Bean’s revolve around green/sustainability/diversity. While President Lariviere has said that his own #1 priority is getting faculty salaries about the bar set by Missouri, at least one “Big Idea” proposed that UO take steps to increase faculty salaries and research support. This did not make Bean’s cut. More in the comments.

The Daily Emerald now has a news blog. They’ve posted a story on UO .lt. UM.

According to this Kansas newspaper, incoming President Lariviere will be paid $540,000 in salary and deferred compensation. Adding in the usual perks and ORP, and this will probably add up to about $600,000 using the Chronicle.com definition of total compensation. The average for all PhD granting schools will be about $500,000 next year. OUS Secretary Ryan Hagemann tells us that he and Lariviere are still negotiating, and that there is no final contract yet. We’ll post the contract when Hagemann approves it.

UO Foundation

The UO Foundation is a non-profit established to raise and manage money for UO. Non-profit status means it must report some information to the IRS. Here are copies of the UO Foundation’s IRS 990 forms. These explain assets, administrative salaries, and give some hints about how the Foundation spends money. The US Senate Finance committee under Grassley and Baucus has pushed revisions to IRS rules which will require considerably more complete documentation – these take effect next year.

The Foundation always runs out the clock on the allowable IRS extensions – this is a common strategy by non-profits to keep information private as long as possible. They have just released the form for the FY ending June 30, 2008. Data for the FY ending this June will likely not be available until nearly a year later – May 15 2010. Late and incomplete as they may be, these IRS are currently the best available public information on how the foundation spends the money it receives for UO.

UO Foundation IRS 990 forms are below. The 07-08 form is full of interesting info we haven’t yet figured out – like $million plus payments for “UO President’s Office”, whatever that means. Anyone got a clue?