One of the biggest arguments the UO has used for its lavish athletic funding is all the positive national publicity big time sports bring to the university.
Yeah right. In a major story last week headlined "Off-Field Turmoil Causes Soul Searching at Oregon," the New York Times reported on an athletic "program run amok."
The story rehashes a litany of UO amokness for a national audience. Here's some lowlights:
• "six players who were arrested during a span of several weeks"
• "The state attorney general launched an investigation into the $2.3
million buyout of Athletic Director Mike Bellotti, the former football
coach whose 'contract' turned out to be a handshake agreement."
• "The hiring of a basketball coach was no more smooth...the job
search had taken six weeks, or long enough that three players had asked
for their releases."
• The UO "will have to figure out how to make the bond payments on the new $227 million basketball arena."
• "...said Nathan Tublitz, a biology professor and the president of the
university senate. 'The athletic department is out of control here.'"
• "Before Bellotti, the department had been run by its No. 2 benefactor, the booster turned athletic director Pat Kilkenny."
• "Phil Knight, the Nike co-founder — began pouring hundreds of millions
of dollars into its athletic facilities, which are among the most
opulent in the country" and include a "wood-paneled locker room with 60-inch flat-screen televisions"
• UO guard Mark Asper told the Times: "People say, ‘Oh, you guys are a bunch of hooligans,’ and it’s tough because you don’t have any evidence to the contrary.”
• "Coach Chip Kelly...affirmed at a news conference that he had not lost control of the
program. Less than 24 hours later, linebacker Kiko Alonso was arrested
for driving under the influence. The next day, receiver Jamere Holland,
believing Alonso had been kicked off the team, unleashed an
expletive-laced rant against Kelly..."
• "rather than distancing themselves from the behavior of LeGarrette Blount,
whose nationally televised sucker punch of a Boise State player was one
of college football’s enduring images last season, the Ducks
demonstrated in the early days of the off-season that birds of a
feather do indeed flock together."
• "Masoli and James had been arrested before arriving in Eugene. Masoli
spent three months in juvenile hall in 2005 for his role in a series of
robberies at a Bay Area shopping mall. James was arrested in 2008 and
charged with battery and disorderly conduct after being involved in a
fight, but the charges were dropped a year later."
• "The moves appear to highlight an acknowledgment of the gap between how
the university and the athletic department have been run — one beholden
to state lawmakers, the other a seemingly freestanding corporation."
UO President Dave Frohnmayer has announced that he will resign by the summer of 2009.
Here's an email he sent out to UO faculty and staff this morning:
Today I formally notified Chancellor George Pernsteiner and Governor Ted
Kulongoski of my intention to retire as President of the University of
Oregon at the conclusion of the 2008/09 academic year. It has been a
great privilege to work with truly stellar faculty, staff, students and
alumni for nearly a decade and a half. I intend to return to teaching and
other assignments after I step down in summer, 2009.
I have given extended notice of my decision to allow ample time yet this
quarter and through the summer for a smooth search and transition process.
I have the utmost confidence that a presidential opportunity at this
internationally recognized institution will draw the attention of the
finest academic leaders. In recent days I have conferred with faculty
leaders to assure that our campus dialogue about immediate needs and
future priorities can command our focused attention in the next year.
It has been nearly twenty years since a full-fledged presidential search
has taken place for this campus. We are armed with the results of many
important perspectives, such as our recently concluded decennial
accreditation self-study, our Campaign Oregon strategic plan, and the
campus profiles that have been thoughtfully prepared for provost,
vice-presidential and dean searches. Nonetheless, the forthcoming search
process will provide a healthy period of reflection and engagement as the
university develops plans for a major leadership transition.
As you may know, the State Board of Higher Education conducts presidential
searches. I have spoken with the Board leadership to gain assurance that
our strongest and best voices will be heard. I expect that the Chancellor
will meet with faculty leadership in the near future to map out next
steps, and I hope that our campus engagement will be broadly based.
I am eternally grateful for the literally thousands of you who have
brought joy, energy and inspiration to the work of the university. You
have endured sustained economic privation; collaborated thoughtfully on
new initiatives; worked ceaselessly to improve our teaching and research;
greeted students, their families and the larger community with warmth and
good spirit; made our buildings and grounds places of serene beauty; and
celebrated the achievements of each other with an enduring sense of pride
and community. Lynn and I are grateful beyond measure for the many acts
of kindness in our times of family loss and grief and in moments of shared
pride for the university.
We endeavor always to improve even more. I look forward to working with
you in these next months.