Ducks Athletics Takes a Big Bite of Cash

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The Oregonian’s Rachel Bachman has written an investigative report that ought to make even the most diehard supporters of the green and gold see red.

It seems the University of Oregon athletic department’s claim that it’s financially self-sufficient is a few yards shy of the truth. What the hell, why mince words – it’s a lie.

Going through U of O financial records, Bachman discovered that hundreds of thousands of dollars a year come out of the university’s general fund to pay for academic support of athletes – personal tutoring and counseling, basically.

“The general fund has paid nearly $8.5 million over the past nine years for academic support for athletes … increasing sixfold from less than $300,000 in 2002-03 to a budgeted $1.8 million this academic year,” Bachman reports.

“Meanwhile tuition has nearly doubled and state support has plummeted to 7 percent of the university's overall budget. Use of the general fund to academically support athletes means that other students essentially are subsidizing those services.”

At Oregon State, $1.8 million a year comes out of the college’s general fund for academic support of athletes. But OSU, unlike the U of O, doesn’t claim that its athletic department is self-sufficient.

“Then-athletic director Pat Kilkenny wrote in a July 2007 editorial in Eugene's Register-Guard newspaper, ‘We receive no funding from the state or the university general funds,’” Bachman wrote. “On the Ducks' athletic site, the page introducing the Duck Athletic Fund says, ‘the University of Oregon Athletic Department is financially self-sufficient and does not receive any support from state funds.’”

What’s really depressing, though, is that Bachman’s story is accompanied by an on-line poll asking readers: “How do you feel about Oregon's athletic department, despite claims of self-sufficiency, using state money to cover athletes' academic needs?” Only about 32% (at this writing) say they’re “troubled by it,” nearly 13% say they’re “indifferent,” and the clear majority – about 55% – say they’re “fine with it.”

How much do you want to bet that many of the 55-percenters are among the most tireless complainers about taxes for education?


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