UO’s National Reputation: Amok

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.”