The price of going bowling: The high cost of the Ducks’ Rose Bowl win

Oregon lost to Ohio State at the Rose Bowl in 2010. (Alex McDougall/Emerald)

Oregon lost to Ohio State at the Rose Bowl in 2010. (Alex McDougall/Emerald)

Posted by Sam Stites on Monday, May. 7 at 6:37 pm.

Bowl season is a special time of the year. It caps off every football season with fun matchups that fans rarely get to see and it allows those teams that have done well a chance to prove they’re the nation’s best. Bowl games are ingrained into the culture and tradition of collegiate football, but the expenses to send teams to these games recently has been anything but traditional.

The Ducks’ 45-38 Rose Bowl win over the Wisconsin Badgers was a crowning moment in Oregon football. It was a victory that ended a 95-year drought. It cost $1,599,307 to send 515 people — including team, staff, band, cheerleaders and athletic officials — to southern California in order to obtain that win, well within the athletic department’s $1,942,000 allowance.

“For many people, their first interaction with the University of Oregon is from hearing about our football team,” said athletic department spokesperson Craig Pintens. “It’s important we continually perform at our highest level, which culminated this year in a victory at the Rose Bowl.”

This nearly $1.6 million is seen as about average for a large football program to spend on a bowl appearance. For example, a year ago Iowa State spent $1,286,477 on its 27-13 loss to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Spending millions on a simple trip to play a football game seems strange, but to these schools it’s only a fraction of what they reap.

The numbers for the Ducks’ trip to Pasadena, Calif., may look average, but broken down the equation is much more complex.

The athletic department spent $220,107 on transportation for the team and staff (212 people), but they spent $123,851 on transportation for the official party (56 people) and only $43,480 for the band and cheerleaders (247 people). The team and staff spent nine days traveling and the other two groups only spent seven, but the expenses don’t equate between the groups.

The official party consists of athletic department officials, representatives of the University’s third-party rights holder IMG, and 6 students whose names were redacted from the list. It also includes University administrators such as Lorraine Davis, who has a clause in her contract that outlines all-expenses-paid trips to games like these for her and her family.

“The numbers are difficult to compare,” Pintens said. “The primary difference is student-athletes are two per room and staff in some instances are one per room.”

Despite the bunking situation, there are still great disparities in the costs between the groups. Economics professor Bill Harbaugh said that expenses like these may be a reason that the athletic department will not commit to an annual financial contribution to the academic side, a deal agreed upon years ago between former athletic director Bill Moos and former University President Dave Frohnmayer.

“The faculty and students on the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee have spent the past year trying to get a straight answer from athletic director Rob Mullens on why he can’t afford to keep this promise, and now we know he blew the money on all-expenses-paid trips to the Rose Bowl,” Harbaugh said. “If a Duck football player got benefits like these the NCAA infractions committee would ban them faster than the Black Mamba’s kick-off return.”

ASUO President Ben Eckstein and Vice President Katie Taylor were both part of the official party that received all-expenses-paid trips to see the Ducks play. Their names were among those redacted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Eckstein and Taylor — selected through a student outreach program — spent three days in California, attending events, helping with a service project and talking with prospective students about the University. Despite being part of the 56-person official party, Eckstein said that he recognizes there is a problem with how much is being spent in certain areas.

“The NCAA cartel and a variety of other factors lead to an environment where students are consistently exploited,” Eckstein said. “The difference in cost suggests that we do not prioritize the student-athletes and participants who are the core of our athletic and academic success.”

  • Aofdjas

    God this paper is amazing. Your spelling is an absolute embarrassment to the concept of higher education.  Does anybody at the Oregon Daily Emerald ever proofread??

    • DS

      THANK you. I wonder that myself every day.

      I’m available to proofread. I’ll even do it for free. Just please stop printing this crap.

    • Sam Stites

      Yes, we proofread many times, but we are just students. We strive to be as professional as possible, yet you can’t always be perfect.

  • Gooducks

    The writer of this has absolutely no grasp of what goes into Sports Business. We are a fairly responsible University when you compare us with premiere programs around the country. Unfortunately, It is the price you pay for national attention. I would love to see the numbers on how much money the football team infuses directly and indirectly into this school and this community during the football season. That would be a much better project for an economics professor like Bill Harbaugh to spend his time on.

    • Sam

      What does go into sports business, Gooducks? And why do you have to compare us to other universities to justify unethical behavior? 

      Prof. Harbaugh does. Check out his blog. 

    • Sam Stites

      What does fairly responsible mean? Fairly? You are either responsible or you aren’t… There isn’t really much gray area. And the AD doesn’t give anything directly to the academic side, in fact they still use subsidies from the University to pay for things such as athlete tutoring. As for indirectly, I’m sure they bring in a lot of of students, but if you didn’t already know, this school is pretty much at capacity so that really isn’t helping anything.

  • SkoDucks

    Really? Nobody cares. We want our team to win, no matter what the cost is. You all have nothing better to write about, it’s at least once a week you have to write about the football team. Get over it hippies.

    • DS

      Hey man, its up to you. You can continue to pay for the UO athletic department’s bloated budget, with little to no benefit to you other than rising tuition costs, and reduced places to pay for tutoring. Or you can just stand idly by and take it all, and pretend it doesn’t matter to you. You’re choice.

      Calling us “hippies” for standing up for fair financial spending makes it seem that a) you’re conservative, and b) you don’t care how your money is spent. Your loss.

      • Austin

        If you’re going to complain about proofreading above, you should probably make sure your grammar is correct as well. “You’re [sic] choice.”

        • DS

          Oops! Noted.

        • DS

          Maybe you should proofread the ODE as well

      • jubelale

        “You can continue to pay for the UO athletic department’s bloated budget,
        with little to no benefit to you other than rising tuition costs, and
        reduced places to pay for tutoring. Or you can just stand idly by and
        take it all, and pretend it doesn’t matter to you.”

        So you’re saying I can either do “Option A”, or I can do “Option A”…

    • Sam Stites

      No hippies here… And what do you mean whatever the cost? You would put winning before the integrity of the University?

  • UO Matters

    To Gooducks – I’m no economist, but I can say with certainty that the marginal benefit to UO and Eugene of sending acting Provost Lorraine Davis and her family to the the Rose Bowl was less than the marginal cost. And how did UO spend $120,000 on 56 airplane tickets to LA? They flew first-class plus?

    This has nothing to do with using Duck sports to promote UO – it’s just a bunch of administrators spending student tuition money on their own perks. Good for Sam Stites for digging up the documents and exposing this.

  • Armintroutk

    Why doesn’t this column take into account the 2.1 million dollars the university gets for the team being in the Rose Bowl (and the 2.1 million it got for Stanford being in the Fiesta)?

    • Sam Stites

      Because they wouldn’t provide that information. I asked for revenue and expenses but only got info on expenses.

  • Jda97302


    The AD gets travel expenses for the game from the conference up to 1.9 million (this last year I think); the conference gets the bowl revenue and the disperses it equally among the 12 Schools after bowl expenses are taken out. We will only get 1/12th of the money from the Fiesta appearance by Stanford (4.5 million is given to a second BCS game).  All the bowl revenue goes to the league, bowl expenses are distributed to teams appearing in the bowl games and the money is divided into equal shares.

    Air travel for the team is chartered by the Conference I seem to recall from a story a few years back, but individual travel could mean using other flights. Some Duck players will drive to the game and be reimbursed cutting travel costs.

    The last two seasons have been good financially for the conference with four BCS games  and a limited number of smaller bowls where where the payouts are less than the expenses when not enough fans appear at the game. 

  • Jda97302


    not a great job breaking down a simple investigative story. Not sure if you grasp how bowl finances work; much less how bowl travel works.

    Team gets Charter flight out of Eugene and athletes who make the trip on their own get reimburse for their travel cost; truly effects the team cost side. Pending seats left on the charter fight allows some staff to travel with team and coaches. The balance of staff fly commercial (more expensive). The team in some cases are provided dinning experiences from the sponsors (Lawery’s Steak house being one) where staff and travel party may not participate.   Team travels by charter busthat might be  provided by Bowl, but I am betting individuals in the travel party were allowed and reimbursed for rent-a-cars

    That just a few financial variables

    I think if you review previous bowl expense stories by the emerald and by the Oregonian you could put together a better investigative report….

    Last thing Bowl games and a financial contribution by the AD to the school really don’t work with this limited space.. hope the editor agrees

    • Sam Stites

      Thanks for your input.

  • Guest

    Fantastic article as always. I agree with UOMatters- the oney we brought in for going to the Rosebowl would have come in even had we only sent the team and coaches and had them fly coach. Some people have their common sense overridden by blind school spirit but this is excellent journalism.

  • Azacabazle

    WTF? Leave Admin at home. Who’s this chump that takes her whole family on the Universities dime? F that!

  • Nor-Cal Scott

    In what could have been an explosive investigative article poor Ben fumbled the ball on the goal line. 

    Most teams lose money on bowl games due to mandatory ticket purchases they can not sell, low payouts for crappy bowl games, and escalating travel costs due to more & more non-football staff going on a one week vactaion on the universities dime.

    To get a real idea and comparison of what goes on with bowl game travel read the great book, “Death to the BCS.”  This book details the scams of bowl games, and follows the money trail of the bowl games, and shows a couple teams bowl game travel expenses.

    Personally, I don’t know what DS is crying about. All the Ducks gotta do is win and Uncle Phil will keep writing a fat check.