Sunday, March 2, 2008

[Hasso Hering] Getting it (mostly) right


As long as the University of Oregon wants to act like a private company where athletics are concerned, maybe the Legislature ought to make it official and turn the athletic department into a private enterprise.

The university refuses to disclose how much it is being paid under a new athletics marketing contract. The office of Attorney General Hardy Myers has agreed with the university. The AG rejected a request by the Portland Oregonian that the payments be disclosed under the Oregon Public Records Act.

“The state has an economic interest in maximizing payments made to its universities pursuant to sports marketing contracts," the AG’s opinion said. “Would-be contractors who know exactly what the UO or OSU agreed to accept in the past might offer less than they otherwise would have offered.’’

By that reasoning, none of the contracts made by public bodies in Oregon — from individual small fire districts and city governments to the giant Department of Transportation — should be open to public inspection.

I agree with him - the reasoning behind the decision to make the contract info a secret is weak. And wrong.

Privatizing college athletics is a giant can of worms he's obviously not thought through (what happens to the status of the student-athletes who participate? Do they become even more exploited once the veneer of interest in their academics is even further stripped away?), but hey, at least this editorial is coherent and genuinely seems to be in the public's interest. Hooray for that.

.... the more I think about this, the stupider Myers' decision is. Really? Sports marketing? I get that it might actually lead to more revenue, but hey - it's a state institution, and that means it should be public information. That's how it works. Yes, there are costs to that, but the benefit (the possibility of democracy) should easily be seen as outweighing the money.

Should, anyway.


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