• University of Oregon's athletic director discusses sports and coaching in Eugene
Athletic Director Bill Moos has presided over University of Oregon athletics during a time of unprecedented growth and achievement.
The football team finished No. 2 in the country in 2002; the basketball team made the NCAA's Elite Eight the same year. The Ducks have reached self-sufficiency in budgeting, meaning they don't use university money to operate.
And with suites finally ready to open at Autzen Stadium, nearly $160 million in facilities and renovations have been completed in the last decade.
Moos sat down with the Tribune recently to discuss a variety of issues:
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Trib: Washington is firing football coach Rick Neuheisel. Would firing a football coach be your worst nightmare?
Moos: You never have to be in a position where you have to terminate someone. That one played out as a real melodrama; I don't envy Barbara (Hedges) and her people and the folks at the University of Washington. And it's difficult for that football staff, too. No one would wish something like that on anybody.
Trib: You mean Duck fans are not reveling at Neuheisel's demise?
Moos: Well, yeah, but I mean people in the profession. Intercollegiate athletics is in the spotlight far more than it has been ever. Part of that is due to the celebrity status of the coaches with huge salaries. And it looks like a feeding frenzy out there lately with (Larry) Eustachy and (Mike) Price and back to the (George) O'Leary deal.
(Iowa State's Eustachy was fired after cavorting and drinking with female students; Alabama's Price was fired after cavorting in a topless bar; Notre Dame's O'Leary was fired for lying on his rŽsumŽ.)
Trib: Have you told Mike Bellotti, 'No betting on college basketball pools like what Neuheisel did, or traipsing around in another city like Price did'?
Moos: Never specifically, unless there happens to be a problem. We have not had that case at Oregon. We will use these examples as illustrations of what can happen if you use bad judgment. My coaches know, and especially the ones in the public eye all the time, it's 24-7. There's no off time.
There are certain things that are not going to be tolerated, and they already know that. I've been fortunate to surround myself with people with very high integrity, morals and good judgment.
Trib: Yes, there are no secrets in Eugene, right?
Moos: Yes. Ernie Kent and Bellotti are both wonderful family men and good husbands who give generously to the community through their resources and time. I never have to worry about these two.
Trib: You once said self-sufficiency would work, but without a large cash reserve a poor football season or two might affect the budget. Are you worried about the budget after a 7-6 football season?
Moos: No, our season ticket renewals are over 95 percent after the disappointing conclusion of last year's season. Our fans are staying true to us. They're enjoying Oregon football because it's more than the game itself, it's an all-day event that's a fun way to entertain their family and friends.
Oregon football is very stable, the winning-est football program in the conference for a decade. We are in that elite group. It's an important season, and it's a tough schedule. We go on the road more games than we have in recent memory Ñ six at home and six on the road.
But I have complete confidence in Mike Bellotti and his program, the stability that we have. He's now the dean of football coaches in the Pac-10 by a long shot, and that will always come back to serve as an asset to a program. We've built a big-time program.
It's important that we win, but we will not win at any cost. I have every reason to believe our success will continue.
Trib: Bellotti took criticism for the Lynell Hamilton and Rodney Woods situations. (Hamilton, a recruit, says he was offered alcohol, drugs and women on a visit; Woods had a felony assault charge dropped to a misdemeanor, after Bellotti and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti had written letters of support to a California judge.) What's your take?
Moos: We pay as much, if not more, attention to those details as we ever have. It's a reflection of moving our program into that center stage and having a disappointing season. Fingers start to point, and people form opinions. We're doing business as we always have, if not better. When we have concerns like the Lynell Hamilton situation, we address them and correct them.
Trib: Bellotti told us he'll look to coach in the NFL after three more seasons here. What's your reaction?
Moos: I hope it's not true; he's not mentioned that to me. Kerry, his daughter, is a very talented athlete and a high school sophomore. His son Shawn is just a second- or third-grader. After Kerry graduates, that would be a window where he could make a move. I know Mike is very happy here.
He can coach anywhere in the country, the NFL for sure. Mike Bellotti is very talented. I think we've done a phenomenal job of providing him with the resources to be successful. We've got a great relationship, great friendship.
If the day comes where Mike leaves, he's put his signature on a historic portion of Oregon football. They ought to be naming buildings and streets after him. And the lines will be at the door, all the way down I-5, of people who'd love to have his job. Because of the success he has brought it.
Trib: It sounds like the new basketball arena is a go. What's next in the planning of a successor to McArthur Court?
Moos: We've gone through the various consultants and feasibility studies and hired the designers. We're meeting now to arrive at a cost and try to determine a site, so the president can sign off on it and we can move forward.
I have every reason to believe in the 2006-07 season we'll be in a new building for men's and women's basketball. I don't know if there are any doubts, just curiosity as to what the numbers are going to pan out to be.
(The estimated cost is $100 million to $120 million, Moos says. Four sites are being considered.)
Trib: In the wake of the Atlantic Coast Conference expansion, what are the chances that the Pacific-10 Conference will add more schools?
Moos: I don't think it'll happen, and my colleagues in the conference feel the same way. The important ones who make the call, the presidents and chancellors, are not interested. We are very selective; we haven't invited a lot of people to our party. We're proud of our athletic successes but also every bit as much if not more of our academic reputations as major research universities.
When you put all that in, and the fact there aren't that many schools in the West who can meet that criteria, it really points toward staying at 10.
To expand, we'd really need to look at television markets. When you get down to it, that's what the ACC was looking at in getting those television markets (Miami and Virginia Tech).
We already control all of the West Coast. We'd have to venture into Big 12 country. Vegas is not really huge, neither is Utah. Colorado and Texas were considered and, as I understand it, offered invitations 10 or 12 years ago, and it didn't pan out. Those two would have made sense.
We've got a nice 10-piece pie that everybody's getting a good piece of. It doesn't make sense to make it a 12-piece pie.
Trib: Vegas and Utah have small TV markets, but so does Oregon, doesn't it?
Moos: You'd be amazed. Our TV ratings É the last two years in the Pac-10, the Portland market has been No. 1 for football.
Trib: What's your budget for athletics?
Moos: It was $37 million last year; it'll be in that neighborhood, maybe another $1 million. It was $18 million when I came here in '95. We've more than doubled that and become self-sufficient along the way, and built $160 million of facilities, most all of it paid for.
Trib: Everybody says Phil Knight is the best owner in college sports. What's your true arrangement with his company, Nike?
Moos: They provide us with shoes, apparel and cash we can use at our discretion for coaches' salaries. It all comes to me, and I dole it out. In both Mike's and Ernie's contracts, there's a base salary, a Nike portion, Oregon Sports Network for radio and television, and deferred segment. A lot of it's incentive-driven, too.
At Oregon, I wanted to make sure the (Nike) monies came to the institution, so we could put it through our payroll system. It helps them in their retirement, and we know they've paid tax on it. I determine how much of their salaries (comes from) Nike, OSN, base salary and deferred.
Trib: Someone in the Oregon Legislature wanted to introduce a bill capping coaches' salaries in Oregon. Any thoughts?
Moos: It was debate, and it was on the talk shows. That ain't going to fly. That's unconstitutional. Our coaches' salaries in college football and basketball are market-driven.
Trib: Some people have suggested that the NCAA allow athletes to literally play five years; would it work?
Moos: No, I don't think so. It's been touched upon in various forms; there's some support by some schools. My feeling is, if it was at all realistic, I'd go three, with freshman not being eligible.
When I experienced being a student athlete in the late '60s and early '70s, I reflect back to all the things being asked of the student athlete three months out of high school. You have to figure out how to wash your own clothes, how to get to class, how to study Ñ then come out to face a guy who's three years older and 60 pounds heavier. It could be quite discouraging.
I favor four over five: You can graduate in four with a redshirt, and you can graduate in four with summer school very easily.