The University of Oregon says its policy is not to notify coaches if their student-athletes are accused of sexual assault, so as not to risk "tainting investigations." But Dana Altman's phone records, which I obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show he was enmeshed in Kavell Bigby-Williams' rape case from the beginning. This is a follow-up to my investigative story in Sports Illustrated.
After breaking the news in the student newspaper that an Oregon basketball player played the entire season, including the Final Four, I dug into the university's handling the of allegation. My ensuing investigation for Sports Illustrated revealed UO officials violated their obligations and under the law and acted at odds with the school's own policies for responding to sexual misconduct. This story prompted U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to write UO President Michael Schill a letter demanding more information about the school's handling of the allegation.
The University of Oregon athletic department provides its employees free cars to drive for personal use. The program, in theory, should be free, because the cars are provided by local auto dealerships as gift-in-kind. But according to my analysis, the department promises employees far more cars than it actually has, so the majority of employees — including the athletic director himself — collect lucrative monthly stipends in lieu of actual cars.
Tuition costs for Oregon students have increased for four years straight and nearly doubled in the last decade. Meanwhile, the Oregon athletic department continues to thrive, with its annual revenues ballooning to more than $113 million, up from $40 a decade ago. Of that $113 million, about $5 million comes directly out of students' pockets, despite the athletic department's claims of self-sufficiency.
Media pick-ups: The Register-Guard
Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 transfer power forward, played the entire season for Oregon, including the Final Four, while under criminal investigation for the alleged sexual assault of a female student at Gillette College in Wyoming. According to UO, athletic director Rob Mullens, head coach Dana Altman and other athletic department staffers knew police were looking into the player but did not know or ask why. This is the breaking news story I wrote that preceded my investigative reporting in Sports Illustrated.
Each year the Oregon athletic department asks students to pay more money for tickets to sporting events, but for the past three years students refused. This year, with the athletic department growing increasingly unsatisfied and the threat of it pulling out of the ticket agreement altogether looming, student government decided to make a one-time payment of $10,000 in order to make peace.
When then-athletic director Pat Kilkenny decided to revive the baseball program and drop wrestling in 2009, he projected it to turn a profit within five years. But an analysis of the program’s financial transparency reports show its annual budget deficit has increased every year since 2009, tickets are down nearly 50 percent, and administration salaries now exceed the entire income of the program.
Willie Taggart, Oregon's newly hired head football coach, said he would no longer be fielding questions from Andrew Greif, lead Ducks beat reporter at the state's top news outlet, after Greif published a story detailing a "grueling" workout that resulted in the hospitalization of three players. While Taggart said he "won’t have shit to do with" Greif anymore, Greif defended his reporting and the school's faculty athletics representative said the story was fair and the characterization of the workouts were misinterpreted by the public.
2016 IRE Award winner for student investigative reporting at a small school
My investigation for the student newspaper revealed the star of the Oregon football team instigated two fights with teammates in the locker room — one of whom he concussed with a punch to the head — and had been investigated for strangling his girlfriend. Neither the school, team nor law enforcement took any disciplinary action against him, instead reprimanding the victims. After the athletic department threatened to revoke my game credentials during my reporting, UO President Michael Schill asked UO's general counsel to investigate the athletic department for violating the school's free speech policies.