An Interview with Bill Moos, University of Oregon Athletic Director

Article excerpt

Keywords: Moos, college sports, sponsorship

Introduction

William "Bill" Moos graduated from Washington State University with a BA in history in 1973. He went on to positions as an assistant coach, deputy director for the Civil Aeronautics Board, director of development and associate athletic director at Washington State, and athletic director at the University of Montana, before moving to the University of Oregon in July 1995. Since that time, he has presided over what many consider to be the most successful era of the University's storied athletic history, overseeing the development of more than $120 million in facilities and athletic department improvements. His football teams have gone to six bowl games and finished the 2001 season ranked second in the United States.

A bold visionary who believes you must consistently commit to excellence, he has utilized marketing and sponsorship, including securing an all-sports contract with Nike, to take Oregon to new heights. Here he talks to Rick Burton, Executive Director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, which is housed in the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business.

RB: Bill, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview. There are so many areas we could cover in talking about college athletics but let's start off with one of the biggest and that is this: I think it's safe to say many people are thinking about what some folks are calling the National Collegiate Athletic Association "arms race". What are your thoughts on how the NCAA is dealing with issues involving money and collegiate programs remaining competitive with one another?

WM: Well, I think it's been great. Meaning, that in the last ten or 12 years, we've been able to realize a considerable amount of parity in intercollegiate athletics, especially at the Division I level. But it also, as a result of that parity, has stimulated the so-called "arms race" of the one-time "haves" being challenged, in a sense, by the one-time "have-nots". In large part, that's been simply because of limits on scholarship offerings and these types of things. And that has driven budgets in intercollegiate athletics up in leaps and bounds -- just in the last couple of years -- and it's been so dramatic that it has urged the presence of university chancellors to step in and take a look at it.

RB: Let me back up and ask, what's your sense on -- and this is intended to be a positive question -- the health of the NCAA or the health of college sports? How do you see college sports today versus how you might have seen it when you were a player at Washington State?

WM: Certainly it's much more controlled. I think there are obviously far more opportunities for women than in my competitive days, which are now over 30 years ago. The cost of operating an intercollegiate athletic program has not just grown with inflation, but has grown dramatically because of the competitive aspect. And these are large businesses now, some of which are self-sustaining. We are beginning to see more and more concern for faculties across the country who are fighting for every paper clip and notepad they can get, watching across campus their colleagues in the intercollegiate athletic programs with their budgets growing, doubling in short periods of time and certainly that includes the salaries and benefits. So it's become a front burner issue in the NCAA and I think the real challenge is what can the NCAA do to regulate and restrict this? It's a great source of debate right now.

RB: You talked before about essentially being the CEO of a small business. Is it a feeling you get, in running the University of Oregon Athletic Department as a business, that college athletics still provides a value to the university, and is it okay for a football coach to make $1- or $2-million a year inside the goal of higher education?

WM: Well, we are running a business, a fast-growing business and we are becoming, here at the University of Oregon, self-sufficient. …