The University of Oregon athletic department likes to say it is "self-sufficient." However, true self-sufficiency would mean receiving no outside help from other organizations.
The department is almost self-sufficient. It hasn't received any money from the University's general fund since 2003, so it is self-sufficient from the institution. In reality, the University — and the other colleges in the state of Oregon — gets a little bit of help from an unlikely source: the Oregon Lottery.
Since 1990, the athletic department has been taking yearly payouts from the lottery to help pay the bills for different things. It's stipulated that 70 percent of the Sports Action Lottery Fund must go toward helping non-revenue sports. At the University, those are sports like women's basketball, soccer and track. The remaining 30 percent would go to revenue-generating sports such as men's basketball and football. The last stipulation is that 50 percent of the total money a school receives must go toward women's sports.
But things changed in 2005 when the Oregon Legislature banned Oregon Lottery's NFL betting games to meet anti-gambling rules by the NCAA, effectively eliminating the Sports Action Lottery Fund. The move allowed Portland to host NCAA men's basketball tournament games in March.
The change to the system also affected where the money was coming from, to help support the seven public institutions in the Oregon University System. Schools didn't want to lose the extra support, so the legislature replaced the Sports Action Lottery Fund and now gives the schools 1 percent of the proceeds from the lottery.
That meant a little bit larger paydays for schools. According to The Oregonian, Eastern Oregon University received $400,000 last year, which was $320,000 more than what the school got under the old plan. At Oregon, the slice increased by about half, from $675,000 to $1.2 million.
Without the extra money, the UO athletic department would have been about $800,000 short in 2007-08.