A Washington Post columnist lambasted college athletic directors this week for staying at a glamorous Ritz oceanside hotel while not paying student athletes.
Her top target: University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, who runs the College Football Playoff selection committee.
The 13-member committee, led by chair Mullens, "required" a multi-day conference at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, a Southern California beachside resort, even though the committee won't be issuing football-team rankings until November.
During this conference, the committee reviewed its weekly rankings schedule, typical protocol and finalized the list of members who would be recused from voting on certain schools, the Post reports.
In other words, they reviewed the following rules: The rankings come out every Tuesday (and always have) and members cannot vote for their own schools.
At the Ritz-Carlton oceanside resort where the committee stayed, one salad, signature cut and one side dish cost $158. Restaurant menus do not list prices. A 60-minute massage costs $245. The cheapest rooms start at $681 per night.
The committee also includes athletic directors Joe Castiglione of the University of Oklahoma, Scott Stricklin of the University of Florida, R.C. Slocum of Texas A&M University, Todd Stansbury of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Gary Barta of the University of Iowa and Terry Mohajir of Arkansas State University.
A married couple—collegiate donors who estimate that they've sponsored about 100 scholarships at their Big Ten alma mater—vacationing at the same hotel described to the Post what they described as a scene that "captures what's wrong with collegiate athletics."
To be sure, committee members do need to have meetings and review their work. They're also allowed to do so at a "decent hotel," the Post says, as they are not paid for their time on the committee.
"But the Ritz? This offends the senses—and it shows a telling carelessness if not a callousness toward athletes," wrote Post columnist Sally Jenkins. "The colossal billion-dollar revenues of the College Football Playoff are driven by the players—not administrators—and yet the system feeds everyone to excess except for them. Anybody with a conscience understands that scholarships are hardly decent recompense for their brutal workweeks. They face a yawning gap between what they create, and what is withheld from them by the NCAA's antiquated rules, and change is needed."
Mullens has a base salary at UO of $717,500 a year. His performance and retention bonuses add a total of $300,000 to his 2019-20 salary.
Mullens did not respond to a request for comment from the Post. Every relevant party contacted by the Post either didn't respond or declined comment.