Justice department reviewing deal

Updated: March 30, 2010, 7:22 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon Justice Department confirmed it plans to review the $2.3 million severance payment from the University of Oregon to former athletic director Mike Bellotti.

"There's really not much that I can say except that the attorney general wants to get as much information on it as he can," Justice Department spokesman Tony Green said of Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, according to the Eugene Register-Guard. "There was enough in the newspapers and on TV and people raising questions about it that it warrants a review. Part of the review is looking at the law."

After just nine months on the job, Bellotti announced his resignation March 19. He is joining ESPN as a college football analyst and makes his broadcasting debut April 17 during ESPNU's coverage of the Auburn spring football game.

Bellotti, who replaced Pat Kilkenny as AD in July, had agreed to terms then with incoming school president Richard Lariviere, but there was no written contract stating his salary and the $2.3 million severance payout.

The resignation agreement, including the payout terms, finally was placed on paper and signed by Bellotti on March 16, with Lariviere signing it March 19.

Bellotti acknowledged Monday that he and the school had a "handshake agreement," according to the newspaper.

"There was never a written contract that I signed," Bellotti told the Register-Guard. "There were some oral agreements."

As for the Justice Department review, Bellotti told the newspaper he was not aware of any such development and had no comment.

"A lot of issues, that among them, have been raised in the media," Green said, according to The (Portland) Oregonian. "At this point the attorney general doesn't have any firsthand information about it, so that's the purpose of the review."

The terms of the deal call for $600,000 to be paid to Bellotti on May 1, with the rest in monthly payments of $25,000.

The written agreement includes: "In recognition of his many contributions, UO wishes to assist Bellotti in seeking a transition to other employment opportunities currently available to him."

Bellotti spent 14 seasons as Oregon's football coach before becoming AD in July. Under Bellotti, the Ducks went to 12 bowl games and had a school-record 116 victories.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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