Nike founder Phil Knight's generosity to his alma mater has been well documented. The sometimes Redmond-area resident has donated tens of millions of dollars to the University of Oregon in the form of new facilities for its athletic department, primarily its football and basketball teams. And his mark on the University is undeniable, just look at the way his company has turned the Duck's football uniforms into a testing ground for Nike's bizarre apparel experiments. But Knight's latest gift, the roughly $42-million John E. Jaqua Center, is perhaps his most lavish.
Dubbed the jock box by critics, the glass-encased center clocks in at a whopping $1,000 per square foot, according to the Oregonian and is open only to athletes. Of course, Mr. Knight is free to spend his gazillions wherever he wants. But the message here couldn't be more tone deaf in a slumping economy that has forced the state to cut school days and jack up tuition rates at public universities. The university has likened the new athlete center to a "birthday" present in an attempt to downplay the costs, saying that when someone buys you a gift, you don't ask how much they spent. Maybe not, but when a gift comes with these kind of strings attached you're under no obligation to accept it either.