Tag Archive: Michael R. Gottfredson


oregonfootballbuilding

“We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits,” – Jeff Hawkins, University of Nike senior associate athletic director of Football Administration and Operations.

Mr. Hawkins also told “that” to the New York Times.

Apparently, he said it on the record.

By the way, he works for the University of Oregon, not the University of Nike.

The correct brand is the “O,” not the “Swoosh.”

It’s so easy these days to get them mixed up.

This is an Almost DailyBrett blog that I wish I did not feel compelled to write…but I must.

I received my master’s degree from the University of Oregon, served as graduate teaching fellow for the University of Oregon and have contributed at least $1,000 annually to the Duck Athletic Fund since 1990…That is the University of Oregon’s Duck Athletic Fund, not the Nike Athletic Fund. I will leave the latter to Uncle Phil.

Hawkins’ quote is part of a massive New York Times piece that catalogues the excesses of the at least $68 million Football Performance Center complete with rugs woven by hand in Nepal, couches made in Italy, weight room hard wood from Brazil and fine Corinthian leather throughout…okay, there is no fine Corinthian leather…at least that is not in the NYT story.

Did the Athletic Department feel the need to provide that level of detail?

What is the PR strategy behind this public orgy of nouveau riche?

Asked about the extravagant football building, UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens used a negative: “People will complain, but this is not excessive.” Not excessive? How about: “This is appropriate for our student athletes, who give so much to the University of Oregon”?

One must wonder about the reaction of President Michael R. Gottfredson to the notion of the University of Nike? Something tells me he is not comfortable with this descriptor.

How about the university’s easily excitable faculty, particularly those that are not enamored with athletic emphasis? Will the University of Nike be thrown back in the face of university bargainers in collective bargaining agreement negotiations? I will take the over.

How about the UO development folks, who are trying their best to convince donors that the university really needs financial assistance, both academically and athletically?

And what about the students, who are not athletes? Are they students or employees?

Is the University of Oregon the equivalent of a publicly traded, multi-national athletic apparel company?

Does the University of Oregon have its own ticker symbol: (NYSE: NKE)?

Can we tune into CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg etc. every trading day to see how the stock is performing?

For history buffs, the University of Oregon was founded in 1876. Since then the University of Oregon has served as the premier liberal arts oriented public research university flagship of the Oregon University System.

deady

Conversely, Nike came into being in its first iteration in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports and 14 years later as Nike.

Think of it another way, the University of Oregon existed for more than a century before Nike was officially born. The university’s football team with UOs on the helmets (and no Swoosh to be found on the uniforms) actually made it to the Rose Bowl in 1994 before Phil Knight dug into his legendary deep pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, we should all be grateful for the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight, but the brand is and will always be, the University of Oregon.

Former UCLA head coach (and former UO offensive coordinator) Bob Toledo once said that Oregon had the best “team owner” in the then Pac-10 conference.

As an alum and an über-successful businessman, Knight, has given and given to his two alma maters, the University of Oregon (undergraduate) and Stanford University (post-graduate).

I trust that no spokesperson, academic or athletic, would ever label Stanford, the University of Nike. Even though, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page both received graduate degrees from Stanford, there is no movement for the The Farm to be recast as the University of Google.

If University of Oregon football coaches want to celebrate the university’s connection to Nike in recruiting young studs with fast 40 times, Just Do It.

Telling the New York Times or any other media that UO is now the University of Nike is simply not smart.

If it was true, the band would be playing Mighty Nike as opposed to Mighty Oregon on game days.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/sports/ncaafootball/oregon-football-complex-is-glittering-monument-to-ducks-ambitions.html?_r=0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.

http://www.uoregon.edu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Brin

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Page

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-lowndes/fighting-for-public-educa_b_3924676.html

gottfredson

The University of Oregon dodged a bullet.

The NCAA fired a shot across the bow.

The NCAA slapped the Ducks on the wrist.

What other metaphors seem appropriate just days after the not-as-big-as-we-initially-thought judgment day?

Is the coast clear for the University of Oregon?

That one is easy, no.

Teaching upper-division public relations at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and preparing client presentations during my days with Edelman Public Relations and LSI Logic, I became intimate with SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

UO leaders, whether they are university types at Johnson Hall or jock types at the Casanova Center, all know the exhilaration of being shot at and missed (another metaphor). Is this a time to celebrate? Or as the Independence Day holidays near, should the academic and athletic types use this welcome respite to reflect and ponder?

The next time, the university may not be so lucky.

Some imply that Uncle Phil’s money solves all problems. When something sounds so simple and frankly too good to be true, you know that is exactly the case.

First and foremost, the university must provide access to all worthy students and it must offer a quality education to all who walk through its gates. There are nearly 25,000 students that need to be educated in the best way possible at the lowest possible cost. Pac-12 titles, BCS Bowl wins and Sweet 16s are nice and provide onus to Oregon’s brand of success, but that is not the university’s primary purpose.

Taking all of these factors into account, how can Oregon totally restore its image for integrity, overcome previous charges of “mediocrity,” and most of all build upon its reputation, enhance its brand and give more charge to its cachet? That’s a tall order and that’s where a SWOT comes into play.

Oregon Strengths

● When considering the strengths of the University of Oregon, some will automatically think of the “O,” and will immediately tie it to the Nike “Swoosh.” Yes, Phil Knight is easily Oregon’s most famous alum, but he is not the only former undergraduate student who matriculated in Eugene.

Here are some other strengths: the relatively new President Michael R. Gottfredson, a breath of fresh air after his combative predecessor. The university boasts strong professional schools, including Architecture and Allied Arts, Business, Education, Law and my favorite, Journalism and Communication, and is widely regarded as a center for research and innovation.allen1

The university and the Eugene community are universally seen as leaders in sustainable environmental management and a healthy place to live. Eugene is a quality-of-life play … people want to reside here regardless of the temperate and temperamental climate.

Oregon Weaknesses

● When it comes to weaknesses, the comments made by former (read: fired) President Richard Lariviere and amplified by a frustrated Phil Knight about Oregon pursuing a path to “mediocrity” still hurt.

Oregon is located in America’s cul-de-sac, out-of-sight, out-of-mind of those who reside particularly in God’s Time Zone (e.g., EDT, EST). Geography and a small population will always be a factor. The State of Oregon has dropped its annual support to the university to about 5 percent of the university’s total budget, receiving $44 million in university generated revenues, and simply giving about the same amount back to UO. As a consequence, tuition is going up again, this time 5.8 percent, and the faculty has unionized. They are demanding a first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) … lovely.

Oregon Opportunities

● Surveying UO’s opportunities there is the continual upgrading of Oregon’s academic reputation (frosh numbers and GPAs are increasing) and enhancing athletic excellence. The university is looking north about 60 miles to Salem to see if the legislators will pass SB 270 (Haas, D-Beaverton) that would give UO its own institutional governing board.

The trick here is to convince the capitol movers-and shakers of the obvious: The University of Oregon is the state’s flagship university without spooking Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University and Oregon Tech. We love you too.

If Salem is providing less-and-less, then it stands to reason to allow Oregon to have more of a say about how it will fund itself and build upon its impressive physical plant to better serve and meet the needs of its students.

Oregon Threats

● And what are the threats that keep the folks in Johnson Hall and the Casanova Center respectively up at night? The NCAA was one of them, and that monster has not totally gone away…it is merely taking a cat nap.

knightlibrary

Assuming the completion of an initial CBA, who will be the winner and who will be the loser? If the CBA negotiations are handled correctly on both sides – the university and United Academics – will be able to each legitimately declare victory. The university’s finances will pencil out and the academics will do what they do best: research and teach (in that order).

This successful scenario will avoid a faculty “action” and hopefully will reduce the upward pressure on student tuition, easing the hit on family pocketbooks and escalating student loan amounts.

There is also the perception threat: Uncle Phil will always come to the rescue. He is 75 and needs to dispense with $14.4 billion. Why not more for UO?

One suspects there will be more from Phil Knight…both athletically and academically … and the university will be thankful and humble. That does not remove either the challenges or the issues and the threats that need to be met and addressed. There are also tremendous opportunities as well.

It’s time to damn the torpedoes (another metaphor).

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2013/06/ncaa_gives_oregon_a_chance_to.html

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

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