November 22, 2010
Success breeds success: Win a few games, get a massive donation or two from a rich and famous alum; win a few more games, take in another windfall, etc. Win your way to No. 1 in the country, and you get college football's version of a 22nd Century space palace.
Besides the endless supply of uniforms, Nike boss and Oregon alum Phil Knight has already helped his alma mater outfit college football's most luxurious locker room and personally funded a brand-new academic building, opened earlier this year, billed as "the Taj Mahal of academic services." Today, the university unveiled plans for an "L-shaped, stand-alone, six-story structure" to house the football program beginning in 2013 – all 130,000 square feet of it on Knight's tab. The project is being funded entirely through Phit LLC, a private company controlled by Knight and his wife, which plans to complete construction on a university license in 2013, at which point it will turn the building over to the athletic department as one of the most lavish gift in the history of college sports.
How lavish? Because it's being privately funded, the total cost wasn't disclosed. But the 37,000-square-foot Jaqua Academic Center, opened in January, reportedly cost Knight $41.7 million, or approximately $1,100 per square foot – a staggering number, "about twice as much per square foot as Portland's priciest condo buildings," according to the Oregonian. At that rate, a new, 130,000-square-foot facility would put Knight on the hook for $143 million.
And even that wouldn't quite match last year's $180 million end zone renovation by Oklahoma State mega booster T. Boone Pickens in the stadium that bears his name. Overall, Pickens has donated well over $450 million to OSU over the last decade for projects on both the athletic and academic side. But when it comes to sprawling, modernist monstrosities, the ball is now in T. Boone's court.
- - -
Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.