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University of Nike: How Corporate Cash Bought American Higher Education

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The dramatic expose of how the University of Oregon sold its soul to Nike, and what that means for the future of our public institutions and our society.   **A New York Post Best Book of the Year** In the mid-1990s, facing severe cuts to its public funding, the University of Oregon—like so many colleges across the country—was desperate for cash. Luckily, the Oregon Ducks’ 19 The dramatic expose of how the University of Oregon sold its soul to Nike, and what that means for the future of our public institutions and our society.   **A New York Post Best Book of the Year** In the mid-1990s, facing severe cuts to its public funding, the University of Oregon—like so many colleges across the country—was desperate for cash. Luckily, the Oregon Ducks’ 1995 Rose Bowl berth caught the attention of the school’s wealthiest alumnus: Nike founder Phil Knight, who was seeking new marketing angles at the collegiate level. And so the University of Nike was born: Knight has so far donated more than half a billion dollars to the school in exchange for high-visibility branding opportunities. But as journalist Joshua Hunt shows in University of Nike, Oregon has paid dearly for the veneer of financial prosperity and athletic success that has come with this brand partnering. Hunt uncovers efforts to conceal university records, buried sexual assault allegations against university athletes, and cases of corporate overreach into academics and campus life—all revealing a university being run like a business, with America’s favorite “Shoe Dog” calling the shots. Nike money has shaped everything from Pac-10 television deals to the way the game is played, from the landscape of the campus to the type of student the university hopes to attract. More alarming still, Hunt finds other schools taking a page from Oregon’s playbook. Never before have our public institutions for research and higher learning been so thoroughly and openly under the sway of private interests, and never before has the blueprint for funding American higher education been more fraught with ethical, legal, and academic dilemmas. Encompassing more than just sports and the academy, University of Nike is a riveting story of our times.


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The dramatic expose of how the University of Oregon sold its soul to Nike, and what that means for the future of our public institutions and our society.   **A New York Post Best Book of the Year** In the mid-1990s, facing severe cuts to its public funding, the University of Oregon—like so many colleges across the country—was desperate for cash. Luckily, the Oregon Ducks’ 19 The dramatic expose of how the University of Oregon sold its soul to Nike, and what that means for the future of our public institutions and our society.   **A New York Post Best Book of the Year** In the mid-1990s, facing severe cuts to its public funding, the University of Oregon—like so many colleges across the country—was desperate for cash. Luckily, the Oregon Ducks’ 1995 Rose Bowl berth caught the attention of the school’s wealthiest alumnus: Nike founder Phil Knight, who was seeking new marketing angles at the collegiate level. And so the University of Nike was born: Knight has so far donated more than half a billion dollars to the school in exchange for high-visibility branding opportunities. But as journalist Joshua Hunt shows in University of Nike, Oregon has paid dearly for the veneer of financial prosperity and athletic success that has come with this brand partnering. Hunt uncovers efforts to conceal university records, buried sexual assault allegations against university athletes, and cases of corporate overreach into academics and campus life—all revealing a university being run like a business, with America’s favorite “Shoe Dog” calling the shots. Nike money has shaped everything from Pac-10 television deals to the way the game is played, from the landscape of the campus to the type of student the university hopes to attract. More alarming still, Hunt finds other schools taking a page from Oregon’s playbook. Never before have our public institutions for research and higher learning been so thoroughly and openly under the sway of private interests, and never before has the blueprint for funding American higher education been more fraught with ethical, legal, and academic dilemmas. Encompassing more than just sports and the academy, University of Nike is a riveting story of our times.

30 review for University of Nike: How Corporate Cash Bought American Higher Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    “University of Nike” by Joshua Hunt 4/5: I have long had a love-hate relationship with my alma mater, the University of Oregon. I valued the education I received, and some of the professors I encountered, when pursuing my master’s degree there in the 1980s. To this day, I enjoy following several of the UO’s athletic teams, and I’m well aware that their success is attributable in large part to Phil Knight’s generous largesse. But from the perspective of The Register-Guard newsroom where I worked fo “University of Nike” by Joshua Hunt 4/5: I have long had a love-hate relationship with my alma mater, the University of Oregon. I valued the education I received, and some of the professors I encountered, when pursuing my master’s degree there in the 1980s. To this day, I enjoy following several of the UO’s athletic teams, and I’m well aware that their success is attributable in large part to Phil Knight’s generous largesse. But from the perspective of The Register-Guard newsroom where I worked for 30 years, I have long been troubled, and infuriated, and flummoxed, by what I came to regard as the university’s penchant for secrecy, disdain for transparency (and public records law) and general all-around hubris. I was only mildly shocked a few years back when the university aggressively sought to hide rape charges against 3 basketball players (until they could compete in the NCAA tournament). But even I was stunned when officials confiscated the confidential therapy records of the players’ accuser, in hopes of finding leverage against an expected lawsuit. Joshua Hunt’s “University of Nike” helped me to better understand how those outrages were tied to the Nike-backed privatization of this ostensibly public university. Also, how corporate cash has infected universities across the country, and how corporate conflicts could compromise future research at the UO’s Knight Campus for Accelerating Science Impact. I’m aware that Hunt’s book has generated a good deal of backlash, especially around his reporting surrounding Knight’s financial support of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, established by UO President Dave Frohnmayer and wife Lynn on behalf of their 3 daughters, who all had the rare genetic disorder. I’m not sure how to assess those criticisms. I know that Hunt spent 4 years researching this book, that the endnotes documenting his research exceed 40 pages, and that his historical contextualization and connect-the-dots assertions generally ring true to me. Several sloppy typos did concern me, casting some doubt about his larger conclusions. Mostly, I found this book affirming … of my own dismay about the university’s institutional arrogance. I’m glad that some of its shenanigans are getting wider circulation. I invite those who see the UO in a better light to give this book a chance … commit to the first 50 pages, at least … before rendering judgment.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    What happens when a public university is faced with cuts in public funding? The first source to make up those dollars is tuition but that is a limited pool. The next source is alumni and friend but the trouble that too is a limited pool. Finally, the university may turn to foundations and research grants but again it)# difficult to make up continued cuts in public funding from these sources and that leads inevitably to cuts in services to students and faculty and staff layoffs. When this happened What happens when a public university is faced with cuts in public funding? The first source to make up those dollars is tuition but that is a limited pool. The next source is alumni and friend but the trouble that too is a limited pool. Finally, the university may turn to foundations and research grants but again it)# difficult to make up continued cuts in public funding from these sources and that leads inevitably to cuts in services to students and faculty and staff layoffs. When this happened to the University of Oregon in the mid-90s, a unique solution was found. The football team’s success piqued the interest of alum and Nike founder Phil Knight. Seeing the potential for marketing and branding opportunities he offered his beloved university an open checkbook, if it cooperated with the company. It was a marriage made in marketing heaven. It was a devil’s bargain to the tune of upwards of $500 million in donations and the “University of Nike” was born. The cost to the University of Oregon through the years was the coverup of sexual assets, the concealment of corporate records, the over each of the corporation into the academics of the university, interference in the governance of the university, the athletic department essentially being run out of the corporate marketing department of Nike and a general conversion of the university into a model of being run like a business rather than a university. What is perhaps more disturbing is that Oregon was not merely symptomatic of a problem. It became a model of the solution as the influence of corporations over public universities, and increasingly over private research ones as well, is becoming a national phenomenon. More and more university research is being funded by and the terms of which are therefore dictated by corporations, leaving the research rife with conflicts of interest despite the best efforts of some institutions to avoid them. Major college athletics now receive significant amounts of funding from apparel companies, as each of Nike (Oregon), Adidas (Louisville) and Under Armour (Maryland) have their flagship schools to which they not only pay hundreds of millions of dollars but test all types of products and marketing campaigns and branding campaigns. There is now a major investigation underway by the FBI and the US Attorney in New York into Adidas influence in college basketball and the paying of recruits to attend certain schools. Expect the scope to widen to include other companies. This is a valuable book shedding light on what happens when legislatures back away from supporting public higher education. The American public higher education system is one of our nation’s Crown Jewels. It is too important and too valuable to be allowed to be to turned over to corporations to run. I was given a copy of this book by Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Miller

    Having absorbed a lot of this living and consuming media here in Eugene for a couple of decades, it is hardly a bombshell, but it is an excellent telling of what happened to the U of O over that time. A cautionary tale of what has become of state-funded higher education in general and how - slowly but surely - a large, well-respected public institution gets corporatized....and corrupted. Excellent work and a good read. (And it helps if you enjoy college foorball.)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jaylynny

    How to review this book? By the way it was written or by the way it makes me feel? 1) well. 2) fucking pissed. Sigh. I like my adopted city and it's fun to root for the Ducks. But Jesus H Christ this shit is shameful. How to review this book? By the way it was written or by the way it makes me feel? 1) well. 2) fucking pissed. Sigh. I like my adopted city and it's fun to root for the Ducks. But Jesus H Christ this shit is shameful.

  5. 4 out of 5

    K

    This book is a hot mess. It rambles back and forth across decades and subjects, and yet manages to also be dull and repetitive at the same time. It's salacious sometimes and analytical at other times, but with no rhyme or reason to when it's one or the other. And it ranges so far from Nike and its relationship to Oregon Univ. that, at times, it's hard to remember that is the title and the alleged point of the book. Basically, this reads like a bunch of excerpts of a reporter's articles, but arti This book is a hot mess. It rambles back and forth across decades and subjects, and yet manages to also be dull and repetitive at the same time. It's salacious sometimes and analytical at other times, but with no rhyme or reason to when it's one or the other. And it ranges so far from Nike and its relationship to Oregon Univ. that, at times, it's hard to remember that is the title and the alleged point of the book. Basically, this reads like a bunch of excerpts of a reporter's articles, but articles written before he had enough of the facts nor the time to put them in the right order. I'd give it one star, except that it does represent a prodigious amount of research -- though by "research" I mean compiling information from other published material, rather than much of anything that's original. The book starts and ends with the salacious and outrageous: Oregon Univ. athletes credibly accused of rape, and the university trying to protect the athletes, not the victims. The author explains in a foreword that rape allegations drew him (and lots of national media) to the Oregon story. But I think he bookends his book with it in order to try to sell copies. Basically, he's exploiting the women yet another time. After the rape scandal at the opening -- which breaks no new ground since Oregon's and other universities' sports-rape scandals have been covered extensively (and better) for a decade -- the author shifts to why Oregon in particular went to great lengths to protect the football and basketball programs. His answer is that Oregon is so closely tied to the sportswear company Nike that any damage to the university would damage the Nike brand. And with Nike founder Phil Knight's money in use all over campus and dozens of his staffers on site every day, the university has to do what is best for Nike, rather than what's best for its students and faculty, or the institution at large. It's an extraordinary allegation, and the author pretty much makes it stick over the next 220 pages. To support that allegation, the author details the history of Nike and Phil Knight. He gives appropriate attention paid to the underhanded things Knight did to his original Japanese suppliers (and that they did to him) and how the rising competition of the "sneaker wars" led to escalating payments to coaches and college programs. As Nike (and others) became higher-profile companies, they faced scandals in the 1990s, most prominently about exploited workers making Nike shoes. This book goes through that scandal and describes Oregon's defense of Nike as the precipitating event that sent the university's independence down the toilet. While interesting, it should be noted that none of this information is new. We've known for decades that Nike is a ruthless company that cares only about maximizing its sales, without regard to workers or, for that matter, the financially over-extended buyers of its overpriced shoes. The ways that university presidents were enlisted in shoe companies' defense was public knowledge -- in fact, the whole point of the defense was to be public. Where it gets more interesting is when the author shows how Nike's success intersected with a very significant change in how the state of Oregon funds education, especially at the post-high school level. Oregon was, by his telling, the front-runner for cutting back on state aid for higher education. Now, every state is doing it, but the author claims that Oregon was first, and that its cutbacks have been deeper than anywhere else. His numbers indicate that the state's share of funding for its colleges and universities dropped by more than half since the mid-1990s. This decision by the state's citizens and by their lawmakers came before the Great Recession, and the author marks it down to a divide between the rural, poorer eastern part of the state and the wealthy urban elites. He should have explored this more, as it's a much less told story than the sports scandals. With state funding collapsing, Oregon Univ. fell into Phil Knight's arms. Knight began with big donations for sports (he ran track at Oregon, and there was an obvious link between Nike products and college sports in general). Knight also began to provide funds for academic buildings and other services, and his company hired thousands of Oregon graduates. Over time, Knight's influence became so great that he basically had the administration operating at his beck-and-call, and using its credibility as an institution of higher learning to defend and promote Nike. This includes million-dollar-a-year donations to a disease research fund started by the university's president. Those are the biggest scandals in the book, and it's the main point the author is trying to make, even though he has numerous rape detours. The most interesting things in the book for me are the way that the author explains how corporate funding of what are ostensibly research programs at universities has warped the independence of the institutions, and the apparent utter indifference that Oregon lawmakers showed to the takeover of their school. Those should have been explored much more deeply in this book. My favorite little point in the book is a small aside, but one that is well worth remembering. He tells some anecdote about a guy who did a viral posting in the early days of when things went viral that criticized Nike's overseas manufacturing practices. The viral piece (a cartoon?) landed the guy on morning talk shows as if he was an expert on labor rights, which he freely admitted he wasn't. The author's point is that the guy built on years of hard work by activists who investigated child labor in Asia and journalists who wrote about what the activists had learned. This guy just came up with a way of summarizing it that caught people's attention. This is an important reminder that hard work and real journalism do matter, even today (or especially today). It's easy for someone to be funny or snarky after the facts have been documented. The hard part is getting the facts. And with that thought in mind, I'll give this author some credit for trying to document facts, too, though he's a summarizer of facts, not a finder of new ones.

  6. 5 out of 5

    zoereadz

    Review from an avid Ducks fan and UO graduate: I was hesitant to read this one but I’m glad I did! I knew our dear old Uncle Phil was a celebrity around Eugene. I didn’t realize just how much power he wields for the university and beyond. This book dives deep into the start of Nike, scandals, corruption, politics, and corporate dollars that are all tied to Oregon athletics and education. At a broader level, it exposes flaws with corporate funding of the higher education system in America. ... The Review from an avid Ducks fan and UO graduate: I was hesitant to read this one but I’m glad I did! I knew our dear old Uncle Phil was a celebrity around Eugene. I didn’t realize just how much power he wields for the university and beyond. This book dives deep into the start of Nike, scandals, corruption, politics, and corporate dollars that are all tied to Oregon athletics and education. At a broader level, it exposes flaws with corporate funding of the higher education system in America. ... The 2014 basketball scandal (the spark that fueled this book) was enraging and I do not condone what University of Oregon did to cover it up. But, will I be rooting against the Ducks or choose to forgo all my Nike attire anytime soon? ABSOLUTELY NOT. You know what they say- once a duck, always a duck🦆 ...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Darnell

    The first couple chapters are mostly unnecessary biography, but then it moves on to some very strong chapters containing both some solid summaries and some new journalism. Unfortunately, I feel that the structure overall lacked cohesion: it does a good job covering a few scandals but has less to say about higher education overall and doesn't feel like a complete story. I considered a lower rating, but the good parts are quite good. The first couple chapters are mostly unnecessary biography, but then it moves on to some very strong chapters containing both some solid summaries and some new journalism. Unfortunately, I feel that the structure overall lacked cohesion: it does a good job covering a few scandals but has less to say about higher education overall and doesn't feel like a complete story. I considered a lower rating, but the good parts are quite good.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tristan Miller

    The author went on several tangents that mostly had nothing to do with the premise of the book. 40% of this book is actually based off of nike and the university of Oregon while the rest of the book is mostly unnecessary tangents. I learned more about what really goes on behind the curtain at nike and for that thank you

  9. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Spent a little too long on historical events for my taste but an educational read. Lots of food for thought here.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    should be required reading for anyone considering going to college

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Shocking details of the insidious details of the relationship between the University of Oregon & Phil Knight (Nike). Is it so important that college athletics remain supreme to the detriment of a woman’s right to security, privacy and freedom from sexual assault? Great research and reporting so that we learn the truth about the role of a university that has totally compromised its integrity as an academic institution. Residents of Oregon have less access to a higher education, professor’s salari Shocking details of the insidious details of the relationship between the University of Oregon & Phil Knight (Nike). Is it so important that college athletics remain supreme to the detriment of a woman’s right to security, privacy and freedom from sexual assault? Great research and reporting so that we learn the truth about the role of a university that has totally compromised its integrity as an academic institution. Residents of Oregon have less access to a higher education, professor’s salaries have been reduced, student tuitions increase and yet athletes gain privileged status to all possible perks for their tainted performance. This is a must read for everyone who truly values the institutions that educate & provide research opportunities that succeed only by their adherence to standards of excellence as independent entities not as slaves to corporate America. Joshua Hunt deserves the highest praise for his exposure of the Nike behemoth & its cowardly partner in this crime against decency and truth, the University of Oregon. May this book reveal and shame. Deservedly so. “A searing indictment”—INSIDE HIGHER ED “Providing fascinating and alarming insight into how other public universities have emulated similar practices in obtaining endorsement deals and partnerships at the expense of their values, this is for readers of sports journalism and true stories of corporate America.” —BOOKLIST REVIEWS “In this fascinating, candid tale, Hunt exposes Nike’s astonishing transformation of the University of Oregon into a modern American university — in other words, a power center of education, wealth, and college football unlike other institutions of learning across the globe.” —Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent “In this illuminating case study Joshua Hunt connects the dots between endorsement deals and campus sexual assault. University of Nike is a must read for anyone worried about the higher-education industrial complex, which should be all of us.” —Malcolm Harris, author of Kids These Days “A page-turning work of investigative reporting. Much of it details the perfidy of Nike and its founder Phil Knight. But, as the title suggests, this book is also about the damage that America’s tax-cutting mania and contempt for government has done to its public, land-grant universities . . . As Hunt shows, by starving institutions like the University of Oregon of resources, an unholy alliance of right-wingers and market-worshipping neoliberals has pushed colleges into the hands of corporate puppeteers like Nike. You need to read this compelling and disturbing book.” —Samuel G. Freedman, author of Breaking The Line “Through diligent and deep-dive reporting, Hunt reveals how the University of Oregon sold its soul to a corporation. University of Nike is a damning indictment—it should be read by anyone who still believes in the privatization of public institutions. This book is proof that it’s a bad idea when universities become shills for billionaires.” —Dale Maharidge, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning And Their Children After Them “Joshua Hunt has weaved an amazing tale of power, greed and deceit. This should be a textbook for anyone who wants to learn the truth about what’s happening to public universities throughout the country.” —Andy Boyle, author of Adulthood for Beginners SEE LESS

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    The book read like a research thesis, complete with over 40+ pages of work cited. Each chapter focused on a different aspect and history to Nike's takeover of the University of Oregon. This book went in depth, back to the start of public universities and University of Oregon. It chronicled the lack of public funding combined with the arms race in athletics to have the best facilities which lead to corporate investment, and therefore influence, in public universities in general, with a focus on t The book read like a research thesis, complete with over 40+ pages of work cited. Each chapter focused on a different aspect and history to Nike's takeover of the University of Oregon. This book went in depth, back to the start of public universities and University of Oregon. It chronicled the lack of public funding combined with the arms race in athletics to have the best facilities which lead to corporate investment, and therefore influence, in public universities in general, with a focus on the University of Oregon. This book was not a page-turner, but the amount of effort this book must've taken and how well it was executed bumps it up to 4 stars. I appreciate how factual this book was. There was no bias and it didn't seem over-the-top condemning Nike. The author leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions about the key characters in the corporate takeover of public universities-- from presidents, to CEOs, to coaches, to corporations. Takeaways: 1) Corporate investment in public universities are widespread. Looking at athletic deals alone, there is a large amount of money funneled into schools from sources other than the public. 2) The human labor rights movement played a large role in the backlash of Nike 3) Personal benefits can easily be caught up in government affairs (ie in decisions made for the university is not always in the university's best interest, but in the interest of the decision-makers) 4) U of O went to GREAT LENGTHS to cover up athlete misbehavior in order to win-- charging obscene amounts of money for public records, taking confidential therapy notes, betting on victims not having the resolve to appear in court 5) There has been no real repercussion on the University of O (or frankly any other university) for failing to protect their students.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Avid

    What happens when a state votes to de-fund or underfund its public universities? That is what happened at the University of Oregon, beginning in the mid-‘90s. This is a book about the consequences of such short-sightedness and irresponsibility. And it isn’t pretty. Unless you’re an elite athlete who can take advantage of the exclusive state-of-the-art facilities provided by phil knight, and of an administration who will shield you from the consequences of committing rape, DUI, and other felonies What happens when a state votes to de-fund or underfund its public universities? That is what happened at the University of Oregon, beginning in the mid-‘90s. This is a book about the consequences of such short-sightedness and irresponsibility. And it isn’t pretty. Unless you’re an elite athlete who can take advantage of the exclusive state-of-the-art facilities provided by phil knight, and of an administration who will shield you from the consequences of committing rape, DUI, and other felonies, you are PAYING for the priveleged few who can. And the resulting climate on campus puts female students in particular in danger, and encourages a dishonest, weak, and beholden administration to perpetuate the system. Like jon krakauer’s “missoula: rape and the justice system in a college town”(2015), “university of nike” has an important and urgent message for all americans, even the ones who don’t attend their specific subject schools. In this case, it’s that if the public doesn’t support public institutions, corporate america will fill in the gaps, to the exclusive benefit of such corporations’ shareholders; public interest be damned.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ryanspaperadventures

    A damning indictment indeed. Joshua Hunt’s University of Nike has put on display the extent at which Corporate America has bought out public universities. Growing up in Track Town, USA, I learned about the larger than life reality of Phil Knight and his direct impact on Eugene. This book explains how everything I thought Phil Knight has done to our town has come with a steep price, one that we have no control over. The University of Oregon is at a crossroads, one where they have clearly begun to A damning indictment indeed. Joshua Hunt’s University of Nike has put on display the extent at which Corporate America has bought out public universities. Growing up in Track Town, USA, I learned about the larger than life reality of Phil Knight and his direct impact on Eugene. This book explains how everything I thought Phil Knight has done to our town has come with a steep price, one that we have no control over. The University of Oregon is at a crossroads, one where they have clearly begun to favor out-of-state residents over in-state, giving Oregon students fewer and fewer higher education options and opportunities. These are issues that need to be understood and taught throughout the United States’ education system but are going largely ignored, work like this needs to be shared, we need to understand the flaws with today’s higher education system so that we can better work towards a solution. This book opened my eyes, I even learned that friends of mines’ parents were part of a huge cover up scandal, stay informed. I hope this encourages you to read this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    I don't have a dog (or in Phil Knight's case, a Shoe Dog) in the race when it comes to University of Oregon athletics, and I haven't worn Nike in more than 30 years. And it seems like most of the people commenting here are shocked a university gains more publicity from sports championships than academic achievement. Really, folks? I salute Mr. Hunt's diligent and well-intentioned research, though he meanders all over the place and nothing which he reported was news to me. And judging from the Fro I don't have a dog (or in Phil Knight's case, a Shoe Dog) in the race when it comes to University of Oregon athletics, and I haven't worn Nike in more than 30 years. And it seems like most of the people commenting here are shocked a university gains more publicity from sports championships than academic achievement. Really, folks? I salute Mr. Hunt's diligent and well-intentioned research, though he meanders all over the place and nothing which he reported was news to me. And judging from the Frohnmayer family's claims of rampant inaccuracy - especially regarding their children's medical histories - I question what else he may have misrepresented. It's easy to question Mr. Hunt when I'm reading stories about the family confronting him at a book signing. Maybe I just expected something different. Anybody with the slightest interest in college athletics knows about the Nike/Knight/Oregon connection, so I don't see much new ground being broken here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    Amazingly solid book that I highly, highly recommend as a follow-up if you liked Shoe Dog (minus one star for overly lengthy football play descriptions that don't have to do with the core narrative.) What happens when public funding goes away from public education? Companies step in to fill the gap, and the result is corporatized universities that bend their knees to Nike's public relations department. In a thorough investigation, the author covers the relationship between Nike and the University Amazingly solid book that I highly, highly recommend as a follow-up if you liked Shoe Dog (minus one star for overly lengthy football play descriptions that don't have to do with the core narrative.) What happens when public funding goes away from public education? Companies step in to fill the gap, and the result is corporatized universities that bend their knees to Nike's public relations department. In a thorough investigation, the author covers the relationship between Nike and the University of Oregon over the past 50 years. It is both heartbreaking and incense-invoking. No one comes out looking good, and the students come out worst of all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Westman

    A little far reaching at times with assertions but an incredibly solid read for those interested in learning about how college athletics grew wildly out of control in recent era. This focuses more on the external influences of Nike on the University of Oregon, but gives great context of how universities gave way to private contributions in the face of diminishing state appropriations ... and the byproducts of those contributions! A must read for anyone working at a college and especially for tho A little far reaching at times with assertions but an incredibly solid read for those interested in learning about how college athletics grew wildly out of control in recent era. This focuses more on the external influences of Nike on the University of Oregon, but gives great context of how universities gave way to private contributions in the face of diminishing state appropriations ... and the byproducts of those contributions! A must read for anyone working at a college and especially for those working in intercollegiate athletics

  18. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Cain

    When I enrolled at the UO, I knew it had strong ties with Nike. I was astounded at the true extent of those ties. I still attend this university. I learned from this book that my tuition dollars pay for the staff and maintenece of student athlete facilities (the JAQUA) that I am not even permitted to enter as a non athlete. I like the UO as an academic institution, but not as a brand.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sean Spang

    When Lynn Frohnmayer says many of the claims many of the claims in the book about her and her family are objectively false it's hard to have confidence in everything else being true as well. When Lynn Frohnmayer says many of the claims many of the claims in the book about her and her family are objectively false it's hard to have confidence in everything else being true as well.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Jupille

    Hunt narrates the intrusion of private interests into nominally public institutions by placing the relationship between Nike and the University of Oregon at the center of a multitiered mosaic. From the University of Nike, he drills down to the micro level personalities and confluences that made that particular relationship take the form that it did. He also works outward, beyond UO/UN, and even athletics, to the broader incursion of private money and interest into the public university. Short-sig Hunt narrates the intrusion of private interests into nominally public institutions by placing the relationship between Nike and the University of Oregon at the center of a multitiered mosaic. From the University of Nike, he drills down to the micro level personalities and confluences that made that particular relationship take the form that it did. He also works outward, beyond UO/UN, and even athletics, to the broader incursion of private money and interest into the public university. Short-sighted taxpayers ultimately move this history. In Oregon, they passed Ballot Measure 5 in 1990, which pitted K-12 and university funding against each other, with predictable consequences for higher ed. Public funding for U of O plummeted, and relatively well-meaning, though also personally-conflicted university presidents had to get creative. Vampirish Nike founder Phil Knight gladly offers to fill the void, with plenty of strings attached. He is definitely looking out for #1 (himself/Nike) first, and while he has a fan's love for his alma mater, it never expresses itself beyond what's instrumental for Nike's bottom line. And boy, does Nike's bottom line improve over the decades. It all comes off as quite sick. The U of O prostitutes itself for the same reason that sex workers feel they must - in badly straitened circumstances, it needs the money. Uncle Phil is the perfect john. Hunt elaborates a number of nicely done mini-narratives around the key personalities (Phil Knight and U of O President Dave Frohnmayer holding pride of place), and key issues (higher ed funding, big-time college athletics [including facilities, coaches' compensation, apparel companies, sexual assault and criminal impunity], the missions the public university, and others). Rather than trying to weave the mini-narratives continuously, Hunt sets them off from each others in a tiling approach, with a discrete history of, say, the military-university complex during the Cold War followed by a discrete Joey Heisman narrative, followed by the tragic story of Dave Frohnmayer's heart-breaking loss and heroic, though understandably sometimes-blinkered fight against Franconi Anemia. This approach allows Hunt to bring all of the necessary elements to his story forward, and I didn't have any particular trouble tying the elements together, but it felt only about 92% successful as writing, to me. Hunt gets a strong A-, but a more truly gifted writer could have spun these great materials together more successfully, IMO. Where does this story leave us? Well, unless we rediscover and re-energize our notion of the public (with respect to universities, but also beyond), we are well and truly fucked. Doing stuff like teaching and conducting research costs money, and those providing the money will drive the train. All other things being equal, the broader the base of financial support, the more general the purposes that will be served. And the converse is also true - the narrower the base from which the money is drawn, the narrower the set of interests served. For the life of me, I cannot understand why people cannot see that taxes enacted through democratic means are not tyranny, but provide the only reliable source of funding for the public goods which, by definition, benefit everyone. But I have little hope that, in today's informational environment, the people who need to return to this view will ever do so. And they and their children, more than those of us who are already there cognitively, who are struggling to stem the tide, but are also privileged to be be able to navigate this new world, are ultimately the ones who will pay most of the price.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ida

    This book is great and helps make sense of our current hyper competitive college admissions process now. I have two kids in the school district in oregon and Nike is located ten minutes from portland. All of my daughters friends want to go to out of state schools, and liberal elite parents are constantly trying to jockey children into "better schools" and seeing what happens to the kids who wear the gear but don't have funded schools because nike won't pay taxes in oregon is heart breaking. This This book is great and helps make sense of our current hyper competitive college admissions process now. I have two kids in the school district in oregon and Nike is located ten minutes from portland. All of my daughters friends want to go to out of state schools, and liberal elite parents are constantly trying to jockey children into "better schools" and seeing what happens to the kids who wear the gear but don't have funded schools because nike won't pay taxes in oregon is heart breaking. This corporation has so much power in oregon and does not use to in any way that benefits anything not nike. They fund Beaverton schools and send a representative to sit on the portland school board to hear the pleas for reasonable tax policy. There are Portland schools with zero electives because nike doesn't pay their share of taxes. This corporation has taken all of our ideals as humans offshore and sold them back to us as dreams instead of taking care of the people who work and support the business. It has made for a competitive portland (with no nike funding beyond shoes) and to know that they have also shaped the higher education goals in the state makes sense. It is a propaganda machine and it has changed how we all view about living in a society. We need each other and personal fitness goals are not helping our society take care of those unable to afford nikes.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rajiv Bais

    Joshua Hunt does a good job of summarizing and historically analyzing how the public defunding and corporal influencing and financing of universities have led to agendas that benefit the corporations end, tragically, ruin the financial and personal lives of students. To benefit Nike and other corporations, universities such as Oregon have appeased them at the expense of financially deprived students and sexual assault victims. Worst of all, Oregon and similar universities have practically elimina Joshua Hunt does a good job of summarizing and historically analyzing how the public defunding and corporal influencing and financing of universities have led to agendas that benefit the corporations end, tragically, ruin the financial and personal lives of students. To benefit Nike and other corporations, universities such as Oregon have appeased them at the expense of financially deprived students and sexual assault victims. Worst of all, Oregon and similar universities have practically eliminated the importance of academics to benefit members of athletics at a point to where state government officials have to investigate payments that are not related to athletic administrators’ contracts. So many college sports advocates still fall for the pageantry when it is they, fans or students, who have to bear the brunt for the universities who choose to glamorize sports over academics. I am now greatly convinced that those who actually like to read the Phil Knight book “Shoe Dog” maybe the most morally bankrupt and disappointingly gullible people on the planet. I got his book at an extreme discount via Audible. Now I am not sure if I want to take any insights for motivation let alone read it at all thanks to Joshua Hunt’s book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David

    As the young people would say, he who pays the piper calls the tune. very deep dive into the relationship between Phil Knight, Nike, and U. of Oregon as an illustration of this point. Selling your soul and covering up sexual assaults by athletes in order to have $ for nice new athletic facilities and a winning football team to attract more out-of-state full-tuition-paying students seems a dubious bargain. some side trips to address other instances of higher ed selling out [e.g., influence of big As the young people would say, he who pays the piper calls the tune. very deep dive into the relationship between Phil Knight, Nike, and U. of Oregon as an illustration of this point. Selling your soul and covering up sexual assaults by athletes in order to have $ for nice new athletic facilities and a winning football team to attract more out-of-state full-tuition-paying students seems a dubious bargain. some side trips to address other instances of higher ed selling out [e.g., influence of big pharma and of US military priorities on research], but mostly about U of O. might actually have been better to stick entirely to that case, as the others are not handled in enough depth to be convincing or to clarify the situations if reader not already familiar.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brinda Gurumoorthy

    I enjoyed this book. It was a bit all over the place at times because it was attempting to tie several issues together in one narrative (from labor rights violations to sexual assault investigations and everything in between), but nonetheless presented a powerful illustration of how public universities, in their desperation for funds, are vulnerable to corruption. I already held this opinion, but wow I hate these corporate "partnerships" where the corporation has the ultimate power. I wasn't awa I enjoyed this book. It was a bit all over the place at times because it was attempting to tie several issues together in one narrative (from labor rights violations to sexual assault investigations and everything in between), but nonetheless presented a powerful illustration of how public universities, in their desperation for funds, are vulnerable to corruption. I already held this opinion, but wow I hate these corporate "partnerships" where the corporation has the ultimate power. I wasn't aware of how much of an industry college football has become but I guess it's not surprising.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Al

    A damning profile of an elite and prosperous athletic program. I appreciated the links the author made from the corporate overhaul of university athletics to the corporate influence on K-12 education and insidious government corruption of academic research. Hunt sees and explains clearly the links between the flood of unchecked corporate dollars and rape culture. Chilling and disturbing, it makes me see my hometown, Eugene, Oregon, in a new light.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A compelling story, well-told and well-researched. It raises many questions, not only about the particular institution it describes, but about the role of private companies in public education -- and it is hopefully a cautionary tale and not the shape of things to come!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike Stolfi

    Would a private entity of long standing questionable labor practices be able to own a university in all but name if our tax dollars went to supporting the country at large? Well no, but here we are. . .

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    I wish more Oregonians would read this book. It makes me sad that, while people know Phil Knight has bought the university, many don’t really care, because he’s bought us winning teams and publicity. Hunt has done a great job of detailing the tremendous cost to the public.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Perry

    Examines the disturbing trend of private interests into public education with an emphasis on how Nike basically owns the University of Oregon. Do people really not want their tax dollars to support education?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    A dishonest story in which the company giving charity to an overspending governmental institution is bad, and the bureaucrats that do the overspending are quietly painted over, they have never existed.

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