City Club of Portland’s Friday Forum asks “Are Big-Time College Sports Worth It?”

The Hatfield-Dowlin Complex on the University of Oregon’s athletic campus continues to fascinate me. I’m not outraged by it anymore than I can celebrate it. It’s a building, and it sits there as though Phil Knight himself had turned to the architects and said, “Architects! Bring forth a metaphor.”

$95 million for the building. Leaves for the trees cost extra.
$95 million for the building. Leaves for the trees cost extra.

Hatfield-Dowlin is 145,000 square feet of fine line between football ops and black ops and since it opened in the summer of 2013 it’s most often been tagged as costing $68 million dollars. Then the tagger winks and nods and everyone has a good rich laugh because there’s no freakin’ way it cost $68 million.

Well, the University of Oregon’s own accounting of the 2014 fiscal year in athletics includes a note about the one-time non-cash gift of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. It’s pegged at $95,019,651. I like to chalk the difference up to the Turkish urinals, because it’d be AMAZING to spend $27 million on urinals. Imported urinals. From Turkey.

I mention this now, on the cusp of the NCAA basketball tournament, because I stumbled upon the $95 million while doing research for an event I’ll be moderating Friday. It’s hosted by the City Club of Portland and the topic is current events: Are big-time college sports worth it?

You’ve probably enjoyed John Oliver’s thoughts.

The Friday Forum begins at 12:15 on Friday. All the details you need are here. The panel is great and I’m looking forward to staying out of their way and learning something.

Dr. William Harbaugh is a Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon, where he has taught for 20 years. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin with master’s and doctoral degrees from Montana State, Bill was a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1998 through 2009 and has published dozens of articles and papers. He co-founded UO’s Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL), which “enrolls bright kids from low SES backgrounds, gives them a taste of college, and teaches them a little economics, neuroscience, and physics too.”

Jordan Kent is studio host and analyst for Comcast Sportsnet NW and founder of the Jordan Kent Skill Camps for boys and girls, which stresses character as well as sports. He was the first student to compete on the varsity level in three sports in the University of Oregon’s recorded history — and yet twice achieved Pac-10 All-Academic status. Though he played no organized football until his junior year in college, Kent was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and played briefly for the Seahawks and St. Louis Rams before an injury cut his pro career short.

Dr. Michael Oriard played football at Notre Dame and for the Kansas City Chiefs and is retired after 37 years at Oregon State University, where he was Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture and Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts.  He is the author of seven books, including a football memoir, The End of Autumn, and four volumes on the cultural history of American football, and in addition to his academic publications has written about football for the New York Times, Washington Post,Village Voice, Sports Illustrated, Slate, and Deadspin.


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