Oregon editorial on Phil Knight’s “retirement”


Phil Knight’s announcement last week that he plans to relinquish his role as Nike chairman and move most of his company stock into a limited liability company was not surprising. He’s 77 and has focused increased attention in recent years on non-corporate matters, including University of Oregon sports and the Knight Cancer Institute. A little succession planning makes sense.

Knight and Nike have endured their share of controversy over the years – from scrutiny of labor practices at overseas factories to the current investigation into the company’s sponsorship deal with the Brazilian national soccer team. Knight also has been intensely private. And at times, he has flexed political muscle. How many people can convince a governor to call a special session just to address an issue – in this case tax rules – affecting his company?

But there should be no question that over the past 50-plus years Knight and his companies (Nike started as Blue Ribbon Sports) have been an overwhelmingly positive influence on Oregon. Nike has grown to be by far the largest Oregon-based business, has helped attract many other companies to Oregon, has donated millions to charity and has become an integral part of the state’s image. …

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8 Responses to Oregon editorial on Phil Knight’s “retirement”

  1. tweetie says:

    Well, since walking on water has been done to death, maybe in “retirement” he’s going to put his hand to rounding up the unicorns for bargaining … ?

  2. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    By and large, his company, and the ongoing globalization of the economy, have been a great force for good, in my opinion. Not everyone will agree.

    I wish him well. I hope that for the good of everyone — Phil and Penny Knight, the UofO, the state of Oregon — that the parties involved come to a mutual feeling that is beneficient to all. ’nuff said.

  3. that effing Canis again says:

    HUB writes

    ” ongoing globalization of the economy, have been a great force for good,”

    a) define “good”

    b) yes in a value system in which GDP growth is the number one goal, this is quite a correct statement.

    c) the latest data indicate that the combined wealth of the world’s 3 billion poorest people is equal to the worlds richest 300.

    3 billion = 300

    Nothing “good” about that. Some imbalance, of course is expected, but everything in the global economy these days is quite extreme. Not sure how many decades we have left of this “good” (ask Greek citizens).

    However, this is well outside the range of discussed topics on UOM so I will shut up.

  4. awesome0 says:

    Trade is generally good. Personally I think more people in poor countries starve to death without companies like Nike.

    Hope he sees the University of Oregon as contributing to the greater good beyond sports.

  5. Pinto says:

    Does anybody know of a good business biography of Phil Knight? Has one ever been done? Not the kind of business rag lionization you see all the time about tycoons, but a serious and sober treatment?

    Taking Knight seriously is warranted, because his influence in Oregon is so outsized. For example, a psychohistorical approach might investigate why he appears to enjoy sticking it to the UO faculty.

    Is that even fair to assume? There is much to wonder about him, in part because his rags-to-riches story is the dominant narrative in the state. But I can’t help believe there is a Phil Knight that thinks deep thoughts.

    Was he a good student? Was there more on his horizon than track and field, running shoes, and the culture of competitive sport? Did he have professors that fired his imagination and intellect?

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      I think you raise some interesting questions, especially what kind of student he was.

      Perhaps a psychohistorical approach might also investigate why the UO faculty seem to enjoy it sticking it to Phil and Penny, to said faculty’s apparent detriment.

      A friend of mine asked me “Does UO have a death wish?” sometime between the Phil Knight fiasco and the later troubles post-Frohnmayer. I’ve often asked myself if my friend was on to something.

    • zach says:

      Here are two interesting Nike related items- “Triumph of the Swoosh” is a interesting item I cannot remember who wrote it and the other is a rather wonky book titled ” Who’s Afraid of NikeTown ? “

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