China compels Uighurs to work in shoe factory that supplies Nike

That’s the headline of this Washington Post article:

LAIXI, China — The workers in standard-issue blue jackets stitch and glue and press together about 8 million pairs of Nikes each year at Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co., a Nike supplier for more than 30 years and one of the American brand’s largest factories.

They churn out pair after pair of Shox, with their springy shock absorbers in the heels, and the signature Air Max, plus seven other lines of sports shoes.

But hundreds of these workers did not choose to be here: They are ethnic Uighurs from China’s western Xinjiang region, sent here by local authorities in groups of 50 to toil far from home. …

The Taekwang factory is one of many where Uighurs are working “under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor” to make goods for more than 80 established global brands, according to a forthcoming report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Canberra-based think tank.

U of Nike author Joshua Hunt to speak at U of O, Tu April 9th 5:30

For some reason I can’t find this on the Around the O calendar of upcoming events, but there are plenty of posters up around campus:

Josh Hunt, author of the University of Nike, will be speaking the evening of Tuesday, April 9 at 5:30 in 100 Willamette Hall. (map)

Come hear Joshua Hunt, author of the University of Nike – the dramatic exposé of UO’s relationship with Nike, and what it means for the future of our public institutions and society.

Josh Hunt: “I thought I was writing a book about what has gone on at the University of Oregon in the past two and a half decades. It turned out I was writing a book about a phenomenon that’s taking place now at a number of public universities across the country.”

University of Nike podcast

From Daniel Libit’s excellent college sports muckraking blog,


By Daniel Libit

For 45 years, college basketball featured two famous arenas dubbed, “The Pit,” one in Albuquerque, the other in Eugene, Oregon.

In 2010, the University of New Mexico renovated its version of The Pit, University Arena, plowing $60 million into the home of Lobo basketball, thanks largely to the generosity of state taxpayers. Lobo fans were duly proud. The next year, the University of Oregon ditched its version of “The Pit”, MacArthur Court, and moved into the brand-new, quarter-billion-dollar Matthew Knight Arena, built thanks to the largesse of its namesake’s father, Nike founder Phil Knight. That’s the difference between the haves and have-nots in Division I college sports.

Over the course of the last 25 years, Knight has given (if that’s the right word) nearly a billion dollars to Oregon, his alma mater, with nearly half of that going to athletic department construction projects. Because of him, the Ducks have been transformed from a middling Pac 10 (now 12) athletic department into the intercollegiate envy of the nation. (That photo above is of Oregon football’s $138 million Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, completed in 2013 and named for Knight’s mother and mother-in-law.)

9781612196916And yet, to read Joshua Hunt’s eye-opening new book, University of Nike: How Corporate Cash Bought American Higher Education, one finds strange commonalities between the plights of a have-not like UNM and a have like UO — and theirs are indeed both plights. Knight’s money hasn’t stopped Oregon from raising student fees to pay for athletics; it hasn’t freed its school presidents from obsessing over the fate of football and men’s basketball; and it certainly hasn’t made for a better or more sensibly administered university. Quite the contrary, as Hunt describes.

In the latest episode of The NMFishbowl Podcast, Hunt and I talk about how the pursuit of college sports tends to vitiate public universities, regardless of how much or little private money is brought to bear. You can listen to our conversation by clicking below (or download it on iTunes here):

Among other things, Hunt addresses the pushback he’s received from the family of former Oregon President David Frohnmayer; the galling obstructionism undertaken by UO’s media relations staff; and his arduous journey in trying to obtain public records from a university.

Here are some additional reading materials and useful links…

Are Josh Hunt’s claims about Knight and the Frohnmayer’s FARF false?

11/5/2018 second update:

Lynn Frohnmayer: ‘University of Nike’ exploits my family’s tragedy to support a false narrative:

To be clear, I think Frohnmayer was wrong to have UO join the WRC and I sent Knight a letter saying that at the time. To paraphrase Karl Marx, it’s capitalism and people like Phil Knight who have saved most of mankind from “the idiocy of rural life”, not knee-jerk liberal professors and their privileged students.

But here’s what I can document. In Saturday’s RG, Lynn Frohnmayer denies any link between the WRC fiasco and Knight’s Fanconi donations:

I am profoundly dismayed about the book “University of Nike” by Joshua Hunt, which was the subject of a column published Oct. 26 by The Register-Guard.

The book purports to be a deep-dive “investigation” into how corporate dollars have “bought American higher education,” but the truth is that it exploits my family’s tragedies in support of a sensational and patently false narrative.

I might ignore a writer’s careless disregard for the facts, but this book distresses me so deeply that I cannot overlook its glaring inaccuracies and shoddy reporting, at least as they pertain to my family and Phil Knight. …

Phil Knight, Nike’s founder and our family friend, first contributed to the fund in 1994. … Hunt has twisted Knight’s generosity into a work of fiction. It is well-documented that in April 2000, when UO joined the Workers’ Rights Consortium — an organization that criticized working conditions at Nike’s overseas factories — Knight halted planned gifts to UO. … This narrative could not be farther from the truth.

On Dec. 22, 2000, just eight months after UO joined the WRC, Knight wrote a check to FARF for one million dollars. On Dec. 18, 2001, he wrote a second million-dollar check to FARF. The Knights’ support of Fanconi anemia research was never affected by the WRC controversy.

The above seems at odds with what the FARF told the IRS in 2001, in several respects:

From what I can decipher, the FARF’s accountant had misclassified the $2M 1999 donation on their IRS filing and someone dropped a dime on them, perhaps because the IRS gives whistleblowers a cut.

This letter is pretty clearly about Knight’s donations. Ms Frohnmayer says in the RG that “Phil Knight, Nike’s founder and our family friend, first contributed to the fund in 1994.” But the FARF told the IRS in 2001 that “The Contributor has made no other donations.”

For that matter, even the donations and timing she reports in the RG are entirely consistent with Hunt’s argument and the timing of former UO General Counsel Melinda Grier’s successful Fall 2000 efforts to find Dave Frohnmayer an escape from his ill-considered move to join the WRC.

The above is page 15 in For those interested in checking dates and dollars, more FARF IRS 990’s, scraped from the web, are here:

10/24/2018 update: 

While Johnson Hall and its PR flacks have decided to bury their heads in the sand about this book, the Frohnmayer family is not afraid to publicly dispute some of Josh Hunt’s claims. Matthew Kish has the report in the Portland Business Journal here.

10/22/2018 updates:

OPR’s Think Out Loud has an interesting interview with author Josh Hunt here. I suggest getting to Josh Hunt’s 7PM Tu talk at Tsunami Books early, before the lawyers steal all the good seats.

You can buy the Kindle version of The University of Nike from Amazon now. Notable excerpts and your thoughts are welcome in the comments on this post. Please use a screen name.

Despite the claims of the Duck PR machine, this book is very relevant to UO’s future, and this Wed and Th should be interesting down at the faculty club.

Big-time Duck sports brings more shame to UO, talk Tuesday at 7PM

10/22/2018 updates:

OPR’s Think Out Loud has an interview with Hunt here.

I suggest getting to Josh Hunt’s Tsunami talk early, before the lawyers steal all the good seats.  You can get the Kindle version of The University of Nike Tuesday as well. Some more links:

The NY Times:

Persuade someone to read “University of Nike” in 50 words or less:

More than ever, it’s really important for Americans to closely examine the costs of abandoning public institutions and hand them over to corporate interests to save a few dollars on our tax bills. This is a case study of what happens when we do that. Spoiler alert: It ends badly.

The Oregonian:

When the University of Oregon joined an upstart labor-rights group in 2000, the decision so upset Nike chairman Phil Knight that he publicly rescinded his personal $30 million pledge to expand the school’s football stadium.

Now, 18 years later, new allegations suggest that Knight made an even more aggressive play behind the scenes: threatening to withhold philanthropic support that could help keep alive the youngest daughter of the University of Oregon’s then-president, Dave Frohnmayer.

Inside Higher Ed:

… A university spokeswoman on Friday shared the university’s written response to the article:

“The University of Oregon is the birthplace of Nike, and we are extremely grateful to both Nike as a company and to Phil and Penny Knight individually for their generous support of this university over many decades, as well as their support of other academic institutions and vital causes in Oregon and beyond. The Knights care deeply about education, health care, sports and so much more, and they are unquestionably the most generous philanthropists in our state’s ­­history. Their support for both academic and athletic programs at University of Oregon comes without strings attached and has transformed this campus in profoundly positive ways. The state of Oregon, our citizenry and this institution are all better for it.

“Given our focus on the university’s future, we will not engage in debate over Mr. Hunt’s book, which largely speculates about and rehashes historical events that have been covered elsewhere.”

My opinion is that whether or not “The state of Oregon, our citizenry and this institution are all better for it.” is an open question, which Mr. Hunt’s book asks, and which the university shouldn’t shrink from addressing.

Duck VP and PR flack Kyle Henley’s statement that “Their support for both academic and athletic programs at University of Oregon comes without strings attached” is bullshit, as Henley knows.

And finally, in the Oregonian, Lynn Frohnmayer disputes Hunt’s report that Phil Knight threatened to withhold donations to the Fanconi Anemia foundation.

10/18/2018: University of Nike author to give talk at Tsunami books, Tu 7-9PM

Joshua Hunt has apparently spent more time combing through the UO archives than I have, and he’s conducted some very revealing interviews with the key players.

His Tsunami talk announcement is here. The Eugene Weekly’s Bob Keefer has an interview with Hunt here:

“There is a chapter that describes some potentially illegal practices — certainly bad faith practices, dishonest practices — by the public records department at the University of Oregon,” Hunt says of his book.

He’s talking about the university’s handling of the rape accusations against the basketball players. Lawyers for The New York Times argued in legal papers that the UO had, as he writes in the book, “demonstrated a willingness to ‘use privacy as both a sword and a shield’ in order to prevent public scrutiny of its handling of sexual assault on campus.”

And thanks to a reader for this link to an extended abstract in the Pacific Standard, here. The intro:

In the mid-1990s, University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer needed money to save his school. Alum and Nike chief executive Phil Knight was happy to help—as long as the university could be managed in a way that would maximize the company’s brand and profits. But when Frohnmayer made a key misstep, Knight exacted a brutal punishment. …

University of Nike switches sides, again.

11/10/13, 10:31 PM update: The Wall Street Journal reports that the “fictitious” University Of Nike has moved to Alabama. Ouch. Still no denial from U of Nike spokesperson Jeff Hawkins. Buy on the rumor, sell on the news. T-shirts here.

11/10/2013, 12:31 PM: The Ducks lose a game, and our fickle chief benefactor decides that Alabama is the University of Nike, not Oregon? Try the link:

Just a month or so ago Knight gave OHSU $500M, requiring they first raise another $500M from other donors. Which means every wealthy Oregonian is thinking about giving to OHSU, not to UO’s new capital campaign. The Oregon Daily Emerald has more on Bama, here:

University of Nike logo contest

9/13/2013: See below for rules and the Supreme Court ruling on parody. Email your entry to

Entry #4:


Entry #2:

Entry #1:

Soon to be valuable collectors item – the Original U of Nike cup:

U of Nike coffee cup sales are lagging, probably because they are so damn ugly. I’m opening a contest for a logo. Winner gets a free cup with your design, and absolute anonymity. In order to “promote and encourage excellence and innovation” and in keeping with UO Article 51, all submissions become the intellectual property of the University of Nike, dot com.

Email your hi-resolution jpg or similar to Contest closes when we’re out of scotch.

Need some inspiration? A helpful UO law alum points readers to UO’s 165 page style manual. (Did UO really pay $300,000 for the Melior font?) Page 87 is below. At UO these are only for use by the Athletics Department. But here at the U of Nike we’re responsible to a higher authority:

The Supreme Court has unequivocally held that a parody may qualify as fair use
under § 107. According to the Court, a parody is the “use of some elements of a
prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on
that author’s works.” Id. at 580. Like other forms of comment or criticism,
parody can provide social benefit, “by shedding light on an earlier work, and, in
the process, creating a new one.”

So, have at it:

Rudnick outbursts bring hits, t-shirt sales, laughter

8/30/2013: Thanks for all the U of Nike t-shirt purchases and google ad revenue:

I’ve almost got enough money to pay Dave Hubin’s public records office the $225.56 they want to provide info on the authors of the admin bargaining team’s harassing “open letter to Professor Harbaugh”. Please help out. Buy a U of Nike t-shirt, or make a direct contribution to the UO Matters Public Records and Lagavullin Fund, here:

Donate $5 to pay Dave Hubin’s public records fees

All contributions over $50 receive a framed copy of VPFA Jamie Moffitt’s budget projections:

Just Sell University to Nike

8/28/2013: A modest proposal from the RG letters. You know, President Gottfredson must have received hundreds of letters and emails from parents, students, and alumni about the new football Sweat Shop. Some enterprising reporter ought to ask Dave Hubin for copies, and for the responses.

Just sell university to Nike

Since the University of Oregon will soon have its own governing board, I suggest that it sell the university to Nike, which could do away with all those pesky faculty and academic departments and just retain the Athletic Department. 

Any remaining students could take classes online, or if they wanted a hard-copy professor they could go to Oregon State University. The buildings could be converted to sweatshops, and any students who can’t get a job could work there. Nike would have to upgrade the deteriorating buildings to meet OSHA standards. 

Or if any highly rated 18-year-old behemoth is not impressed enough by the Athletic Performance Center to play at the UO, he could get his own building. 


Nesbitt on U of Nike, Knight on Penn State

8/20/2013: This man gets a t-shirt! Fortunately it looks like Kitzhaber responded to Knight by appointing a pretty reasonable UO Board. From today’s Op-Ed in the Oregonian:

… When we deal with public funds, we debate trade-offs and opportunity costs. But we tend to ignore these issues when we deal with private money. Still, the trade-offs are there, if not in dollars, then in time, attention and image. For every national headline, every discussion at the legislature and every student tour on campus that focuses on the new football palace, we highlight the entertainment aspect of our university rather than its education and research. 

The appointment of new university boards is timely. We shouldn’t give up on pursuing private support for our public universities. But we should expect community leaders who serve on these boards to place academics above entertainment. Oh, and if there’s any renaming to be done at the UO, we should open the bidding at $7 billion. 

Tim Nesbitt writes on public affairs, has served as an adviser to Govs. Ted Kulongoski and John Kitzhaber, and is past president of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

And here’s Phil Knight’s speech to the Penn State boosters on Joe Paterno, whom he called their “real trustee.”

        <a href=";src=v5:embed::" target="_new" title="Nike's Knight rips PSU Trustees">Video: Nike&#8217;s Knight rips PSU Trustees</a>

Shoes too! We are the University of Nike, dot com.

8/18/2013: U of Nike shoes now available from Nike. Click here to order yours before the lawyers find out!

8/9/2013: U of Nike T-shirts now available! Click here to order from CafePress. $4 from each shirt goes to help UO Matters pay UO’s exorbitant public records fees, and maybe buy me a wee dram or two. Now also in Kelly green, by popular demand. Order one of each before Nike’s lawyers shut this down.

8/8/2013 Sweat Shop update: Some commenter – obviously not an economist – suggests I get the University of Nike t-shirts made in China. This is probably a reference to the 2000 Worker’s Rights Consortium fiasco, where UO President Dave Frohnmayer signed UO up with the WRC, which was fighting what they claimed was Nike’s use of “sweat shop labor” in countries like China. Phil Knight famously said Frohnmayer had “shredded the bonds of trust” with him, and he hasn’t given a dime to UO’s academic side since.

Well, the sad truth is that I can’t afford to get these U of Nike shirts made in China. Their economy has been booming ever since they started inviting foreign investments from “sweat shop” companies like Nike. Chinese wages are now so high that I’d have no profits left over to pay President Gottfredson for public records! Here’s some recent data:

The comparator is India, which until recently pursued an idiotic Ghandian policy of economic self reliance. Their people paid the price: still making t-shirts for $1500 a year, while plenty of Chinese are now rich enough to send their kids to the University of Nike for an education. Often in economics.

Hmm, maybe Uncle Phil is smarter, and not quite as evil, as some people think?

8/8/2013 updates: Ian Campbell of the Oregon Daily Emerald has a great piece on the true cost to UO students of the University of Nike’s boring blow-out wins:

The average college student only gets a total of 132 days — Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays — per year to party, which means wasting some of that time watching the Ducks beat Arizona by 49 doesn’t become a high priority after the third quarter ….

This may explain Oregon’s disappointing #20 finish in the prestigious Princeton Review rankings. Although for a more serious take on the connection between big-time college football wins and college grades, read this article by some U of Nike economists.

8/7/2013 update: CSN is now reporting the Sweat Shop cost $138M. UO’s Risk Management Office probably has an exact number, since it must be on our insurance policy by now. Say, I wonder if VPFA Jamie Moffitt is going to make Rob Mullens pay any of the premiums for it? And spokesjock Craig Pintens is not backing off the “We are the U of Nike” statement.

8/6/2013 update: The University of Nike needs a motto for the t-shirts and coffee cups. In Latin, of course. Any suggestions? If you need inspiration, watch the Register Guard’s video below. Thanks to an anon commenter for the link, and to football coach Matt Helfrich for this quote:

“Incredible function the other night, there were about 20 boosters, myself included, crying over the personal nature of, whatever it was”.

 Smells like #2 from here, Coach:

8/6/2013 update: UO finally lets local reporters see inside the new football Sweat Shop. Diane Dietz of the RG takes it as an opportunity to write about UO’s decrepit classrooms, and RG Columnist Bob Welch says:

“And if this is also about coddling athletes — and let’s be honest, it is — then what happens when these young men head out into a world that’s real, not fantasy?

Besides concussion induced brain damage and the chance to try and sue the NCAA to get the rights to their name back, you mean? No wonder Mullens gave SI a week’s lead for their fluff. The letters to the editors attacking this waste of tax-deductible money are also good.

U of Nike’s Jeff Hawkins: 
“… we’re all in this together.” 
Except for the money of course, 
that’s just for the AD and the coaches.
Typical UO classroom in PLC, no AC.
Formica table, to remind students to study hard so they don’t end up living in a trailer while they repay their loans. Chairs were carefully selected to show off the last 120 years of seating technology. Floor is of vintage linoleum, with tastefully exposed rough asbestos edges, and a few missing pieces to represent the required courses that UO doesn’t have room to teach this quarter.

Meanwhile, Gottfredson still hasn’t appointed a committee to implement the May Senate resolution for ending athletic subsidies and getting the jocks to contribute to the academic side. How about taxing these excessive donations to the jocks, and using the money for UO’s academic mission? Unlikely, Kitzhaber is still trying to figure out just how many jock-sniffers to appoint to the UO Board.

8/5/2013: Professor Hawkins wasn’t kidding. Type “” into your browser and see where it takes you. That .com really hurts. Couldn’t we have at least kept the .edu extension? Still no retraction from Hawkins and Mullens, and no comment at all from President Gottfredson.

8/2/2013: Rob Mullens in the NY Times, on the new UO football “Sweat Shop”, as it’s being called around campus:

“People will complain, but this is not excessive,” said Rob Mullens, the university’s athletic director.

Of course it’s not excessive, you deserve it all Rob. We just want you to stop spending tuition money on jock stuff. But our efforts to name this building have come to naught. Instead, the athletic department has decided to rename the entire university:

“We are the University of Nike,” said Jeff Hawkins, the senior associate athletic director of football administration and operations. “We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits.”

Just the sort of publicity that will encourage parents to entrust their kids, and $45K a year, to UO. And it turns out Mr. Hawkins is on the payroll for a $29,500 performance bonus, as faculty. Hmm:

I’m guessing Professor Hawkins will soon issue a heartfelt apology regretting how his remarks were misinterpreted, along the lines of the one UO spokesperson Dave Williford had to make regarding his comments to the NYT back in December 2011. To be followed by another bonus from Dean Rob Mullens.

7/31/2013: Back in 2010 the NY Times reported that the UO students were calling the Jaqua athlete-only tutoring center the “Jock Box”.

OK, maybe that was because I made up the name and then told the reporter that’s what everyone on campus was calling it. The point is that it stuck, and you can see Mullens and the JH admins wince every time they hear it. So, anyone got a good sobriquet for Knight’s latest gift?

There’s the coach’s sous-chef: UO job posting at 

And some more background on this lovely gift, from 11/22/2010:

Oregonian headline: “State board approves Phil Knight-University of Oregon request after Richard Lariviere warns of ‘profound’ consequences”

Ron Bellamy of the RG offers a milquetoast recap of a story reported by Bill Graves and Rachel Bachman in the Oregonian back in June: Phil Knight is building more athletic facilities for UO. As in the past, these tax-deductible gifts will cost taxpayers a bundle. They also require UO to pay for all sorts of silly things – like a “football museum curator” as a condition of the gift. I wonder if the academic side is going to pay that too, like we do the $2 million a year Jock Box operations? Read Bachman for details on how Phil Knight’s consigliere Howard Slusher made Lariviere an offer he couldn’t refuse.

8/3/2013: I’ve got to start the voting for top 5 names soon to get this on the Senate agenda for the next meeting, so comments close Monday. And we could use ideas for the youtube video. Our casting director is searching for the “Go Ducks Nutsack Man”, since he’s already got the sweaty jock-strap. Any recent sightings?