Phil Knight revealed, cards banned on Memphis Grizzlies team planes
Nike founder and Oregon booster Phil Knight has managed to stay out of the spotlight while helping his alma mater rise to the top.
January 7th, 2011
07:03 PM ET Phil Knight revealed, cards banned on Memphis Grizzlies team planes

He co-founded Nike and ranks as the 23rd-richest person in the U.S., but in sporting circles, Phil Knight is better known as the most powerful booster in America.

While there’s been much discussion this season about whether Cam Newton received money to attend Auburn, there’s been little scuttlebutt about the source of the money being funneled into the program of the Tigers’ national championship opponent, the Oregon Ducks.’s Michael Rosenberg pulls back the curtain and provides a glimpse into the mysterious life and influence of the Oregon athletic program’s top duck.

Knight graduated from Oregon in 1962, but his presence on the Eugene campus is felt much greater than ever. Since creating one of the most powerful brands in the world and becoming a billionaire many times over, Knight has made it his personal mission raise his alma mater into national stardom, one check at a time.

In total, Knight is estimated to have given $300 million to the Ducks’ athletic program.'s Rosenberg hints that it may be even more and provides detail into the super-booster’s generous donations. Over the years, Knight has given his school state-of-the art facilities, a seemingly unlimited jersey budget and the bankroll to impress high school players who have helped transform the school once known for its track program into a national college football powerhouse and BCS contender.

In turn, Knight has been compensated quite nicely. The booster can sit in his suite at home games and listen to the coaches’ play calls on his personal headset.

Unlike Newton, there’s been little talk of Knight during Oregon’s surge to the top. He manages to stay out of the spotlight while putting his Ducks in it.

What to watch tonight (all times Eastern):

AT&T Cotton Bowl (8 p.m., FOX): No. 18 Texas A&M vs. No. 11 LSU. What’s better than Les Miles in a bowl game? Must-see television is sure to ensue as Miles’ Tigers (10-2) take on the Aggies (9-3) in the 75th running of the Cotton Bowl.

New York Knicks at Phoenix Suns (10:30 p.m., ESPN): Knicks MVP candidate Amar’e Stoudemire (26.4 ppg, 9 rpg) takes his first trip back to Phoenix to take on his former Suns, who have gone 3-10 since Dec. 7.


1 – Team in Football Bowl Subdivision history to have won 10 games one season after losing 10. Miami (OH) accomplished the turnaround feat by beating Middle Tennessee in the Bowl on Thursday.

$1,000 to $1,500 – The amount of the gambling debt Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo reportedly owed teammate Tony Allen after playing cards on a team flight. Mayo refused to pay and Allen and reportedly insulted him repeatedly, leading to a fight in which Allen punched Mayo in the face. Mayo missed Tuesday’s game (the team said he sat out with “bronchitis”) but neither player was fined or disciplined for the altercation.

$26,928,854 – Combined salary of Mayo and Allen through the 2012-13 season. Playing cards has since been banned on Grizzlies team planes.

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. johnv59

    Really must be digging for something to write. Comparing Phil Knight to Scam Newton is a joke. Can't believe CNN would link to this attempt to drag the Ducks through the mud.

    January 8, 2011 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Th56

    While Phil buys buildings and uniforms, the SEC buys players. One thing people need to keep in mind is that it still takes players, and Oregon recruits are rated middle of the road, and far below the USC's and Alabama's. The real credit for Oregon's success is it's coaches and staff.

    January 8, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. cnn is the new fox

    cnn sucks... they are the new fox...

    January 8, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Suzy Nameth

    this it boy's GO JETS!

    January 8, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar

    @Suzy Nameth: I've started drooling already.

    January 9, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. C.i.a. Sports update

    looks like the american c.i.a. Is in revolt and allowed gifford to be the u.s pilot revolts of late. No leaders do they want as they seek to make their own country ruled by insiders brewing over decades. Looks that way... Like a fox n.r.a... C.i.a. Revolt.

    January 9, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. C.i.a. Sports update

    Obviously... With all their tech...they allowed a white boy n.r.a. Nazi to gain Position..which means that all promises to world leaders and their various slaves and bribery partners cannot be safe. Trillions spent and now the entire world can see the failure and complicity of the u.s. Outlaw rogue anarchy security teams. THEY WILL TRY TO PUT THIS ON THE LOCAL COPS. just as they do in iraq and afghanistan. hey colin to explain it?

    January 9, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  8. C.i.a. Sports update

    Just like the barefoot bandit populista drama... Witness the illusions of so called security... A paper tiger run by slick criminals and a defeated "privitised" blackwater military. Looks like little white boys and their hip hop cover stories run this country and use the darkest internet to brew new anarchy dramas worldwide...yet still defeated. My laughter is shared by all who see without force or intimidation.

    January 9, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  9. Rodolfo

    What is the big deal a lot of rich people give money to schools They pay to build building with their names on them, donate to their sports teams etc... so why is Phil Knight being singled out ?

    January 9, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
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