Nike Founder Halts Donations to University of Oregon
Associated Press: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 6:31PM
Nike founder Phil Knight said Monday he will make
no further donations to his alma mater, the University of Oregon, because
of its membership in a student-driven labor rights organization that has
"Nike will honor its contractual commitment. But for me personally there
will be no further donations of any kind to the University of Oregon. At
this time, this is not a situation that can be resolved,'' he said in a
"The bonds of trust, which allowed me to give at a high level, have been
shredded,'' he said.
Knight noted he has given $50 million to the school in Eugene -- $30
million for athletics and $20 million for academics. He had been expected
to also be a substantial donor to a planned expansion of the university's
University President David Frohnmayer said Knight's generosity has helped
"We are disappointed to hear that he plans to curtail future
contributions to the University of Oregon,'' he said in a statement. "I
still hope to speak with him in person and look forward to working with him
in the future.''
Labor practices at factories under contract to the shoe and sportswear
giant around the globe have come under criticism from several universities
across the country.
Knight said he was "shocked'' to learn on April 14 that the university
had joined the Workers Rights Consortium. Beaverton-based Nike supports
another group, the Fair Labor Association, in the fight against sweatshop
At issue is who will monitor factories that produce apparel to ensure safe
and humane working conditions, and whose code of conduct will companies be
Businesses largely support the association, which gives more leeway to
manufacturers, allowing them a greater say in how monitoring is carried out
and putting limits on the release of inspection results. The association
also gives businesses strong representation on its board of directors.
Student activists have supported the consortium, which doesn't allow
corporate representatives on its board. The consortium intends to keep
corporations at arm's length, conducting surprise inspections with
independent monitors and releasing the results of its inspections.
Nike has contracts with almost 200 colleges, and many of them, including
the University of Oregon, are members of the consortium.
Contact F. David Peat