Joe McKendry

An arms race has now arisen to see who can build the biggest, most lavish learning center—part of a larger, billion-dollar arms race in college athletics. So far the University of Oregon is winning, hands down. A few years back it unveiled a $42 million, three-story glass-and-steel cube called the Jaqua Academic Center, which is exclusively for athletes. The money came from Phil and Penny Knight. Phil, who once ran a 1:53 half mile for the Oregon track team, is the founder of Nike. One of the more unusual flourishes of the Jaqua Center’s decor is a neon profile of Phil in the women’s bathroom on the second floor; one of Penny hangs in the men’s bathroom.

— Adapted from Billion-Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football (published by Viking in August)

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