“With the economic downturn, I have decided to return my focus back to running Nike,” stated Knight. “The University of Oregon and its fast, African-American athletes will always have a cherished place in my heart.”
This disposition plans for Knight have been rumored for months. It is widely believed that Knight has been pressured by Nike’s Board of Directors to focus solely on Nike’s branding of sports apparel and equipment, and that Knights’ personal venture, like picking out ipads for the university’s lacrosse team, was a distraction.
“We have to get back to basics,” said one Nike board member on condition of anonymity. ”We’ve seen sales drop during the recession and it is in our shareholders’ best interest, not to mention thousands of Asian children we employ who need us in order to help feed their families.”
Richard Lariviere, President of the University of Oregon, was complimentary of Knight. “The University of Oregon has enjoyed a great relationship with Mr. Knight. He has been the most responsive boss any University president could ever hope to work for, like the time we needed 70 million dollars for that one thing and that other time when we needed 42 million dollars. We can only hope that our next owner is half as supportive as Mr. Knight has been. ”
Some U of O Alumni, however, are happy to see Knight go. "He reminds me of the creepy uncle who shows up to Thanksgiving dinner unannounced," said Josh Hollin, class of 91'. "I don't trust a man with beady eyes, a pearly grin and a ginger beard."
The sale of the university ends weeks of speculation as numerous U.S. buyers have been rumored to show interest in acquiring the University, as well as buyers from other countries such as Canada, Brazil and North Dakota.
Local Northwest conglomerate Paul Allen was one logical choice to acquire the University but backed out after learning Eugene was not on the Ocean and had no port that could dock his 400 foot yacht, Seamen Worthy. Outside investor groups as far away as Pensacola, Florida have expressed interest in the University. James Hardy, Chairman of the Pensacola City Council, expressed immediate interest.
“As you all know, Florida sucks and is often referred to as America's wang," said Hardy. "We think the University of Oree-gon would be a positive asset for the city and state. We've taken a beating with the oil spill and this could be a nice pick-me-up for Pensacola. Living on the water, we wouldn't even need to change the duck mascot, maybe just add some oil to his feathers."
The announcement was well received by the market as shareholders seem relieved to once again have Knight’s full attention back at Nike. Shares of Nike were up 4.7%, or $3.42, in after-hours of trading shortly after the announcement.