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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Knight's $100 million gift to bankroll Oregon athletics fund

Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of Oregon's plan to build a new basketball arena moved a giant step forward Monday when Nike co-founder Phil Knight, and his wife, Penny, pledged $100 million to the university, the largest philanthropic gift in school history.

The money is not targeted specifically for an arena, university officials said. Rather, it will create the Oregon Athletics Legacy Fund, which will help support all athletic programs.

But indirectly, officials said, the donation will boost the university's effort to replace aging McArthur Court with a new arena near the eastern edge of campus.

"This extraordinary gift will set Oregon athletics on a course toward certain self sufficiency and create the flexibility and financial capacity for the university to move forward with the new athletic arena," Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny said. "Now we can roll up our sleeves and get to work on making the arena a reality."

The university last year estimated it would take more than $200 million to pay for the arena once land costs are figured in. Fundraising for the project has been one of the top priorities for Kilkenny since he got the job earlier this year.