If you haven't already heard, Pat Kilkenny was named Oregon's new AD. Yes, the same Pat Kilkenny whom the practice fields are named after. The same Pat Kilkenny who is Oregon's second biggest booster behind Phil Knight. The same Pat Kilkenny who paid to buy out Bill Moos' contract.
Something smells really bad here. Controlling boosters is a big issue in college sports right now. Look at some of the recent problems with Oklahoma football, Michigan basketball, etc., and you see why most schools tend to be trying to distance themselves from boosters.
So why the hell did Oregon just hire one as their AD?
Well, the short answer is that they really want the new basketball arena. That was the issue behind the resignation of Bill Moos to begin with. Phil Knight and Moos weren't getting along well. The University needs Knight to be the sugar daddy for the new arena, so out goes the AD. Now, you bring in Kilkenny, who is good friends with Knight along with several other big boosters, and it looks like the prospects of getting a basketball arena are good. Kilkenny will be on this job only two years, long enough to see groundbreaking on the now inevitable arena project.
But at what cost? Because the athletic department is toeing a very dangerous line. Boosters are a necessary evil for any major college program. But the athletic department needs to be able to separate itself from the boosters for the integrity of intercollegiate athletics. By all outside accounts, it looks like Kilkenny bought himself the AD job. A booster (Knight), led to Moos' resignation. A booster (Kilkenny) got the AD job. Its obvious that, as a big time Oregon booster, you can buy whatever the hell you want. I don't have Phil's money, so therefore I don't have his clout, but as an alum my love for my university is no less than his. And walking this dangerous line scares the hell out of me. All those jokes about Phil Knight owning the Oregon Ducks? How exactly can we make a legitiamate claim that they are not true (perhaps we should ask Bill Moos, Martin Smith, etc.).
This move will lead to Oregon getting the new basketball arena. It will probably also lead to the eventual firing of Ernie Kent (whom Knight dislikes), and the eventual hiring of Gonzaga coach Mark Few (an Oregon alum and good Kilkenny friend) and the new basketball coach. But at what cost?
I know college sports hasn't been 'pure' for several decades now. But for all intents and purposes, we have an owner (Knight) who controls the pursestrings of the program and is making the personnel decisions. We are basically a professional sports franchise. Not only that, but if I were the NCAA, I'd be watching Oregon like a hawk.
Its obvious that for everything Bill Moos did for this program, he got a raw deal. But that's neither here nor there. The fact is that Oregon hired a candidate with no experience who bought the job. Its just like being a big contributor to a presidential campaign, then getting a nice job as Ambassador to Luxembourg once that candidate enters office.
I really hope that this works out, but I could alse see this ending really badly for the Ducks. I also think that it sets a dangerous precedent.
At the VERY least, it is very sketchy. I don't like the smell of it one bit.