Work is underway on the expansion of an athletics building on the University of Oregon campus, only the latest edifice bankrolled by private donations for the university athletes. This time, UO officials claim they know little or nothing about the $63 million building.

But we do know more about it thanks to student journalists at UO. Sam Stites, the higher education reporter for the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student newspaper, found UO officials claiming they didn't know a lot about the expansion of the Casanova Center, located next to Autzen Stadium.

The Casanova Center expansion is under way, and yet no University administrators or athletics officials know much about the project. Upon a request from the Emerald, however, the athletic department’s media services denied a walkthrough and interview for a story on the progress of the project.

Athletic media services said it does not have much of an opportunity to give interviews during the project due to it being headed by an outside group, as the John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes’ project was three years ago.“The University leases the land, and when they’ve completed it, they give it back,” said Dave Williford, executive assistant athletic director for media services. “Our ability to grant interviews is limited at this point.”Both Williford and Vice President for Finance and Administration Jamie Moffitt said they don’t know the cost of the project.
According to the permit applications filed with the City of Eugene, the total value of the project came to $63.3 million. The site work alone — rerouting site utilities, demolition of portions of the Casanova Center, pathways and the relocating of the cooling tower — cost $1.75 million. With the expansion planned for adding an extra 130,000 square feet, the cost per square foot is $484.

The outside group involved in the project is Phit LLC, a company owned by Phil Knight that he uses for building development. The University leases the land to Phit, which then facilitates the development of the building, including choosing an architecture firm and construction contractor. When the project is completed, they give the land back to the University as a gift.“The donor’s preference was to enter into a lease agreement to construct the building,” Moffitt said. “The University asked for and received approval from the State Board to construct the facility in this manner.”