No One Asked About Student-Athletes: Oregon Board Of Regents Falls Flat

By 750 The Game Staff

The University of Oregon Board of Regents held an emergency meeting last Friday as news of the university’s move to the Big Ten Conference swelled to maturity.

The meeting allowed discussion and questions about the move before holding final vote.

The vote was unanimous. The move was approved. But as for discussion or questions that needed to be asked, particularly regarding sports outside of football and the impact to the well-being of those student-athletes, the University Board of Regents was painfully quiet.

John Canzano aired the entire nine-minute emergency meeting on Wednesday’s radio show and gave his reaction.

“I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed in the Board of Trustees,” Canzano said. “Maybe they had some discussions that were not part of the nine-minute meeting that was utilized to approve the Big Ten move for the University of Oregon. But I didn’t hear anybody advocating on behalf of student-athletes. I didn’t hear anybody asking questions about the travel demands. I didn’t hear anybody on that Board of Trustees interested in anything more than hearing that it was going to be good for Oregon to be in the Big Ten Conference athletically and it wasn’t going to threaten the self-sufficiency of the athletic department.”

Perhaps the outcome was inevitable, and no one on the emergency call wanted to delay it. But Canzano said someone should have been thinking about the non-football sports and the impact leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten would have on those programs.

“I don’t want to say that Oregon should have come out with a different outcome,” Canzano said. “But I would have had some questions for the Board of Trustees. I would raise my hand and say, ‘Hey, how is this going to affect Kelly Graves women’s basketball team? What’s the travel demand there? Have we considered it? How is it going to affect the softball team? How is it going to affect baseball? Is there any way to do this without involving those sports?'”

Steve Holwerda, the chair of the Board of Trustees, was playing golf during the call. Other members sat quietly as the fate of the entire conference was hanging in the balance.

“Oregon has a fiduciary duty to do what is in their best interest,” said Canzano. “But I just thought that maybe somebody on the call should have spoke up for the rest of the student body. Maybe somebody on the call asked a question on behalf of the volleyball program, or the women’s basketball program.”

Perhaps the lack of discussion in the meeting reflected a true campus-wide unanimity that for every sport, a move to the Big Ten was necessary and beneficial.

But Canzano says that wasn’t the case.

“The decision wasn’t a no-brainer. Oregon was really looking at the move through a 20-year window, not a two-year window, and there were some risks in the Apple deal. I think there was some fear factor going on as well. I wish I would have heard some of that in the Regents meeting.”

Before the final vote, the Board chair piped up.

“Any discussion?” Holwerda asked.


“That is where I expect some people to say, ‘Hey, we’re breaking up 108 years of tradition,'” Canzano said. “‘We’re throwing away the Pac-12 Conference here. The impact of our departure would splinter this conference.What is the impact to Oregon State?’ I get it, we’re the trustees of Oregon but should we be thinking about the other public institution in our state, given that we are both reliant on the state of Oregon for some funding?… Are we all comfortable with that?’

“There should have been, maybe, maybe a question. Just a question. Somebody, raise a hand. Objection? No? Offer a thought? Somebody? I’m in the business of opinion, I got to think somebody on that Board of Regents had an opinion. Instead we got crickets. We got silence. Trustees were like – ‘Hey, I need to go finish my golf round’.”

Listen to Canzano’s full comments at the beginning of the show podcast below.

John Canzano delivers the Bald Faced Truth afternoons 3-6 p.m. exclusively in Portland on 750 The Game.