Several former Duck football players returned to Eugene for the Oregon’s annual Pro Day on Thursday, only to find their once state-of-the-art facilities in shambles.
Players were horrified as they walked through the wreckage of the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, Oregon’s $95-million football office building that opened just four years ago.
Several of the individually ventilated lockers in the locker room had stopped eliminating odors, giving the room a sweaty aroma. The 64-TV-screen display in the lobby appeared to be playing in standard definition. The PlayStation 3s in the sixth-floor players’ lounge had still not been updated to PlayStation 4s.
Running back De’Anthony Thomas, who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs, said the hand-woven rugs from Nepal looked as though they hadn’t been vacuumed in weeks, and the Ferrari-leather seats now smell like regular leather. Thomas was shocked to find Fox Sports 1 playing on the TV screens built into the bathroom mirrors.
“We used to have ESPN,” he said. “It’s just sad to watch.”
Hroniss Grasu, a center for the Chicago Bears, was appalled to find two non-athlete students studying in the lounge of the John E. Jaqua Academic Center, a $42-million tutoring center reserved for the exclusive use of student-athletes. He immediately escorted the interlopers out of the building.
“Where are the security guards?” Grasu lamented, adding that the students may have hacked the elevator keypads in order to gain access to the restricted second and third floors. “I can only imagine how many other regular students have gotten away with this.”
Even the Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center, a $19-million sports science complex that opened just last year, was in a state of disrepair. After a tough workout, Mariota himself tried to get some rest in the nap room — named “Sandy Beach” after his favorite place in Hawaii — but couldn’t fall asleep. He couldn’t get comfortable in the reclining sleep pods, and the star-like lights on the ceiling were too bright.
“I can only sleep in complete darkness,” Mariota said.
Several players demanded that part of the recent 10-percent tuition increase should be allocated for upkeep of the facilities. Others organized a walk-out protest set to take place during each player’s morning classes next term.
UO President Michael Schill said he was aware of the situation but would not delve into specifics until the administration had gathered all the facts.
“The well-being of our student-athletes is and always has been a top priority,” Schill said. “We will do everything in our power to ensure they are not being unfairly treated.”
Head football coach Willie Taggart worried that the facilities’ decline may be indicative of a bigger problem: that Oregon is falling behind in the national arms race in college football. Taggart said the dilapidated facilities could scare top high-school recruits away to colleges with fancier buildings and more amenities.
“Clemson’s new building has a mini golf course, bowling alley and laser tag arena,” Taggart said. “Where’s our laser tag?”