Canzano: A whale, two wins, a bag of money and a meeting of the minds
Five things you need to know.
Five things for your Tuesday:
Chris Schoemann is the executive director of “The Boulevard Collective” — SMU’s high-octane donor collective. I spoke with a number of wealthy donors for a piece I wrote last week and came away thinking that the buying power of the school’s collective is a threat to some the top entities in the Pac-12.
If the Mustangs are invited into the Pac-12 via conference expansion in the coming days or weeks, where would SMU’s NIL collective rank when it comes to wealth?
Turns out the folks at The Boulevard Collective have studied it.
Said Schoemann: “It’s behind only Division Street. That’s where we are.”
Oregon’s collective has billionaire Phil Knight backing it, among others. Last year, I was told by one UO donor that the initial buy-in for Division Street, Inc. was $500,000 and that didn’t get you a say in who the collective did business with.
Schoemann told me that the SMU collective was included in the analysis done by consulting firms trying to gauge whether the school was a good fit for the Pac-12.
Geography, campus culture, academics, media market, brand and some other criteria certainly matter. But if the Pac-12 is trying to figure out how competitive the Mustangs might be right away, the health of the collective offers a glimpse.
Schoemann told me: “We have had good feedback. believe SMU is being analyzed in a number of ways and we’re part of the component.”
• MEETING OF THE MINDS: Damian Lillard and his agent met with Trail Blazers general manager Joe Cronin on Monday.
Cronin issued a statement after the meeting: “I met with Dame and Aaron Goodwin this afternoon. We had a great dialogue. We remain committed to building a winner around Dame.”
Is the Lillard era coming to an end?
I don’t know about you, but I thought it was interesting that the get-together leaked in front of the meeting. Camp Lillard wanted it out there, presumably because it portrays Lillard as professional?
He’s not publicly demanding a trade and definitely not interested in looking like the bad guy. Take that for what it’s worth. He’s been more than patient. But also, I can’t be alone in wondering if Lillard has also been an enabler.
It’s a fine line for a star NBA player to walk, but if Lillard had been more vocal and pointed with his comments years ago I wonder if the franchise would have worked harder and smarter to assemble a better team around him. Ex-GM Neil Olshey failed Lillard just about every offseason.
There are several accountability checks in place for professional sports teams. Sponsors and fans hold weight. But in the NBA, star players wield an incredible amount of influence when it comes to coaching and personnel matters. I’m left wondering if Lillard should have used more of it over the years.
• DOG PILES: LSU clobbered Florida 18-4 on Monday in Omaha to win the Men’s College World Series. Oregon State would never admit it, but the Beavers have to feel a tiny bit better about being knocked out of the postseason by the eventual national-title winner.
There was a lot of hand-wringing and angst in the Beavers fan base after the team was eliminated in the Baton Rouge Regional. Simply put, OSU ran out of pitching. That became obvious in the elimination game where it gave up 19 hits and 13 runs.
I liked a lot of what I saw from Mitch Canham’s team this season. And LSU’s title helps frame the season more accurately.
TEED UP: Wyndham Clark seemingly came out of nowhere to win the US Open earlier this month at Los Angeles Country Club.
Oregon golf fans pulled for the 29-year-old and celebrated as Clark shot 70 in the final round. It was good enough to hold off Rory McElroy and Scottie Scheffler. Clark now has two career wins on the PGA Tour.
It was a terrific story.
After the victory, Clark credited Oregon golf coach Casey Martin for helping him turn the corner in his collegiate career. Clark went to Oklahoma State out of high school, but transferred to Eugene after the death of his mother to breast cancer.
I’m eager to hear more of the backstory from Martin. The Oregon coach will join me today on the statewide radio show at 4 p.m. (stream it live here).
SEVENTH-INNING STRETCH: I know a lot of people were excited about the possibility of the Portland Diamond Project building a Major League Baseball stadium on the Lloyd Center Mall property, but I’m increasingly doubtful that revitalization project will ever happen.
Dallas-based Arrow Retail owns the mall. It did not return a call seeking comment and has a reputation of being unrealistic and difficult to deal with in potential sales. Throw in Portland city politics and a ticking clock. That makes the lift even more challenging. For those reasons, I think the MLB to PDX effort needs to look closer at building a stadium in the suburbs.
Don’t close the door on the MLB effort altogether, though.
The original charter investors got an interesting overture earlier this month, per sources. The group was approached by an outside investor who offered to buy the charter investors out at their original investment, plus interest.
Those charter investors included:
NFL quarterback Russell Wilson
Recording artist Ciara
Retired CEO of Platt Electric Harvey Platt and wife Sandy Platt
Ex-MLB player Darwin Barney and David P. Barney and David M. Barney
Retired business owner and philanthropist Samantha Richardson
DWFritz Automation CEO Mike Fritz and wife Kristin
Avamere Group founder Rick Dillon
Opus Agency co-founder and restauranteur Grant Hammersley
Portland Gear founder and CEO Marcus Harvey
Kamp Grizzly founder Dan Portrait and wife Sheena
Nike Inc. VP Mark Allen and wife Peg
Jevo founder and entrepreneur Tyler Williams
Real estate broker Kelsey Williams
I find it very interesting that a “whale” would slide in and offer buyouts on that front at this stage of the game. Don’t you? Someone out there wants it all for themselves.
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