Marcus Mariota may or may not get a chance to see the new sports performance center named in his honor at the University of Oregon later this year.
That depends on how well the Oregon football team is doing in December when Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy with the Ducks in 2014 and is now the quarterback of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, will have a bye week.
When he does make his first visit to the MMSPC, Mariota will see his trophies for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Maxwell Award and Manning Award in the center’s lobby. There also is a flat-screen TV showing Mariota’s highlights and memorabilia from his native Hawaii.
But the 30,000-square-foot renovation, which was unveiled last week, is more than just a tribute to the football program’s most famous alum, combining sports performance, sports science, sports medicine and technology. An overhaul of the athletic department’s equipment room is another part of the estimated $19 million project funded by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny, who are major donors to the Oregon athletics program.
“The goal of this project was to create one space where we could utilize the most state-of-the-art technology to improve student-athlete wellness and emphasize our commitment to the health and safety of our student-athletes,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “Thanks to the incredible generosity of Phil and Penny Knight, we now have a world-class facility that is going to take the student-athlete experience at the University of Oregon to a level not previously seen anywhere on the collegiate level.”
The center also features a boxing ring for exercise, a bone density scanner and a sleep room with individual pods. Motion-capture cameras and force platforms are located throughout the sports science unit of the center. The cameras capture an athlete’s movements ranging from sport-specific drills to weightlifting. Using the force platforms, the MMSPC staff can perform strength diagnostic tests to profile and identify areas of opportunities for each athlete.
Research for the center included trips to NASA and Australia, according to the university.
“We focused on creating a space that would allow us to objectively measure a student-athlete’s development and readiness,” Dr. Greg Skaggs, Oregon’s director of athletic medicine, said in a statement. "This data will give us the best opportunity to individualize training to maximize performance and prevent injury. Unlike other university performance centers, this facility is designed to make real-time interventions into a student-athlete’s training program and well-being.”