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Originally published Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 6:59 PM

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Washington president orders Scott Woodward to apologize to Oregon president, athletic director

Washington interim president Phyllis Wise has ordered UW athletic director Scott Woodward to apologize to the University of Oregon president and athletic director for comments he made about Oregon's academic standing on Saturday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A day after issuing an apology for comments about academics at the University of Oregon, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward was ordered by UW interim president Phyllis Wise to take it a step further.

In a letter obtained by The Seattle Times, Wise instructed Woodward to "personally apologize to the president and athletic director at the University of Oregon" for the remarks he made before the Oregon-Washington football game Saturday in Eugene.

In an interview on KJR-AM radio during the pregame show, Woodward said, "It's an embarrassment what their academic institution is, and what's happened to them as far as their state funding has gone. In my mind it's a wonderful athletic facility but they've watched it at the expense of the university go really down."

Woodward elaborated later Saturday on those comments to The Times, saying, "It's embarrassing at the level that the state supports this once-great academic university because it's gone way down in academic standing because of the enormous lack of support over the decades."

In her letter Tuesday, Wise also stated that Woodward "exhibited an uncharacteristic lack of judgment" in making the remarks and that "it is inappropriate for a university leader, who understands the importance of collegiality and respect, to criticize publicly another institution's quality."

The letter also stated: "In your position as our Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, it is particularly unfortunate for you to be critical of the academic reputation of the University of Oregon, a fellow Pac-10 Conference member and AAU university."

In his written apology Monday, Woodward clarified that his remarks were intended as a statement on state funding of public institutions.

"I have a great respect for the University of Oregon both as an institution and an athletic program," his statement read. "As a lifelong advocate for public funding in higher education, I have seen firsthand the effects of public funding on many institutions, including the University of Washington. My remarks were intended as a commentary on the powerful impact that a state can have on an institution's academic standing. The University of Oregon is a great example of the struggles which can accompany a university when state funding decreases, but UO is certainly not the only institution suffering."

The Oregonian newspaper reported Tuesday that UO athletic department spokesman Dave Williford said Oregon officials decided not to comment, either on Woodward's original remarks or his apology.

The paper also reported that Oregon coach Chip Kelly, when asked about the comments, said: "I'm not going there. I haven't seen the whole transcript. I can't comment. I don't know exactly what he said. I don't know exactly what the context was in which it was said. I'll let our administration and their administration handle that one."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

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