COLLABORATION

Is this Nike’s longest running partnership with a university?

SOURCE: Syracuse Orange/Facebook
Syracuse University has renewed its apparel deal with sportswear giant Nike.

The Nike swoosh will remain on all sporting gear for the Syracuse University Orange, following the school’s decision to extend its nearly four-decade-long partnership with the sportswear giant.

Syracuse says this is Nike’s longest partnership with a school to date, with the first agreement struck in 1982-83 for men’s basketball. 

“We’ve done research on that, we can’t find one that’s longer,” Athletics Director John Wildhack told a press conference last Friday. 

Nike’s current partnership with Syracuse is due to end this year. Negotiations between both parties have been ongoing for months and although other brands were at one point considered, it was long known that Nike would bag the contract.

Without getting into the finer details of the new deal, Wildhack said negotiations with Nike prioritised the well-being of Syracuse’s over 600 student-athletes.

“It’s the Number 1 priority,” he said. “The agreement increases the product we receive from Nike on an annual basis and will aid in our ongoing efforts to provide a tremendous experience for our student-athletes.”

Syracuse teams, coaches and staff will continue to sport Nike-provided products, which will include gear, uniforms, shoes and specified equipment and accessories for games, practices and clinics. Nike, meanwhile, will provide increased royalty revenue for all licensed products, performance-based bonuses and base cash compensation.

In addition to the above, a new addition to the multi-year Syracuse-Nike partnership is an annual internship programme in which two Syracuse students will get to work at Nike’s headquarters each summer.

Wildhack said two student-athletes have already been recruited for the first round of the programme but subsequent iterations would see the opportunity being given to one student and one student-athlete.

“We want to make this accessible to the entire student body.”

YOU MIGHT LIKE

Asked later if the new deal would involve new football uniforms, something fans of the Syracuse Orange have been calling for, Wildhack neither confirmed nor denied the matter. He merely told fans to “stay tuned” when asked whether an announcement would be made this week in Turning Stone. Syracuse has worn its current digs since 2014.

Wildhack would not disclose further details of the deal, specifically its total value and duration, due to a confidentiality agreement with Nike. A private school, Syracuse is not required to publicly disclose such information.

It is no secret, however, that the value of such deals has increased in recent years, with brands like Under Armour and Adidas fighting to unseat Nike for dominance in the apparel market.

A lucrative field, competition among the three major players sign the country’s most prominent sporting teams has become extemely cutthroat, leading not only record-high deals but corruption charges and the biggest college admissions scandal ever seen. Just this March, three men including a former Adidas executive were sentenced to prison for conspiring to pay families in order to steer high-profile basketball recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools.

When trial was ongoing back in October, Wildhack had said the school was monitoring the case. He’d said his focus was on how Syracuse handled itself in such deals, not on how the firms and their university partners have been handling their business.

“I think it’s more, kind of, how we police our own institutions,” he was quoted saying on Syracuse.com. “I’m confident in the way that our coaches conduct themselves. We recruit aggressively but we also do it the right way.”

The Business Journal, which has maintained an online database of collegiate apparel deals since 2013, says that collectively, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour funnel something like US$300 million every year to university athletic departments.

Reports say the UCLA’s current deal with Under Armour is valued at an average of US$18.7 million annually, while Nike’s deal with Ohio State follows closely with an average of US$16.8 million annually, then Texas’ US$16.7 million deal with Nike and Louisville’s US$16 million with Adidas. These deals were all signed over the past three years.