Archive for Wednesday, October 9, 1996

NIKE SWOOSHES DOWN ON KU

October 9, 1996

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The Swoosh soon will be set loose on all of Kansas University's athletic teams.

KU is negotiating with Nike to secure a contract that would provide athletic apparel to all of KU's athletic programs, KU athletic director Bob Frederick said.

A deal could be reached within the next two weeks.

"It would be a tremendous savings to our budget if somebody bought all our uniforms for all our teams," Frederick said.

Colorado already has such an agreement with Nike.

A potential logjam for an all-encompassing athletic department deal with Nike cleared when KU basketball coach Roy Williams and Converse parted company. Williams and Converse had been affiliated for all of Williams' eight years as KU's coach.

The Jayhawk basketball players have been wearing Nike shoes this preseason.

Converse president Mickey Bell, a good friend of Williams dating back to the KU coach's days at the University of North Carolina, recently left the company. And ex-KU player Roger Morningstar, another friend of Williams who has been based in Lawrence the past several years, also left Converse to run a sports complex here.

"Roy is an incredibly loyal person, more to people than companies," Morningstar said of Williams, who has been out of town this week.

The KU football team long has been associated with Nike footwear and just this fall began wearing Nike uniforms. KU's women's basketball program also is affiliated with the Swoosh.

"The move is to develop partnerships at the collegiate level," Nike public relations manager Eric Patton said of the Oregon-based company's all-sports equipment deals in general. "That extends beyond the field of play. Like at Colorado, the all-school deal -- we outfit all their teams, men's and women's, on down the line. That's to assist athletic departments and support non-revenue sports. In the past, it's been more just coaches' relationships. Now we're working with presidents and athletic directors to benefit entire universities."

Nike conceivably could supply uniforms and warmups for all sports. The only items they do not make are baseball and softball uniforms, though they do manufacture spikes and golf shoes.

Morningstar said Nike's deals vary from school to school.

"It's essentially like a piece of lobster," Morningstar said. "Whatever you view the price of a piece of lobster is what it's worth. There's a lot of merchandise involved. This would enable KU to take care of the non-revenue sports. They have everything to outfit all teams."

In return for providing equipment, the Nike swoosh would likely be placed on all jerseys. And the shoe company perhaps would get retail rights to some uniform sales.

Gary Bedore of the Journal-World also contributed information to this story.

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