Portland Phil Knight stepped down Thursday as president and chief executive officer of Nike Inc., the $12 billion athletic shoe and clothing company he co-founded and built into the world's largest shoe maker and one of the planet's best-known brands.
He will be succeeded by William D. Perez, head of S.C. Johnson & Son Inc., maker of Glade air fresheners and Drano drain cleaner.
Knight, 66, will remain as chairman of the company's board of directors, the company said.
A former University of Oregon track star, Knight founded Blue Ribbon Sports Inc. with Bill Bowerman in 1968. Knight's first shoes, which he sold out of the trunk of his car, had soles made on Bowerman's waffle iron. The company was renamed Nike in 1972.
"I am confident that as CEO of Nike Inc., Bill will lead Nike's extraordinary team of people to create an even bigger and better global company," Knight said.
He did not give a reason for relinquishing the titles. His resignation is effective Dec. 28.
Knight relinquishes direct oversight of a profitable company with steadily growing worldwide sales.
In September, Nike reported a 25 percent increase in first-quarter profits. The company also reported a large increase in its U.S. orders, up 11 percent to $1.4 billion.
Knight's combined salary and bonuses for this year were nearly $3.7 million, up from nearly $2.5 million last year.