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BYU wide receiver Kody Epps wears Nike gear during report day before fall camp in August 2022.
Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo
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A display of Nike gear given to BYU football players in August 2022.
Donovan Kelly/BYU Photo
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BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (3) evades a Baylor defender during a college football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday September 10, 2022.
Courtesy of BYU Photo
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BYU’s John Nelson celebrates a sack against Baylor at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday September 10, 2022.
Courtesy of BYU Photo
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Football equipment is set up and ready for the players in the BYU locker room at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
Courtesy of BYU Photo
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Oregon quarterback Ty Thompson (13) celebrates a touchdown with running back Byron Cardwell (21) and wide receiver Josh Delgado (83) during the second half of a college football game of the NCAA on Saturday, September 10, 2022 in Eugene, Ore.
AP Photo/Andy Nelson
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An example of what the University of Oregon football team will wear for their game against BYU, designated “Nightmare” and made by Nike.
Courtesy of Oregon Athletics
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An example of the Nike uniform that BYU chose to wear for their game in Oregon on Saturday, September 16, 2022. Designed by Nike, it is known as the “Kalani Sitake Royal”.
The BYU-Oregon football game at Autzen Stadium in Eugene is a battle of the top 25 teams and will be FOX Sports’ featured game on Saturday afternoon.
It’s also a game between two schools that eat, sleep and breathe Nike.
Oregon’s ties to Nike are strong. Former Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and former Ducks track athlete Phil Knight started the brand in 1964 as “Blue Ribbon Sports”, using a waffle iron to make unique insoles of running shoes. The company became Nike, Inc. in 1971, named after the Greek goddess of victory. In 2021, Nike’s net worth was estimated at $176.27 billion worldwide. The Nike brand alone is worth more than $32 billion.
Oregon sometimes refers to itself as the “University of Nike” and claims to have never worn the same football uniform twice. In 2017, the University of O and Nike reportedly agreed to an 11-year, $88 million apparel deal, so college football fans will continue to see state-of-the-art neon football uniforms. the Saturday.
Nike’s world headquarters is in Beaverton, Oregon, less than 90 minutes from I-5 from Eugene. The 286-acre campus has exterior hallways adorned with bronze plaques honoring coaches and athletes from the 1990s, when the headquarters was designed and created.
One of those plaques features former BYU coaching legend LaVell Edwards.
Edwards and Knight became good friends, and BYU certainly benefited from that relationship as one of the few non-Power Five programs designated as “Nike Elite.” In 2019, BYU and Nike announced a seven-year apparel extension through 2026.
“We don’t have a better relationship in the country than the one we have with BYU,” said Knight, now Nike’s chairman emeritus. “We are very proud of it. We love the relationship and the program.
Although BYU did not disclose final numbers, the press release stated that the agreement “more than doubles the annual value of the previous Nike agreement and includes annual cash compensation for BYU Athletics.”
Head Coach Kalani Sitake said, “Everyone loves the Nike brand, student-athletes, coaches and rookies. It’s important to have Nike as a partner, providing our players with the best technology available in footwear, apparel and equipment. Being equipped from head to toe by the best brand in the world is very important to us. Nike has been an incredible partner of BYU football for over 40 years.
BYU assistant athletic director Brian Santiago said the relationship with Nike was “rock solid.”
“We are fortunate to partner with the best in the business,” he continued. “It’s a long-standing relationship and Nike have been great with us.”
Research by Boardroom, which was founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman in 2019, confirms Nike’s dominance in college sports. In 2021, 52.3% of the 130 Division I FBS football programs are affiliated with Nike (68). Adidas is far behind (37), followed by Under Armor (17), Jordan Brand (7) and New Balance (1).
There are currently seven Nike schools in the Big 12 (Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State and TCU) with one for Adidas (Kansas), Jordan Brand (Oklahoma) and Under Armor (Texas Tech).
Of the four schools joining the Big 12 in 2023-24, three (BYU, Cincinnati and Central Florida) are Nike-branded and one (Houston) is Jordan-branded.
“Getting into the Big 12 will improve our visibility,” Santiago said, “but the basic relationship with Nike remains the same.”
As a Nike Elite school, all athletic programs at BYU are Nike “head-to-toe” and that’s no exaggeration. Santiago told the story of an appearance at the Las Vegas Bowl where one of the gifts was an Under Armor beanie. With the weather colder than usual, some of BYU’s players were seen wearing the beanies on the sideline to stay warm during the TV broadcast.
“It didn’t take two minutes for the phone to ring from Nike,” Santiago said.
Most sports at BYU have a staff member acting as a Nike liaison and they have chosen the gear that best fits their program.
“I mainly work with Nike on a contractual level,” Santiago said. “We have an excellent team of equipment managers who are heavily involved in the actual ordering. We also have a great team that works with marketing and social media to design some gear.
BYU athletes are eagerly anticipating the day their gear drops, restocking their stock of Swoosh-branded t-shirts, hoodies, socks, shoes, hats and more. Every week, BYU football sends photos of that week’s Nike uniform pick to social media.
The latest slang thrown around by athletes to describe cool outfits is “drip,” and BYU’s Nike drip is the envy of every Cougar fan and would-be rookie on the planet.
“Our Nike gear is highlighted on every recruiting trip,” Santiago said. “At this level, the stakes are high and we want to equip our athletes with the best equipment and clothing. Nike opens doors for us.
On the Nike side, the company is prominently featured on fall Saturdays on all networks that broadcast sports.
“Nike is heavily invested in collegiate athletics and they’re exposed at a very high level,” Santiago said. “You can spin just about any game and see the ‘Swoosh’ logo. It’s everywhere.”
A good example of this was last Saturday when schools Nike BYU and Baylor met at LaVell Edwards Stadium on ESPN. Almost all of the Cougar fans in attendance wore eye-catching royal blue, and much of that gear was made by Nike.
Santiago said the relationship with Nike is more than just a financial partnership.
“The cool thing is that it’s not just transactional. It’s a long-standing relationship that has produced lifelong friendships, from the level of the equipment manager to the administrative level to the executives of Nike. It goes far beyond the product transaction.