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Nike strikes 6-year deal with UT athletics

06/21/2017, 11:29am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Kaayla McIntyre, left, and Sarah St-Fort sport Nike jerseys last season. UT women’s basketball has worn Nike gear since 2008. BLADE

All 16 varsity sports at the University of Toledo will now sport the Nike swoosh.

The UT athletic department agreed to a multiyear exclusive partnership with Nike, beginning July 1.

The six-year agreement will make Nike the official athletic footwear, apparel, accessory, and equipment brand for all 16 of Toledo’s varsity sports through the 2022-23 season.

The contract was not immediately available, per Nike policy.

Some of the UT sports — such as men’s and women’s basketball — already wore Nike, but now there will be more continuity throughout the sports landscape at Toledo.

“It gives us a much more consistent look throughout the department,” UT vice president and athletic director Mike O’Brien said. “We’ve had Nike and other apparel units throughout our various sports, so this just gives us a much cleaner look.”

Previously, UT’s sports programs had separate agreements with various apparel brands. Men’s basketball coach Tod Kowalczyk and women’s basketball coach Tricia Cullop brought previous deals with Nike with them to Toledo, O’Brien said.

“I am extremely proud of the 15-year relationship I have had with Nike college basketball,” Kowalczyk said. Nike is — by far — the leader in their industry and always has the best product. I can assure you, our players and coaches would not want anything but Nike. We are a proud Nike basketball program.”

Added Cullop: “Toledo women’s basketball has been with Nike since 2008. We greatly value the quality Nike provides in their shoes, apparel and basketballs. I’m excited to see our entire athletic department partner with Nike as it unifies our Toledo brand.”

The biggest change will be for the football team, whose current deal with Under Armour expires June 30.

“Nike is a premier brand of athletic apparel in the country and certainly we are honored to be partnered with them,” Rockets football coach Jason Candle said. “There are a lot of other great brands out there, and Under Armour was good to us, but I think this is a game- changer as far as recruiting.”

The switch to Nike is already popular among the UT student-athletes, many of whom grew up loyal to the brand.

“I’m excited about making the switch to Nike,” UT senior Cody Thompson said. “I’ve always been a Nike guy growing up. They’re the alpha dog of the sports world. I can’t wait.”

UT will begin rolling out Nike-branded apparel for football and other sports during the upcoming weeks. Rocky’s Locker, the official apparel store of Rocket Athletics located in Savage Arena, will also feature new Nike apparel.

“The swoosh still means something,” O’Brien said. “It’s an international brand, and obviously the competition is very keen between some of those companies. For us, clearly the swoosh was the most popular.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110 or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo