They treated us very, very well. We worked with Nike in a 15-month process. They brought their staff on campus to get to know our culture a little bit and through to the end product. They not only provided the expertise but also a big donation in terms of multiple sets of uniforms for the teams they sponsor. That was a special opportunity. —USU Athletic Director Scott Barnes
Editor's note: This is part three of a five-part series on how athletics apparel contracts impact programs in the state of Utah. Start at part one: What collegiate apparel sponsorships mean to BYU, Utah and USU.
Utah State University got a makeover last year. There weren’t any sweeping changes in academic programs, but Aggie Athletics underwent a total transformation.
Arguably the face of the school for most of the country, USU athletics not only saw unprecedented success on the field, but it saw a major change in its look, unveiling new logos, uniforms and apparel lines. By all accounts the move was a major success and was remarkably well-received.
And Nike, USU’s apparel partner, shares in that success.
When Utah State decided it was time for a change, Nike was there to assist the school in evaluation, design and production of the new schemes. Nike did so outside of any contractual obligation.
“They treated us very, very well. We worked with Nike in a 15-month process. They brought their staff on campus to get to know our culture a little bit and through to the end product. They not only provided the expertise but also a big donation in terms of multiple sets of uniforms for the teams they sponsor. That was a special opportunity,” Scott Barnes, Utah State athletic director said.
Barnes said Nike has become a trusted partner who went "above and beyond" expectations in serving the school’s uniform, apparel and equipment needs.
It doesn’t hurt that one of the school’s notable alumni, Charles Denson, is currently president of NIKE Brand at Nike, Inc. Denson graduated from Utah State University in 1978 and went to work for Nike in 1979.
USU’s contract with Nike
Utah State’s agreement with Nike has been in place since June 2008 and officially ends in May.
The contract is unusual — it not only allocates a dollar allowance for uniforms, equipment and apparel, but also contains a schedule for additional teams and quantities it will outfit.
Specifically, the 14 men’s and women’s teams are covered and are granted:
—$25,000 (retail value) worth of Nike products for general use.
—Specific uniform and equipment allotments for football and basketball, with no specified value. Football, for instance, gets 50 sets of uniforms every other year.
—$5,000 worth of gear allocated to the football coaching staff at head coach’s discretion.
—Wholesale discounts on additional purchases, as well as 2-for-1 deals on additional footwear.
The school’s obligations are:
—Buy/wear only Nike gear.
—Provide two field-level VIP tickets to each home game for every covered team.
—Make the head football coach available for sponsorship events.
Boiling the deal down to a specific monetary value is tough because there is no specific value associated with the equipment supplied per the agreement. However, we can compare the contract to other schools of similar size. The University of Memphis, for example, gets $1.5 million in gear from Nike under the terms of their contract, plus an additional $660,000 in cash donation.
Utah State has some catching up to do, but based on the success of its teams and the overall upward direction of its athletics programs, it’s in a prime position to make major financial strides as it enters negotiations on a new contract.
A new contract
Since Nike’s deal with Utah State expires this spring, the state's land-grant university must go through a formal evaluation process, which includes consideration of other vendors.
It’s no secret Barnes and the USU athletics department are pleased with the relationship they’ve had with Nike, and that relationship is something that clearly affects recruits and coaches. "Nike is a platform recruits want. From a recruiting standpoint [Nike] is a key element," Barnes said.
But as USU looks to renew their deal this time around, the Aggies will certainly want to expand its apparel deal to evolve and grow with its recent athletic success and future vision.
Editor’s note: This is part three in a five-part series on how athletics apparel contracts affect Utah’s major universities. Part one introduces the topic, part two explains the nature of these contracts, part four deals with the University of Utah’s deal with Under Armour, and part five looks at BYU’s agreement with Nike.