NORMAL - The Nike swoosh will be on all Illinois State athletic uniforms after a five-year, all-school deal was approved Friday by the university?s board of trustees.
ISU athletics director Sheahon Zenger called having the Nike logo ?a badge of honor? in college athletics, and expects savings of 15 to 40 percent on Nike merchandise in the $1.25 million deal.
Redbird athletes will be outfitted in Nike practice gear, footwear, equipment and uniforms. Illinois State becomes the second Missouri Valley Conference institution to have an all-school deal, joining Northern Iowa. Zenger said he believes the University of Illinois is the only other Illinois public university with a Nike deal.
?This agreement provides an instant upgrade in perception for our department,? Zenger said. ?Everyone associated with Illinois State University has always known that the Redbirds compete in major college athletics, but this now helps our image nationally. This agreement also allows us to consolidate our equipment needs, while also providing our department with a consistent look.?
?Obviously, we are very excited about the agreement with Illinois State,? said Bill Gawne, Nike?s regional manager for college promo team sales. ?We don?t have a lot of schools in that area and Illinois State provides us with a true partnership.?
ISU football coach Denver Johnson called the deal ?one more indication of the advances that our athletic department is making and the positive image that Illinois State is presenting on a national scale.
?To be embraced by Nike with a department-wide contract, I think speaks volumes about where our program is going,? Johnson said.
Among the athletes to wear the Nike apparel will be Redbird junior quarterback Luke Drone.
?Nike is the top athletic equipment supplier in the world. This agreement just shows where ISU is now and where it?s headed in the future,? Drone said. ?Sure, having the Nike swoosh on the uniform is going to be cool, but the actual comfort and the fit (of the uniform) for top performance will also be nice.?
ISU athletic teams currently purchase from a number of sources and manufacturers. The Nike contract will consolidate the majority of purchases with a primary vendor, which is expected to reduce purchasing time, paperwork and costs by taking advantage of wholesale pricing.
ISU will not replace footwear, equipment, apparel, etc., for all teams the first year of the contract. Some teams will change the first year, with others allowed to replace items as needed within two or three years.