Smith Talks OSU Nike Deal

BuckeyeSports.com
Posted Dec 21, 2013


Ohio State and Nike have had a fruitful relationship that will run through at least 2018. OSU director of athletics Gene Smith talked about what the school gets out of the deal recently with BuckeyeSports.com.

The Ohio State football team has never lost a game while wearing its specially designed Nike rivalry uniforms, and the flashy looks have consistently drawn rave reviews from recruiting prospects.

The relationship between Ohio State and Nike has been just as fruitful in other sports and with merchandising, leading the sides to extend their contract agreement through July 31, 2018. As previously reported by The Lantern, the extension is worth more than $18 million to Ohio State. The contracts were initially signed in August 2007.

Per the contract, the option to extend the deal belonged to Nike, not Ohio State. However, it was a decision that Smith was in favor of, having enjoying a healthy working relationship with the company during the span of the initial contract terms.

“They’ve been strong,” Smith told BSB. “They’ve been committed to us, and they understand our philosophy. They can handle all of our teams. We have 36 sports and 1,000 athletes, and they can handle all of that. They have a great brand and this is a great partnership. Who knows what we’ll do after 2018, but the extension was an easy decision.”

While the decision in this case was Nike’s doing, OSU did its due diligence in the past when making decisions about equipment and apparel. Smith said that he had previously met with coaches and other athletics department employees to get feedback about which companies they most enjoyed using. At the time, Nike faced less competition than it may now. Under Armour, a company that has flashed aspirations of competing with Nike, was in its infancy, and Adidas and Reebok have since merged.

“We had the opportunity in previous years where we met with coaches and asked them, ‘If you had your preference, what would it be?’ ” Smith said. “It was Nike. Under Armour couldn’t even fit us because they hadn’t developed yet like they have now. It was a different time, but at that particular time, everyone was happy with Nike.”

During that length of the deal to this point, the Oregon-based company has demonstrated to the Buckeyes why they’re the right choice for Ohio State. Even something as specific as developing the correct color coding for uniforms was taken into account when evaluating the relationship between the two parties.

“They get our colors right,” Smith said. “A lot of people don’t understand how difficult that is. They got the color codes right, and you don’t want to take that risk somewhere else and come out looking pink or something.”


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