Western Kentucky athletic uniforms will soon feature both red towels and Nike swooshes.
The school announced a partnership Tuesday morning with the iconic apparel provider Nike.
Beginning with the 2017-18 season, Nike will be the official apparel and shoe provider for each of WKU’s 16 athletic teams.
WKU’s deal with Nike will start July 1 and run five years. The money WKU will earn as part of the deal is still to be determined, sources said.
“All of our sport programs and student-athletes will benefit from the relationship with Nike,” athletic director Todd Stewart said in a news release. “We are very excited to partner with the leading and most recognizable brand in athletics.”
A full uniform reveal will occur this summer.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after WKU announced Monday it had mutually discontinued its exclusive on-field sponsorship agreement with Russell Athletic.
Russell will continue to partner with WKU as an apparel licensee, a separate news release said.
“We have enjoyed a terrific partnership with Russell Athletic over the last 10 years,” Stewart said. “Our athletics programs have experienced significant growth during this time, and we are deeply appreciative to Fruit of the Loom and Russell Athletic for their vital role.
“We look forward to continuing to work with them in growing our licensed apparel business.”
The Nike announcement comes less than two years after a five-year extension between WKU and Russell was announced in August 2015. The $3.5 million renewal was scheduled to run from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2021.
WKU won’t have to pay anything to Russell because of the move, sources told the Daily News.
WKU has become a more marketable athletic program than it was when the Russell deal was extended in 2015.
The school has topped Conference USA in championships won across all sports since joining the league in 2014. Two of those titles have been won by the football team, which is 23-5 over the last two years.
Meanwhile men’s basketball recruiting has picked up considerably under coach Rick Stansbury. The basketball recruiting circuit is heavily tied to shoe brands like Nike.
Across-the-board success, football championships and the anticipation of an improved men’s basketball product made WKU marketable to Nike, sources said.
Russell has been partnered with WKU since 2007. The apparel provider’s stake in college sports seems to be dwindling, however.
An Orlando, Fla., bowl game recently known as the Russell Athletic Bowl will now be called the Camping World Bowl, it was announced earlier this month.
Ohio announced last month it was ending its partnership with Russell and entering a deal with Adidas. An anonymous former Ohio coach told the Athens (Ohio) Messenger that “Russell didn’t have any impact” on the basketball recruiting trail.
Georgia Tech’s contract with Russell runs through 2018. WKU’s fellow Conference USA school Southern Miss is also sponsored by Russell.