Deion Sanders has said he would by no means work with Nike as quickly as extra.
That’s been his reply In current occasions when requested about sporting Nike footwear or resuming his relationship with the shoe agency That when assisted make him rich:
“Never,” he said in 2017.
He has given a quantity of causes for this, all private.
So how is The earlier two-sport superstar working round this now That He is The mannequin new head soccer coach at Colorado, a Nike-sponsored school since 1995? Barely awkwardly at first, Based mostly on contracts obtained by USA Right now Sports activities and an abundance of video footage of Sanders on the job in Boulder.
After slicing ties with Nike A few yrs in the past, Sanders has had a relationship with Beneath Armour, a Nike rival, since 2009, Based mostly on Beneath Armour.
However then in December, Sanders was employed at Colorado, whose sponsorship settlement with Nike runs by way of June 2025. That contract says the college shall require its soccer coaches and group members to “solely” use Nike merchandise all by way of video recreations, practices and completely different college-sanctioned actions Similar to interviews and photograph durations. Sanders’ 5-yr contract with Colorado even states:
“Coach agrees that Always whereas He’s appearing in his official performance as head soccer coach (collectively with teaching, recruiting, fundraising, displaying on tv or radio As a Outcome of the prime coach, and so on.,) He’ll put on NIKE-University co-mannequined merchandise, as relevant.”
Colorado coach Deion Sanders faces A clumsy state of affairs As a Outcome of the varsity has a contract with Nike, An group he had vowed to by no means work with as quickly as extra.
This in flip has created A fragile state of affairs involving The private pursuits of a nationwide sports superstar (Sanders) and the enterprise pursuits of two completely differents – his new employer (Colorado) and An monumental sports attire agency (Nike).
He’s solely been on the job about eight weeks but nonetheless has made a flurry of nationwide media appearances By which he has not worn Colorado Nike garments on digital camperiod.
‘Cheatin’ on somebody’
Sanders Instead has worn Colorado hats and shirts with out Nike emblems, collectively with on ESPN’s “School GameDay” Jan. 9, on Fox after an NFL playoff recreation Jan. 14 and Jan. 16 on ESPN2’s “ManningCast.”
He did put on a white Colorado Nike jacket when he appeared on “CBS Mornings” on Jan. 10. However he modified his prime later that day when he appeared on “The Pat McAfee Current” in a non-Nike Colorado hat and a hooded Colorado sweatshirt with no apparent Nike emblem.
In a single behind-the-scenes video posted on YouTube Jan. 11, Sanders was proven making an try on Nike footwear at CU To assist his ailing ft. Sanders said then it wAs a Outcome of the primary time he had worn Nikes in “A minimal of 15 yrs.”
“Really feel like I’m cheatin’ on somebody,” Sanders said on the video from Thee Prerecreation Current.
It nonetheless wasn’t clear whether or not this was solely A quick lived matter of comfort, since he now works in a CU athletics constructing stocked with Nike footput on. Sanders didn’t immediately Reply to a request for remark by way of his repredespatchedatives or CU.
Sanders’ shoe sensitivity
Once well-known for his quick ft, Sanders, 55, has been hobbled by foot factors In current occasions, collectively with the amputation of two toes. He even was proven Getting ready for a foot remedy in a YouTube video dated Jan. 13 – after perioddicating black Beneath Armour footwear. On Jan. 23, his Instagram account conagencyed him praising a cargo of ancompletely different shoe mannequin designed To assist him Together with his discomfort. It wasn’t Nike. It was Oofos, a shoe mannequin designed To Scale again stress on the ft.
“I Choose it man,” Sanders said. “These are unbelievable – the look.”
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He was photographgraphed sporting these footwear this week. Other YouTube movies documenting his new job in Boulder since early December typically have proven Sanders sporting an array of Colorado sports attire with out the Nike emblem, collectively with A mannequin new line of CU gear that consists of his nickname – “Coach Prime.” In some clips this month He’s proven sporting CU caps with Nike emblems on the facet, collectively with one video By which he Is furtherly sporting a white Beneath Armour jacket and black Beneath Armour sweatshirt.
Such movies Aren’t formally sanctioned by the college and Instead Are typically produced by his son Deion Jr., who posts them on YouTube under his mannequin Properly Off Media. Sanders Jr. posted ancompletely different video Jan. 23 By which Michael Smith, CU’s assistant athletic director for sports gear providers, tried To predespatched Sanders some Nike garments.
“These are The primary 4 issues that we’ve acquired simply to Sort of get you a little Little bit of swooshed swag,” Smith said, referring to the Nike Swoosh emblem.
“Mm-hmm,” Sanders replied earlier than he fliped his considperiodtion to group unitype designs.
Why does it matter? Every celebration On this association has a stake Inside the emblems Sanders put ons, particularly as gross sales of Colorado attire have soared since his hiring.
Nike didn’t reflip messages looking for remark. Beneath Armour predespatchedd A press launch to USA Right now Sports activities in December but declined further remark.
“Beneath Armour has a prolongedstanding relationship with Deion Sanders strand so onhing again to 2009,” The agency said. “We’re Joyful with our partnership and all that he has achieved positively impappearing athletes. We want Coach Prime Definitely one of the biggest as he assumes the position of head coach for Colorado and Look forward to watching him find continued success.”
Sanders’ bitter relationship with Nike
This has been private to him. He encountered An identical state of affairs after he was employed as coach at Jackson State in Mississippi in 2020. Jackson State then was a Nike-sponsored school till Sanders modified that by bringing in Beneath Armour, whose founder, Kevin Plank, is his good friend.
His feelings on this matter Reflip to 1992, when he signed an endorsement Deal with Nike and starred in nationwide commercials for The agency as a two-sport star Inside the NFL and Main League Baseball. He even assisted design Nike signature footwear To look like mini-Lamborghinis on turf.
The drawback is he doesn’t assume he has been correctly compensated for the latter. He defined it in an interview about sneakers in 2017, when he said he assisted create his signature Nike footwear with Nike designer Tracy Teague.
“That’s why I’m upset with them proper now,” he tprevious Joe La Puma of Complicated, a multimediAn group that covers Properly-appreciated tradition. “We created these collectively, but they don’t Want to seed me. They don’t Want to direct-deposit.”
“Do you assume you’ll maybe work with Nike as quickly as extra?” La Puma requested Inside the video from 2017.
“Never,” Sanders replied. “I’m an Beneath Armour man.”
More Nike factors
Sanders has had completely different grievances with Nike, too. He has said Nike didn’t Want To assist him fund youth sports leagues, in distinction to Beneath Armour. “I’ve acquired to have a plan to sustaInside the shorties, with the youth leagues and all that, They typically weren’t with it,” Sanders said on Full Measurement Run, a sneaker converse show, in 2019.
“You’ve acquired to Watch out The way you deal with people Because you by no means know,” he said.
Sanders furtherly has said he by no means met Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder and typeer CEO, regardless of All of the money they made collectively Inside the Nineteen Nineties.
“I assumed that was Sort of offensive,” Sanders said on The identical show in 2019.
“Will you ever put on these previous (Nike) footwear type again Inside the day?” Sanders was requested then.
“Never,” he said. “Never.”
Why it issues to Nike
The agency’s prolongedtime Deal with Colorado is about visibility for its mannequin, Similar to its sponsorship settlements with many completely different schools, recreationrs and groups. In commerce for that publicity, The agency has agreed to pay Colorado about $3 million yrly in money and Nike merchandise – $750,000 this yr in money, plus $2.3 million in merchandise.
Its relationship with Colorado goes again to 1995, when CU was a prime 25 soccer program that had gained a share of the nationwide championship in 1990 and Heisman Trophy in 1994 with working again Rashaan Salaam. Colorado’s moonshot hiring of Sanders arguably amplifies its nationwide publicity to its highest level since that period.
However it’s not serving to Nike maximize its reflip on funding with Colorado if In all probability the most seen Colorado athletics worker is sporting completely different athletic attire on digital camperiod and praising footwear from A particular mannequin.
Its contract with CU says that a coach’s sporting of “non-athletic” attire in connection Together with his teaching shall not repredespatched a breach of contract. It furtherly states a group member can put on non-Nike footput on if He’s unable to put on Nike As a Outcome of of A licensed medical situation – As prolonged as the mannequin of that completely different footput on is taped over or coated.
Why it issues to Colorado
Colorado’s prolongedtime marriage with Nike might go south if Nike believes It is breaching its contract by not forcing its head soccer coach to put on Nike gear “as relevant.” Nike might Attempt and terminate the sponsorship contract with CU On this circumstance, which furtherly might Finish in a dispute over money.
However Sanders means extra to the Buffaloes proper now than the Nike Swoosh emblem. Could Sanders’ lack of enthusiasm for Nike immediate Nike to terminate its Deal with CU earlier than its contract runs out?
Or does Nike Want To Persist with the Buffaloes As prolonged as potential, now that The agency stands To understand A lot extra publicity from a Colorado group That is much extra nationwidely related under Sanders? Even when Sanders doesn’t Want to put on Nike, the recreationrs and completely different coaches nonetheless Shall be Wearing Nike attire Based mostly on the sponsorship contract.
Sanders did put on a Colorado hat with Nike emblem on the facet all by way of his introductory information convention at CU Dec. 4. Afterward, USA Right now Sports activities requested CU athletic director Rick George Regarding the apparent battle between CU as a Nike school and Sanders as an Beneath Armour endorser.
“It gained’t make a distinction,” he said then.
USA Right now Sports activities despatched the college Questions on this primeic agaOn this week but didn’t immediately get options. It’s a sensitive topic for delicate ft.
Adjust to reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: [email protected]
This textual content material initially appeared on USA Right now: Deion Sanders, Nike Discover your self to be A clumsy match at Colorado