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Nike Deepens Ties to Fanatics With College Sports Apparel Deal

Irving’s dismissal comes as sportswear brands are coming under increasing public scrutiny for the actions of their high-profile collaborators.
Nike Inc. and Fanatics Inc. have signed a long-term deal to design and manufacture collegiate sports apparel, sharing the rights to serve a number of major universities. (Shutterstock)

Nike Inc. and Fanatics Inc. have signed a long-term deal to design and manufacture collegiate sports apparel, sharing the rights to serve a number of major universities.

As part of the arrangement, Fanatics will make Nike-branded shirts, replica jerseys and other gear for all genders, while Nike focuses on its in-game products for the players. The companies declined to share financial terms.

Nike, based in Beaverton, Oregon, has existing sponsorship agreements with the biggest sports schools in the US. Several major universities are expected to be part of the Fanatics deal, including Alabama, Florida, Clemson, Oklahoma, Penn State and Oregon, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

A spokesperson for Nike said the world’s largest sportswear company is “making a strategic shift in how we serve our NCAA university partners” by deepening its ties to Fanatics. Doug Mack, the chief executive officer of Fanatics Commerce, said the agreement will result in an expanded assortment of Nike-branded merchandise for the colleges involved.

The agreement resembles similar exclusive deals across professional football and baseball. Nike, Fanatics and the National Football League are partway through a 10-year deal under which Fanatics manufactures and distributes fan gear through its e-commerce sites. In 2019, the pair teamed up for another decade-long, three-way partnership with Major League Baseball.

Closely held Fanatics has been aggressively pushing into college sports under CEO Michael Rubin. Earlier this year, the company went school by school to negotiate licensing agreements for NCAA sports cards, building a network of more than 100 universities. It also lined up a deal to make customisable college player jerseys with athlete marketing agency OneTeam Partners.

Learn more:

Brands Can Now Work With College Athletes. What Are the Rules?

Thousands of American college athletes are able to cash in on their name and image for the first time, beginning Jul 2021. Fashion labels are already lining up to tap star players for branded content, endorsements and product deals.

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