End Of An Era: Phil Knight Retires At Nike, Mark Parker Assumes Chairman Role

Nike Phil Knight Stanford University
Nike's Phil Knight.

It’s the end of an era at Nike Inc. Exactly one year after the athletic giant announced its succession plans, industry legend Phil Knight officially stepped down as chairman on Thursday.

As previously planned, CEO Mark Parker has officially added the chairman’s role.

“Phil’s impact on Nike is immeasurable,” Parker said in a statement late Thursday. “His entrepreneurial drive is and always will be part of our DNA. Along with Nike’s exceptional management team, I am committed to leading our next era of innovation and growth as we serve and inspire athletes throughout the world.”

mark-parker Nike President and CEO Mark Parker. Getty Images.

The Nike board also appointed Knight to the position of chairman emeritus, with a standing invitation to attend Nike Board meetings as an observer and to lend his experience to further the growth of Nike’s business. “I could not be more pleased with the board’s thoughtful execution of the succession plan, and am thrilled that an outstanding leader like Mark will head the Board,” said Knight. “I intend to continue to work to promote the company’s business in my new role for as long as I can contribute to Nike’s success and long-term growth.”

phil knight nike billions donate charity Phil Knight on “CBS Sunday Morning.” CBS

Known for rarely speaking to the public, Knight recently released his candid tell-all, “Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike.”

The book recounts Knight’s journey from being a runner at the University of Oregon (though not one of the best) to his desire to find a career that would allow him to “play all the time, instead of working. Or else to enjoy work so much that it becomes essentially the same thing.”

Phil Knight Memoir 'Shoe Dog' The Nike founder recounts the rise of the athletic powerhouse. Courtesy of Scribner.

The 78-year-old industry icon also recently announced he would donate most of his $25 billion net worth.

Meanwhile, in another big move, Nike appointed Apple CEO Tim Cook as its lead independent director.