The University of Illinois is sticking with the swoosh.
UI’s Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) and Nike Inc. said Tuesday that they have extended their partnership for an additional 10 years, through the 2025-26 academic year.
The athletic giant had already been the exclusive footwear and apparel outfitter for the university’s DIA for the past two decades. The latest contract renewal will take effect on July 1, 2016.
“We are extremely pleased to extend our outstanding relationship and partnership with Nike,” UI Interim Director of Athletics Paul Kowalczyk said in a release. “Their commitment to us reinforces the fact that we have one of the strongest brands in college sports as this agreement has a value among the Top 20 in all of collegiate athletics. We will continue to work together to equip our student-athletes with the most exciting, cutting-edge apparel and equipment, while providing our fans a myriad of ways to display their Fighting Illini pride.”
As with the existing agreement, the university said in a release, all of Illinois’ 21 varsity teams will wear Nike products, gear, uniforms, shoes and specified equipment and accessories.
“Nike is especially proud to extend our longstanding relationship with the University of Illinois,” said Kit Morris, senior director of Nike College Sports Marketing, in a release. “We strongly support the institution’s commitment to competing at the highest level and look forward to serving Fighting Illini student-athletes, teams, coaches and programs in the years ahead.”
The announcement comes at a time when the battle for college sports sponsorships is heating up. Companies like Under Armour Inc. — which landed what was said to be one of the most valuable footwear-and-apparel contracts in college-sports history with its University of Notre Dame deal last year — are garnering increased attention from young athletes and securing relationships that set their brands up to grow in tandem with the popularity of their rising-star endorsers.
Just last week, Nike and Ohio State University agreed to extend their partnership for 15 years. The deal will take effect in August 2018 and has been valued at a record-high $252 million.