Orange Watch: Success of Syracuse football spurs renewal of Nike apparel deal

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Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey speaks to reporters during a press conference. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Item: With a partnership that dates back to former athletic director Jake Crouthamel and the 1982-83 academic calendar year when the basketball team wore Nike sneakers, it was no surprise that current athletic director John Wildhack announced last week that the university has extended its partnership with Nike, with undisclosed financial figures and length of the deal. The goal of the renewal is to both captivate on the success of the football program’s rise nationally, and ensure all 20 men’s and women’s programs benefit with plenty of top-line performance products, the latest technology behind it, and a few other perks.

June is the one month each year that college football and basketball fans crave information. So far this month Syracuse has delivered with news about ongoing logistical changes to the athletic department’s operations because of next year’s Dome roof renovation, non-conference basketball games being added to the schedule, promotion of Friday night’s open-to-the-public “Orange Summer Kickoff” at Turning Stone Resort, and the Nike deal which means more revenue, the latest performance gear, new fan merchandise choices, and important annual summer internships for SU athletes at the company’s Beaverton, Ore. headquarters.

The Nike extension is also huge because while Syracuse is not Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, or Oklahoma as an elite Nike football program, it is on the verge of an ongoing ACC breakthrough that combined with the basketball tradition made the ‘Cuse a very attractive client to keep in Nike’s portfolio.

» Related: The renewal of Syracuse basketball facing Georgetown fits perfectly in non-conference schedule

After all, according to Wildhack, research shows that the men’s basketball team was the first school Nike partnered with in hoops during an ’83 season which resulted in a second-round NCAA loss to Ohio State in Hartford.

“It’s very important to us,” Wildhack said last week in announcing the renewal, “That all 600 of our student-athletes will benefit (from this deal) was a priority. It increases product for each sport, which will allow individual sports to better dedicate their resources, operational areas, and recruiting.”

For those occupants of Orange Nation, there’s good news as well. From a desire to purchase orange football jerseys and assorted other basketball regalia, to perhaps a new look on the field or court, Wildhack told cuse.com that all figured into his negotiations.

“Our fans want to be associated with premier brands, and Nike certainly fits that criteria,” Wildhack explained. “I encourage our partners to be creative, whether that’s special dates that we do, commemorative jerseys, special recognition, making the most popular product available for our fans to buy is important. And fan feedback went into a lot of the negotiations we had with Nike.”

Next time you’re looking for a specific piece of Orange merchandise, such as an orange football or basketball jersey, or you want to see the football team change its jerseys dating to 2014 and remove the annoying tall and narrow shape of the numbers “mimicking the height of New York City’s skyline,” you can thank Wildhack for evolving the department’s look and feel.

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Brad Bierman
About Brad Bierman 602 Articles
Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.