UM has Strong Ties to Nike – No Protests Heard from Griz Fans
Nike took a step into the political realm recently by signing Colin Kaepernick to be featured in an ad that reads ‘Believe in something. Even if it means losing everything.’
The ad campaign has drawn sharp criticism from many around the country with some posting videos of them burning their Nike merchandise, however, the University of Montana has heard little or no protests yet from Griz fans.
UM Athletic Director Kent Haslam said on Wednesday that his office has received no negative reaction to the new Nike campaign.
“We haven’t had any significant feedback,” said Haslam. “We definitely have a great relationship with Nike that’s very beneficial to the athletic department, but we’re certainly not intimately involved with any of their marketing or advertising decisions, that’s for sure.”
Haslam said UM alumnus and Missoula native Eric Sprunk, the Chief Operating Officer of Nike, has helped the Montana Grizzlies to have a close relationship with the company.
“We have what is called a team sports contract that allows us to get a certain amount of equipment for free, as well as a significant discount on the equipment we purchase. These are shoes and uniforms, workout gear and all kinds of sports apparel that we would need to be buying anyway, and having this relationship saves us a great deal of money.”
Haslam said the average football player hits the field at Washington Grizzly Stadium wearing a small fortune in protective gear.
“It costs us well over $2,000 to outfit a football player, and that’s obviously money well spent,” he said. “That money is spent on every player, from the starting quarterback to the walk-on player, because the safety has to be there for every player. We’re talking about helmets and shoulder and knee pads and knee braces and shoes, and all the other things that go into it.”
Nike has also partnered with the UM School of Business hosting two internships in their finance division.
Sprunk was the featured speaker at the 2018 UM Commencement.