After being fed up with Oregon's inability to bring home a national championship in any sport on campus, Nike co-founder and Oregon booster Phil Knight announced on Tuesday during a press conference that he will no longer continue to support Oregon athletics financially. Knight also announced that he will not allow Nike to outfit the Ducks, which left Oregon as a free agent in the apparel market.
"I donate hundreds of millions to build new arenas and facilities, and what do they give me in return? A CBI championship and a couple BCS wins nobody talks about anymore," said Knight. "I take pride in programs who we feel earn the right to wear the swoosh, and Oregon has continued to let me down year in and year out. I won't stand for it anymore."
Fortunately for the Ducks, they didn't go long before the phones were ringing off the hook as apparel companies pounced at the chance to have their logo associated with the flashiest uniforms in the nation. One phone call in particular caught Oregon's attention as Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, provided the Ducks with a deal they couldn't refuse. Beginning this fall, the Oregon Ducks will be outfitted by Under Armor for all sports.
"At Under Armour, we're committed to designing uniforms that make whatever Nike can come up with look like a uniform for a JV football team," said Plank. "I mean, have you seen the Maryland helmets we created? Oregon deserves the best, and that's exactly what we will provide."
The deal is the largest shoe and apparel contract in history, valued at over $100 million. Earlier this year, Under Armour and Notre Dame agreed to a deal worth a reported $90 million.
"They simply made us an offer we couldn't say no to," said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullins. "Here at Oregon, tradition never changes but champions do. We believe this change will provide a fresh start for the school as we compete for a national title next year."
And speaking of a fresh start, the Oregon "O" we've all become so familar with will be a thing of the past. The logo is owned by Nike and as a result of the new deal, will no longer be used to represent the University of Oregon. Plank says his team at Under Armour is already working on creating a new logo for the school, but hasn't disclosed if it will be centered around a letter design or focus heavier on the mascot itself.
"We're looking at all angles," said Plank. "We understand the familiar feeling that the previous logo brought with it to fans, students and alumni, and it is our goal to present a fresh take on a logo that not only represents the teams on the field, but the unviersity behind it as well."
In wake of the news, construction crews have already been spotted around campus removing Nike's "O" logo anywhere it appears on campus, including the large logo that was placed on the Lillis Business Complex when College GameDay used the building as a backdrop in 2011. The move already seems popular on campus as several Under Armour flags were seen hung in the windows of the dorm rooms.
The timing of the announcement was also noted when a reporter at the press conference noted the date on his laptop read April 1.