Big Money Heading to Storrs: UConn Athletics and Nike Agree on $45.5 Million Contract

The Hartford Courant reports that UConn and Nike have reached a 10-year, $45.5 million contract for exclusive sponsorship rights.  The deal is “believed to be one of the biggest in the country.”

The agreement operates as follows:

  • Nike will provide uniforms, sports apparel, practice gear and equipment for all 24 varsity teams
  • The retail value of such items is $33 million; the remaining $12.5 million will be paid in cash to UConn
  • UConn will allow Nike to advertise in UConn venues, make public address announcements and receive tickets to sporting events

UConn’s deal with Nike confirms two points:

  1. Collegiate athletics is, at its core and on its surface to an increasing amount, a large and lucrative business.  UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway was quoted as stating that the deal “will ensure that coaches and athletes are using the best game uniforms, practice gear, apparel and equipment for all aspects of their competitions.”  There is certainly some truth to that statement - Nike makes fine athletics uniforms and gear.  But this is a business decision, nothing more.  If Russell Athletics, or any other provider would have paid UConn $45.6 million, it likely would be UConn’s exclusive outfitter, regardless of any differences in quality.  (For more on the business of collegiate athletics, see Connecticut Sports Law’s article “Is Amateurism Dead in Collegiate Athletics?”)
  2. UConn continues to raise the profile of its athletic program.  On the heels of the UConn-Notre Dame football series, and Football Coach Randy Edsall’s stated ambition to bring teams like Penn State to Rentschler Field, UConn’s intentions are clear - to expand its national success in basketball and become an athletic powerhouse. 


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