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Nike and Ohio State agree to 15-year contract extension

Members of the Ohio State football team pose before the Buckeyes' 38-10 victory over Penn State on Oct. 17. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

Members of the Ohio State football team pose before the Buckeyes’ 38-10 victory over Penn State on Oct. 17.
Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo Editor

Earlier in the week, The Wall Street Journal named Ohio State the most valuable program in college football, worth over $946 million. A fourth consecutive 12-win season for coach Urban Meyer and a Fiesta Bowl victory — among other factors — were enough to earn the Buckeyes the accolade for a second consecutive year.

Thursday evening, the old cliché, “the rich get richer,” held true with OSU’s groundbreaking deal with Nike Inc., announcing its 15-year, $252 million agreement that extends the two parties’ partnership through July 2033. According to the contract, OSU will receive $112 million in product from Nike and $103 million in cash, including royalties.

“The innovative 15-year agreement announced today delivers unsurpassed value to the university by investing heavily in Ohio State’s student-athletes while also providing benefits for the broader student body,” said Chris Davey, an OSU spokesman, in a statement on Thursday.

OSU’s contract with the sports apparel powerhouse surpasses Nike’s 15-year, $250 million deal with the University of Texas and its 11-year agreement with the University of Michigan, which is worth up to $169 million. Both were then-collegiate sports sponsorship records.

Sponsorships with athletic apparel companies such as Nike, Adidas and Under Armour have dominated the collegiate sports scene in the recent era. Locker rooms at major university programs have turned into modern-day country clubs to attract the most sought-after recruits. Big-name celebrities associated with athletic programs attract prized and young high-school athletes too.

Just last month, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James — a noted Buckeye fanatic — inked a lifetime deal with Nike worth more than $500 million. In its basketball locker room, OSU has an aesthetic display of James’ shoe line documenting each shoe since its affiliation began in 2007. Michigan, too, aligned itself with the “Jumpman” logo of Nike’s Jordan Brand in August to entice athletes who could possibly shape its program.

However, Nike is taking a new approach to the college landscape. In its new deal with OSU, more than $41 million will be set aside for students who are nonathletes seeking scholarships and internships within the multibillion dollar company. Each summer term, Nike is responsible for funding paid internships for two student-athletes and four undergraduates, stated in Paragraph 9 of the contract.

“The comprehensive nature of this partnership is a win for all Ohio State students,” University President Michael Drake said in a press release. “The expanded commitment by Nike will support access, affordability and excellence for Buckeye students and student-athletes.”

Athletic Director Gene Smith said he sees the benefit for all students in the blockbuster contract with Nike, as well.

“We approached this as a university contract,” Smith said in the press release. “Under this partnership, every student — whether they play club sports, Division I sports or no sports at all — will be eligible to benefit.”

The majority of the benefits begin in 2018 and 2019.

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