Due to the rising popularity from their noteworthy accomplishments, the Kansas State football and basketball teams have placed the university in a position to make improvements. K-State’s current apparel deal with Nike will expire in 2024, opening an exclusive negotiating window and allowing the school to only engage in talks with Nike, Gene Taylor, athletic director, said.
Taylor, men’s basketball head coach Jerome Tang and football head coach Chris Klieman will travel to Oregon next week to discuss a new deal with Nike at Nike World Headquarters.
“[We’ll] just sit down and talk about K-State, this success, where we see ourselves with Nike, some things we’d like to see, what a deal may look like,” Taylor said about the parameters of their meeting with Nike. “If it’s to our liking, we’ll probably extend. If not, we’ll consider all our options. Right now we’re pleased with Nike. It’s just, can we get a better deal? That’s what we are trying to figure out.”
Taylor said while the quality of Nike products has satisfied the university, there are a few areas of improvement K-State seeks in a new deal.
“Sideline gear has been a challenge for Nike to get out, and when we have popular items that our coaches are wearing and our fans are wanting, it’s hard to get into retail stores because Nike’s slow to produce that,” Taylor said.
Taylor said a new deal with Nike will focus on the product and may include possible “product in cash, if there’s any cash.” “Product in cash” would give cash to the athletic department as part of the contract.
Taylor, Tang and Klieman have all received national recognition for their performance in their respective positions, either as top honorees or finalists for prestigious awards. The success they have brought to football and basketball is something Taylor wants Nike to recognize.
“The more success we have, the more eyeballs,” Taylor said. “For instance, the impressions we had on our Elite Eight run, how many people saw us wear Nike … that’s a good thing. Hopefully that helps them [Nike] understand, the visibility of K-State Athletics, particularly football and basketball, is at a high level right now.”
The visibility of the football and basketball teams has also helped recruiting in other sports programs at K-State, Taylor said. He said the overall interest in school athletics can be assessed by fan investment, and that season tickets for football are at a 90% renewal rate compared to 75% at this time last year.
“We were a great story to not be picked to win the Big 12 in football, but we did,” Taylor said. “It was a great story to be picked last in basketball and to make the run we did and then some individual stories [Deuce Vaughn, Markquise Nowell, Keyontae Johnson, etc.]. People like the fact that we had to come from behind to win all those games and they like the underdog, so to speak. All that continues to drive interest in K-State.”