Nike is making a strategic shift in how it makes apparel for NCAA fans

Georgia Bulldogs NCAA teams up with Nike

Courtesy: Fanatics

Sports commerce platform Fanatics enters into a long-term partnership with Nike to manufacture college sports fan apparel.

The partnership will involve working with the Fanatics College division, which already partners with most Nike-sponsored colleges and universities. Manufacturing is expected to begin in the summer of 2024, according to people familiar with the matter.

Fanatics provided CNBC with a statement from Fanatics Commerce CEO Doug Mack saying he is “delighted to maximize the value of Nike’s college partnerships,” but declined further comment.

Nike said in a statement that it is making a strategic shift in how it serves NCAA college partners and is expanding its licensing relationships with Fanatics and Branded Custom Sportswear, another college partner, to include Nike retail apparel. NCAA and secondary products.

Nike has some of the biggest contracts with top college athletic programs to kit out their school teams, worth millions of dollars. According to the Sports Business Journal, Nike and its Jordan brand outfitted 48 teams in the last NCAA basketball tournament, its highest total ever. It also powers more than half of Division I football programs.

Nike will continue to make apparel and merchandise for its varsity team partners, including on-court apparel, sources say.

Fanatics will manufacture, among other things, clothing for supporters, replica jerseys, sideline clothing, headgear and equipment for female supporters. The Fanatics’ new deal will include a select group of Nike’s college and university partners, with Ohio State, Georgia, Clemson, Oregon, Oklahoma and Penn State among the likely participants, according to sources, and investing in the growth of the women’s apparel business is among the goals of the partnership.

Fanatics already has exclusive licensing agreements with the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, as well as various colleges and universities. Several of these deals, including the NFL, NBA, and MLB, also overlap with Nike’s jersey and apparel offerings.

Fanatics is a major hub for sporting goods, as well as sports-themed home, office and automotive consumer products. The company is also expanding into online sports betting. The three times CNBC 50 Disruptor The company has a private valuation of $27 billion.

It has made several acquisitions in recent years as a private company. In 2020 it acquired sporting goods maker WinCraft, and earlier this year it bought trading card company Topps for $500 million. Last month, CNBC reported that Fanatics was in talks to buy sports betting company Tipico, although a deal has yet to be reached.

Topps will launch a line of trading cards featuring college athletes in the upcoming fall season, part of a deal that parent company Fanatics says will cut some players on profits and pair them for the first time to school logos on cards. The program will include over 150 schools featuring current and former athletes. The company has also entered into agreements with more than 200 individual student-athletes from these schools to use their names and likenesses. And the plan is to keep adding schools and athletes, Fanatics said.

The majority of schools in the Power Five conference will participate in the new Fanatics trading card deal, including Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Oregon and Texas A&M.

The recently expanded name, image and likeness rules allowed college athletes to sign sponsorship deals, opening up additional opportunities regarding apparel and merchandise. Fanatics recently reached a deal that would allow fans to purchase college football jerseys personalized with the names and number of active players who would be compensated.

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