By Daniel Rocchi
Ryerson Athletics officially introduced its new apparel partnership with Nike on Tuesday morning.
A small crowd and contingents from the school’s varsity teams were on hand at the Student Learning Centre for the unveiling of the initiative that sees Nike replace Adidas as the university’s official athletic wear supplier.
“Ryerson is distinct and unique, and by branding and teaming ourselves up with Nike, we continue that reputation as staying unique and innovative just as Nike is with their products,” said Ryerson athletic director Ivan Joseph.
The deal in its present form applies only to Ryerson’s varsity teams, but clubs and recreational groups will be able to dress their players through Nike depending on individual groups’ fundraising initiatives and finances.
“Just like we did with our previous deal [with Adidas], all our discounts, they get, and all our branding and all our merchandising, they get,” said Joseph. “They get the same benefits our varsity athletes get from a costing perspective, so whenever they want to go order it, we’ll be happy to facilitate it.”
But Joseph said there’s also no urgency to force non-varsity teams to adopt Nike apparel.
“I don’t want to make it that they have to,” he said. “If they’ve got great uniforms [already], I don’t want to make them feel like this is the way to go.”
The Eyeopener reported the new deal near the end of last semester, but information regarding the exact cost of the deal was not available, according to associate athletic director Stephanie White.
“I’m not allowed to give out details of the contracts, but I’d like to think it [the cost] is comparable [to Adidas],” White told The Eyeopener in April.
The men’s basketball team began wearing Nike apparel in January thanks to head coach Roy Rana’s connections with the company, but the new deal will have every varsity team sporting Nike gear. Ryerson’s five-year contract with Adidas expired in 2014 and the school began searching for a new supplier in early 2015.
“It says big things for Ryerson, like Ryerson is the place to be,” said fourth-year men’s basketball player Adika Peter-McNeilly. “If you’re not at Ryerson then I don’t know where you want to be because every sport is up-and-coming. You can’t name more than three or four schools in the OUA that [use] Nike, so it’s just that place to be right now.”
Following the introduction ceremony, Nike representatives led participants on a 2.5 kilometre run around campus. The new partnership will feature an increased Nike brand presence on campus, including pop-up shops at the Mattamy Athletic Centre and the Recreation and Athletics Centre, and initiatives with the university to promote healthy and active lifestyles on campus.