Nike to outfit division’s schools

Published 10:23 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

One meeting nearly seven weeks ago between Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon and Hampton Roads grassroots basketball icon Boo Williams at The Plaid Turnip set in motion a deal that will have every Suffolk public school outfitted in Nike gear.

Under the terms of an agreement with BSN Sports and Nike that Gordon announced at Thursday’s School Board meeting, the division’s schools will receive $58,000 in free products, and an additional $3,000 in equipment bonuses. The contract takes effect July 1.

“He made one phone call, and the next day I was talking to a Nike rep,” Gordon said.

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The three high schools — King’s Fork, Lakeland and Nansemond River — will receive $12,000 in free products.

Middle schools will each receive $2,000 in free products, elementary schools $1,000 each, and Turlington Woods and the College and Career Academy at Pruden $500 each. Regional and state championship teams will also receive additional free products.

The high schools will receive a $2,000 equipment bonus and middle schools $1,000.

“Our contract that we have is on the same level as Division I (colleges) across the nation,” said Gordon, who presented Nike T-shirts to each board member during the announcement.

He noted that multiple companies bid on the contract with the school, including Nike, Under Armour and Adidas. The gear isn’t solely for athletics. For school sponsored clubs and activities such as drama and forensics, “we’ve got Nike gear for you too,” Gordon said.

“There was actually a bidding war going on due to the fact that we have outstanding student-athletes, coaches,” Gordon said, “and just the overall culture of the importance of extracurricular activities in the city of Suffolk.”

He credited Williams, Purchasing Manager Anthony Hinds and Rick Ennis of BSN Sports, a regional Nike distributor, for getting the deal done, and noted that he and Director of Secondary Leadership Dr. Ron Leigh spoke with athletic directors about the status of current apparel contracts.

Gordon said one of the things that made the deal an attractive one was the opportunity for people to purchase Nike-branded school apparel and spirit gear through a BSN MYTeam Shop that will be online soon, he said, as each school gets an 8-percent rebate for everything purchased.

“We wanted to take care of all of our schools, and not just make this a high school contract like some school divisions have done,” Gordon said.

Gordon said the division will not be purchasing the Nike gear at retail. Rather, it will receive a 40-percent discount. He said there will also be a branding and marketing plan that will account for national signing days at high schools and signage to advertise events at each school.

“We always want to make sure that we have equity in our school division,” Gordon said. “And we are one of the few in the country that has a contract such as this.”

He expects high school uniforms to be ordered in March to allow for them to be ready by the fall. Nike will be giving the school division three to five years to phase out gear it has already purchased.

Gordon teased another deal in the works — possibly by March or April — but said it is with the idea that, like the Nike deal, it would provide city students with more opportunities to keep them involved and interested in school.

“Our kids in Suffolk are going to have the best of everything,” Gordon said. “And the goal is to really associate SPS with global brands that are elite, premier.”