The Nike “swoosh’’ is coming to St. Ambrose.
Beginning July 1, Nike will equip nearly all of the athletics teams at St. Ambrose University as part of a major branding initiative to create a cohesive look among the institution’s 24 intercollegiate sports programs.
“This will give us one St. Ambrose athletics department identity that will be consistent from one sport to the next,’’ St. Ambrose men’s and women’s track and field coach Dan Tomlin said.
At a time when the Davenport university is preparing to open a new multi-million dollar recreation and wellness facility adjacent to Lee Lohman Arena, a building that will include new offices and strength and conditioning facilities for the school’s athletics programs, that aspect of the agreement is appealing.
“It’s an exciting time for our programs with the facility improvements taking place, this creates a comradery within our program,’’ St. Ambrose women’s basketball coach Krista Van Hauen said. “This brings us all together and makes us a little unique.’’
While similar branding contracts are in place at nearly every NCAA Division I institution, St. Ambrose will become one of a handful, but growing number of NAIA institutions to become a “Nike school.’’
St. Ambrose teams and coaches will begin transitioning to Nike uniforms, apparel and footwear this fall through an agreement with BSN Sports.
The contract also provides facility branding and the creation of online team shops that will allow fans to purchase official St. Ambrose team gear and apparel.
“I think it will be beneficial for the university and our athletics department,’’ director of athletics Ray Shovlain said. “We’re excited to work with BSN and to become a Nike institution. We feel it is something a number of our student-athletes will welcome as well, being part of a Nike team.’’
Shovlain said that is a question St. Ambrose coaches receive as they recruit prospective student-athletes.
“Recruits do want to know what kind of gear they will be wearing, and for some that is important,’’ Shovlain said.
Tomlin sees that in track, where Nike has been a long-time supplier to United States teams.
“In our sport, nearly all of the top competitors wear Nike spikes and most of the uniforms at the Olympics are Nike uniforms,’’ Tomlin said.
St. Ambrose will benefit in the comprehensive agreement through improved purchasing power and through development of a consistent look over multiple programs.
“In purchasing from different suppliers right now, we have teams wearing three different shades of blue,’’ Tomlin said. “This brings things together.’’
Shovlain said the result should be more consistency in what will be identifiable as a “St. Ambrose look.’’
Van Hauen said the St. Ambrose women’s basketball team has worn Nike gear in recent seasons.
“It’s something our players are comfortable with and they like our team gear,’’ she said. “There are a few schools in our conference that are Nike schools, and it is something that gets noticed.’’
The facility branding component of the agreement will bring noticeable and vibrant changes to St. Ambrose athletics facilities.
That includes a makeover inside of Lee Lohman Arena and in the adjacent facility which will house indoor track and field facilities and multiple courts that will be used by intercollegiate athletes as well as by university students for recreational purposes.
“That part of this is pretty exciting,’’ Tomlin said. “The graphic elements that are part of the facility branding are colorful and have a great look to them. They also help bring everything together.’’