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Nike Expands Fanatics Partnership in ‘Strategic Shift’ in NCAA Apparel

Nike will extend its licensing relationship with Fanatics and Branded Custom Sportswear to include NCAA retail fanwear and sideline products.

The new arrangement will make Fanatics Brands—the licensing giant’s in-house apparel and manufacturing division—the fan apparel and headwear licensee for Nike for a “select group of leading colleges and universities starting in summer 2024,” Fanatics said. Products will include fan apparel, replica jerseys, headwear, sideline apparel and women’s fan gear.

“Nike is committed to delivering the best product innovation for our athletes and consumers, and to creating marketplace opportunities for our partners,” Nike said in a statement. “Nike Inc. is making a strategic shift in how we serve our NCAA university partners, ensuring access to the best product innovation.”

The new partnership was “enabled” by the creation and launch of similar merchandising models for the NFL and MLB, Fanatics said. The dynamic allows the two companies “to do what they do best,” it added, with Fanatics focused on the fan experience and Nike dedicated to product innovation and performance. The overall program will include “close collaboration” with the Fanatics College division, which already partners with “most” Nike-sponsored colleges and universities, the licensing company noted.

The arrangement will place a specific focus on the investment and growth of Nike’s women’s apparel business, according to Fanatics. “Investing in women athletes and fans makes sport as a whole better and, together, Nike and Fanatics share a vision of celebrating and empowering present and future generations,” it said.

The expanded relationship, which comes just over a year since the NCAA opened the door for student athletes to sign name, image and likeness (NIL) deals, further extends Fanatics’ investment in college sports. In June, Fanatics Collectibles and Topps—Fanatics bought the trading card company in January—announced “broad-scale” college physical and digital card deals with more than 100 universities nationwide that will incorporate official university trademarks and feature both current and past student athletes. Earlier this year, Fanatics and OneTeam Partners unveiled plans to launch a jersey customization program that will allow fans to create jerseys for current college athletes.

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“We are proud to expand our long-standing partnership with Nike and implement our innovative vertical commerce model across their preeminent roster of universities,” Doug Mack, CEO of Fanatics Commerce and vice chairman of Fanatics Holdings, said in a statement. “Our team is excited to maximize the value of Nike’s college partnerships by creating faster speed-to-market of fan gear through our agile supply chain, resulting in an expanded assortment of both timeless and on-trend Nike-branded merchandise for college fans and retailers everywhere.”