EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) - The University of Oregon’s strong relationship with Nike has been well documented, leading to unique uniforms and national exposure.
Now after another successful football recruiting class, some are asking “is the Nike gear helping bring new Ducks to the University?”
There’s no doubt the Ducks’ football success has helped with recruiting, but some wonder if some special shoes may also play a role in the process.
A notorious set of Air Jordan IV shoes were made exclusively for the 2012 Oregon Ducks football team. The original Air Jordan IV shoe came out in 1989. The shoe's design was brought back and remixed exclusively for the Ducks as a travel shoe.
Players are allowed to wear one pair of loaner travel shoes, provided by the University, during the weekends when games occur. The team then collects the shoes after the game, at the end of the weekend. Players are not allowed to sell the shoes or even keep the shoes, which would be against NCAA regulations.
The travel shoes that Nike designed are uniquely Oregon with black, yellow and green coloring and special Oregon Os on the tongue and heel of the shoe. The heel plate is actually made out of a special material and coated with the same metallic paint that is featured on the team’s helmets.
Nike also made a white pair of the Jordan IV’s which many basketball players wear for travel days. On that exclusive shoe, Nike replaced the Michael Jordan 'Jumpman' logo with a similar style logo with an Oregon Duck dunking a basketball.
Adding to the mystique, the shoes are also not for sale on the open market. But as the players wore the shoes during their travel, word got out about their exclusivity and so did photos. That lead many celebrities and Nike athletes to try to get their hands on a pair straight from the company.
Recently, NBA players Dwayne Wade and LeBron James were spotted wearing the Jordan IVs, also rapper Wale and NFL star Victor Cruz have been seen sporting the shoes. While none of the celebrities are actually University of Oregon alumni, they have all praised the design and 'cool factor' of the shoe.
Seeing celebrities and football players wearing some of the most exclusive Nike gear on the market with Oregon logos has created a buzz with many 'sneakerheads' (shoe collectors) and sports fans across the world.
Many wonder could something as simple as a pair of Nike shoes give more recruiting leverage to the University of Oregon?
Last month University of Oregon football player Arik Armstead tweeted, “What’s on ya’ll feet? Perks of being an Oregon athlete,” with a photo of the white Jordan IVs featuring the Jumpman Duck. You can view the Tweet at: https://twitter.com/arikarmstead/status/289594078297985024
NewsSource 16 asked the University of Oregon Athletic Department’s Craig Pintens about the shoe perks and whether or not they help rope in big name recruits. Pintens is the Senior Associate Athletic Director of Marketing and Public Relations.
"That's something that you'd probably have to ask each individual recruit. At the end of the day it does create great brand awareness. Whether it's facilities, whether its uniforms, whether it's a travel shoe - those are all forms that definitely get our brand out there,” says Craig Pintens.
In a recent interview with Sole Collector magazine, the man behind the Oregon Ducks Nikes, Tinker Hatfield said he doesn’t make the shoes on an annual schedule. However, Hatfield says many associated with the team have told him that the shoes have been a great motivational tool as they're not guaranteed.
Click here to read the full Sole Collector magazine article about the creation of the exclusive Oregon shoes: http://solecollector.com/news/for-doug-from-tinker-the-oregon-air-jordan-iv-tribute/#axzz2K3NWmPQb