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Vols, Nike sign eight-year deal

Tennessee’s future with Nike is no longer a rumor.

Tennessee's Neyland Stadium (News Sentinel photo)

It’s a fact.

The Vols and Nike have agreed to an eight-year deal that’s set to begin in July 2015 — when the program’s current deal with longtime supplier adidas ends.

"We were very thorough and deliberate in assessing and evaluating our options with our apparel partner decision, (and) Nike is the right partner for the University of Tennessee moving forward,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said, according to a Friday release from the school’s athletic department. “We appreciate our current partner and the strong relationship we have had for many years. We will continue to work together through the end of the existing contract."

According to the contract, Tennessee it set to receive at least $35 million — and possibly much more — from Nike over that eight-year period.

Tennessee is set to receive $7.6 million in cash and more than $23.7 million in Nike products over the length of the agreement, as well as a $2 million signing bonus and $1.6 million in other services, according to the contract. Tennessee also could earn extra money — anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 — in incentives for success (SEC championships, national championships, playoff appearances, etc.) in high-profile sports such as football and men’s and women’s basketball.

Nike, as adidas has done since 1997, will have an all-sport agreement with Tennessee.

“Nike is especially proud to resume our association with the University of Tennessee,” said Kit Morris, Nike Sports Marketing Director, in a statement released by the Tennessee athletic department. “We admire their rich tradition and are enthusiastic to begin working once again with Volunteer student-athletes, coaches, and programs.”

Tennessee isn’t the only — or even largest, in terms of licensing revenue — blue-blood athletic department to recently announce a parting of ways with adidas. Notre Dame earlier this month announced its plans to partner with Under Armour on a 10-year deal, leaving Michigan as the highest-profile collegiate athletic department locked into a long-term contract with the German apparel giant.

Notre Dame, like Tennessee, has been a high-profile partner with adidas since the mid-1990s.

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