State Senator Bo Watson Calls for Review of UT Nike Contract

Bo Watson

Taking a stand on Nike’s support of National Anthem kneeler Colin Kaepernick, State Senator Bo Watson (R-TN-11) is calling for a review of university endorsement deals with the seller of running apparel.

Watson’s request was reported by Campus Reform.

“I have asked the TN Office of Legislative Budget Analysis to review what TN state-financed colleges & universities have Nike contracts and report findings,” Watson, who is the Senate Finance Chair, tweeted.

Catherine Haire, Senate budget analysis director in the Office of Legislative Budget Analysis, confirmed to Campus Reform that the office has launched the inquiry and should have the findings by the end of the week.

Currently, the University of Tennessee is locked into a deal with Nike as the official apparel supplier until the 2025-26 academic year, The Tennessee Star reported.

Tennessee Star political editor Steve Gill says that legislators might have a say about the issue. “Similar contracts with Nike reduce the amounts paid to schools if athletes or coaches cover the logo on their shoes by ‘spatting’ them or taping over the swoosh,” Gill pointed out. “While it would be hypocritical for Nike to enforce that provision after putting Kaepernick on a highly paid pedestal for expressing HIS right to ‘free speech’ that hypocrisy wouldn’t be surprising from a company that has chosen to showcase his complete disrespect for our country and our flag.”

College of the Ozarks in Missouri has dropped Nike as its athletic apparel provider, Campus Reform said. Liberty University President Jerry Falwell also indicated that his school could cut ties with the company.

Watson’s re-election campaign spokesman declined to tell Campus Reform whether the inquiry could lead to any publicly funded institutions in Tennessee dropping their contracts.

If the findings result in legislation that would prohibit publicly-funded colleges and universities from doing business with Nike, it would affect the University of Tennessee at Martin, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and Tennessee State University.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.








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