The Swoosh is in Eau Claire

Nike becomes the new brand for UW-Eau Claire athletics


The mixed bag of brands sewed on UW-Eau Claire uniforms soon will be no more, as Nike has come to stay.

Recently, UW-Eau Claire Athletic director Dan Schumacher made a five-year partnership with Eastbay, an athletic supply outfitter. Under the partnership, Eastbay will be providing all footwear, clothes, equipment and accessories for athletics, creating a more unified look for all athletes.

In the past, Blugold sports have differed in what brands their athletes wear. Under the new deal, all athletes will now have full Nike uniforms.

Eastbay, being a Wisconsin-based company located out of Wausau, makes the partnership beneficial to the state economy Schumacher said.

Athletes are required to purchase certain things for their sport, However, they have the opportunity to fundraise to help with the cost. With the contract, athletes will receive a 40-45% discount off of the retail price of accessories, Schumacher said.

“It’s so advantageous,” he said. “UW-Eau Claire receives national attention for doing this because of being a relatively small Division 3 school, and athletes like it because of the brand name.”

In order to make this deal, UW-Eau Claire had to make a RFP, or Request For Proposal, through the State of Wisconsin. By doing that, outfitters were notified, and the athletics department made a choice about who they would want to be the new outfitter. This is the “Business of Sports,” Schumacher said.

Eastbay is the vendor that supplies Nike to Eau Claire. With the RFP, Eastbay was contacted because they are the servicing and representing provider for Nike in the Midwest. All of the sports that UW-Eau Claire offers match the sports that Nike makes clothes and protective equipment for, Schumacher said.

Schumacher proposed the project when he came onto the Blugold Staff last year. Now just over a year into his employment, the deal has been finalized.

“This deal brands us in a way that’s never been done before.” he said. “It is exciting to see the Blugolds get a new unified look, and the athletes love the deal.”

Senior Jamie Dimka thinks the deal is really good and that it will help with recruiting as well because the athletes do not have to pay a fee to play. Schumacher said, 83 percent of high school recruits like Nike so If a brand can help make a decision, this one does.

Athletes are required to buy jackets, pants, and socks for their uniform. They also have the option to buy shirts and sweatshirts.

“Who wouldn’t want all Nike things, especially at the discounted retail price,” Dimka said.

Dimka, who has played volleyball for three years now at UW-Eau Claire said that the previous brand used for volleyball was Mizuno.

“It’s a big name in volleyball,” Dimka said. “Yet, having a big name like Nike being used for sports boosts your confidence and makes you feel good.”

For practices, student-athletes will use their uniforms from previous years, and for competition they will wear all Nike, Schumacher said. Also, there is a two-year transition period as part of the contract with Nike. All sports will have two years to get out of the past uniforms and into all Nike, he said.

The big idea for the University is to unify all sports with the Nike symbol, Dimka said.

“Looking like everyone’s the same, it evens the playing field and no one is standing out,” Dimka said.

Schumacher said the university is unsure of whether the contract will be extended or if they will rebid, but they will continue to watch the market as time progresses.

Schumacher passionately said, “now, more than ever, athletes will feel good, look good.”