Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, April 4, 2001
Provost Etchemendy responds to letter regarding the Department of Athletics' contract with Nike :

President Hennessy and I understand the divergent views of faculty, students and staff on this matter and we appreciate the reasonable manner in which the concerns have been expressed. While negotiations are confidential, we do feel it is important to note that the information regarding a contract included in the open letter is not accurate.

Our one and only interest in negotiating with Nike is to support our student athletes. Without equipment contracts like this, the Department of Athletics would not be able to provide many of our student athletes with uniforms and equipment. We would be faced with three options: require students to buy their own equipment, eliminate some teams, or subsidize the intercollegiate athletic program with general university funds -- something we have never done.

As an institution and as individuals, we are concerned about the working conditions at companies with whom we have a relationship and we expect them to comply with the law in this regard. Nonetheless, we deal with too many outside contractors to take on the responsibility for monitoring those working conditions in a meaningful way. Nike ascribes to the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) Code of Conduct and the Fair Labor Association (FLA) Code of Conduct and employs far more people in its monitoring operation than any comparable company. Given the options, we feel this is a respectable solution.

Still, we recognize that there may be some student athletes who would rather not wear corporate logos. A simple process is being put in place to ensure that these students may opt out of wearing the logo. I will be the final arbiter of any such case, and I can say that I would naturally tend to support an athlete's request to "opt out."

These are tough issues and I want to reiterate my respect for those whose views differ from mine.