CLEVELAND, Ga. — Nike shares and sales are up after the company used former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in its new "Just do it" anniversary ad. But there's one place in north Georgia where Nike apparel will no longer be for sale.
Sept. 7, Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, Georgia announced that they would be cutting ties with Nike in the wake of their ad featuring the former San Francisco 49er-turned-political-activist.
“For Nike to then hire Colin Kaepernick, a person known for wearing pigs on his socks, mocking law enforcement, kneeling against our flag, and mocking our troops, is reprehensible to my family and to the Truett McConnell family,” a statement from the university's president said.
After 11Alive posted the story about the private, Christian university's decision on our Facebook page, it drew reaction from thousands of people, with many offering opinions on both sides.
11Alive spoke Monday with the university president, Dr. Emir Caner.
"As a university, I just can't have a representation of someone that, in my mind, is as unpatriotic as it is," Dr. Caner said. "It's not something that Truett McConnell University can stand for."
Caner said the university shop has been selling between $10,000 and $20,000 worth of Nike merchandise a year, such as shirts and caps, that bear the university's name and logo along with the Nike swoosh logo. Caner said the university would no longer stock Nike products featuring the school's brand once the current inventory sells out.
The university's athletic teams signed a new contract last year with Adidas,
Caner knows that the decision by Truett McConnell University, a university with an enrollment of about 2,600 students, probably won't matter at all to Nike.
"It doesn't matter to Nike, a $100-billion company," Caner said. "Why would it matter whether they sold $10,000 to $20,000 thousand dollars worth of material at Truett McConnell University?"
But it's the principle, Caner said, that's important to the university.
"I've told my students, I know some will disagree with me, and, hey, that's what free speech is all about... It's something the students need to learn and discuss, and that's what we've done. By the way, we've had some healthy discussions."
One of the university's students who supports Nike and Colin Kaepernick's stance on kneeling during the national anthem to protest police excessive use of force and racial discrimination is Yasmine Avery. Monday, Avery was at the school's university campus store, buying a Truett McConnel Nike-branded shirt before all of the inventory runs out.
"I feel like he stood up for what he believed, and it was a good cause," said Avery. "Personally, being an athlete, I love Nike. I've always worn Nike."
Caner said the 2,600 students are still welcome to wear Nike merchandise on campus if they want, they just won't find it for sale at the campus shop because the company does not represent the university's standards. Meanwhile, Caner said the school's stance has sparked a healthy debate among the 2,600 students on campus.
The university will donate the profits from the sale of its remaining Nike merchandise to The Wounded Warrior Project, and to the Fraternal Order of Police.