Over the last couple of weeks, colleges and universities all over the country (especially in the south) have seen letters from upset fans and alumni. These letters are the infuriated opinions of those fans regarding Nike’s choice of selecting Colin Kaepernick, national anthem kneeling protester, as the face of their brand.
Fans and alumni have displayed the most distaste for Nike in states like North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia and more. The USA Today discovered this alumni pressure after a series of Freedom of Information requests.
University of North Carolina athletics director Bubba Cunningham received a mountain of written mail and emails suggesting school athletic programs drop the Nike brand completely. For example, Larry Hughes, UNC alumni, wrote an inspired letter urging officials to dump Nike for a multitude of different reasons.
“Nike in its support of Kaepernick is showing its true colors of ‘greed and support of politics in sports.’ … Politics does not need to be involved in sports. I will still be supportive to ‘My University’ in continuing to purchase Carolina products and apparel, but not from Nike!”
Another message from a UNC fan told Cunningham that Kaepernick is “misguided, (divisive), racist and Unamerican,” while other messages were written in a similar conviction.
Although Bubba Cunningham could not respond to every upset fan or alumni, but he did relay the universities current stance with the apparel brand.
“Thank you for sharing your thoughts,” Cunningham wrote to those who were upset with the college.
“As I’m sure you know, our University does not have a role in choosing who or how Nike promotes its brand and athletes. Our association with Nike goes far beyond this advertising campaign. We truly appreciate your continued support of Carolina. Go Heels!”
The University of Arkansas experienced similar backlash from fans and alumni over the school’s current equipment and apparel provider, Nike. Notes poured into athletic director Hunter Yurachek calling for the university sports programs to announce their distaste for Nike’s outright disrespect.
Multiple letters gave specific examples highlighting reasons why Kaepernick shouldn’t be the face of any campaign. Razorback fans contrasted their famous “pig mascot” with Colin Kaepernick’s “pig socks” intended to disrespect police officers. Other writers even pledged to stop all further donations to the school.
The University of Kentucky athletics director, Mitch Barnhart, also found himself dealing with a large number of upset fans over Nike’s support of Colin Kaepernick. One KU super-fan wrote to Barnhart telling him his life used to revolve around the University of Kentucky and their sports programs, but the man’s support is officially over, calling for a divorce with the school.
“The news from Nike is very troubling. I cannot support a company that rewards un-American actions. Will this cause me to divorce Kentucky?” fan Charles Schweinhart warned before noting that he might start rooting for another Kentucky school over the issue.
Similar letters were seen across the desks of Athletic directors and school officials at Louisiana State University, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia University.