Truett McConnell University President Dr. Emir Caner said Friday, Sept. 7, that the school would no longer purchase or sell Nike athletic apparel after the company aired a commercial this week featuring former National Football League player and activist Colin Kaepernick.
The endorsement deal between Nike and Kaepernick, who became known for kneeling during the National Anthem to ostensibly protest police brutality, racial inequality and other social issues, was met with consternation by Caner.
“America has sacrificially given my family the freedoms we enjoy today,” he said in a press release. “My wife, who was raised under the oppression of socialistic communism, became a citizen five years ago, joyfully pledging allegiance to these United States and her flag.”
“For Nike to then hire Colin Kaepernick,” added Caner, “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.”
Kaepernick already had a deal with Nike that was set to expire, but it was renegotiated into a multiyear deal to make him one of the faces of Nike’s 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
Nike will feature Kaepernick on several platforms, including billboards, television commercials and online ads. Nike also will create an apparel line for Kaepernick, including a signature shoe, and contribute to his Know Your Rights charity.
Nike provides all NFL teams with game day uniforms and sideline apparel, a partnership that was extended in March to run through 2028.
“We embrace the role and responsibility of everyone involved with this game to promote meaningful, positive change in our communities,” said Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications and public affairs. “The social justice issues that Colin and other professional athletes have raised deserve our attention and action.”
Caner said the private, Christian, coeducational liberal arts college in Cleveland will donate any profits generated from the sale of remaining Nike gear through the campus store to nonprofits serving military veterans and police officers.
Brenau University in Gainesville, meanwhile, has no formal partnership or business relationship with Nike. Spokeswoman Kristen Bowman said school officials take no position on the specifics of the Nike advertisement featuring Kaepernick or his protests.
“We do support firmly the Constitution of the United States, and therefore First Amendment rights,” Bowman added.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.