Nike’s 2016 contract with Michigan provides for three summer “Student Internships,” described as follows:
Each contract year, Nike will offer summer internships at NIKE”s world in Oregon, to three Michigan students at a minimum cost to NIKE of $15,000 per intern. Nike shall select the interns in consultation with, and from a pool of qualified candidates provided by, Michigan and/or the Athletic Departments.”
Earlier this year, Nike funded a different kind of venture, with ostensible educational purpose, for some athletic directors. Virginia Tech athletic director Win Babcock went on a Nike-funded junket to Vietnam which allowed him, Babcock said, to “venture out of his comfort zone. It was a great trip,” Babcock said,
“and I feel like when you get outside your comfort zone, you can grow. So I think it made me a better athletic director.”
For 38 Years, Nike has been paying-off coaches and athletic directors, not because they do the promotion, but because they negotiate with Nike, or have the power to command that Players wear Nike product.
Nike has a habit of funding such junkets. Each year, according to Babcock, Nike invites “several AD’s from its affiliated schools to tour overseas factories where its shoes and other apparel are manufactured.” Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard and Oregon State’s Rick Stansbury went with Babcock on the far eastern trip, which Babcock described as “cultural” because they “explored” the Great Wall, saw the tunnels dug by the Viet Cong back in the war, and toured a women’s support center which Nike funds.
His trip, Babcock said,
was also “educational,” because “you couldn’t help but learn educational lessons from a 25,000-employee factory that is essentially its own city.” “It was neat to see where it all starts,” Babcock said later. “That Virginia Tech shirt we saw is coming . . . to a Virginia Tech bookstore.”
Babcock had been hired by Virginia Tech in January 2014, three weeks later, he signed Tech’s new contract with Nike. Because of this role as the ‘decider’ and ‘signer’ on behalf of his employer, his Nike-funded junket has the whiff of a bribe — the kinds of payoffs to AD’s and coaches which Nike has thrown around for forty years now, even though such payments often directly violate: 1) internal university ‘anti-bribe’ purchasing standards; 2) state employee proscriptions against such payments from vendors; 3) state civil statutes; or 4) state criminal statutes.All these controls aim to insure that ‘deciders’ like Babcock cannot be ‘bought-off’ by vendors eager to get more favorable supply-contracting prices and terms.
Nike Still Has a Problem with Working Conditions in Its Overseas Factories
Nike has another problem. Georgetown students recently did a ‘sit-in’ in their president’s office, in anticipation of the year-end expiration of the school’s Nike contract, to highlight that Nike was the only Georgetown vendor which refused to sign onto the school’s vendor-supply standards, and that Nike still has significant problems in its overseas plants.(Georgetown’s former coach, John Thompson, Jr., has been a member of the Nike Board of Directors for 20 years, and his son, John III is the school’s current basketball coach). As reflected in Portland Biz Journal’s December 13 report, two independent groups monitoring manufacturing at Nike factories overseas have just concluded that serious labor violations still occur at those facilities, despite what Nike describes as its “unwavering” commitment to workers’ rights.
Nike needs to stop giving free junkets to fat-cat AD’s. It also needs to stop violating worker rights in its overseas factories, which is best accomplished by allowing independent monitors to continually assess working conditions at those plants. It also needs to expand the internship program it has initiated at Michigan, and apply it to other schools.
Nike Should Provide Overseas Summer Internships for Its Player-Promoters
By expanding its student summer internship program, Nike can make progress on both fronts. Sending the students who are also athletes to the overseas locations, to work with employees there, the players can insure that they are satisfied that the apparel which they promote for Nike is manufactured consistent with reasonable fair labor standards — while also, as Va Tech AD Babcock says, “learning educational lessons from a 25,000-employee factory,” while getting “cultural” exposure which will take the players “out of their comfort zones.”
One of the three summer internships funded by Nike’s Michigan contract should be filled by All-American football player Jourdan Lewis, to allow him to intern at, for example, Nike’s Hansae factory. (Nike calls them ‘contract-partners, since Nike owns no factories.) If an AD can benefit from seeing the site where shoes and apparel worn by his school’s athletes are manufactured, imagine the benefit to Nike’s actual apparel-promoters — the players — from visiting with the factory workers who make that apparel.
Send Nike’s Most Valuable Promoters on Vietnam Factory Internships
So I will suggest here, a cast of college player-promoters who should be sent on Nike-funded summer 2017 internships to Hansae, Vietnam (with $15,000 stipends,and expenses paid by Nike.) These players not only all play for school which all receive millions annually from Nike to require that their playerss promote for Nike; in their role as ‘star’ performers, they are some of Nike’s Most Valuable Promoters:
Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis
Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel
Texas’ D’Onta Foreman
Va Tech’s Jerod Evans
Iowa State’s Allen Lazard
Oregon State’s Devin Chappell
Nike needs to stop the pay-off junkets to the AD’s who negotiate with Nike, and use the money saved to fund overseas educational internships for its player-promoters, while also promoting protections for its overseas workers.
Copyright Wm Wilson 2017