The Collegian
Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Nike contract comes during wait for Millhiser upgrade

The renovation of the Roger Millhiser Memorial Gymnasium will continue to wait until enough money is raised to complete its construction.

"It is not accurate to say that the [Millhiser Gym] restoration is on hold," said Jim Miller, director of athletics. "It is a project that we will move forward when funds are raised."

The renovations will provide more practice space for both the men's and women's basketball teams. Each team currently has to work around the other team's schedule. Men's basketball coach Chris Mooney and women's basketball coach Michael Shafer both said the gym's restoration would give them 24-hour access to a basketball court.

Shafer said another less-obvious benefit to the renovation is that it would take the basketball teams out of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness' basketball court, which is there for general recreational purposes.

"The last thing we want to try to do is displace students," he said. "That's their center."

Although the Millhiser gym renovation is important to the athletic department, Shafer said the state of the economy has started to take its toll on this project.

"I think it's fair to say that the economy is affecting everything," he said. "We've just got to be ... diligent with what we're choosing to do."

Mooney and Shafer both said the First Market Stadium, the football stadium, had taken precedence. Both said they fully supported constructing the on-campus stadium, which is expected to cost more than $25 million.

Miller said costs have not yet been determined for the renovation of the Millhiser gym and that no time table had been created yet for its completion.

Mooney and Shafer also said there would be a recruiting advantage to restoring the gym. It would be a nice luxury, Shafer said, if basketball players could practice whenever they wanted.

Richmond and Nike have made an all-sports deal, which will put all varsity athletes in Nike apparel at no cost to the school. Richmond and Nike's current deal outfits the school's football and basketball teams.

Richmond's new all-sports partnership with Nike will provide both cost-saving and recruiting benefits for the university, Miller said.

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Shafer said he did not think the agreement would provide a financial boom, but that it was mostly an apparel agreement. Every Richmond varsity athlete will be provided with Nike uniforms, shoes and other equipment.

Martin Newton, Nike's college basketball sports marketing manager, said all varsity sports would move under Nike's logo starting in the fall of 2009. Newton said the deal was a result of Nike's previous relationship with the football team and basketball teams and of Miller's desire to have all his student athletes wearing the same apparel.

The University of Richmond Bookstore will also sell Nike Spider apparel, Miller said. Roger Brooks, the bookstore's manager, said Nike products such as polo shirts and wind-shirts had already started to move into the store.

Brooks said he was not expecting a large increase in sales from the new Nike products. Nike products will replace products sold to Richmond by Cutter & Buck Inc., who will no longer supply a line of golf-inspired apparel to the bookstore.

It is atypical for a school of Richmond's size to be chosen by Nike for an all-sports agreement.

"The Florida States, the North Carolinas," Shafer said, "they've got the all-Nike deal, but it's very rare that you hear of a Richmond or a school of our size to have an all-school deal."

Contact reporter Laurie Guilmartin at laurie.guilmartin@richmond.edu

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