USOC and Sports Apparel Company Set to Sign Deal

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DETROIT ( -- Nike Inc. and the United States Olympic Committee are set to announce a major partnership tomorrow in New York, in which the sneaker and
apparel giant will become a corporate sponsor and apparel provider to the USOC, has learned.

Financial terms are unknown, but the multiyear agreement begins in 2005, executives with knowledge of the deal said. The USOC's deal with its current apparel provider, Adidas America, expires after the Summer Olympics later this year in Athens.

Representatives from Nike and the USOC declined to comment.

Major comeback
The announcement represents a major comeback for the USOC in the eyes of marketers and sponsors. It was one year ago that John Hancock Financial Services' chairman-CEO, David D'Alessandro, publicly blasted the scandals and in-house fighting that threatened the USOC, saying he would "yank our sponsorship in a minute" if the USOC didn't turn itself around in 12 to 18 months.

The organization has gone through four presidents in the last three years, two of whom resigned in the wake of ethical issues. Marty Mankamyer stepped down last February amid accusations that she used the USOC presidency for personal profit. Before that, CEO Lloyd Ward resigned after steering Olympic-related contracts to his brother's business.

That came on the heels of the USOC's promise to restore integrity following the scandal that erupted in 1999, when the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee was found to have bribed International Olympic Committee members. Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Games.

Mending fences
Current University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin took over as USOC president after Ms. Mankamyer's resignation. Mr. Martin has mended fences with sponsors and has stabilized and streamlined the organization, reducing its board of directors last October from an unwieldy 123 down to 11.

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