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UNLV’s contract with Nike included provision for free new logo

Updated February 17, 2018 - 6:38 pm

UNLV could have had its logo redesigned by Nike for free, according to the school’s apparel contract with the world-famous shoe company, but opted to pay almost $50,000 to use the Denver firm Adrenalin.

The money, however, was raised from private donations and didn’t come directly from the university.

UNLV unveiled the logo in June, and it was met with overwhelming ridicule.

But a source, who has knowledge of the process and the work done by the committee, said there were valid reasons the university went with Adrenalin over Nike. The person was not authorized by UNLV to speak on the record about the process.

Learfield Communications general manager Dan Dolby said his company, which handles multimedia rights for UNLV, wasn’t involved in the redesign of a new logo.

A spokesman for UNLV president Len Jessup referred questions to Darryl Seibel, the former UNLV deputy athletic director who now is the chief brand and communications officer for the Mountain West. Because he no longer works at UNLV, Seibel said he didn’t want to comment on the university’s behalf.

The Review-Journal last week obtained a copy of the Nike contract, which spelled out the details of the shoemaker’s involvement.

Though Nike, as required in the contract, was contacted about the school’s desire to use a third party, the source said UNLV never received an indication that the Oregon-based company would prefer to handle the job. Nike did not respond to a request for comment.

Also, UNLV was concerned about upsetting Nike’s competitors that have licensing deals with the university. It was a particular concern because UNLV’s contract with Nike expires May 31, 2019, and the school might want to open the bidding to include other apparel companies.

“One hundred percent,” the source said.

Another concern about going with Nike, the source said, was the company could “assume exclusive rights,” meaning no other manufacturer could license apparel with the new logo.

“Nike refreshed a Big 10 mark, and they were the only ones that could produce it,” said the source, who didn’t want to identify the school. “You could go into a bookstore and see the Nike mark and see the old logo with the other companies.”

UNLV formed a committee to come up with a new design and made the decision to go out of state to hire a firm to handle the job. Adrenalin has redesigned logos at other colleges and for pro teams, most notably the NFL’s Denver Broncos and NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche.

“The decision of the group was made early on that it would probably be better to have an entity that wasn’t in Las Vegas to avoid favoritism in the market,” the source said. “The committee was involved in every step of the process and was unanimous in its support.”

About half of the money was spent on research that included assembling and analyzing data as well as sending surveys to students and community members. Focus groups also were used.

Even with all that work, the end result didn’t go over well when the logo was unveiled. It is noticeable in its absence at UNLV sporting events.

But the university itself has not completely discarded the new look, which includes a new version of the Hey Reb! mascot with a trimmed mustache as well as a twinkling star that signified the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and a silhouette of the nearby mountains.

“We wanted a mark to celebrate the relationship between UNLV and the community,” the source said.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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