Illinois athletics unveils Nike rebrand

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  • Illinois student-athletes Simon Cviganovic, Donovonn Young, and Matt LaCosse model the new Fighting Illini football uniform during the Nike Brand Identity Launch at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, on Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Illinois athletics on Wednesday unveiled a new identity, a culmination of an 18-month collaboration with Nike.

The new look, which was leaked on the Internet Tuesday night, is designed to unify color and letter schemes across all 19 varsity sports. In addition, the rebrand introduces a secondary logo, which is an addition to the iconic block “I.”

The addition is a “Victory Badge” crest with the block “I” in the middle and vertical stripes on the bottom. The stripes represent the columns at Memorial Stadium, and the “V” shape stands for victory.

According to Nike designs, it will serve as the primary logo on the front of the white- and orange-colored soccer jerseys. In addition, a subtle version of the crest will appear on the front collar of the football jerseys and the front of the basketball shorts.

Also, although only “Illinois” mark was featured in the design, a “Fighting Illini” mark has been created for use across all sports.

Illinois officials also unveiled a white helmet for the football program, which was presented in designs with an overhauled away jersey. The white helmet features an orange block “I,” outlined by the blue color.

In promotional videos released by the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, officials said one of the goals was to make the football uniforms interchangeable, with the jerseys, pants and the helmets.

Perhaps the biggest buzz on social media Tuesday night was from the silver basketball jerseys. These alternate uniforms will feature a white “Illinois” mark, outlined in orange, on the front, along with an orange-colored number, outlined in white.

“When you look at (the uniforms), they give you that feel of energy. They’re on fire. They burst. They pop at you,” basketball head coach John Groce said in a promotional video, adding the basketball uniforms will appeal to the 14-22 age range.

One of the biggest reasons Illinois and Nike collaborated on the project was the inconsistent look throughout the athletic programs. For example, the marks on uniforms varied from “Illinois” to “Illini,” with some versions of the lettering featuring a line on the bottom, or some of them curved. In addition, a number of color palates — mainly variations of orange and blue —  were being employed on the uniforms and other Illini gear.

The new “Illinois” and “Fighting Illini” primary typography was inspired by the speed and elusive movements synonymous with legend Red Grange.

The redesign does not come at any additional cost to Illinois than was agreed upon in the original 10-year contract with Nike, which runs through 2015-16.

Illinois and Nike are also scheduled to hold an event Thursday at Niketown in Chicago, with athletic director Mike Thomas, football coach Tim Beckman and Groce expected to attend.