Arizona Summer Wildcat June 17, 1998
Nike contract pending completion, Likins says
Arizona Summer Wildcat
UA President Peter Likins yesterday praised Michael Jordan's pending tour of Nike factories but said he hopes to cinch the much-debated Nike contract before the basketball superstar's trip.
Jordan, a star of Nike television ads and president of a Nike division unto himself, has said he will tour overseas factories to assess allegations about the company's employment practices.
"I hope the school has a [Nike] contract before the end of June," Likins said. "We won't wait for Michael Jordan to make his trip."
The pending multimillion dollar UA-Nike deal, which would provide athletic apparel for the University of Arizona's Division I sports teams, drew fire from UA students earlier this year stemming from allegations that Nike exploits its overseas, particularly southeast Asian, workers.
Likins added Jordan's interest in Nike's employment practices is part of a developing social pressure.
"[It is part ] of a healthy, societal correction. It is how things should be," Likins said, adding he would take Jordan's conclusions into consideration.
UA campus activist James F. Tracy, a media arts graduate student, said he did not believe the school needed a tour of the factories to gain proof of the allegations.
"[They] should just acknowledge the studies of human rights groups and journalists that are already there," he said.
The UA would not send anyone overseas because of excessive costs, Likins said.
In a late December issue of The Sporting News, Jordan said the allegations of worker exploitation concerned him.
"The last thing I want to do is pursue a business with a negative over my head that I don't have an understanding of," Jordan said. "I'm hearing a lot of different sides to the issue, [and] the best thing I can do is go...see it for myself."
The NBA superstar said that if he witnesses conditions he does not think are suitable, "the [Nike executives] will have to revise the situation."
If conditions are not to his liking and Nike does not make changes, Jordan said he has not ruled out severing his ties with them.
A Nike spokesman said Friday that the company knows about Jordan's concerns and updates him daily.
"Jordan is really embracing these issues, and wants to be abreast of what is going on," Vizhier Mooney said.
If he does opt out of his contract with Nike, Mooney said the company currently has no plan of action.