A Missouri women’s college volleyball team played in gray T-shirts during Friday’s match because the college dropped their Nike uniforms. The decision came in response to the company’s decision to hire Colin Kaepernick as the face of its new “Just do it” advertising campaign.
The College of the Ozarks volleyball team wore t-shirts during the match instead of the maroon long-sleeved jerseys that contained the Nike swoosh, according to the The Springfield News-Leader.
The gray attire came just days after the college president, Jerry Davis, said in a statement that the school would “choose its country over company” and remove Nike’s logo from its athletic uniforms.
The decision from Davis came after Nike announced that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be the face of its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign.
Kaepernick has been in heated controversy since 2016 when he first took a knee to protest racial injustice during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.
“If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them,” Davis said in a statement. “We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”
“Nike is free to campaign as it sees fit, as the college is free, and honor-bound by its mission and goals, to ensure that it respects our country and those who truly served and sacrificed,” added Marci Linson, the college’s dean of admissions.
Players wore Adidas shorts with their new grey t-shirts with “Ozarks” written on the back.
The school previously has clamped down on athletes joining the national protests against racial injustice.
The college announced in September 2017 that their teams would be forced to walk away from any game if an opponent took a knee, sat down or in any way protested the American flag or national anthem. The 2018 Men’s Division II NAIA Basketball National Tournament was moved from the school as a result of the measure, the newspaper reported.
“Our school is very consistent,” Muckenthaler said. “They are tried and true. They have a belief system and they hold true to that. It’s not easy to make decisions that they make. I’m just very proud of the institution and I’m happy to wear ‘Ozarks’ on the back of our jerseys right now, even if it is a T-shirt.”
Nike praised Kaepernick as one of the most “inspirational” athletes of his generation.
“We believe Colin is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” Gino Fisanotti, Nike’s vice president of brand for North America, told ESPN.
Despite the backlash, Nike’s online sales appear to have soared following the release of the campaign.