In similar fashion to how the NBA recognizes past champions, Nike will outfit its premier college basketball programs in jerseys that feature a gold tab on the back collar this season.
Nike’s involvement in college athletics dates back to 1985 when the apparel company delivered team-colored Nike Dunks to numerous schools around the country as part of its “Be True To Your School” campaign. But it wasn’t until 1997 when the Arizona Wildcats became the first team outfitted in full Nike apparel and footwear to win the national championship.
Since then, 10 Nike — or Jordan Brand — schools have won a combined 20 national titles while competitors Adidas, Reebok and Under Armour have just three total national titles during that same 23-year span.
With that, the list of schools that will have the gold tab on their jerseys this season include Arizona (1997 national champions), Kentucky (1998 and 2012), UConn (1999, 2004, 2011 and 2014), Duke (2001, 2010 and 2015), Syracuse (2003), North Carolina (2005, 2009 and 2017), Florida (2006-07), Villanova (2016 and 2018) and Virginia (2019).
Maryland was also a Nike school when it won the national title in 2002, but the Terrapins are now outfitted by Under Armour and will not participate in the promotion.
The gold tabs replace the iridescent triangular Nike Platinum Elite logo on the neckline, which previously denoted national championships. By comparison, programs that have appeared in the Final Four while wearing Nike apparel had a circular Nike Silver Elite logo on the neckline while teams that have not made it further than the Elite 8 have nothing.
Keeping with the theme, teams that have reached the Final Four while wearing Nike gear will now have a silver tab on the back collar.
The promotion will be carried over to the women’s game, as well, with UConn (2000, 2002-04, 2009-10 and 2013-16) and Baylor (2005, 2012 and 2019) also set to wear gold tabs on the back their collars this season.
Maryland also won the 2006 women’s national championship while wearing Nike uniforms, as the aforementioned deal with Under Armour wasn’t athletic department-wide until the 2008-09 academic year. Up until that point, the Terrapins’ football program was the only team outfitted by the Baltimore-based company.
That said, several of the schools listed above have already held preseason photoshoots, giving us our first glimpse of the gold tabs on their respective uniforms.
Check out the some of those photos below:
Photos via @dontaieallen11, @leakzaddy, @joshgreen, @thewendellmoore and @tyree04 on Instagram