UW provost takes second job on Nike’s board

SEATTLE — The provost at the University of Washington has taken on a second job as a director on the corporate board at Nike.

Phyllis Wise is Washington’s No. 2 administrator and makes $535,000 in salary and deferred compensation. Wise said she has not asked Nike about compensation for being on the board, but last year the company paid its 10 directors between $132,000 and $217,000 each in cash and stock according to Nike’s annual report.

Wise said she was approached by Nike about the opportunity.

“I think they were seeking someone who is very familiar with higher education and someone who has experience in a university that has a sports program,” Wise told The Seattle Times on Friday.

Wise’s appointment to the Nike board comes a year after Washington’s athletic department signed a 10-year contract with Nike worth a minimum of $35 million to be the exclusive provider of footwear, apparel and certain sports equipment.

Some students who have been pressuring Washington to put Nike on notice about perceived worker abuses in poorer countries are not pleased with Wise’s decision to join the Nike board.

“It’s really troubling,” said Maggie Schupp, a senior who is a member of the UW Student Labor Action Project. “Where is the accountability in this scenario? It’s another example of universities colluding with companies.”

The student group has sent a letter to Washington President Mark Emmert urging him to put pressure on Nike to improve its practices arguing that Nike is violating its licensing agreement with Washington because of its treatment of Honduran workers.

Wise said the student group has contacted her and she plans to meet with them.

But Wise says her appointment has nothing to do with the athletic contract and she’ll have no involvement in the future.

“Athletics does not report to me,” she said. “And certainly we are putting a wall between any dealings with Nike and the UW, or the UW and Nike, and me.”

Wise said she also serves on other boards including the Bullitt Foundation and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, neither of which have any compensation.

Wise’s board addition is not uncommon. Many top administrators at large universities to sit on corporate boards.

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