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Florida announces switch to Jordan Brand for football, basketball

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The Gators are up to something.

Florida Gators

The Florida Gators will swap the Nike swoosh for the Jordan Brand Jumpman logo for its football and men’s and women’s basketball teams as of the 2018-19 season, the program announced in a release on Wednesday.

In a nice touch, the video released with the press release is voiced by Gators great Joe Haden, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers and long known as a kick collector.

Florida’s release includes quotes from athletic director Scott Stricklin and the coaches of all three programs involved.

Stricklin:

"The Florida Gators and Jordan Brand are two of the more iconic brands in athletics and we are looking forward to our partnership that will be enjoyed by the student-athletes of our football and basketball programs and our fans."

Florida football coach Dan Mullen:

"I was excited to hear that the Florida football program was partnering with the Jordan brand. I know our players and staff will be pumped up for the new swag and I can't wait to wear my new AJ1 FlyKnits."

Florida men’s basketball coach Mike White:

"Florida basketball strives to be on the cutting edge of innovation and excitement for our players and fans, so partnering with the Jordan Brand is a truly unique way to further enhance the elite status of what it means to be a Gator."

Florida women's basketball coach Cam Newbauer:

"Our program is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Jordan Brand and to be the exclusive member in the SEC selected. The Jumpman logo is iconic and we will wear the Jordan Brand with pride and passion and represent the University of Florida, all of Gator athletics, our team and Gator Nation with all that it encompasses."

Mullen, in particularly, is likely to be thrilled by this move. A noted sneakerhead, he wore shoes from adidas’ white-hot Kanye West-designed Yeezy line to SEC Media Days in 2015 to the amusement of the stodgy college football pundit class.

His first tweet after the announcement — with pictures of the so-called Gatorade 6s and Air Jordan 1s in the OG Royal Blue colorway — is just more affirmation of that.

The switch — rumored for months, first reported by Alligator Army on Monday, and subsequently confirmed by ESPN writer and Nice Kicks creative director Nick DePaula, Chip Patterson of CBS Sports, and others — makes Florida the fourth Power Five team to wear Jordan Brand for football and basketball, following in the wake of Michigan, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, all Nike-sponsored programs that have made or announced the change in the last two years.

The Wolverines and Tar Heels have worn Jordan-branded uniforms and cleats this fall; Michigan began wearing Jordan in the 2016-17 academic year, while North Carolina’s basketball teams — thanks largely to, you know, Jordan being somewhat famous UNC alum Michael Jordan — have been wearing Jordan for several years. Oklahoma, like Florida, is making the change next season.

The Gators stand out as the only SEC team set to don Jordan Brand thus far — and the deliberate rollout of one powerhouse school in each conference is likely reflective of a Nike/Jordan strategy to make Jordan affiliations and logos exclusive and rare.

CBS Sports was first to report Wednesday that the switch will happen for the 2018-19 academic year, and that merchandise will be available next summer, news confirmed by Florida’s announcement.