Nike shhhhh

If UI officials told you the details of their sports rebranding, they'd have to kill you.

Deep within the bowels of the University of Illinois — a place National Security Agency surveillance technology has yet to penetrate — secret plans are being hatched. So far, only the privileged few know the answer to the question that almost no one was contemplating until the cognoscenti started chanting, "We know something you don't know."

It's the uniforms for university sports teams. What will they look like? Will they still be orange and blue? Or will fans just be told they're orange and blue, while they look maize and blue?

That's the mystery surrounding the Fighting Illini marketing rebrand being overseen by Nike, the Oregon sports gear company that knows how to build brands and make a fortune doing so.

This is big business, and Nike has negotiated a costly, 10-year contract with the UI to give the sports program an entirely new look, one that will presumably excite recruits, thrills fans, fill stadiums and ensure all Fighting Illini sports teams go undefeated in perpetuity. Or not.

The secret rebrand will be made public April 16 in a special unveiling at the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. It will be a very exclusive event. Prominent athletes will act as models, raising a great question: Will Nanna Egwu go as strong down a modeling runway as he does to the hoop? Sure hope so. The survival of the free world may depend on it — or not.

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