Phil Knight attends a panel discussion at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 15, 2013.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Jack Linshi
July 1, 2015

Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who built the iconic athletic gear brand from a small-scale shoe business, will step down as chairman next year, the company announced on Tuesday.

Knight, 77, has recommended to the Nike Board of Directors that CEO Mark Parker to succeed him as chairman, the company said in a statement. Nike also announced that Knight’s 41-year-old son, Travis Knight, was named as the newest member of the board.

“For me, Nike has always been more than just a company – it has been my life’s passion,” said Knight, who co-founded Nike, then known as Blue Ribbon Sports, in 1964 with his former college track coach, Bill Bowerman.

Knight, who plans to stay involved with the company, added that he will transfer most of his Nike Class A Common Stock to a limited liability entity called Swoosh LLC, managed by Knight, Parker and two other Nike executives. Since Class A shares generally hold more voting rights, the transfer will allow Swoosh to elect about three-quarters of Nike’s board.

“I believe this structure will maintain NIKE’s strong corporate governance, which has focused our management on serving the consumer and pursuing profitable, long-term growth,” Knight said.

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