Nike Founder Phil Knight To Step Down as Chairman

The succession process begins.
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Chantal Fernandez
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The succession process begins.
Phil Knight and his son Travis Knight in 2012. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Phil Knight and his son Travis Knight in 2012. Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Nike founder Phil Knight will step down from his current role as chairman of the board. The company, which is the most valuable apparel brand in the world, announced Tuesday that Knight has recommended current president and CEO Mark Parker succeed him. The changeover will occur sometime in 2016. Knight's son Travis Knight will join the board as well.

The elder Knight said the following in a statement:

"I believe Mark is the best choice to succeed me. He has been an outstanding CEO for the past nine years, and has demonstrated time and again his love for this Company and his clear vision for capturing the tremendous potential NIKE has to innovate, inspire, and drive growth. For myself, I intend to continue to work with NIKE and look forward to contributing to its future well after my chairmanship ends.”

Knight is transferring the majority of his shares — a whopping 128,500,000 shares of NIKE Class A Common Stock and 15% of total Class A and Class B stock  — to a newly formed company called Swoosh. The company will have its own board of directors "designed to make thoughtful and forward-looking decisions with respect to the ongoing voting and management of those shares," said Knight. 

Knight stepped down as CEO of Nike in 2004 and is currently 77 years old. His son Travis has not previously been active in the company and is currently the president and CEO of an animation company called Laika.