Pitt football program wants to cut ties

Updated: February 11, 2004, 1:27 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PITTSBURGH -- The University of Pittsburgh wants to drop Nike as the supplier of its football uniforms and equipment.

The university filed a lawsuit Tuesday, asking an Allegheny County judge to determine whether a three-year arrangement proposed two years ago by the Beaverton-based company is a valid contract.

Pitt argues it never signed a deal with Nike to provide 100 free uniforms and other gear, even though Nike officials provided the university with the products specified under the contract.

Sources with knowledge of the deal told ESPN.com that the original agreement, which was for the football team only, was made with Pitt's former athletic director Steve Pederson, who is now at Nebraska.

The apparel rights to the football team are arguably more valuable than when the original contract was proposed thanks to its wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy award, and the team's record of 17-9 over the past two seasons.

Information from ESPN.com's Darren Rovell and The Associated Press was used in this report.