Knight Steps Down as CEO of Nike

LOS ANGELES Nike co-founder Phil Knight today resigned as president and CEO, but he will remain chairman, the athletic footwear and apparel company confirmed. William Perez, 57, was named to succeed Knight.

Perez was a career executive with S.C. Johnson & Co., where he spent 34 years and rose to president and CEO in 1996.

“Nike’s current management team, led by brand presidents Charlie Denson and Mark Parker, is the strongest it’s ever been,” said Knight in a statement. “With Bill, we will become even stronger. I am confident that as CEO of Nike, Bill will lead Nike’s extraordinary team of people to create an even bigger and better global company.”

Perez said that he was “drawn to this company because the Nike brand perpetually stays current, making it one of the best managed on the globe.”

Neither the Beaverton, Ore.-based client nor its lead agency independent Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore., could be immediately reached for comment. Nike spent $185 million on ads last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Taking over as president and CEO at Racine, Wis.-based S.C. Johnson is H. Fisk Johnson, previously chairman of the privately-held company that bears his family name, the company said. Johnson represents the fifth generation of his family to run S.C. Johnson.

S.C. Johnson’s lead agency is Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding in Chicago.