NEW YORK - Phil Knight, who built Nike (IW 500/44) from a modest U.S. shoe company into a global sports gear giant, plans to step down as chairman in 2016, the company announced Tuesday.
Knight, 77, recommended that chief executive Mark Parker succeed him as chairman when he steps down in 2016, the company said.
A former track star at the University of Oregon, Knight launched Nike in Portland, Ore., in 1968 after first selling sneakers out of his car.
In the ensuing years, Nike has grown into a sports marketing behemoth, rivalling the much older German company Adidas. The company's swoosh logo and "Just Do It" motto are ubiquitous in sports.
Today Nike sponsors many of the world's most iconic athletes, including Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Rory McIlroy, Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
Last week, Nike reported fiscal 2015 earnings of $3.3 billion on $30.6 billion in revenues.
Knight, who Forbes says has a net worth of about $24.3 billion, said he planned to stay involved with Nike.
"For me, Nike has always been more than just a company -- it has been my life’s passion," Knight said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015