Mark Parker will step down as Nike’s CEO next year after 13 years leading the footwear company, Nike announced Tuesday.
Parker has been a Nike employee since 1979, rising through the ranks from designer to head of the global footwear division to chairman of the board when Nike founder Phil Knight stepped down from that position in 2016.
Parker will hand the reins to John Donahoe, a current Nike board member and CEO of cloud computing company ServiceNow, Inc. Parker, previously chairman of the Nike board, will become executive chairman after he steps down, which he is set to do on January 13, 2020. The company says Donahoe will help propel Nike’s digital transformation, which has been a key element of Nike’s business strategy in recent years.
The shock announcement comes less than two years after Nike had said Parker would remain CEO “beyond 2020.”
Parker’s tenure at Nike has been marred by two major scandals in the past two years. In the spring of 2018 there was an executive overhaul and multiple lawsuits over alleged gender discrimination and a “boys’ club” culture at Nike. More recently, the company shut down its running club, Nike Oregon Project, after longtime coach Alberto Salazar was banned from the sport for four years for anti-doping violations.
Parker shot down the idea that those issues were involved in his stepping down as CEO in an interview with CNBC Tuesday.
In a note to employees obtained by CNN, Parker wrote, “To be clear, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not sick. There are no issues I’m not sharing. I strongly believe the best way for us to evolve and grow as a company is to bring in a phenomenal talent to join our team who has long been part of the Nike family.”
Nike’s stock was nearly flat in after-hours trading Tuesday following the announcement.
The news about Parker came the same day that Under Armour’s Kevin Plank announced he would leave his post as CEO of the Nike rival.