EAST MOLINE, Illinois — The Illinois soccer team will have new uniforms for the 2023 season, head coach Bret Bielema said Ilini Inquirer.
When Bielema was hired in December 2020, he immediately called Nike to make adjustments to the uniform before a full switch could be made. Bielema modified the helmet last season and added an orange Block I to the pants. Although he can’t unveil the uniforms just yet, the program has new Nike uniforms on the way.
“We have new uniforms for (2023) that we’re going to go all out,” Bielema said Wednesday at the Fighting Illini Tailgate Tour stop in East Moline. “Even if I were here, they couldn’t have adjusted their uniforms for 2022. You didn’t allow it. You can’t just come in and change. It needs production.
“…You won’t be a shocker. A lot of people will recognize part of the look. In today’s world, kids like non-forms and they like change. We’ll be a little more the norm than they are (abnormal), but we’ll be new ones in 2023 have uniforms.”
Bielema said that there is a new dynamic for uniforms that are distributed through Nike. Players can make money from jersey sales through the new name, image and likeness laws. Bielema also said things have slowed down a bit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I literally got on the phone with Nike the day I took the job,” Bielema said. “I figured out the parameters and ground rules of what I could do. It has crippled it a bit due to COVID. … Really in today’s world our kids can be rewarded with NIL for their jerseys. There’s some dynamics that went through that are even crazier now.”
Bielema has previously expressed his fondness for the Illinois orange, noting that orange is not a common color in collegiate athletics and can help his program stand out.
“I wanted to emphasize orange,” Bielema told Illini Inquirer in December. “All I wanted to do was brand something that people would identify with. I love the block I. I put the ‘clever, tough, dependable’ underneath it because I think people can relate to that.”
Illinois is also in the process of replacing the turf on the field at Memorial Stadium, according to photos posted to athletic director Josh Whitman’s Twitter page and Illinois Football’s Twitter page.
Bielema is entering his second season in Illinois, going 5-7 in his freshman year and narrowly missing a bowl game. Illinois was competitive in all but two games — in Virginia and against Wisconsin — but had a positive point differential in Big Ten play.
The Illinois players will return to campus on May 31 for summer conditioning. For the second straight season, Illinois will play in a Game of the Week zero, this time against Wyoming on Aug. 27.