1500m Star Cole Hocker Turns Professional, Signs With Nike
September 13, 2021
After a season in which he won three NCAA titles and a US title and finished sixth in the Olympic 1500-meter final, star American miler Cole Hocker announced on Monday that he has forfeited the remainder of his NCAA eligibility and signed a professional contract with Nike. Hocker will be represented by agent Ray Flynn.
The 20-year-old Hocker, the 2018 Foot Locker Cross Country champion as a high schooler, burst onto the scene in 2021 during his second season at the University of Oregon. Indoors, he ran 3:50.55 for the mile — #2 all-time by a collegian — and won NCAA titles in the mile and 3000 meters in the span of an hour, setting a meet record of 3:53.71 in the former. Hocker was even better outdoors, winning the NCAA outdoor title at 1500 meters on his home track in Eugene. Sixteen days later, he returned to Hayward Field and won the US 1500-meter title in a memorable duel with 2016 Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz. Then, in his first Olympics, Hocker ran personal bests in the semifinal (3:33.87) and final (3:31.40) to finish sixth overall.
Hocker’s plan, for now, is to remain based in Eugene and finish his college degree while training under Oregon distance coach Ben Thomas.
There was some speculation that Hocker might run cross country for the Ducks this fall — he is still currently listed on their roster — but that is no longer possible with his new contract, even with the NCAA’s new name, image, and likeness (NIL)rules. Hocker is a fully professional athlete.
Hocker is the latest in a long line of Duck legends to sign with Nike, the company co-founded by former Oregon runner Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman. The company, famously, signed Oregon phenom Steve Prefontaine as its first star runner in 1973 and in recent years have signed NCAA champions such as Galen Rupp, Andrew Wheating, and Matthew Centrowitz.
Quick Take: It’s no surprise Hocker went pro, though we thought it was possible he might try to run XC
Once the Olympics came and went and Hocker still wasn’t a pro, and then his name appeared on the Ducks’ cross country roster, we started to wonder if Hocker actually might run cross country for the Ducks.
Hocker had two options if he wanted to run NCAA cross country this fall. He could have waited to turn pro after NCAA XC in November, or he could have tried to sign with a shoe company and compete under the new NIL rules.
However, none of the major shoe companies has yet to test the NIL rules with any athlete in any NCAA sport, so perhaps the latter option wasn’t a real possibility.
It was a given that Hocker was going to be given a lot of money to try to run really fast for a shoe company. He earned it.
Discussion: Cole Hocker turns pro, signs w Nike