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Utah State athletics has had a good friend in Charlie Denson the last few years.

The president of Nike Brand who helped lead a logo and image overhaul for Utah State, Denson will be honored as this year's commencement speaker on May 4. He'll receive an honorary degree as well, alongside Sen. Orrin Hatch among others.

Denson has close ties to the university, an alum in 1978 who went to work for a Portland store that would birth the world's largest and most lucrative athletic wear company. Besides being a contributor to the Aggies — he auctioned off a private tour and lunch for a recent fundraiser — he helped lead the 15-month project that overhauled Utah State's brand.

Utah State's current contract with Nike expires at the end of May, but given Denson's close relationship with the university, it seems likely that the school will find a way to re-up its deal.

From the university release:

As president of the Nike Brand Charlie Denson is responsible for leading the strategy of the world's most distinctive, authentic and connected brand in sports.

Denson oversees all aspects of the global direction for the company's consumer categories, including Actions Sports, Basketball, Football (Soccer), Men's Training, Running, Sportswear and Women's Training, as well as the Jordan Brand and Nike Golf.

His career at Nike spans more than 30 years. In 1979, after graduating from Utah State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration, Denson started as an assistant store manager of "The Athletics Department," Nike's first retail store in Portland, Ore. He quickly moved up the ranks and has held many positions over the years, including time as vice president of United States and European sales and as general manager of Nike USA.

An innovator in developing sales and distribution strategies, Denson has been a driving force in Nike's global growth as the company has expanded into approximately 190 countries. He pioneered Nike's growth in China, India and Brazil, in particular. In fiscal year 2012, Nike Brand revenues surpassed $21 billion, a growth of 16 percent.

An avid Aggie fan, he was instrumental in Utah State's unveiling of its new athletic logo in the spring of 2012. The university worked with Nike in collaboration on a 15-month re-branding campaign that was made possible through Denson's support as well as the longstanding association between Utah State Athletics and Nike.

— Kyle Goon

Twitter: @kylegoon

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