Apple CEO Tim Cook has been named Nike’s lead independent director. He’s been a Nike director since 2005, is chair of the Board’s Compensation Committee and serves as a member of the Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee.
An independent director (also sometimes known as an outside director) is a board member who doesn’t have a material relationship with a company or related persons, except sitting fees. They don’t own shares in the company. The New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ stock exchange standards for independent directors are similar. Both require that "a majority of the board of directors of a listed company be ‘independent’.” And both allow compensation for directors of $120,000 per year or less.
The general consensus among stockholders is that independent directors improve the performance of a company through their objective view of the company's health and operations. They don’t have to pander to other management personnel in order to retain their jobs.