College Athletics drawing attention of Major Brands
Over the last several years there has been a growing correlation between major shoe companies and college athletics.
On a large scale university athletic sponsorship is a multimillion dollar industry involving million dollar investments and lots of free advertising “Brand Ambassadors” aka university athletic departments.
Nike, Under Armour, and Adidas, invest money and offer product allowances to colleges all around America. In exchange the athletic programs receive free gear and equipment or receive a steep discount on items.
In return these brands are seen all over national TV being worn by the top sports programs. This helps with extra exposure for companies and for schools it offers an idol recruiting tool.
On a smaller scale these same major shoe companies find their way on subdivision and division II campuses as well. Here at The University of North Carolina Pembroke we are what you call an Adidas school. All our athletic programs are supplied with Adidas apparel and products.
Athletic Director Dick Christy addressed some details regarding our apparel deal and the reason adidas was the right choice for UNCP..
Christy was very familiar with dealings of this sort, coming from N.C.State University which coincidentally is also an Adidas affiliated school, although their six- year 38.7 million dollar deal (6.45 million annually), is a tad bit steeper.
The current deal in place for us is over a five- year period. This is the part of the deal where the difference of school size and recognition comes into play. Division II programs aren’t typically paid by these companies to wear their products, instead they are given extremely friendly discounts on items making them easier and more affordable to attain.
With this system smaller programs save thousands that can be invested in other areas.
When Christy first took over as head of the athletic program there was no apparel deal in place, each team sought out their own individual sponsor agreements and hoped for the best. He knew something had to be done.
“While I was interviewing here, It was made abundantly clear to me by our coaching staffs that we didn’t have a department -wide deal and that was something that people saw that could have some value.” Christy said.
Athletic departments see the business benefits to these agreements. They have a valuable product if presented in the right way, and it takes a savvy leader to take recognition and capitalize on potential opportunities.
Uncp entered the process openminded and gave all three major companies a shot before settling on the right fit.
““My experience from where I came from was you know we really needed to leverage the strength of all our business, try to bring it all to the table and then have the apparel members negotiate with us collectively.” Said Christy
After hearing from multiple companies the decision was made to sign with Adidas. The department was sold on it for the next half decade of Braves Athletics, and it has been a happy partnership since.
“ In the end Adidas by far had the best financial package that was going to provide the most for our students, and obviously from a quality standpoint there’s no fall off there from other vendors they had great products.” Christy said
There have already been noticeable pluses as a result of the apparel deal. It sets the Braves apart from majority of other Division II rivals lacking department wide deals which can prove to be a plus on the recruitment trail.
“With apparel for us you got e huge upside with recruiting another obvious upside being able to provide better and more apparel for our kids, I wouldn’t say it’s as universal in division II level not everyone has department -wide deals.” Said Christy
“For us from a recruiting standpoint and just a national recognition standpoint it’s been really good.”
The apparel battle may not be as hectic in division II but it is prevalent, and smaller programs are taking notice of the business structures at other major programs and they want a piece of the action.
For now UNCP remain team Adidas but when the time comes for renegotiations dollars will talk and steps will be taken to capitalize on the next deal wherever it may lie.