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Three Reasons Why The Apparel Deal With “Three Stripes” Is A Good One

April 25, 2012

The news came today that NC State has signed a four-year all-sport apparel deal with adidas. State joins a list of 12 other schools adidas currently provides similar product support for. 

Here is the official press release from NC State:

NC State University Director of Athletics Deborah A. Yow announced today that State and adidas have agreed to a four-year sponsorship and product-allowance agreement.

NC State joins an elite group of institutions including Notre Dame, Tennessee, Kansas, Wisconsin, Louisville, Michigan, Indiana, Cincinnati, Texas A&M, UCLA, Mississippi State and Nebraska who have such agreements with adidas.

“After months of discussion about moving our 23-team department to an all-sport sponsorship, adidas emerged with the best proposal for our athletes, coaches and University,” said Yow. “The innovative product line at adidas is tremendous and we are pleased about the considerable cost savings we will realize through this expanded partnership.”

“We are very excited to extend our partnership with North Carolina State to outfit all 23 teams,” said Chris McGuire, Director of Sports Marketing for adidas. “The Wolfpack had very successful fall and winter seasons and we look forward to continuing to bring the best in performance uniforms, footwear and apparel to State’s athletes and fans.”

Wolfpack fans across the nation can purchase adidas gear, including sideline apparel, coaches’ polo shirts, hats, jerseys, performance apparel and outerwear at a wide variety of quality retailers as well as on the official website of the Wolfpack Athletics,

There will be grumbling by State fans–it’s what we do–that the Pack is still donning adidas gear and not red swooshes, but here are three reasons–one per stripe–State fans should be pleased with this deal.

  1. The obvious: This new deal will save State’s athletic department $1 million annually over the course of the deal. That’s serious money any way you slice it. With times as tight as they are–and with top-notch coaches fetching more and more every year in salary–every dollar saved or earned counts.
  2. The not-so-obvious: A four-year contract is short enough to provide State greater flexibility and leverage to capitalize on the anticipated increase in positive momentum the program continues to build. Word is Yow had pushed for a three-year term; adidas hoped for a six-year term. This four-year term gives State ample time to build its brand through (fingers-crossed) greatly improved basketball performance, coupled with consistent good-to-very-good football performance and improved baseball success. If State can continue on its upward trend, State will be primed to renegotiate its deal sooner and at a time when hopefully this wave will be cresting (or surging further upward). 
  3. The I-think-this-will-happen: A greater commitment from adidas across all sports SHOULD mean adidas will make a greater commitment to place our product in higher numbers of more prominent retailers. This all-sport deal won’t make State a nationwide brand overnight–only winning at a high level can do that–but it should mean adidas-produced State apparel will be easier to find in the greater Triangle region and beyond. One of the biggest complaints about State’s prior apparel deals was simply a lack of purchasing options/venues for folks living outside the Triangle. Previously, adidas’s partial participation in State’s athletic department was seemingly reflected with partial support in the retail world. I’m assuming this greater commitment by adidas to NC State’s overall athletic program will reflect itself in that realm. After all–moving more product benefits both parties, State and adidas.
In the world of college athletic apparel, Nike still dominates. They have the largest market share, produce the more sought-after products and have the greatest reach into the elite high school/AAU circuits. I think most schools, all things being equal, would probably prefer sporting a Swoosh versus the stripes.

State, at this point however, just doesn’t have the clout to feasibly ask Nike to add them to their ranks. Not without State making some serious concessions on their part to get the deal done. If you were hoping State was moving to Nike with this contract, sorry, it wasn’t going to happen.

But the relative brevity of the deal means State should be poised to get back into the discussion with Nike two years ahead of schedule and (hopefully) with a greater position of negotiating strength. Phil Knight disciples need only wait out a presidential election cycle before getting back into talks with Nike.

And while Nike is the clear Number One among apparel companies, adidas is still the clear second in command, ahead of companies like Under Armour that have tried for years to gain greater market share. adidas still has a very solid foothold in the college basketball recruiting universe, unlike Under Armour, so it’s not as if State’s stuck with chopped liver for the next four years–they’re in good company with schools like Notre Dame, Michigan and UCLA.

Bottom line: This deal is a definite step-up from State’s current apparel deal(s), and shrewd negotiation by Yow and Co. means it could possibly improve further down the line very soon. You’ll just have to wait at least four years before you can run out and buy that replica Nike Pro Combat Wolfpack jersey you’ve always dreamed of. 

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