The new partnership between Georgia Tech and Adidas officially begins July 2018 when Tech’s deal with Russell Athletic ends. Some things you may not have known about the company’s involvement in college athletics and the impact that the switch could have for Tech.
1. In Tech’s news release, Adidas North America president Mark King said in a statement that Tech’s location in the South was a priority.
“If you want to be embedded in sport in America, you have to be embedded in sport in the South,” King said.
Adidas has made at least two other moves of varying sizes that demonstrated its prioritization of Atlanta. One is its Speedfactory, described as a “state-of-the-art footwear production facility” that will open later this year in Cherokee County. On a much smaller scale, Adidas lured a top Georgia-based AAU basketball team from Nike in the spring, in part because of its desire to have a national-level team in the South, particularly Atlanta.
“Atlanta is a major basketball hotbed,” said Chris Rivers, the director of global sports marketing for Adidas, told the AJC. “The South is a region, Atlanta in particular, where (Wheeler High grad, NBA first-round pick and Adidas endorses) Jaylen Brown is from. We have a partnership with Wheeler High School, so the ability to have more Adidas, high-level basketball in that area, where some of our competitors are very competitive, is just one of those places you’ve just got to be.”
2. The contract will run six years, starting in July 2018. Two other power-conference schools that recently signed with Adidas, Rutgers (2017), Arizona State (2014) and Miami (2015), signed six-, eight- and 12-year deals, respectively. Adidas’ deal with Arizona State was worth $4.225 annually, reportedly double what Nike was paying the school previously. Adidas’ deal with Miami reportedly was its longest with a school. Rutgers’ was worth a reported $10.4 million.
3. One priority for football coach Paul Johnson with the new apparel provider was the actual amount of gear that his players receive. The quantity provided by Russell Athletic was found lacking. To that end, Tech athletes might find a detail in a recent story from the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star interesting. The story reported that a Nebraska football player said he had received so much Adidas apparel that “he could go several weeks without wearing the same thing.”
“I wear a lot of the stuff that we get here, so I’m wearing it almost every day,” Devine Ozigbo said. “Like personal stuff, I love the shoes. I feel like they’re killing it with the shoes right now. Shoes that you can wear casually, but then you can also put a nice outfit together with them.”
It bears mention that Nebraska might be Adidas’ most high-profile college partner and that Tech athletes might not be plied with quite so much apparel.
4. How much does apparel in recruiting? It depends on who you ask, but it does matter to some degree.
Former Tech football captain Freddie Burden: “It didn’t look awful. It was OK. But I think just the fact that you see other teams, they update their jerseys every year, or come up with some cool design. Recruits really look at that stuff. Some people might not think it makes a difference, but they definitely really do care about things like that.”
Tech basketball coach Josh Pastner: “Uniform look and the amount of shoes you get or what type of shoe you’re wearing, all that stuff matters when you’re dealing with a 17-year-old guy.”
Chris Williams, coach of Game Elite, the aforementioned AAU team that jumped to Adidas: Leaving Russell “will definitely help them get higher-tier kids, like five-star kids, in there,” he said. “At the end of the day, kids still look at what they’ve got to wear, regardless.”
5. Adidas is coming off a very strong financial performance in 2016.
The company reported net income grew 41 percent last year. Its share price on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange was just under 90 Euros ($105.88) at the end of 2015 and finished 2016 at 150.15 ($176.64). It closed Tuesday at 189.35 ($222.76). In that same span (Dec. 2015-Tuesday), Nike was down about 13 percent and Under Armour was down about 79 percent.
6. Tech becomes the company’s 11th power-conference client. The others are Arizona State, Louisville, Miami, N.C. State, Indiana, Nebraska, Rutgers, Kansas, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.