CORRECTION APPENDED: This news story incorrectly named referred to Nike’s logo as a swoop. The logo is called a swoosh. The story also misspelled Crisler Arena.
Updated July 16, 2007
After 13 years, small reproductions of Nike’s swoosh emblem will no longer be displayed on the uniforms of Michigan athletes.
The three stitched lines replacing the symbol in fall of 2008 mean millions of dollars more a year for the Athletic Department.
The University has entered an eight-year agreement with Adidas that will earn the athletic department $7.5 million a year for allowing the company to provide footwear and apparel for the University’s 25 sports teams.
The contract nearly doubles the amount Michigan athletics brought in a year from a seven-year, $30-million sponsorship deal with Nike that ends with the 2007-2008 season.
Jason Winters, the athletic department’s chief financial officer, said the extra funds will go toward renovating athletic facilities like Crisler Arena.
Adidas approached the University with a proposal after Nike’s exclusive negotiation rights expired in February, Winters said.
Winters said the offer Nike presented during resigning negotiations “wasn’t exciting.” He said Nike then declined a chance last spring to maintain its partnership with the University by matching Adidas’s bid.
“We received a proposal from Adidas that we were very comfortable with,” Winters said. “Adidas showed they were going to be a lot more flexible in contract terms.”
Beyond financial matters, Winters said the agreement with Adidas grants the department more individual attention and control over the deal’s operations.
Athletic Director Bill Martin said the look of teams’ attire – especially Michigan football uniforms – will change little or not at all. He said Adidas will allow the University input in designing sideline outfits for the team’s coach and staff – a change from the same outfits Nike supplies every collegiate team it sponsors.
Two Adidas employees will handle the University’s account and stay on site to respond to outfitting problems, he said.
Nike, the sports-apparel company with the collegiate contracts nationwide, assigned one executive to the University who also supervised several other universities’ contracts and wasn’t always available to address unexpected glitches.
Martin said the Adidas contract also contains “term aspects that will have financial impact down the road.”
Stipulated in the agreement, Winters said, is the University’s right to renew a contract with Adidas maintaining the same conditions, annual adjustment for cost-of-living estimates and a “favored-nation” clause, which allows the University to demand any terms that Adidas offers another university.
Martin said Adidas consented in the agreement to allow the University to more easily monitor the labor standards of factories the company utilizes.
“Our inspections office wanted to have greater access to global factories where Adidas products are manufactured,” he said.
LSA junior Blase Kearney, a member of Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality, said the agreement’s inspection stipulations alone do not assure that factories Adidas uses will maintain fair labor practices because the University has to act if misconduct is detected.
Kearney said Adidas has the same standards as Nike for working conditions in the factories it uses.
“Nike has always been the target, but Adidas is basically the same company,” he said.
Former University President James Duderstadt told The Michigan Daily in 2005 that he regretted making the initial sponsorship deal with Nike in 1994 because the move further commercialized Michigan athletics, putting an emphasis on money rather than education.
In a telephone interview last week, Duderstadt said he approves of the University’s new deal with Adidas.
“In retrospect, I wish we hadn’t made the deal with Nike,” he said. “But that was 10 years ago. Today the world is different. Michigan is not doing anything unusual, and apparently made a lucrative deal.”
Other universities with Adidas
– UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME
– UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES
– UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
– UNIVERSITY OF INDIANA
– UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA
– UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN