Athletics Department spends $325,000 on Adidas apparel as part of five-year contract
Before Director of Athletics Dave Heeke came to Central Michigan University in 2006, Chippewa sports teams took to the fields and courts wearing different shades of maroon and gold with varying logos and styles.
In addition to a lack of uniformity, Heeke said basic team apparel needs were not being met in an equitable fashion across all sports.
“The programs were somewhat on their own,” Heeke said. “What we wanted to do was develop a plan to be more comprehensive with our uniforms and meet the needs of all our teams.”
The former Oregon associate athletic director said his staff set out looking for an apparel provider, that would build the Central Michigan brand.
“There was no comprehensive effort to brand CMU or to build a brand around our (flying) C— the action C logo,” Heeke said. “We wanted to get all those things together and we needed an apparel and uniform provider who could help (us) build that.”
Heeke said the department needed a provider that would not only commit to just football and basketball, but provide the best resources to every varsity sports team.
“You think initially about new uniforms in football, alternate uniforms. It’s not about that exclusively,” he said. “It’s about outerwear, sideline wear, travel apparel, practice gear, practice shorts, T-shirts, all of the apparel and needs of an athletic program — every team and coach. We want them all to be consistent, so they look the same. They’re building our brand and they have the same items across the spectrum, not specific program by program. Every student athlete gets the same package.”
At the end of their search, Heeke said Adidas offered the university the best overall package in comparison to rival providers Nike and Under Armour.
Heeke said the other providers were not interested in developing a relationship with all of Central Michigan's teams.
The newest umbrella deal covering all of Central Michigan’s sports teams went into effect June 1, 2014 and will end May 31, 2019.
It’s the second five-year contract that will complete a decade-long agreement between CMU and Adidas.
The first five-year contract lasted from 2009 to 2014.
Who gets what
The apparel contract stipulates that CMU must purchase a minimum of $325,000 in Adidas products annually.
If that spending minimum is not met, the department is liable for providing Adidas equivalent cash compensation. Reaching that amount has never been a problem for the department, Heeke said.
Once the $325,000 spending minimum is met, the department receives an extra $185,000 in bonus “promotional dollars.” These act as credits, which are allocated throughout the athletic department to purchase additional apparel. They do not roll over one year to the next.
The department strategically plans how the promotional dollars are spent on new uniforms and apparel, Heeke said, considering longevity, cost effectiveness and branding possibilities.
“You have to be really tactful and strategic in how you (allocate promotional dollars and buy new items). It’s important that you respect what your brand is, what your colors are, who you are, what your logo is,” he said. “There’s over 100 years of tradition here, so you need to mix that with this new edgy trend.”
With the addition of women’s golf and lacrosse and a growing athletic department, both the spending minimum and the amount of promotional dollars increased from the original 2009-2014 contract to the current one.
The minimum spending amount received a 40 percent increase and promotional dollars increased by 42 percent.
“Our needs were increasing,” said Assistant Athletic Director for Business Operations and Human Resources Krystal Swindlehust. “We are committing to spending a little bit more based on our department growing, but they are also in turn giving us more promotional dollars in recognition of that (growth).”
Purchasing power, Heeke said, was a crucial facet when making an agreement with an apparel provider.
Adidas allows Central Michigan athletics the ability to buy Adidas footwear at a 45 percent discount.
"Footwear Products," as stated in the contract, includes all the footwear needed for team participants for all team events, including competitions, practices, training, coaching, travel, recruiting and media engagements.
At a 45 percent discount, the men’s basketball team is able to purchase the normally $140 Adidas D Rose Boost 6 basketball shoes for around $77 a pair.
The department gets all non-footwear products at a 50 percent discount.
According to the contract, any “non-footwear products” means all apparel, uniforms (including custom uniforms), accessories, equipment, travel bags, headwear, socks, wristbands, gloves, watches, and inflatables — including basketballs and footballs.
Football Head Coach John Bonamego said his football program has a great working relationship with Adidas.
“I think the stuff we have is high quality. It lasts. It looks good,” Bonamego said. “When I see other teams they work with, I see them having the same type of stuff. I’d be more concerned if another school was getting, or had more access to, products that we didn’t.”
Bonamego said he doesn’t normally put much weight on having flashy uniforms, but realizes it is an important part of college football today.
“Being a mid-major, it’s budgetary-driven,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I’d love to be able to do. It costs money and you have to make decisions and weigh where the benefit is. If you’re spending $60,000 on a chrome paint job on our helmets that can only last for two games, when for $40,000 we can buy a whole new set of helmets or a whole other uniform combination.”
What Adidas wants from CMU
In addition to receiving a minimum of $325,000, Adidas gets exclusive rights to the Central Michigan Chippewa varsity sporting team brand. The university is still allowed to go through other providers to fulfill non-varsity sport athletic needs, which is why the CMU Bookstore also sells Nike and Under Armour apparel.
The university must identify Adidas as its apparel provider by including the Adidas logo on all materials promoting Central Michigan athletics.
All athletic venues must have at least one permanent Adidas sign and Adidas must receive four lower level season tickets to all home football and men’s and women’s basketball games.
Adidas requires Central Michigan to fulfill certain apparel orders through its partner companies such as Agron (bags, socks, headbands, bags, etc.) Sarnac (gloves), and Fossil (watches).
If Central Michigan breaches the contract, Adidas has the right to suspend or reduce payments and products.
“For the first offense, there will be a 25 percent reduction in the amount of Promotional Merchandise. The second offense will incur a 50 percent reduction in the amount of Promotional Merchandise or termination of the Agreement. The third offense will incur a 100 percent reduction in the amount of Promotional Merchandise or termination of the agreement, at Adidas' sole discretion,” per the contract.
Adidas is not liable for any injury or damage suffered by athletes.
Other Schools’ Contracts
Six other Mid-American Conference schools have deals with Adidas, including Akron, Miami (Ohio), Eastern Michigan, Massachusetts, Northern Illinois, and Western Michigan.
Ball State, Bowling Green and Buffalo are signed to Nike.
Toledo and Kent State are underthe Under Armour brand schools, and Ohio uniforms are provided by Russell Athletic.