Glass believes Adidas extension fits Indiana

In Adidas, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass sees an apparel company that fits his department.

He means literally and figuratively.

Now Adidas is set to make its latest agreement with IU one of the nation’s most lucractive. Indiana officially announced Tuesday the terms of its extension on an apparel contract with Adidas, which will pay IU $53.6 million to outfit its teams over eight years. The agreement, which goes into effect in 2016, is the fifth largest known such deal in college athletics.

IU has most recently partnered with the Germany-based company since 2004 and previously signed an eight-year extension in 2008.

“It’s kind of the stable, classic player in the market and we think that’s really the essence of our brand’s stability and class and tradition,” Glass told The Herald-Times. “I think it’s a really good match.”

Indiana will make $6.7 million annually — nearly doubling Adidas’ previous commitment of $3.7 million. If that deal were to have taken effect during the 2014-15 school year, it would have ranked IU behind only Michigan and UCLA among publicly released contracts, according to the Portland Business Journal’s apparel contract database. Michigan recently left Adidas for a 15-year, $169 million deal with Nike — the most lucrative contract in the nation.

Glass says the annual Adidas payouts will go in multiple directions. First, each sport under the Indiana umbrella will receive additional products like practice clothing, footwear and other gear. Under the previous agreement, Glass says, there were certain sports that didn’t have as much gear and apparel that they needed. The rest of the Adidas money will provide an annual boost of cash available for department projects and needs.

“We’re always looking under every rock to see how we can increase revenue and particularly a revenue stream that you can count on,” Glass said. “This deal will provide more money for the department, so that will be a big plus.”

As part of the extension, Adidas will also conduct a full branding audit of Indiana’s athletic department to ensure consistency across all 24 sports. One of the priorities for Glass is making sure Adidas gets the colors correct. Few, if any, of Indiana’s teams currently wear the same hue of crimson. For example, IU’s football uniforms in recent years have featured a color that closely resembles cherry red.

“For some reason it seems like our color is not the normal red,” Glass said. “It’s a different red. A lot of schools have interchangeable colors. You can take Louisville, Wisconsin, Nebraska — red schools and you can put their logo on and you’re ready to go. We pride ourselves on having a little bit of a different color – a little closer to a crimson and that creates some problems for our apparel providers.”

The brand audit will seek to fix that issue, while also identifying where else the department might add its signature candy stripes. The audit will also examine the addition of uniform stars signifying national championships. For example, IU men’s soccer logos and clothing currently feature eight stars and Adidas provided the men’s basketball team with alternate uniforms during the 2015 postseason that included five stars on the waistband.

“We want to further incorporate that as part of our look,” Glass said. “It’s things like that that I like and I think our fans like. There’s a little story there, little nooks and crannies to the stories of our uniforms. I think Adidas will help us step back and really look at that.”

Adidas has also agreed to provide alternate uniforms for IU sports. For football, Adidas will provide a complete alternate set, including helmets. Typically, Glass said, an outfitter provides everything except for the helmet.

Men’s basketball will also receive an optional alternate uniform. The ability to accept or decline is key.

In 2013, Indiana reportedly declined to wear an Adidas-provided men’s basketball alternate uniform that included bright school colors, a sleeved jersey and camouflage pants. During the 2014 Big Ten Tournament, Indiana abandoned its traditional jerseys to wear a cream-colored alternate that featured “HOOSIERS” printed across the chest. The alternates Indiana wore last postseason were much closer to the basketball program’s traditional look, and the team wore them for both the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

“As you know, sometimes Adidas has alternative uniforms that have been a little too out there, frankly, for us with our traditional, classic look,” Glass said. “Other times, they’ve had alternatives that struck us with being consistent and having a fun switch on our traditional classic uniform and we’ve done that. So we may do that a little bit with men’s basketball. We just singled those out because those are our two revenue generating sports. They’ve also shown a lot of willingness to help us with special events in other sports, whether it’s pink uniforms to help raise awareness for breast cancer research and so forth.”

The agreement will also give Indiana a further ability to co-brand with Adidas for marketing campaings, social media efforts and in-store promotions. Prior to signing the extension with Adidas on Monday, Indiana partnered with Navigate Research for a valuation study to help it reach its maximum value in the marketplace. With its latest extension, Indiana appears to have accomplished that goal.

“We love our classic look, especially to build across all of our sports,” Glass said. “It seems to me that there are some fun things to do to further distinguish ourselves in the marketplace.”

3 comments

  1. To have correct shade/hue of colors is a big +. I am sure with a fresh new contract Adidas with turn on the creative juices spigot to the max but also pleased IU has a yes or no vote for all ideas and changes with the ultimate goal to enhance and promote the brand. Obscene or not if it is going to happen IU is better off in the top 5 than the bottom 50. Who was the apparel vendor prior to Adidas, Champion?

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