Report: Under Armour to replace adidas as Notre Dame’s apparel provider
Mike Monaco | Friday, January 10, 2014
With its footwear and apparel contract with adidas set to expire after the 2013-14 academic year, Notre Dame has made the decision to switch to Under Armour, according to an ESPN report.
On Dec. 19, Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick told The Observer that the athletic department was still deciding between three companies — adidas, Nike and Under Armour — and a decision would be made soon.
“We are actively engaged with that process,” Swarbrick said at the time. “We have talked with all the major companies. We’re in the last leg of it. No decision has been made, but because of the timetable, we’ve got to get going. It is a really condensed window to get ready for the 2014-15 season.”
In Nov. 2005, Notre Dame signed a 10-year agreement with adidas to supply footwear and apparel for all 26 Irish varsity teams. The partnership began between the school and adidas in 1997-98, when adidas began providing footwear for all Notre Dame teams and apparel for many Irish teams.
Now, however, the next contract will force a quickened production process for all the gear.
“They’d like 14 to 16 months but someone’s going to get six months,” Swarbrick said. “It’s not optimal but it’s the way the contract was drafted. No one would do that today. Back when this contract was drafted, you didn’t need as much lead time, now you do because all the equipment has gotten so specialized.”
Swarbrick said when deciding which company to partner with, Notre Dame’s most important component is the potential provider’s ability to support the student-athletes and provide them with the best experience. He said the provider also needs to recognize Notre Dame as a national brand.
“We really need our apparel partner to embrace that concept and to treat us differently,” Swarbrick said. “It sounds selfish but it’s just about being a national brand. There’s one approach when you’re primarily a regional brand and a great regional brand, but we’re not. We’re a national brand and need a partner who can help fuel that.”
Swarbrick added the economics of the potential contracts certainly play a role, and the futures of the companies will be analyzed, as well. Swabrick surveyed the current industry and noted the three major players are all representing teams competing at the highest levels. He mentioned the BCS National Championship Game matchup between Auburn, wearing Under Armour, and Florida State, wearing Nike. In men’s soccer, the Irish won the title against Maryland, an Under Armour school.
Despite reports at the time that Under Armour could be next in line for Notre Dame, Swarbrick denied that the company was the front-runner.
“There’s been a lot of speculation about that. Until we get final offers and are really able to compare apples to apples, there can’t be a leader in the clubhouse,” he said.
Swarbrick said the process would come together quickly as Notre Dame collected more information and he didn’t think the “decision is far away.”
From a corporation-values perspective, Swarbrick said he was “very comfortable” with all three of the potential partners.
He also said if Notre Dame were to move on from adidas, the change would have nothing to do with any “dissatisfaction.”
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