clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Adidas is fine, and Indiana's new apparel deal is good for the Hoosiers

New, 15 comments

Adidas' loss of other college and pro deals, along with sales struggles, likely created an opportunity for Fred Glass and Indiana to land an apparel deal they couldn't have pulled from anyone else. And you should be happy about that because uniforms are uniforms and generally fine.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, good news!

An international corporation is going to be paying Indiana lots of money to give them free clothes. This is a good thing. Per Zach Osterman, Indiana has re-upped with adidas for an eight-year, $53.6 million dollar deal that will give Fred Glass and Co. the fifth-wealthiest publicly known apparel deal in all of college sports. It's double what Indiana has been getting paid, and a number that places them right up there with the BIG DOGS in college sports. Here's some context to that, showing that the Indiana Hoosiers will displace Texas among the top of the richest apparel deal rankings.

Top College Apparel Deals, via Forbes
Rk School Total Per Year
1 Michigan 153 Million $15M
2 Notre Dame 90 Million $9M
3 Louisville 31 Million $7.8M
4 UCLA 45 Million $7.6M
5 Indiana 53.6 Million $6.7M
6 Texas 57.6 Milion $6.4M

See, that's good! That's a lot of money! Especially for an Indiana program that hosts something far and away from a traditional football power -- unlike basically every school on this list. Basketball-centric programs do not often reap the big benefits of the big money in college athletics, and should cash out at every chance possible. Indiana athletics is hardly the money-printer that these schools with better football programs are, and the cash can certainly be used to do good things. If you are weird, Brad Stevens-face-photoshopped-onto-Bob-Knight-avatar twitter guy, Indiana can now almost pay for Tom Crean's entire buyout with one adidas check. Please go share this article on Facebook promptly with your Crean-hatin' friends, and use that little factoid as your corresponding Facebook status. This status will then get lots of likes and comments, etc, and you'll feel like you did something good. This adidas deal will make Brad-Stevens-face-photoshopped-onto-Bob-Knight-avatar guy feel accomplished and like he did something good.

But, wait, how did Indiana get so much money? Is there some kinda catch?

Yes and no. There is no catch, there is no trap door. This is not an NFL contract, the money is guaranteed. As far as I know, there is not X STUPID METRIC that Indiana has to reach for the money to vest. They will receive it regardless.

But Fred Glass should write letters thanking Under Armour daily. The Maryland-based outfitter's deal with Notre Dame last year reset the baseline level for college sports apparel contracts. Nike only upped the ante this year, with the astronomical sum they'll dole out to give Michigan free things -- $169 million dang dollars. Add to that Tennessee's choice to jump ship to Nike this summer for $38 million over eight years, and, bang, Adidas is without, probably, its top three flagship schools heading into next season. Add to this the loss of the NBA apparel contract in coming season to Nike, and Under Armour's overtaking of the Three Stripes in sales, you've got one conclusion:

Adidas freaked out, overpaid Indiana, and Fred Glass took the money and RAN.

Adidas are the dang Sacramento Kings. They've still largely got a ton of money because sports apparel companies probably have endless coffers of cash hidden in the hills of Luxembourg, but the product has been so overwhelmingly terrible over the course of the last few years that no one wants it. Indiana is Wes Mathews -- a very nice college sports program that has done a handful of good things but has blown several ligaments and tendons since any of those things occurred. Indiana can bring lots of good things to the table for a apparel company: large alumni base, one well-supported premier program, etc. But the football program, the true money driver in college sports, has resembled something far closer to crystallized dog feces for the better part of the last half-century and cannot and will not drive revenue for the company like a Michigan, Notre Dame, or Texas. Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina -- three programs with far more recent and more consistent basketball relevance than Indiana -- are not on this list. Do not forget that Fred Glass is a dang lawyer and likely punched well above his weight class to get Indiana a very lucrative apparel deal.

Or, wait, did they really get overpaid?

I don't know, maybe. The Michigan and Notre Dame deals have driven the price of apparel contracts up so high that it's going to set a new "salary cap" for apparel brands in coming years. More NBA free agency analogies! 64-million seems like an exorbitant amount for the Kings to offer Wes Matthews, and for him to decline -- until next year when the cap jumps and you're paying 10+ million a year to journeymen point guards. This is exactly what's happening in apparel contracts, and you'd be foolish to think Texas and other schools won't jump above Indiana when those deals come available in 2017 and on into the future.

Add to this, some schools take less money for other benefits. In exchange for taking less money, Tennessee is getting some extra UMPH from Nike's marketing department -- getting the school likely moved a bit higher up on Nike's pecking order. Indiana, by comparison, looks to have taken the cash. Or, Adidas dearth of big-name schools may have left Glass so much leverage that he was able to secure these kind of promises from the shoe company. There's mention that a "re-alignment" of the colors will occur, possibly similar to what Nike did in the early 2000s, which the school has since strayed from a bit. Maybe that coincides with more marketing support from Adidas. Maybe it doesn't. We likely won't have that answer for months.

"But, Adidas' uniforms are so baaaaaaaaaad. I wanted Indiana to go to Nike or Under Armour!"

The internet's favorite thing to do is complain about uniforms that are, probably, fine.

Most uniforms are fine. Adidas uniforms are just fine. My colleague Rodger Sherman disagrees with me. He thinks they are not fine. I think they are fine. They are exceptionally more fine when you are paid lots of money to wear them, as Indiana will do. Please stop complaining about Adidas uniforms. They are fine. Indiana, save one gloriously hideous baseball jersey with a super-imposed IU logo, has never once worn anything not fine from Adidas. The March basketball uniforms have been fine. The football jerseys are fine. The baseball jerseys are, usually, more than fine. The candy-striped pants are fine. Everything is fine. Even these, made by Nike, were fine.

Most uniforms, like most things, are fine.