Rams and Cougars make apparel switch
New contract makes a switch from Adidas to Nike
Kobe Bryant, Michelle Wie, Chris Paul, and the University of Regina’s athletic department. What do these three superstar athletes and one CIS representative have in common, you ask? Beginning next season, all of them will be sporting Nike apparel.
Recently, the University of Regina’s athletic department announced the deal, a partnership with T. Litzen Sports who are the Canadian distributor for the Nike team merchandise. Acting Athletic Director Curtis Atkinson says that the new deal, one that will run for a five-year term, provides a multitude of benefits to the University of Regina.
“I believe the most notable benefits of this agreement are related to product availability, colour availability, and product quality. Nike is recognized as a leading brand in high performance sport and they offer the highest quality products – this association with a leading brand and with high quality is important to us. The ability to access a wide variety of products is also important to us as we have such a broad area of programming with each of our programs having unique needs. For branding or identity purposes, it is also important for us to be able to access a wide variety of high performance apparel and uniforms in our program colours – forest green and gold. There is also a financial component to the agreement that can provide benefits to us.”
T. Litzen Sports, the Toronto-based distributor who will play a large role as the deal progresses, has a website that purports that the company has been in business for over sixty years, with equipment options ranging from field hockey to wrestling.
As for how the deal came to be, Atkinson says that a competitive bidding structure was set up and, while he was unwilling to share who the other bidders were, he did say that those involved were “major brands.”
One major component of the deal is the time period that it encompasses. Five years in terms of sports, is a long time, but Atkinson says that the university felt it was the right decision to make.
“We originally considered a shorter term contract, but the more we looked at it, going with five years made the most sense. In order to fully leverage the agreement, this wasn’t a process that we wanted to go through in another two-to-three years. If we were making a change, we also wanted to make sure that it was long enough to do an effective job with branding and the advertising that will be a part of this. Nike has a powerful brand and we feel like we can do some effective co-branding with them. When it comes to producing signage, changing uniforms, and updating apparel, we felt it was important to commit to this longer term. On the other hand, we didn’t want to go beyond five years, as we believe it will be important to evaluate our position in five years to make sure we are still pleased with the agreement and to assess the marketplace.”
Whether the branding decision to make the switch from Adidas to Nike made by the university will make a significant impact will likely not be known until the end of the next school year. A new year brings new opportunities, new challenges, and new equipment. New apparel is just part of the process and, as Atkinson suggests, one that is as much a business decision, as a fashion one.