University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men's golf coach Mark Guhne has a closet full of Adidas golf shirts.
The closet of every other UTC coach, player, administrator and staff member will be filled with Adidas in the coming months.
Athletic director David Blackburn announced Tuesday that the school has entered into a five-year agreement with Adidas to become the one-apparel provider for all UTC sports beginning on July 1, 2014.
"It gives us one brand, one identity, and that's important for our recruiting as well as our student-athletes, so all clothing, uniforms and the like are the same brand," Blackburn said. "With kids now, it's all about what they wear. This is a popular brand, the quality is really good and we feel that Adidas will serve our teams very well in terms of fit and need.
"For us, it's a heck of a deal."
The one caveat to the agreement is that UTC's football and volleyball teams will honor the final year of an agreement and wear Russell Athletic jerseys next season. But all athletes will wear Adidas shoes beginning in July.
Blackburn explained that he began the process of finding an all-sports apparel deal once he hired basketball coaches Will Wade and Jim Foster because of the need to identify the Mocs with one brand and get all sports under one umbrella.
Previously, each sport had contracts with different apparel providers including Adidas, Nike and Russell.
"I think that was fine, but it's not the economical way to go and you're all over the board in what you look like," Blackburn said. "Now we're consistent and student-athletes will feel equity in what they all wear."
UTC's deal with Adidas is very different from the contract that apparel companies make with schools such as UCLA, Texas and Michigan. Blackburn explained that UTC spends $175,000 to $200,000 annually on apparel. Adidas delivered the best deal for UTC after Blackburn put it up for bid to that company, Russell, Nike, Under Armour and others.
"We get a break on the price from what we'd pay a vendor, and once we reach a threshold we get another discount and access to more product at a significant discount," Blackburn said. "The cash benefit to us, in a sense, is that we will get twice the amount of product for what we have been spending."
It's more bang for the buck for the next five years.
"TaylorMade [which is part of Adidas] has outfitted us and taken care of all of our needs for three years, way beyond what I thought they'd do when we started," said Guhne, who had no impact on the athletic department's new deal. "We wear Adidas pants, shorts, shirts, pullovers, rain suits, caps, shoes and compression stuff. But when you look like me, you don't wear the compression stuff."
Everybody else in the department will be wearing Adidas soon enough.
Wade can't wait. He knows that Adidas is the exclusive provider of jerseys to every team in the NBA. By teaming with Adidas, potential UTC players see the Adidas logo every time they watch an NBA game, which is a small bonus when it comes to recruiting.
"Basketball wise, Adidas is very prominent," Wade said. "They have all of the NBA; Michigan, which reached the Final Four; and Louisville, which won it all. I think all the kids we recruit want to play in the NBA, and we'll be wearing what they do in the NBA."
Blackburn said that UTC fans should be able to purchase Adidas Mocs gear in local retail shops next season. But those retailers will not be limited to selling Adidas-only apparel. They can sell what they want, but UTC will encourage all retailers to sell the official Adidas merchandise.
"Historically, the fan wants to buy what the teams and staffs are wearing," Blackburn said. "We'll want Adidas to have a significant footprint at all locations."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...