Adidas, which has been supplying footwear to Notre Dame teams since 1997, will now make their uniforms too.
The University announced it has entered into a five-year agreement under which all 26 varsity men’s and women’s teams will begin wearing both adidas shoes and apparel this fall. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Champion Products had been supplying uniforms for the football, men’s and women’s basketball, and softball teams, as well as the cheerleaders. The relationship in football went back more than 50 years.
“They have been a great partner for our athletic teams,” said Athletic Director Kevin White. “It was our desire to create a marketing partnership with a company that could supply both footwear and apparel. Very simply, Champion is not in the shoe business, so we looked exclusively to adidas, based on the strong relationship that was forged with them four years ago.”
The agreement does not spell doom for the famous “Play Like a Champion” sign the football team ritually taps on its way from the stadium dressing room to the field. The sign was the idea of former coach Gerry Faust, who had it put up before the 1981 season. It was strictly for motivational purposes and had no connection with Champion Products, which is owned by Sara Lee Corporation.
Starting this fall the adidas logo will appear on the front right shoulder of the football uniforms (the Champion logo was on the sleeve). Other changes apparent on the 2001 uniforms will be a green shamrock at the center, or yoke, of the neck hole and the word “Irish” below that in a Celtic-looking typeface. The white road jersey will have wide gold panels running vertically down from the underarms.
The Notre Dame agreement is in keeping with adidas’ strategy of arranging full-scale marketing and sales-service partnerships with a small number of college sports programs. The company has negotiated such arrangements with only five other universities: Nebraska, Northwestern, Tennessee, UCLA and Arizona State.
Champion expects to continue selling licensed apparel and accessories bearing the Notre Dame trademark.
Ed Cohen is an associate editor of this magazine.