Watch a North Carolina basketball game and the Jordan Jumpman emblem, a division of Nike, is readily visible on UNC uniforms. N.C. State is an adidas program for athletic equipment. Campbell is affiliated with Under Armour.
UNC did a 10-year deal with Nike for footwear, apparel and accessories that took effect July 1, 2008 for a reported value of $37.7 million.
More recently, area high schools have gotten into equipment affiliations.
“It’s nothing like an agreement like a college would get,” said Overhills principal Steve Matthews, a former athletic director at Triton.
The Jaguars have an agreement with adidas through representative Jimmy Johnson of Johnson-Lambe in Raleigh.
Triton is affiliated with Under Armour through representative Chris Stoen of BSN. South Johnston is a Nike school. Western Harnett recently went with Under Armour.
No agreements for Central, Midway
Harnett Central has not made a specific commitment.
“We’ve got everything,” said Central athletic director and boys basketball coach Will Gage. “Including Big Lots.”
Midway has kept its options open.
“A guy tried to give us a Nike sell and then tried to give us an Under Armour sell,” said Raiders athletic director Beth Best. “But we decided not to be a Nike school or an Under Armour school because it limits you.
“Everything that you purchase has to go through them. So if we needed new uniforms, if we were a Nike school, it would have to be Nike. Midway decided not to go with that because we didn’t want to be restricted.
“It’s a great program. They give you some really good incentives, some up front stuff that’s really great. You have to stick with them and you’re on a contract. So Midway decided not to do that.”
The Triton girls basketball team wore blue Under Armour shoes this past season. Under Armour provided a background for signing photos that includes the company logo as well as the traditional Hawk insignia.
“It’s mostly about discounts from retail,” said Western principal Chris Pearson.
Jaguar boys program will be rewarded
There are incentives. The Overhills boys basketball team will get an additional discount on adidas apparel for winning a share of the Patriot Athletic 4-A/3-A Conference regular season championship.
“As long as that team was in an adidas uniform, that’s one of the things,” Matthews said. “You’ve got to start rolling your teams towards getting the uniforms. You eventually want to roll all of your teams over into the adidas uniforms.
“We did have the boys in the adidas uniforms. There will be a certain amount of money that can get kicked back toward that basketball program that the coach (Tony Lewis) can use to buy apparel and practice jerseys or anything that he would need for his program from adidas.”
The Jaguars have an adidas mural in the locker room area behind the gym.
“They helped us get that done,” Matthews said. ” … You don’t really get a check from them. But, in essence, you’re going to get apparel that can be used for that program.
“The same thing for the school. There are things that we have to buy anyway. For example, our padding for the gym wall. We were able to work with adidas and their graphics folks. We had to have new padding anyway. If we were willing to put the adidas logo on it, they help offset the expense of that item by giving us a credit to buy uniforms and clothes for our teams.
“There’s not really any money changing hands, but it’s giving you help on things you were going to have to buy anyway.”
The agreement with adidas at Overhills also means a savings for athletes.
“We put together packages for them,” Matthews said. “During football season, we’ll put a package with some cleats together, sweat bands and gloves and everything. They can’t go to Dick’s (Sporting Goods) and get it any cheaper than they can get it from adidas like that. That’s another benefit.”
Triton football coach Ben Penny said there are some items, such as mouthpieces, that are less expensive to purchase independently. The Hawks’ agreement is not exclusive with Under Armour in that regard. Many of the boys basketball team members wore Nike this past season.
Matthews said his school can’t purchase another brand of shoes as a team, but players could purchase footwear other than adidas individually, if the team is not doing a collective deal.
“Obviously, the business that we’re in is based on relationships,” said Stoen, Triton’s rep. “Different coaches, different teams have preferences for what they like brand-wise.”
Stoen was a basketball manager at UNC from 1994 to 1999. He keeps the game clock at the Smith Center. Stoen has been working in the sports equipment business since graduating when Scott Smith, son of legendary coach Dean Smith, brought him aboard at Bocock Sports.
Bocock and Dixie were regional outfits, which have since become part of BSN, a national company based in the Dallas area.
BSN represents multiple equipment brands.
“We’re a Nike school through BSN,” said South Johnston athletic director and boys basketball coach Brody Massengill.
The Trojans put up Nike logos in the gym before the 2017-18 hoops season.
“We get discounts on uniforms and apparel for the coaches,” Massengill said. “Keith Durham, when he was athletic director here, he began moving all of our teams into Nike uniforms.”
Value of seeing logos
The assumption is that product visibility on various levels, not excluding the relatively-recent move into area high schools, will translate into retail sales and increased profitability for the high-profile sports gear manufacturers.
“Those brands want their product on athletes, administrators; they want them on everybody,” Stoen said. “Those brands are high level partners of ours, which enable us to provide product, service, etc., to any number of customers, including high schools. … It gets younger and younger.”