Athletic Director Blake James discusses Adidas, break with Nike

The University of Miami is still transitioning into becoming an Adidas-sponsored school after being with Nike for 27 years, having officially begun their new licensing agreement on Sept. 1.

Wednesday night Athletic Director Blake James met with USport, an organization for students who want futures in the sports industry, to explain the process of negotiating and deciding on the new deal that will last 12 years.

About a year and a half ago, UM informed Nike with the decision to see what other brands would offer Miami, with the hopes of remaining with the brand despite exploring the market.

“I didn’t think Nike was treating us at the level that we deserved to be treated,” James said. “One of my frustrations with Nike was they do a great job of promoting their brand, but outside of the University of Oregon, they don’t.”

As a result, the Athletics Department met with Adidas and Under Armour Factory House in November of 2014 within a span of two days and returned to Nike to give them the opportunity to also make a bid. Although Nike offered an increase in money and products for the student-athletes, the other two companies offered much more-with ESPN reporting in January that it was worth “multiple times more” than the previous.

Between Adidas and Under Armour, Adidas “significantly separated itself from Under Armour from a cash perspective, a product perspective and a partnership perspective,” James said. “The decision became easy.”

The announcement gained national news; the 27-year partnership lasted through the rise of the UM football program into five-time national champions and was considered one of the first licensing agreements between a university and sports merchandise company.

The partnership with Adidas took off the day the deal was announced in January. Adidas took care of hosting a football jersey launch at LIV nightclub in July. Additionally, the corporation has also helped with on-campus facilities such as the brand new nutrition center.

“The thing that makes me feel really good about it was that Adidas wants to rebrand here in the United States,” James said. “They told us ‘we’re going to focus on strengthening our brand by strengthening your brand.’”

So far, the student-athletes have given James positive feedback since the deal. The fan base, however, was concerned and upset when it was first announced, but James is “confident we can still win and recruit with our product and we put ourselves in a good position.”

Their decision, according to James, was based on finding what was best for the student-athletes, for the most amount of money, with the best partnership.