Copyright 2017 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The football team is coming off a nine-win season and a win over Georgia. The basketball team far exceeded expectations by reaching the NIT finals. Going into the 2017-18 academic year, another development at Georgia Tech is also bound to please Yellow Jackets fans.
When Tech's apparel contract with Russell Athletic expires in June 2018, the school will move on to a new apparel provider.
Athletic Director Todd Stansbury has been negotiating with Adidas, Nike and Under Armour.
"With the direction that Russell's kind of moving in corporate-wise, we're going to be making a transition," said Stansbury, who said he hopes to have a decision on the next apparel deal in the next few months.
Russell Athletic's presence in Division I college athletics has decreased in recent years. In 2016-17, Tech was reportedly one of just four FBS schools with a Russell contract.
Ohio University, whose Russell Athletic contract ended this past academic year, switched to Adidas. Western Kentucky and Russell Athletic, which are both locatedinBowlingGreen, Ky., will part ways at the end of June, one year into a five-year contract extension. The school will join the Nike empire.
The brand also ended its sponsorship of an Orlando, Fla., bowl game after last season. That leaves Tech and Southern Mississippi as the only FBS schools not outfitted by Adidas, Nike or Under Armour.
Tech athletes, fans and athletic department staff were largely unenthusiastic about Russell Athletic's offerings.
"I think everyone will be pumped," said former Tech football captain Roddy Jones, estimating his reaction of the fan base. "I haven't met a single person on the Russell for life train."
Tech fans have seen Russell Athletic as a hindrance in recruiting. The apparel provider lacks the appeal of Nike, Under Armour and Adidas.
Tech athletes haven't been overwhelmed by the gear, either. Freddie Burden, captain of the 2016 team, said it was a topic of conversation among teammates almost daily.
"Especially during the season, teams will tweet out, 'We're wearing these new jerseys this weekend,'" Burden said. "We're like, 'dang, look at this jersey this team has.' "
Russell Athletic has been a Tech partner since 1992. In 2007, the company and the athletic department, then under the direction of Dan Radakovich, entered into a 10-year deal that has averaged $840,000 in cash and $1.2 million in gear.
Since then contracts have shot upward.
It has occurred at the top — UCLA and Under Armour signed a 15-year deal worth a record-breaking $280 million in May 2016 — but also at the middle. When Cincinnati left Adidas for Under Armour in 2015, its apparel deal went from a reported $525,000 annually in cash to $1 million in the first year of the new deal.
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