Adidas hopes Michigan will remain its 'crown jewel'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan's contract with Adidas is worth $8.2 million annually.

Jim Hackett, Michigan's interim athletic director, has heard the pitches from apparel manufacturers Nike, Under Armour and Adidas, and now it will be about weighing options and determining the proper direction for the program.

Michigan's contract with Adidas, signed in 2007 and worth a robust $8.2 million annually -- $4.4 million in apparel and $3.8 million in cash – expires at the end of July in 2016. But a year in advance of the contract completion is typically when negotiations begin.

Hackett and a group of athletic department staffers already visited Under Armour in Maryland, and visited Oregon this week, where they dropped by Nike and then Adidas to hear their pitches.

Adidas absolutely wants to maintain its relationship with Michigan, which it considers the company's crown jewel, and has even toned down the sun-yellow color to a more traditional maize that more cloesly resembles mustard rather than a highlighter marker.

A Nike official confirmed Michigan's visit earlier this week, and an Adidas official said their visit with Michigan went well.

"It was a good meeting, very positive," Chris McGuire, Adidas director of sports marketing, told The Detroit News. "They're doing their due diligence, as we would expect. It went well, and we really like the direction Jim has Michigan going. We have a sense of Jim's vision, which is exciting."

McGuire said Adidas is confident in its relationship with Michigan since the two became partners in 2007 after Michigan moved from Nike.

Adidas recently signed contracts with Miami (Fla.) and Arizona State, but Michigan remains the brand's collegiate gem.

"Michigan will continue to be the flagship," McGuire said. "We have great partners in the college sector, like Miami and UCLA, but we look to Michigan to drive our brand. Michigan is still the crown jewel.

"There is a play globally for Michigan. We like what they have to offer and the strength of the Block M resonates. We have a global reach and can help enable the school to grow globally."

The money being discussed hasn't been revealed.

"Finances will always come to play," McGuire said. "We always pride ourselves on being a good partner."

McGuire said Adidas began a color change process two years ago while Dave Brandon was still Michigan's athletic director.

"The sentiment was to go back to the mustard -- for lack of a better term – away from the sun (color)," he said. "It takes a way to get that evolution, but that's a positive for us. We're pretty much full-go right now."

Adidas fully intends to extend its deal with Michigan, but clearly, this will be Hackett's call.

"It's a relationship we've enjoyed," McGuire said. "We see a lot of value in the University of Michigan and we've taken the time and effort to treat them as a top-tier partner. It's been a good relationship. We like to think we've always had a strong relationship.

"We hope it goes well. Time will tell."

Michigan likely will make a decision by the end of the year, perhaps by the end of the summer.