Hackett: Michigan-Nike is largest apparel deal in U.S.

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett announced details of the university's $169 million apparel deal with Nike on Wednesday morning.

Ann Arbor – Michigan's long-term deal with Nike is the largest apparel contract in the country, according to interim athletic director Jim Hackett, who brokered the deal, along with a 10-person team.

Nike and Michigan have contracted to 2027 with an option to extend to 2031. Financial details will not be available until the week of July 13, and Hackett, who on Tuesday met with a small group of reporters, would not shed any light on the finances other than to say it's the biggest college deal.

Notre Dame's contract with Under Armour, hatched early last year, is thought to be worth a whopping $90 million over 10 years, but that can't be confirmed because it is a private school and the contract does not have to be made public.

Hackett, who hired football coach Jim Harbaugh late last year, began negotiating a new partnership because the current deal with adidas expires after the 2015-16 academic year. The contract with Nike begins Aug. 1, 2016 and all 31 Michigan programs will be outfitted in Nike uniforms, footwear, apparel and equipment. The Michigan men's and women's basketball teams will use the Jordan Brand "Jumpman" apparel.

All three companies – Nike, adidas and Under Armour – presented proposals that would have made Michigan's contract the richest in the country, Hackett said, but added that was never what he set out to achieve.

"It never was in any stated goal of where we are ending up," Hackett said, adding he was working at the same time on the Michigan athletic department budget for the next year. "We valued at one level and we outperformed that."

The money offered by all three companies were comparable.

"I would say to you, and I told all the competitors this, they were close," Hackett said. "There's a difference. There's a 1-2-3 ranking; that's as far as I'll go about it. Michigan was not going to have to diminish the choice because one was clearly more financially lucrative than the other."

Jim Harbaugh cast a vote for Nike on his second day on campus, Jim Hackett said.

Hackett solicited advice from a number of sources, including current student-athletes, former Michigan athletes now in professional sports, current coaches and alumni. He also queried fellow athletic directors because as a former CEO of Steelcase, negotiating an apparel contract was new territory for him.

"One of the very notable athletic directors in the country said, 'I just want to set your mind in the right context – this is one of the most valuable brands,' and he paused, 'in sports,'" Hackett said. "And I waited, and he said, 'I'm talking about auto racing, golf, baseball, NFL, NBA -- the Michigan brand, Jim, is one of the most valuable assets in sports.' I had a lot of pride in hearing that, but it really got me to think in terms of what does the most valuable brand in sport deserve in a partnership?"

Hackett, along with Chrissi Rawak, associate AD for external relations and strategic initiatives, who led the apparel-contract project team beginning in February, met with university president Mark Schlissel a week before last month's Regents meeting and walked him through the Nike contract proposal to see if he had any issues. The Regents were informed of the contract a week later, but the contract was not finalized until last weekend, Hackett said.

"I couldn't relax until everybody had signed the agreement," Hackett said.

During a meeting Monday afternoon, Hackett informed athletes who are on campus, athletic department administrators and coaches of the decision. It was well-received at the meeting and in the fan base.

Hackett was asked when Harbaugh cast a vote for Nike.

"Second day on campus," Hackett said.