Nike Still Dominates College Athletics Apparel Landscape

    Nike continues to dominate the college athletics apparel landscape despite recent contract deals by competitors adidas and Under Armour.

    February 15, 2017

    Nike continues to dominate the college athletics apparel landscape despite recent contract deals by competitors adidas and Under Armour.


    News recently broke that Rutgers had decided to cut ties with Nike and make adidas its new official apparel sponsor. The deal goes into effect on July 1, 2017 and runs through the 2023-24 college athletic season. The contract’s exact worth has not been officially disclosed, but is expected to be somewhere around the $10 million mark.

    With Rutgers now set to leave Nike for one of the brand’s top competitors, this got us thinking: how do the big three sports apparel brands (adidas, Nike, Under Armour) rank in terms of the number of Power Five schools that they sponsor? The answer probably won’t surprise you.

    In total, there are 65 Power Five schools in the NCAA, including Notre Dame, who is a partial member of the ACC. Of the 65 Power Five schools, 44 of them, or almost 68%, are currently set to wear Nike in the coming 2017-18 season, an overwhelming majority.

    Somewhat surprising is the fact that both adidas and Under Armour have exactly 10 deals in place with Power Five schools. Now, if you’re doing your math correctly you’ll notice that Nike’s 44 schools and the other 20 from adidas and Under Armour only adds to 64 schools. That is because Georgia Tech is the only Power 5 school to not wear one of those brands (they wear Russell Athletic).

    Getting back to Nike, they currently own three of the top five largest apparel contracts in college athletics: Ohio State – 15 years, $16.8 million/year; Texas – 15 years, $16.67 million/year; Michigan (Jumpman brand, owned by Nike) – 11 years, $15.73 million/year.

    As for the single largest contract in college sports today, that belongs to UCLA and Under Armour, who last year inked a 15 year partnership worth $18.67 million per year. Location can often play a big role in these deals, as evidenced by UCLA’s proximity to Los Angeles and everything that the local community possesses.

    While Nike continues to dominate the college athletic landscape, rest assured though that adidas and Under Armour are doing everything they can to close the gap. In recent years some major athletic schools such as Miami (FL) and Arizona State have switched from Nike to adidas much like Rutgers just did. Some other notable schools to recently switch sponsors include UCLA (adidas to UA), Wisconsin (adidas to UA), Notre Dame (adidas to UA), and Michigan (adidas to Nike).

    So while Nike controls a large majority of the Power Five schools, Under Armour (most notably) seems to have gained some traction over the last few years and has reached agreements with some big-name schools. It will take quite an effort and require a large amount money, but Under Armour, more so than adidas, is positioned to continue pilfering schools from its competitors as more apparel contracts expire.

    MORE: LSU Baseball Unveils Incredible Uniform Lineup

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