Auburn, Ala.-- Auburn's director of athletics, Jay Jacobs, said the university has a comfort level with its shoe and apparel partner, Under Armour. Jacobs noted that was one factor in Auburn signing a new $78.1 million deal with the company to outfit Auburn teams through the 2025-26 athletic year.
“It is important,” Jacobs said about Auburn being pleased with Under Armour on its previous deal that was worth $36.5 million for a period from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2016.
“It certainly wasn’t the decision-maker,” Jacobs said. “The decision-maker was how they valued Auburn athletics and how our students and athletes feel about the product, but obviously, having been with them and the partnership me and Kevin Plank (of Under Armour) have, what they have done in the last several years to help benefit Auburn certainly makes a difference.
“Any time you have a partner that you have a relationship with, you know exactly what you are dealing with,” said Jacobs about the deal that was announced on Thursday.
Jacobs pointed out that he has received positive feedback from athletes and coaches about Under Armour and has talked to athletes both “informally and formally” about the products the company makes.
“When we have our student-athlete advisory committee meetings I often ask them about the apparel and the footwear,” Jacobs said. “Also, often times they will come up to me and say, ‘I?came to Auburn and one of the reasons is I?love the Under Armour gear.’”
The athletic director noted that from his talks with the athletes they want more Under Armour gear and will be able to get more under the new deal that boosts the amount for apparel/shoes to $4.05 million per year. With Auburn agreeing to a new deal athletes on 2015-16 teams will be out-fitted under terms of the new contract, AU officials said.
Former Auburn basketball coaches were not pleased with having Under Armour as a shoe partner because Nike and adidas have more influence in the basketball world, particularly on the AAU circuit where top prospects play. Jacobs said Auburn’s second-year head men's coach, Bruce Pearl, is on board with the deal.
“That was probably the topic we talked about the most,” Jacobs said. “Bruce loves the idea of what he says is being a big fish in a small pond. He loves how Under Armour is making sure our men’s basketball program is the number one priority for them. He is excited about this commitment and partnership as well.”
Jacobs said from what he can tell that Pearl is recruiting at a very high level now with Auburn being an Under Armour school so the doesn't see that as a concern moving forward.
When Auburn originally signed a deal with Under Armour in 2007 there were complaints from some of the athletes about the quality and fit of the shoes. Jacobs said he believes that Under Armour has made major progress on that front.
“I believe in the shoe industry it is always an evolution going on,” he said. “We are certainly very comfortable where we are with the progress Under Armour has made, but the shoe business is a very, very competitive business and Under Armour has made a commitment to stay on the cutting edge to make sure we not only have the best apparel products, but the best footwear products.”
“They have made a commitment to us and they have demonstrated over the last couple of years they will honor that commitment,” he said. “Things are great and we look for them to get even better.”
The athletic director pointed out that Under Armour has spent time on campus working with Auburn athletes on improving shoes. “When you have a company to come in here and spend time with your athletes that are having foot problems to measure their feet and get them a specific shoe, that is very important to us.
“It is very important to the student-athlete experience and Under Armour has been willing to do that and they have been doing it to hear what our students who are athletes are saying about the apparel and footwear and getting direct feedback from them because they are the ones wearing it. It is most important to me what our athletes feel about it.”
Jacobs added, “There have been some design changes because of that so it is really a great partnership.”
The athletic director said that Auburn will continue to wear its traditional football uniforms, which he called “somewhat sacred.” Under Armour likes to promote non-traditional uniforms for the teams it outfits. Jacobs said that could happen with some Auburn sports team, but not football. “I think our brand is strong,” he said about AU football. "We are very confident who we are and what we look like every Saturday. I don’t see a reason to deviate from that.”