When the subject of college apparel comes up, the talk often turns to the influence of the shoe companies in recruiting. In part two of our talk with Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski, we get his thoughts on that subject as well as where Tech stands with its current contract with Russell. Tech has had a longtime mutual relationship with Russell and their contract with Russell runs until 2018. Russell is now owned by Fruit of the Loom. The leadership of Fruit of the Loom and the leadership of Russell came to Atlanta, following the acquisition, to meet with Georgia Tech. They expressed their commitment to continue their business with Georgia Tech and take care of their needs.
Tech does, however, use other companies for footwear. Nike shoes are worn for most sports and Mizuno shoes are used for baseball. There are other things at Tech is also doing in terms of apparel – such as the recent baseball deal with Evo Shield. Because the contract doesn’t end for some time, looking at other companies is not a priority right now. Will Tech look at other companies at the end of the contract with Russell? “Whenever contracts come to a point of conclusion, there’s an opportunity to look at it. We’ll value what’s best for our program at that time.” At this time, Bobinski can’t predict what that outcome will be. That would be premature.
On a personal level, Bobinski is a little uncomfortable that outside entities have become involved with college decisions that have nothing to do with whether a place is right or not for a young person. “There are enough influences on decisions that aren’t the soundest and the most fundamentally grounded. That is why you see transfers all over creation. All over the place.” College basketball had over 800 transfers last season.
Mike feels that there are too many cooks in the kitchen trying to influence decisions as opposed to what place fits. That aspect is getting pushed to the wayside. “The shoes they wear should be irrelevant. Unfortunately that is not the case.” He respects the shoe company’s right to do business but feels that college decisions is one area that they shouldn’t be involved. Bobinski also gets feedback from the Georgia Tech fan base on this topic. “It is not as prevalent a topic as some may think. It’s there but it is in the background. It’s not a primary focus at this point in time.”
Mike knows that the contract is an important one. “When the time comes to reconsider Russell, we’ll do it thoroughly and hopefully come to a good conclusion.”