Yow: "They See Our Potential"

Earlier this month Forbes put out a breakdown of the 65 most valuable college apparel deals, and NC State checked in at No. 14 on the list.

Earlier this month Forbes put out a breakdown of the 65 most valuable college apparel deals, and NC State checked in at No. 14 on the list.   

NC State and adidas reached an agreement in November of 2015 on a six-year extension of their partnership that provides uniforms, footwear, apparel and equipment to the Wolfpack’s 23 varsity programs.  The new agreement makes the Wolfpack one of the premier global athletic brand’s top U.S. collegiate partners.

“We are always looking for great partners that bring value to our brand,” said adidas Group North America President Mark King when the extension was announced. “We want to work with programs like NC State that are forward-thinking and challenge the status quo, bringing a new level of excitement to college athletics. More than 10 years ago, we began a valuable partnership with NC State and we look forward to continuing our relationship for years to come.”

“We are pleased and appreciative that our enhanced partnership with adidas will allow us to better provide for our 550 student-athletes participating in 23 varsity sports,” said NC State Director of Athletics Debbie Yow. “That is our most important goal, and we will now have additional resources to meet those needs, as well as provide additional value to campus for support of student activities and scholarships.”

Yow and her staff were tasked with finalizing a new apparel contract.  The three main companies: adidas, Nike, and Under Armour, were expected to make lucrative pitches, but one never seemed interested in NC State.  

"Actually, Nike has not been interested either time that we put this on the street," said Yow.  "They certainly had the opportunity through the RFP. They're not serious.

"It isn't just us. I know that for a fact. They're leading in this industry category. [They] don't feel the need, particularly, to add new schools. When they add, it's very selective."

In fact, Yow believes that some programs choose the swoosh over dollars... hoping that the brand can impact in ways other than financially through the terms of a deal.  NC State wouldn't go that route and certainly didn't need to given the approach adidas made to keep the Wolfpack wearing stripes.

"There are programs that are with them that are willing to accept less so they can say they wear Nike," she stated.  "We didn't have that luxury, and to be candid with you, adidas made a very smart and aggressive [offer]. That's how we end up being number 14 in the country. Very aggressive about their approach to us. They see our potential."

Unlike Nike, Under Armour did pursue NC State.  Yow has a long-standing relationship with UA CEO and founder Kevin Plank from their time at Maryland, and she is certainly respectful of Under Armour.

"Under Armour absolutely did show interest," said Yow.  "But we... I really don't want to talk publicly about negotiations other than to say we did have two of the three show considerable interest, and I'm personal friends with Kevin Plank. I couldn't think more highly of a person. He was one of my student athletes at Maryland, and what an amazing job he's done, but I think that we made the choice that was right for us at that time.

"I don't know how that plays out in the future, but I feel comfortable with where we are right now."

 It is Yow's belief that when the time comes to re-negotiate the Wolfpack will be in better shape as an athletics program and be even more appealing to the companies, which should lead to an extremely lucrative pay-off.

"That will end in 2021-22," she said of the new adidas deal.  "Around 2020, about middle of that year, they'll start talking about ... start negotiations with the three bigs on what it might be. I'm believing that we're going to be a better program at that time than we are today, and that we can leapfrog being number 14."


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