Sun Devil Athletics changed their apparel and equipment sponsorship from Nike to Adidas in July of 2015. The new contract with Adidas, which extends through 2022-23, is valued at 33.8 million, double that of ASU’s prior deal with Nike.
Since then, ASU now has the ninth most lucrative contract in college sports.
With the recent switch from Adidas to Under Armour at UCLA, Arizona State is now a high priority for Adidas, as the Sun Devils are their sole foothold in the Pac-12. (The shoe and apparel company does sponsor the Pac-12 Conference itself- more here from Fortune magazine.)
What’s more, ASU is now the only school on the west coast with an Adidas sponsorship. We would anticipate that changing soon.
For more, we sat down with Jerry Neilly, head of Sun Devil Equipment and specifically ASU Football.
DHD: Jerry, tell us a little about the new Adidas deal, what you’ve experienced, and specifically how it relates to football with equipment and uniforms.
Jerry Neilly: It’s been great, actually. It’s been nice because they’ve given us more leeway as compared to what we had in the past. We were a little stuck with what we were going to have. It took years and years to change things.
Adidas gives us a lot of freedom. They let us do what we want. They’re very open to us having six or seven uniforms. Anytime we have any ideas, they always listen.
DHD: How much input does Adidas allow? How receptive are they?
When we switched over (from Nike to Adidas), they asked us how many uniforms we wanted to have, instead of, “You’re going to have 3 or 4.” Adidas asks us what we want, and we’ll make it work.
The cool thing that’s been going on with them is their customization with everything, making it ASU specific from custom cleats and custom gloves, things that we weren’t fortunate to have in the past. The kids love that stuff.
We went from just having a white pair of cleats and a black pair of cleats to a white pair with gold bottoms. We’ve got a black pair with gold bottoms. A white pair with copper bottoms. We had the military boot style last year for the Tillman uniforms. It’s very unique.
We’ve got six different pairs of gloves to match every uniform, all of those little nuances. It’s awesome.
DHD: What’s the overall player feedback, not only on the design of the uniform but also the fit, the materials, and the overall performance factor as well?
Jerry Neilly: It’s been through the roof. We thought we’d get a little kick-back just because it’s not the norm that they (the players) were used to, but they love the way the jerseys fit. They’re nice and tight but still breathe very well.
They love the way everything looks. The new shine on everything. They have a lot of input as well. They throw out ideas, and we kind of try to run with it.
DHD: How does that work? Do you have a senior group or committee that you bounce things off of?
Jerry Neilly: When we’re looking at uniforms for the season, we try to work closely with some of the seniors, some of the captains and leaders of the team. We ask them what they like.
DHD: Who are some of those players?
Jerry Neilly: Manny Wilkins, Demario Richard, Tim White. Pretty much the names you hear every day (about the football program). They’re very good kids, very personable, and we appreciate there input a lot. For instance, the gray-white-gray that we war against UCLA last year was picked by a player.
DHD: Who was that?
Jerry Neilly: Demario (Richard).
DHD: What about any adjustments this year, maybe things that could be improved upon? We had talked about the sleeves on the shoulder, how sometimes they would come off the pad.
Jerry Neilly: We’ve got some new technology from some new undershirts, new girdles that you won’t ever notice on the field. But our players notice it. Some of our cleats have a new style, newer technology as well. Footwear performance is huge, of course, gloves as well. All of the little stuff is just the new “.0” of that model.
We’re actually a test school as well. We’ve got players out there wearing 2017 or 2018 Model cleats. We videotape them. We get their feedback. “What do you like. What don’t you like?” Maybe the toe box is too small or the spikes feel a little weird, whatever that may be. Adidas takes their input on that as well which is awesome. They love that, and it makes them feel important.
DHD: Forks Up, Jerry.
Keep it tuned here for more updates from DieHard Sun Devil Apparel and Sun Devil Equipment.