Adidas in good times and bad times for University of Louisville

One of the first big deals Tom Jurich made after becoming the new Athletic Director at the University of Louisville in 1997 was an agreement with Adidas. He was looking to cut costs while providing quality tennis shoes for UofL athletes.

“The deal was earth-shattering,”joked Jurich on Friday. “We would get two pair of shoes for retail, and the third pair was 20% off. Our first order was for 300 shoes, 200 at retail price, and a discount on the next 100. With that we were able to brand our partnership.”

Tom Jurich says UofL and Adidas have remained strong partners through good times and bad times.

UofL and Adidas have been together ever since, with Jurich having lost track of the number of times they have renegotiated new deals. The big difference, of course, is that UofL no longer buys the shoes, any uniforms or any other Adidas equipment or apparel. The company pays Louisville for the exposure.

On Friday, UofL and Adidas announced a 10-year extension of the partnership through 2027-28 valued at a phenomenal 160 million dollars.  The deal includes footwear, apparel, accessories and marketing support for all 23 of the University’s athletic programs.

“When we began our relationship with Adidas nearly 20 years ago, we weren’t in the same shape we are now,” said Jurich. “The impact they have had has been phenomenal. We’ve have great times and we’ve had down times, but they’ve already been there with us, standing shoulder to shoulder with UofL.

“I don’t necessarily care so about the finish as I am about how we got there and who’s with you when times are tough. Adidas has never wavered, they’re always been strong with us. And that’s the kind of company with which I want to be associated.”

Chris McGuire says Adidas employees around the world have become Louisville fans.

Chris McGuire, senior director of sports marketing at Adidas, confirmed that the deal with UofL was among the company’s biggest investments in sports in America.  “We love the success of all the programs here, and it’s something in which we take great pride,” he said. “When Louisville wins, the Adidas brand wins as well. We have become Louisville fans, and that includes our employees all around the world.”

Adidas’ involvement with UofL also includes support for the latest expansion of Cardinal Stadium. The company will have a significant presence in the end zone, with the Adidas Three Stripe Zone and branding in the tunnel from which the team will enter the field, starting in 2018.

Hello AAC, goodbye Big East

Going to be a little weird being in the American Athletic Conference for the next year, biding our time before the University of Louisville finally arrives in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

UofL will probably own the record for having changed conference affiliations when the move is complete. The Cardinals will have competed in eight difference conferences over the years, including the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Ohio Valley Conference, the Missouri Valley Conference, the Metro Conference, Conference USA, the Big East Conference, the AAC and the ACC.

Just remember that UofL’s contemporaries in the American Athletic Conference this season will include Central Florida, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Memphis, Rutgers, South Florida, Southern Methodist and Temple.

The “I say hello, you say goodbye” tour in 2013-14 will include some long-time rivals and some not so familiar. Cincinnati, UConn, Memphis and Rutgers will be missed for sure.

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Val Akerman
Val Akerman

The Big East announced the hiring of Val Akerman, the founding President of the Women’s National Basketball Association as its new commissioner in July.

For the past four years, she was the President of USA Basketball, overseeing overseeing men’s and women’s basketball efforts in the Olympics. She also served as a consultant to the NCAA on an analysis of the state of women’s college basketball.

The newly-constituted Big East which will begin play in multiple sports starting with the 2013-2014 academic year, has formed an unprecedented alliance with FOX Sports and its new national cable network, FOX Sports 1.

Continue reading “Hello AAC, goodbye Big East”

UofL, Pitt tied for first in Big East baseball

Jeff-GardnerJeff Gardner prepares for a bear hug from teammate Cole Sturgeon after putting his University of Louisville baseball team on the board with a solo home run against Pittsburgh in the fourth inning of Thursday’s game at Jim Patterson Stadium. UofL trailed 1-0 at the time but would score three more runs in the inning en route to a 5-2 decision.

The win moved the Cardinals into a tie with Pitt for first place in the Big East Conference. The teams will go at it again Friday at 6 p.m. Unless one of the games is rained out, UofL needs a three-game sweep to clinch the regular season conference championship. If there is a cancellation, the team to win the next game claims that distinction. If both of the remaining games are rained out, they are co-champions but UofL earns the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament next week.

A Jim Boeheimian Rhapsody as Syracuse heads for ACC

Even if not enamored with Syracuse University, Unversity of Lousiville fans can identify with the school’s wanting to get out of the Big East or the American Athletic Conference to get to the Atlantic Coast Conference as soon as possible. A group of students at SU recently put together a Boehemian Rhapsody, a well-done take on the original music by Queen.

Big East remnants in a league of their own, no name, dim future

They’re not leaving, they’re posting an eviction notice.

Seven Roman Catholic basketball members of the Big East Conference members want to form their own conference?  DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova.

The first impulse is to say good riddance, but they want to take the conference name with them. If that happens, they will have effectively booted the all-sports members out of the Big East, leaving them in no man’s land without any organization or bylaws.

Poor Mike Aresco, the individual hired a year ago to build the Big East brand, caught up in a conference realignment fiasco. Now he’s faced with the reality of no identity at all, continuing to face an uncertain future. The inevitable has come to pass, the worst possible outcome for schools caught up in the situation, stuck in a league with no name, no conference history and a dim future.

The football playing schools — past and present — are largely to blame for not splitting off from the league years ago, allowing their future to be limited by their association with the basketball centric schools. They had little in common, an inability to work collectively for the common good of the league, so focused on their individual goals, all the while looking for the nearest exit.

The big question may be what happens to all the new schools that joined the Big East over the past year to play football — Temple, Southern Methodist, Houston, Central Florida, Navy, Tulane and East Carolina. Will they want to hang around? Maybe. Maybe not. Cincinnati and UConn are stuck where they are. Rutgers, like UofL, has to wait until 2014. Navy is probably the only school that has a real choice.

How will their decisions affect the University of Louisville football program? With the 2014 ACC football schedule already sewn up, UofL has to hope the remnants of the remaining league can stay together at least one more season. Basketball would be okay for a year as an independent, the ACC may be an option for non-revenue sports.

The immediate future, however, as has been so typical of life in the Big East, remains cloudy because of an untenable relationship with basketball-centric schools.