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Nevada's Adidas deal obtained, but apparel company wants to keep some secrets

Adidas
Nevada made the move from Nike to Adidas this season. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

The Nevada Wolf Pack athletic department’s apparel contract with Adidas, which was announced in late May, is officially completed, although the shoe company doesn’t want you to see the deal’s terms.

The 15-page contract, signed by all parties by late September, was obtained by Nevada Sports Net following a public record request. The most meaty portions of the agreement, however, were redacted from the contract, with Adidas arguing the financial elements of the contact are proprietary. The signed contract includes a section that prohibits Nevada from releasing the financial elements of the deal.

“In response to Public Records Request #954 requesting the Nevada athletics contract with adidas, adidas has objected to the production of certain ‘financial and incentive’ information which they deem to be proprietary and/or trade secret,” UNR’s public records office emailed to Nevada Sports Net. “The University’s Office of General Counsel has reviewed the objection, and has agreed that the limited information identified by adidas meets the definition of trade secret under Nevada law, NRS 600A.030(5), and is thus confidential and not subject to production under NRS 49.325, NRS 332.061, and/or NRS 333.333. Accordingly, all such information has been redacted from the attached copy.”

Adidas’ objection is a change from earlier this summer when Nevada Sports Net requested and received the full unredacted contract between the apparel company and fellow Mountain West school Wyoming, which was agreed to in April. Wyoming's deal was for eight years and $5.75 million total.

After 10 years with Nike, the Wolf Pack signed to a seven-year deal with Adidas that runs through the 2024-25 athletic season. While Nevada did not release the financial details of its contract, multiple sources with knowledge of the deal have told NSN the contract is roughly worth $900,000 per year. (That would value the deal around seven years, $6.3 million.) The Wolf Pack’s contract with Nike called for $400,000 annually in equipment and apparel, plus a $10,000 bonus for being part of the N7 program, which supports Native American communities.

“They're really good," Wolf Pack athletic director Doug Knuth said of his initial impression of working with Adidas. “It's as advertised. We heard a lot about their customer service, which was a big deciding factor for us. What people told us across the country about their customer service being second to none, we've experienced that. It's been really great for our coaches and our staff. The product, we think, is as good as anybody else in the market. We've experienced that as well. The product is great. I think the athletes have enjoyed the products we've had so far, so it's been good."

Apparel contracts typically allow schools to receive an annual allotment of apparel for free (labeled as “athletic director’s promotional allotment”), with some schools also receiving an annual payment. Most non-Power 5 schools only get apparel in their deal. Knuth said Nevada's deal is all apparel except for an initial cash payment to update some of its signage.

"It's product only," Knuth said. "There might be some transition cash, a little bit of cash to update our logos, take down our Nike stuff and put the Adidas logo around the stadium or the practice venue. There was a little bit of cash for those kinds of things, but there wasn't cash for the department or cash for the coaching salaries like some people have."

Nevada’s contract, which began July 1 and runs through June 30, 2025, covers all facets of the agreement, including annual athletic director’s promotional allotment (which was redacted); promotional merchandise bonus incentives; marketing activation dollars (which was redacted); and cash bonus incentives.

Among the bonuses the Wolf Pack can receive for on-field accomplishments are:

Football

* National champs: $300,000

* College Football Playoff appearance: $100,000

* National coach of the year: $25,000

* Conference coach of the year: $10,000

* Bowl victory: $10,000

* Mountain West championship: $10,000

* Final top five ranking: $200,000

* Final top 10 ranking: $100,000

* Final top 25 ranking: $50,000

Men’s basketball

* Final Four appearance: $150,000

* Elite 8 appearance: $50,000

* Sweet 16 appearance: $30,000

* Round of 32 appearance: $10,000

* NCAA Tournament berth: $5,000

* MW championship: $10,000

* National coach of the year: $25,000

* Conference coach of the year: $5,000

* Final top 25 ranking: $50,000

Women’s basketball

* Final Four appearance: $150,000

* Elite 8 appearance: $50,000

* Sweet 16 appearance: $30,000

* Round of 32 appearance: $10,000

* NCAA Tournament berth: $5,000

* MW championship: $10,000

* National coach of the year: $25,000

* Conference coach of the year: $5,000

Baseball/softball

* Win NCAA Regional Series Tournament: $5,000

* Win NCAA Super Regionals Series Tournament: $10,000

* Win NCAA Championship: $50,000

* National coach of the year: $25,000

* Conference coach of the year: $5,000

(Of note: For NCAA championships, bonuses are non-cumulative; only the highest achieved is paid. Nevada also would receive bonuses in free retail products for some of the above achievements.)

The bonuses are new for Nevada, which didn't not have similar perks in its Nike contract. Knuth said the on-field bonuses were a deciding factor as the Wolf Pack drew offers from Nike, Adidas and Under Armour last summer.

"That was one thing that we asked for that was much, much different than anybody else could do," Knuth said. "That was a really nice thing for Adidas to put into the contract for us."

Knuth said any bonuses earned will go into the general athletic department budget rather than specifically to the team that earns it. Knuth said the bonuses aren't included in every deal, but he pushed for them at Nevada.

"I didn't see it everywhere," Knuth said. "I think a lot of the big schools have product and cash bonuses. I didn't see it at a lot of the other schools our size. For the bigger schools, it's fairly common but for schools our size it's not that common, at Mountain West-level schools."

Boise State has the richest apparel deal in the MW, signing a six-year, $12.16 million agreement with Nike this summer. Knuth said he looked around the country to find good comparisons for Nevada, given the Wolf Pack's market size, and used UAB as a comp. In 2016, the Blazers agreed to a seven-year deal with Under Armour worth $1,026,000 in product allowance a year and $50,000 in cash.

"We're a similar-sized city," Knuth said. "They're a little bigger than Northern Nevada. Similar situations, similar success over the years. We're a little better in basketball. They've been a little better in football. That's the kind of comparisons we did and we looked all over the country, not just the Mountain West Conference. It's kind of like real estate. You have to find a comp and you look for similar homes in similar neighborhoods with similar square footage and similar updates. It's the same thing in bench-marking all of the different variables with on-field success and population of the city and demographics and a similar number of alumni population and everything. It all goes into the mix in that valuation."

Nevada's contract allows for it to use non-Adidas apparel for its volleyballs, tech swimsuits, baseball bats and baseball fielding gloves, although those cannot be Nike or Under Armour apparel.

Nevada also must, per the contract, include the Adidas logo in all sports-related publications, game day programs, schedules, posters, camp brochures and coaches clinics as well as on its basketball practice facility scoreboard, basketball stanchions, men’s and women’s locker rooms, men’s and women’s offices and in six locations inside Lawlor Events Center. Similar requirements exist for other Wolf Pack sports.

Nevada’s head baseball, softball, football and men’s and women’s basketball coach must make one Adidas-sponsored appearance per year and one Adidas-sponsored online/social network appearance per year. The Wolf Pack also must give Adidas, upon request, six season tickets for men’s and women’s basketball; eight season tickets for football; and postseason tickets in football, baseball and basketball.

The contract gives Adidas an exclusive negotiating window in “good faith” to hammer out an extension with Nevada starting 180 days prior to the end of the contract. Knuth said Nevada is "95 percent" done in making the transition to Adidas.

Adidas has been ensnared in controversy over the last year over payments made to steer top-ranked prep basketball players to Adidas-sponsored colleges. Last month, a federal jury found Adidas director of global sports marketing Jim Gatto guilty on three counts: wire fraud; conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the University of Louisville; and wire fraud in connection with the University of Kansas. Ex-Adidas consultant Merl Code also was convicted on two counts in relation to Louisville.

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @MurrayNSN.

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