The contract between Nike and the University of Oklahoma stipulates a swoosh must appear on the football team’s equipment truck.
That’s one of the hundreds of facts I uncovered while reporting a series of stories about the massive deals between universities and footwear giants.
The series began this summer when I filed public records requests for the contracts between Nike, Adidas and Under Armour and the country’s top 125 athletic departments. In the past six months, more than half provided copies of contracts.
The contracts led to a series of stories that looked at the size of the deals, where the money goes and whether small companies are getting unfairly pushed aside.
Numerous students, fans, academics and lawyers asked me for copies of specific documents. Now that the reporting has run its course, we decided to post the records — roughly 150 documents and more than 4,500 pages — online.
In addition to footwear contracts, the database includes records obtained through subsequent requests with some universities for financial statements, the contracts of head coaches, contracts with other suppliers and reports that show the outside-income received by university employees.
Search the database by university, conference or footwear supplier. Click “Search” without entering any information in order to get a basic spreadsheet of the information ranked by the most lucrative contracts.
If a university’s contract is not in the database it either didn’t respond to requests or the Business Journal opted not to pay a nominal fee for the contract.
In some cases, such as with UCLA, universities interpreted the initial request broadly to include other contracts. In such cases, those additional records are included.
The University of Cincinnati included the email traffic between employees and Adidas. The nearly 200 pages of records provided by the university give a blow-by-blow account of the tedious process of negotiating an apparel contract.
A note on how to read the contracts: Start at the beginning. Contracts are often modified. In order to understand a contract read the original document first. Then read the extensions.
The caveat about Oklahoma’s equipment truck isn’t the only fact that stood out.
Here are a few others:
The universities in the database will receive more than $125 million in merchandise and apparel this year. Given the database contains roughly half the contracts with college athletic departments, an earlier estimate that Nike, Adidas and Under Armour will pour $250 million into athletic departments this year is likely on target.
The University of Michigan’s contract with Adidas is the largest in the database. The university gets $4.4 million in equipment and apparel and another $3.8 million in cash annually from Adidas.
Most athletic departments in major conferences receive millions of dollars in free merchandise and cash annually. Teams in smaller conferences don’t get much. Teams in the Mid-American Conference, for example, still purchase most of their equipment and apparel, albeit at wholesale prices.
Adidas and Under Armour tend to pay more for the right to outfit college athletes. UCLA will get $7.5 million in cash and apparel from Adidas. By comparison, the University of Oregon will get $2.8 million from Nike.
Football may be the most visible college sport, but universities with top basketball programs have contracts as lucrative as top football schools. Basketball powerhouse Kansas will receive $6.1 million in cash and apparel from Adidas this year, more than football power Alabama will receive from Nike ($3.5 million).
While most contracts include cash and merchandise, some universities — such as Oregon State — opt for no cash. The entire contract is payable in merchandise and apparel.
Some contracts provide a discretionary apparel allowance for merchandise that goes to athletic department employees. The University of Florida has the largest such budget in the database. Athletic department employees will split up $250,000 in free gear this year.
Some schools get bonuses for winning bowl games and national championships. The highest in the database? UCLA gets $650,000 from Adidas if it wins a national championship in football.
What caught your attention?