By JOSH FURNARY
The athletic department signed a one-year contract, effective Jan. 1, 2013, with Nike and Best Supply Network (BSN), the country’s largest distributor of team sports apparel and equipment. It is the first time the athletic department, representing each varsity sport, signed one comprehensive purchasing contract for all sports.
Athletic Director Ken Tyler is extremely optimistic about the contract and its many advantages. He says the coaches and members of the athletic department are “fired up and excited to partner with the leading athletic brand in the country.”
The decision was not a quick one, however. Three major apparel companies with their respective distributors were taken into consideration: Adidas, Nike and Under Armour. It was Nike’s bid, together with BSN, that the athletic department thought provided the best fit.
Tyler advocated strongly on behalf of this contract. First, in light of the University’s greater push toward more efficient use of resources and spending, he thought the athletic department had to become more financially prudent. In unity with his mission to “make money, save money,” the contract saves the department a lot of inefficient spending.
Previously, each team acted independently of the other teams in the department, responsible for purchasing all their own apparel. It was inefficient and difficult for the coaches because they had to find dealers, render contracts and follow state purchasing regulations individually. Now, however, the department-wide contract streamlines these efforts for all the coaches.
The deal gives significant discounts on apparel, shoes and equipment. Tyler recognized the power in bulk purchasing, saying “we were able to put the power of all our 500 student athletes behind this bid,” not just the power of a singular team. The athletic department will save money by purchasing exclusively from Nike and its dealer, BSN. The contract took advantage of the concept of buy-back; essentially, the more apparel the department buys, the greater discounts they get back.
Tyler is not only optimistic about the financial aspect of the deal, but also the aesthetic aspect. By the fall of 2014, he expects all 23 teams to be outfitted in Nike gear. He believes, with all the teams wearing Nike apparel, the department will reflect its mission of being consistent and united, which works toward achieving Tyler’s goal of having 23 UMW sports acting as one team. In doing so, he believes recruitment will go up because the University’s image will be consistent with that of an elite Division III program.
Student-athletes are certainly looking forward to being outfitted with new Nike gear, but they aren’t the only ones.
Tyler described the contract with Nike and BSN as something the entire athletic department is excited about. It is yet another aspect of the athletic department’s drive for success, and, in Tyler’s eyes, it is another part of his mantra, “The better we all are, the better we each are.”