Hillsdale College’s ath­letic department con­sidered signing a con­tract with an ath­letic apparel company two or three years ago, but could not justify the switch-over. But this year, Adidas approached the ath­letic department and a con­tract is under con­sid­er­ation once again.

“We thought it was not advan­ta­geous to commit to a single brand,” Ath­letic Director Don Brubacher said. “The dis­count was not large enough to make it worth­while. We are looking at it again right now to see if any­thing has changed.”

Claudette Charney, assistant ath­letic director and head women’s bas­ketball coach, said that it is less common that Division II and III schools will have con­tracts with large com­panies.

“It’s very dif­ficult for a Division II school to get a con­tract,” she said. “Division I schools are the ones that have the con­tracts. The com­panies are paying them to wear their uniform. It would be nice if the com­panies did a little more for Division II and Division III.”

Brubacher said the dif­ference lays in the pub­licity that Division I ath­letics get. While com­panies pay Division I schools to wear their logo, a Division II school might have a con­tract simply for a reduction in price. Some Division II schools do have con­tracts, though. Adidas is an official sponsor of Grand Valley State Uni­versity.

Cur­rently, each indi­vidual team at Hillsdale College decides on and pur­chases a unique brand. This allows each team to look for gear that is most effective and most cost effi­cient, Brubacher said.

“The primary benefit is that each team can pick the equipment that will serve their team best,” he said.

Across the ath­letic department there is not one brand that serves a majority of the teams. Three teams use Nike, Inc. or Jordan, a Nike affiliate. Two teams apiece wear Adidas and Russell Ath­letics. Rawlings, Asics and Speedo are each used by one Hillsdale team.

Head baseball coach Paul Noce said that when he pur­chases uni­forms, he con­siders both quality and cost.

“I try to find the best deal but try for quality because it lasts longer,” he said.

Assistant vol­leyball coach Stephanie Gravel said their team has been buying from Asics for years.

“The team likes their shoes as they are easy to break in,” she said. “The more you order from one company, the better the deal.  Asics also is really good about replacing shoes or bags if they break down during season.”

A few teams have recently switched brands. The track and cross-country teams returned to buying Nike uni­forms after a hiatus of a few years.

They used Boathouse and VS Ath­letics uni­forms for a while because those com­panies made sub­li­mated uni­forms that could be repro­duced just a couple at a time, and they guar­anteed 10 years with the same uniform. Name brands typ­i­cally have a two-to-four-year cycle of uni­forms.

“That means that you have to buy all new uni­forms every couple of years, and you couldn’t just fill in each year,” said head men’s track and cross-country coach Jeff Forino. “Recently Nike started to do sub­li­mated uni­forms, so we went back to them.”

Charney said the women’s bas­ketball team also switched from Russell to Adidas because the stock uni­forms were becoming too expensive to replace.

“Adidas gave us the biggest dis­count,” she said. “The person in charge is very orga­nized and easy to deal with.”

And the football team is making the switch from New Balance shoes to Adidas.

“It has become very dif­ficult to get New Balance football shoes,” head football coach Keith Otterbein said. “Adidas was the most reliable next option — plus I think our players are excited because of the ‘cool points’ they will get wearing Adidas.”

The football team is sticking with Russell uni­forms, though, a brand that head football coach Keith Otterbein said they have been using since he began coaching at Hillsdale.

“Russell is very high quality and we have received great cus­tomer service from them over the years,” Otterbein said. “We never had a reason to switch — let alone the cost of such a change over.”

The ath­letic department will have to keep in mind the cost of switching over uni­forms as they con­sider a con­tract with Adidas. A con­tract would mean getting all new uni­forms for the teams that do not already buy from Adidas.

“If we sign an Adidas con­tract, we buy all new uni­forms,” Brubacher said. “So, the con­tract has to be attractive. The dis­count has to be sub­stantial.”

Brubacher said this is not the only con­sid­er­ation in signing a con­tract, such as if the company is not able to provide gear for all of the ath­letic teams (such as swimming), or if the gear the company pro­vides is not of good quality. For example, Brubacher said the track team would probably not wear Adidas running shoes.

“It’s important that they can accom­modate or accept that we will wear dif­ferent brands,” he said. “If they don’t make them, it’s not an issue. If they’re not quality it becomes an issue.”