A pocket of Twitter ran amok Saturday morning with a rumor (as Twitter is wont to do) that Georgia Tech had signed an apparel deal with Under Armour. It turned out to be a misunderstanding of 680 the Fan’s broadcast originating from Tech ahead of the spring game.
Prior to athletic director Mike Bobinski coming on the show, a topic of conversation was Cal’s 10-year deal with Under Armour for a reported $86 million. Bobinski came on shortly after that, answered a question from show host Brandon Leak about how an athletic director evaluates the impact of apparel deals, using the Cal-Under Armour contract as a jumping-off point. I’m going to guess some listeners got the impression that Bobinski was talking about an Under Armour deal with Tech.
Nevertheless, Bobinski’s comments were enlightening, as he spoke with typical frankness. He said that Tech has had a “great partnership with Russell for years” and that “they’ve been as good a people and as good a partners as you could possibly have.”
However, he also acknowledged the reality that what apparel company a school is aligned with makes a difference in recruiting.
“It doesn’t seem like it ought to make a difference, but it does make a difference,” he said. “It’s a fact of life these days.”
He further noted that Russell Athletic is not involved in sponsoring grassroots football and basketball in the way that other companies (such as Nike and Under Armour) are.
“So it’s a factor for us,” he said. “But we have a contract and we’re going to be good partners and we’re going to live up to that contract. But when the time comes, we’re going to explore our options. It’s a fact of life today.”
Given that Tech is still contracted with Russell Athletic through 2018, he went about as far as he could in articulating the impact of being aligned with Russell and sending fans the message that their complaints are being heard.
Saying that “we’re going to explore our options” isn’t exactly “we’re cutting the cord.” On the one hand, no matter who Tech was contracted with, you could say that exploring options is the responsible thing to do. But it’s not saying “we hope to continue our relationship with Russell for a long time,” either. In fact, he really didn’t have to say anything.
Sometimes, an answer is just an answer. Regardless, it was an interesting response.