How much could UW's switch influence Petersen's recruiting? "I think it matters how we play," he says.
No one cared what clothes or what shoes Chris Petersen was wearing when he began his coaching career at UC Davis in the late 1980s. He chuckled at the memory of wearing San Francisco 49ers gear to Davis practices back then, which he often did.
“No one said a word, and it was awesome,” he said.
People care now. They care very much.
So, yes, Petersen said he “absolutely” heard reaction from players and recruits Tuesday after the University of Washington announced its new 10-year apparel deal with Adidas, beginning July 1, 2019. The deal, as first reported by The Seattle Times, is expected to be worth north of $120 million over the life of the contract.
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“These apparel companies compete very hard and there’s some loyal guys on each side, so we certainly heard,” Petersen said Wednesday morning.
The Huskies’ new deal ends a 20-year partnership with Nike. It ends Petersen’s longstanding relationship with Nike, too.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Nike and really appreciate all they’ve done for Washington,” Petersen said. “I appreciate what they’ve done for me in the past. I’ve got a lot of good friends there, so I really respect Nike. I’ve got a lot of respect for Phil Knight.
“That being said, I think we’re really excited about Adidas. They want to help us take this program to the next step and give us everything that they can possibly do to help us in terms of gear and marketing and everything. I think they’re really excited to be with us, and likewise. … I think it’s really, really good for this university. We all know there’s never enough resources and it’s a big department that needs a lot of help, and Adidas is going to give that to us. We’re extremely excited.”
How much does a program’s apparel partner — Adidas or Nike? — matter in recruiting?
“I think it matters how we play,” Petersen said. “We can wear nothing and if we play really good guys are going to want to wear that nothing brand. It’s two sides. We have to play good and represent that brand ourselves. We can have the greatest brand and greatest gear out there, and if we don’t do our part of things it doesn’t look so good. So it’s a two-way street. We really are planning on upholding our end of the bargain.”
Petersen was asked how involved he was in the decision-making process during the apparel negotiations.
“This is bigger than our program,” he said. “This is bigger than any one program. This is about the school, and this is about the whole athletic department. It’s always a hard decision because you have such strong ties, but at the end of the day I don’t think it was that hard for Jen (Cohen) because this was significantly different.”
As for future uniform designs with Adidas, Petersen didn’t want to get into specifics. “I’m going to go back to this: I’m just worried about how we play,” he said. “The rest is going to take care of itself. We’ll get some really cool unis, I know that.”
He praised Cohen, UW’s second-year athletic director, for her decision to make to the switch to Adidas.
“She’s money,” he said. “… Everything she does seems to be heading in the right — it is heading in the right direction. It’s hard. It’s not easy. These are hard decisions. That one she just had to make is not easy. It’s easy for everybody else and everybody has their opinion, but nobody in this whole process has done their homework, their due diligence, spent the time, the worry, the angst that Jen has to do what’s right for this department and this university.”