With many Eastern Athletic teams becoming more successful within the MAC conference and in Division 3 nationally, it is only fitting that a sponsorship with a renowned athletic apparel company should accompany this year’s new logo and higher expectations. Eastern recently signed a long term all-school deal with Under Armour, meaning that all 16 athletics teams will be using Under Armour merchandise. All-school deals are mostly seen in Division 1 and 2 athletics, but Eastern is on the cutting edge in obtaining a Division 3 sponsorship of this caliber. This sponsorship speaks volumes about the perception of Eastern Athletics and the direction the Athletic Department is going in the future.
Athletic Director Brad Fields said that the decision to go with Under Armour took time, but ended up making the most sense in the end. “We saw a mirror of ourselves in Under Armour,” Fields said, “They are a company on the rise who continues to turn heads with their growth and success, and thus we felt they were a good match for where we are heading.”
Eastern entered negotiations with other brands, including Nike, but decided that Under Armour was the best fit. A branding committee including Fields and several coaches collaborated to make the decision. Fields said the feedback has been very positive from Eastern’s over 300 student athletes and coaches.
Eastern has signed a 4 year renewable contract in which they purchase all gear from Under Armour. The only exception to this rule is if Under Armour doesn’t manufacture a product that an athlete may need. In that case, they can purchase it from another vendor. The sponsorship includes all teams, and the transition to all Under Armour gear will be complete by the beginning of the 2012-2013 academic year.
Not only will Eastern receive substantial financial discounts, they are also able to purchase all merchandise through Wayne Sporting Goods. The ability to support this local vendor was a big selling point for Fields and the rest of the committee as they made their decision. Fields also said that the replaced gear will not be going to waste, as he plans to have a coat and clothing drive to give all of the old merchandise to people in need.
More important than the high quality merchandise is the new perception that this sponsor-ship brings with it. Within the department itself, having a consistent and uniform appearance is an outward display of the department’s unity, Fields said. The sponsorship is also a major selling tool for coaches as they recruit student athletes, and is a sign that Eastern Athletics are contenders who are taking endeavors very seriously.
Go to a sporting event and you’ll see more than athletes donning attractive new jerseys. There are also UA logo signs displaying the sponsorship to fans and opposing schools.
“We’re proud of this sponsorship,” Fields said “So we want people to know about it.” Evidence of this can be found in the gymnasium at the scorer’s table, where two Under Armour logos surround the Eagle, boldly pronouncing the company’s affiliation with Eastern.
This sponsorship speaks volumes about Eastern’s potential for success in the near future. Many of our teams have been increasingly successful, but this new look shows that others see potential in the university’s athletic department to keep performing at premium and reach new heights. Fields summed up the his outlook for the future of the department by commentng: “we are beginning an exciting new chapter in Eastern Athletics.”