Outfitting a high school athletics department is no small order.
Nor is it cheap.
So, local schools are always on the hunt for the best deal.
At some schools, coaches work out deals with vendors they choose. At Franklin and Whiteland schools, they have exclusive deals with a specific apparel company — Adidas for Franklin schools, and Lids for Whiteland.
Story continues below gallery
Athletics officials said those deals save them money, time and energy.
Franklin gets a 35 to 40 percent discount on merchandise from Adidas, and recently renewed a three-year contract with the company that the school district has worked with since 2010.
Whiteland is in the third year of a five-year deal with Lids, which outfits the Warriors with Nike gear.
“Coaches aren’t dealing with multiple vendors,” Franklin athletics director John Regas said. “You don’t get squabbling between coaches, ‘Well, I got this and I didn’t get that.’
“The bottom line is, it streamlines everything.”
Under the contracts, Franklin and Whiteland purchase all uniforms, coaches apparel, such as shorts and polo shorts, and accessories exclusively from Adidas and Lids.
The deals also include a 30- to 35-percent discount for footwear.
Although uniforms are provided by the schools, athletes pay for their own shoes. They are not required to buy shoes from their school’s chosen vendor, but they don’t receive discounts if they choose other products. Athletes at both schools are encouraged to take advantage of the savings.
“They still at the end of the day are able to get whatever they want to get,” Regas said. “It makes financial sense for them to buy the Adidas shoes because they’re cheaper than anything they’re going to get anywhere else.”
At Whiteland, athletes are also encouraged — but not required — to buy the offered shoes.
“We don’t require our kids to wear Nike shoes because I don’t want to get into the, ‘my shoes hurt, my feet hurt, my kids have to wear Adidas,’” Sears said. “We offer them a Nike shoe at a discount.
“If that works out, great. If it doesn’t, that’s OK, too.”
Whiteland’s deal with Lids has provided significant savings, including when buying new football uniforms. Even with a 35 percent discount, the purchase still totaled $28,000. But Whiteland also receives a 5 percent annual rebate based on what is spent each year on merchandise.
“We’re not like the Ben Davises and North Centrals and colleges that get the really sweet deals,” Sears said. “We get enough to make it work.”
Beyond the discounts, the arrangement with a single supplier simplifies the purchasing process, officials said.
“Coaches were frustrated (before exclusivity) because this team’s wearing Nike, this team’s wearing Adidas, the colors are different, and so forth,” Regas said. “That’s where you have the upside. You also have one point of contact. We order everything through one point of contact, so we’re ordering everything through the same individual.”
Although exclusive contracts work well for Franklin and Whiteland, the county’s four other public high schools take a different shopping route. Coaches work out their own deals, with their own vendors — with final approval of athletics directors, who write checks and pay bills.
At Greenwood, for example, coaches purchase uniforms and other items from a variety of companies — both national and local. One coach might buy from the global firm BSN Sports, another might look no further than Sports Plus in Greenwood.
“We kind of spread it out,” Greenwood athletics director Rob Irwin said. “I let the coaches go with the people they want. I don’t dictate to them who they go to.”
“If I’m paying for it, they’ve got to get the lowest prices.”
For several years, Edinburgh tried the exclusive contract approach but didn’t notice any savings. When it’s deal with BSN, which provided Nike gear, expired in 2014, athletics director David Walden elected not to renew it.
Coaches save more money negotiating their own deals, he said.
“It just got to the point where the Nike uniform price was getting pretty high, I thought, and you had to purchase through them only,” Walden said. “So I decided that I’d let the coaches decide who they want to work with, so we’ve got different vendors.”
“It’s worked out.”
Here is a closer look at the contracts local schools have with sports apparel companies:
Contract with: Adidas
Discount: 40 percent on merchandise and apparel
Shoes: Athletes can get a 35 percent discount on shoes
Promotional products: The school district gets $7,000 in products, and can also earn blank T-shirts, staff polos and added promotional products depending on how much is spent on apparel
Rebate: On certain items, such as for coaches
Contract with: Lids
Discount: 30 to 35 percent on merchandise and apparel
Shoes: Athletes can get a 30 percent discount on shoes
Promotional products: The school district gets $5,000 in products, and can also earn more depending on how much is spent on apparel.
Royalties: Whiteland earns 10 percent of purchases at its Sideline Store.
Rebate: 5 percent on items purchased each year
Advertising: Lids gets a half-page ad in athletic game programs, and has its logo on the Whiteland athletic website. Lids also gets two tickets to any regular season or championship game.