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UND focusing in on athletic-department wide apparel deal

UND Football head coach Bubba Schweigert talks to the team after the second practice of the season at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks, N.D., on August 6, 2016. Meg Oliphant / Forum News Service1 / 2
North Dakota Fighting Hawks fans cheer against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena on March 16, 2017 in Salt Lake City. Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports2 / 2

GRAND FORKS — As the University of North Dakota athletic department continues to rebrand its uniforms and athletic apparel with the new Fighting Hawks logo, the school would also like the change to take place on the same apparel brand across all of its athletic programs.

Currently, the UND football team wears Adidas, the men's basketball program wears Nike and the men's hockey team wears Reebok.

The school would like to land a deal that puts the department's apparel under one roof.

UND President Mark Kennedy recently targeted the initiative as an important task during a speech about the university's strategic plan.

"We've been working at it for a while," said Kyle Doperalski, UND's associate athletic director for external operations. "With the president's strategic plan, that became a real priority."

UND lists three primary reasons for an athletic-department wide apparel deal.

One, a single apparel company would provide a consistent look. Right now, some apparel has a different shade of green than others.

Two, a new deal could streamline the retail process and allow fans a better opportunity to purchase the items coaches and players wear.

Three, a new deal also means a financial package to the athletic department from an apparel company. At the highest end of college athletics, UCLA landed a 15-year, $280-million deal with Under Armour in May 2016, according to the Los Angeles Times.

South Dakota State has a contract with Under Armour, while the University of South Dakota wears Adidas. North Dakota State doesn't have an department-wide contract but a majority of its programs wear Nike.

UND currently allows coaching staffs to determine each program's own apparel deal — a common practice in NCAA Division II athletics.

"The first time is always the hardest when you have all of these different contracts that end at different times," Doperalski said.

UND plans to issue a request for proposal for the new deal within the next two weeks. The hope is to have a new deal in place by the fall, when programs begin to order equipment for the following season.

Doperalski speculated that a committee would be assembled to discuss the incoming RFPs.

UND's current competitive position makes for a perfect time to court such a deal, Doperalski said.

"We've now been established at Division I and become champions in the Big Sky Conference," he said. "Our value is pretty high with the success our student athletes have had."

Doperalski said it's a big move for athletic department.

"I think it will resonate with fans and prospective student-athletes once it gets done," he said.

Tom Miller
Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 10 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 
(701) 780-1121
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