Fanatics and The University of Alabama announced a long-term, multifaceted partnership that includes exclusive rights from the University for activation by Fanatics across its digital sports platform.
The partnership spans multiple categories: primary licensee rights for fan apparel and headwear, e-commerce, stadium retail, physical and digital trading cards, and collectible rights.
Fanatics is a longstanding partner of the University, operating its e-commerce platform for the Alabama Athletics Department at Shop.RollTide.com and ranking as a top-selling licensee for Crimson Tide merchandise.
Multiple businesses across Fanatics’ digital sports platform will execute this latest end-to-end collegiate partnership model, including Fanatics Commerce and Fanatics Collectibles, Topps, the trading card brand, and Candy Digital, Fanatics’ digital collectibles company.
Through the expanded partnership, the University can capitalize on Fanatics merchandising platforms to create, promote and distribute Alabama merchandise featuring the name, image and likeness (NIL) rights of its current Crimson Tide student-athletes.
As part of the agreement, Fanatics will launch “The Authentic,” its first retail team store inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Expected to open during the 2022 college football season, the store will feature officially licensed team apparel and student-athlete NIL merchandise, including customized Nike player jerseys, customized name and number t-shirts, headwear, official game-used memorabilia, and on-demand digital trading cards from Topps. Crimson Tide student-athletes will also supply autographed products, meet/greet fans and conduct social media marketing to support sales of their NIL merchandise.
Fanatics will work with OneTeam Partners in securing group licensing rights for activation for NIL rights on merchandise and separate marketing and autograph partnerships.
“Fanatics has been one of Alabama Athletics’ top partners for more than a decade, and this new deal elevates our relationship to new heights,” said Greg Byrne, director of athletics, University of Alabama. “By taking advantage of the expanded breadth of Fanatics’ services, we have put our University and student-athletes in a position to maximize sales and brand exposure with Fanatics’ blue-chip family of brands, including Fanatics Commerce, Topps and Candy Digital. I think our fans will be fired up when they see everything come together inside The Authentic shop at Bryant-Denny, which we plan to open this season.”
Under the new arrangement, Fanatics will obtain exclusive rights to be the University’s primary apparel and headwear licensee across retail distribution channels. Fanatics Brands, Fanatics’ in-house apparel division, will design, manufacture and distribute an expanded selection of Crimson Tide licensed apparel and headwear.
Together with UA and its licensing agency, CLC, Fanatics will support additional authorized direct licensees across product categories to provide the broadest assortment of Crimson Tide apparel and headwear. The University will also retain the right to manage all licensing rights via CLC for the campus and local market in Tuscaloosa, AL, which several in-state licensees and retailers currently service.
The Alabama Athletics Department, with its partnership with Nike, will provide on-field performance products and fan merchandise for the Crimson Tide’s Athletics programs, including authentic and replica jerseys, headwear and apparel.
“Fanatics’ comprehensive service offering across multiple product categories was key to delivering on the University’s expectations for an elevated fan and commercial experience,” said Derek Eiler, executive vice president, Fanatics College. “The University of Alabama has high expectations for fan experience and engagement, so by creating a one-stop-shop to address all the University’s needs, we were able to align on a transformative partnership to make a profound impact on Alabama Athletics.
Fanatics Collectibles and Topps have secured rights to design, manufacture and distribute official physical and digital collegiate trading cards. These products will combine the use of both official University of Alabama trademarks and the NIL rights for current and former Crimson Tide student-athletes.
Beginning in 2025, Fanatics Collectibles will be the University’s exclusive trading cards partner. Candy Digital will also create digital collectibles and NFTs of select past UA and current Crimson Tide student-athletes.
Crimson Tide Sports Marketing and CLC, which operate within Learfield, the media, data and technology services company in intercollegiate athletics, assisted the University of Alabama in the agreement with Fanatics.