Russell Corporation has signed agreements with two Historically Black Conferences that will serve as the basis for a first-of-its kind alliance with the 21 schools represented. The company will supply athletic apparel, team uniforms, balls and sports equipment for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (“SWAC”) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (“SIAC”). Russell will also have exclusive licenses for the logos of the schools in both conferences.
“These agreements expand our opportunities beyond the team uniform business,” said Jon Letzler, president and COO. “By including our Russell Athletic(R), JERZEES(R), Moving Comfort(R), Bike(R) and Spalding(R) brands, we will have increased brand awareness and sales opportunities from the playing fields to the college bookstores.
“We are very proud of our new relationship with these institutions and believe this is a true win-win situation,” Letzler added. “In addition to the business opportunities for Russell brands, the colleges and universities will have the best apparel and equipment based on our more than 100 years of experience.”
Athletic programs included in the agreement are men's and women's basketball and soccer, football, baseball, softball and volleyball. Russell's association with the schools will begin in the fall with football season.
Kevin Clayton, vice president of diversity for Russell, worked with the two conferences and New Vision Sports Properties to create what is considered an unprecedented agreement between a major athletic company and historically Black schools.
“These agreements are also an excellent example of the financial growth that can be generated when management leverages diversity,” Letzler said.