Can fashion perks affect recruits’ choice?
by Jeffrey Martin, USA TODAY Sports
A year ago, defensive lineman Arik Armstead signed with Oregon. Previously, he’d been committed to Southern California.
Reflecting recently, Armstead said his choice was a complicated process involving multiple variables. He wanted to play football and basketball in college. His older brother, already a Trojan, was transferring.
Fashion was not considered.
“When it comes to recruiting, I don’t think a kid is going to…,” he began. “Well, I can’t speak for anybody else, but I know I didn’t make the decision to come to Oregon just because I could get some shoes or look good.”
Yet, on Jan. 10, Armstead sent out the following message via Twitter:
“What’s on yall feet? Perks of being a Oregon athlete.”
Enclosed was a photo of a special edition of Nike’s Air Jordan 4s in green, yellow and white. On the shoe’s tongue, there is an “O,” and Michael Jordan’s famous “Jumpman” logo has been replaced by a cartoon Duck – UO’s mascot – in the same silhouette.
They’re incredibly rare, not for sale and made only for Oregon basketball players; during the fall, the football team received a similar version but in a different colorway. The Jordan brand itself and such exclusivity has helped fuel the so-called “sneakerhead” craze, so when celebrity athletes such as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are photographed in these shoes, demand shoots through the roof.
“Anything limited edition, the collectors will go nuts,” said Matt Powell, footwear and apparel analyst at SportsOne Source. “They’re highly valuable to the collectors.”
So if an 18-, 19-year-old prospect is being recruited, and just happens to be into sneakers, as a lot of his peers are, and the only way to obtain a pair of these coveted kicks is to be a Duck, that’s quite an advantage.
A legal advantage, too.
“NCAA rules allow for a school to provide a special edition shoe, for example, as a part of its athletics apparel,” said Stacey Osburn, NCAA spokesperson. “As to whether it should be regulated, that would be up to our member schools to decide as they create the rules.”
Oregon senior associate athletic director Craig Pintens said members of the football team don’t … [For more on Can fashion perks really affect recruits' Signing Day choice?, click here.]