Switch to Under Armour brings budget increase, controversy to women’s basketball team

Story by JANITA BADON

Nike has been around the University of Utah women’s basketball team for more than 25 years. Nike guaranteed the team comfortable travel gear, shoes that fit perfectly and thin jerseys to make the players run faster. All  of that sounds good, but would you rather have quality or quantity?

The women’s basketball team is trading to Under Armour, along with the rest of the school. When talking about quality over quantity, the women’s basketball team budget grew from the $50,000 that Nike gave yearly to the $140,000 that Under Armour is putting on the table.

Nike gave the team home and away jerseys, practice uniforms, two pairs of basketball shoes, travel shoes and a pair of running shoes. Under Armour not only doubled that, but they’re also giving the womens basketball team pink jerseys for the national “Pink Game” that supports breast cancer.

Last year, the Lady Utes played Texas Christian University in a nationally televised game. The game just so happened to be the “Pink Game,” on the Utes home floor. The Utes took the court in pink shoe laces – all Nike game them. But the Lady Frogs wore pink shoes, pink jerseys and pink laces. Nike couldn’t give the Lady Utes pink jerseys because the football team is Under Armour and it would have cost $25,000, just for those jerseys.

With Nike not giving the Lady Utes what their opponents were getting, the coaches thought it was simply time for a change.

Although the coaches think it’s a great idea to switch from Nike to Under Armour, not all the players share their excitement. Rita Sitvi a sophomore guard for the women’s basketball team isn’t too fond of this decision and is actually considering switching schools.

“I love Nike, simple as that,” Sitvi said, “I had offers from other schools that were sponsored by Adidas but I turned them down for that reason.”

Most wouldn’t think switching sponsors would create this many problems, but it is the talk of the locker room around campus. But since the coaches call the shots, they don’t think it’s necessary to discuss with players. Anthony Levrets, coach of the women’s basketball team, thinks this was a great decision.

“I think switching to Under Armour was a huge decision, which I made with a smile on my face,” Levrets said. “I think our girls deserve way more than what Nike was supplying us, and Under Armour isn’t not only enough, but they’re spoiling our girls this year. I say spoiling because what they get from Under Armour compared to Nike is double, almost triple the amount”

Comparing and contrasting the numbers and the quality of the product, he only worries about the shoes. With Nike being around for as long as they have been, they have a good resume for the basketball shoes they produce. Under Armour just began to make basketball shoes in 2010.

“My one and only worry about Under Armour is how comfortable the shoes are going to be for the players,” Levrets said. “With them being so new to basketball shoes, that thought, makes me want quality over quantity.”

The players on the team have mixed emotions and are really just worried about how comfortable they’ll be on the floor. But it’s not all frowns on every player on the women’s basketball team; some are really happy about the change. Michelle Plouffe a freshmen small forward for the Utes, is excited.

“I have never been the one that’s into what I wear on the basketball court; I more concentrated on how I play,” Plouffee said. “Most people are caught up in the swoosh symbol, when that’s not what’s putting the ball in the basket.”