Adidas deal major step for fledgling Pac Pro
The FBI’s ongoing probe into college athletics has led to calls for a new collegiate model, one that might compensate players and permit agent relationships.
Enter Don Yee, the veteran NFL agent who believes he has an alternative to college football — a developmental league specifically for players who aren’t yet eligible for the NFL.
Yee introduced his new concept — Pacific Pro Football — 13 months ago and he’s been working quietly since then to build an infrastructure for the league and recruit investors. What he needed was that first big win. He got it last week when Pac Pro announced a multiyear partnership with Adidas, making the brand the exclusive footwear and apparel supplier.
Pac Pro, which plans a summer 2019 launch, touts two primary advantages Yee believes it has over college football’s model.
First, Pac Pro will pay players — $50,000 a year on average. Players will be signed by the league and allocated to the teams. To provide its athletes with an educational component, Pac Pro will offer players a year of tuition and books at a Southern California community college.
Second, the new league will teach and coach football like it’s played in the NFL. In other words, don’t expect to see quarterbacks running the read-option in Pac Pro games. The league’s intent is to prepare players for professional football, including the style of play.
“Protocols will be patterned after NFL practices and games,” Yee said. “Players will be specifically trained to develop further opportunities in pro football. That is not currently happening in college football.”
As a founding partner of the league, Adidas will work with Pac Pro on the development and formation of the four-team league based in Southern California. Yee, Pac Pro’s CEO, said Adidas will be active in branding, marketing and uniform design.
In addition to Adidas’ influence, the inaugural sponsorship deal delivers a much-needed jolt of credibility for Pac Pro. It’s validation Yee can now take to other prospective partners.
His timing couldn’t be better, Yee said, as intercollegiate athletics continues its internal debate about its football and basketball future. A private enterprise like Pac Pro would be an alternative for athletes who don’t want to go to college.
Players have to be three years removed from high school to be eligible for the NFL. They could go to Pac Pro straight out of high school or from their college, which could make for some interesting recruiting battles.
“I think there’s a consciousness of this issue that is trending in our favor,” Yee said. “The American public has embraced innovation and an openness toward looking at different models. I feel good about the current climate.”