LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The signs of the University of Louisville’s new-found acceptance into the swankiest neighborhood in college sports are in full evidence on campus – membership in the Athletic Coast Conference, a Heisman Trophy in the football complex lobby.

To that collection, you can add another piece of confirmation: U of L now is one of the most valuable college sports properties in the apparel business.

After a presentation to boosters at the program’s annual 50-Yard Line Dinner Thursday night, athletic director Tom Jurich is expected to announce a new deal with adidas that is the fourth-largest in the history of college sports.

Sources from the booster function Thursday said Jurich spoke about a 10-year deal worth $160 million. If that number is accurate, Louisville’s deal would trail only UCLA’s 2016 deal with UnderArmour (15 years, $280 million), Ohio State’s 15-year, $252 million Nike deal, and Texas’ 15-year, $250 deal with Nike.

Louisville last signed an extension of its adidas deal in 2014, a 5-year, $39 million deal that provided about $350,000 in cash annually and $1.1 million in product.

Though no official terms have been released, sources close to the deal told WDRB that Louisville’s new adidas deal will be made up of marketing, products and cash. The breakdown is not available. 

Jurich, who has proven a shrewd negotiator in the past, positioned Louisville as a prime property for adidas, which has suffered the loss of some key properties – most notably Michigan, Notre Dame, UCLA and Tennessee – in the past three years.

With this deal, U of L would become the flagship adidas property. Nebraska recently approved an 11-year, $128 million deal worth $64 million in cash and $64.7 million in apparel.

So why would Louisville have become so much valuable a property over the past three seasons and moving forward? A few possibilities:

1). LAMAR JACKSON. The Heisman Trophy winner is not just a winner on the field, but in social media, and his continued presence in adidas – not just as the Heisman winner but as the most exciting player in the most valuable college sport – has a high value.

2). MULTI-SPORT SUCCESS. Louisville not only has visibility in football, but across sports lines, with men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball routinely in contention for national tournament advancement. U of L baseball is sending more players into the draft in recent years, and men’s basketball has had three early-entry draftees in the past four years.

3). ACC BRANDING. Without question, the ACC piece of the puzzle is important, especially with the expected launch of ESPN’s ACC Network ahead.

4). TIMING. There’s no question, having lost many of its major names, adidas needed a win, and Louisville gave it that opportunity. Moreover, Louisville needed a win, after a string of negative stories, the athletic department can once again point to an area where it outperforms the university as a whole on the national level, as well as many bigger-name competitors, like North Carolina and Notre Dame.

WDRB will cover Jurich’s live announcement of the deal at 11 a.m. Friday. Check WDRB.com for more details.

CORRECTION: Previously, a source close to the deal had told WDRB that the addias deal with U of L was a cash agreement. Others say the deal will have multiple components, which include marketing and products, as well as cash.

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