Did adidas Really Think Marcus Jordan Would Wear adidas at UCF? The Real Story Explained

Ray P

marcus-jordan-ucf-air jordan 12 rising sun

If we've learned anything from the documentary Sole Man, it's that the sneaker wars within College Basketball is serious business. Nearly 7 years ago, adidas abandoned UCF as a sponsor when Marcus Jordan wore Air Jordan retros in an exhibition game.

Now that the controversy is behind him, Marcus Jordan finally opens up about what really went down with adidas and UCF during a sit down with Complex:

When you went to UCF, it was already an adidas school before you set foot on campus?
UCF was one of the schools that recruited me back in high school. To be honest, I never heard of them, and A.J. [Rompza], my point guard in high school, came down there the year before me. He was telling me my senior year, “You gotta check out UCF.” And I was like, “Leave me alone, I’m not going to UCF. I’m not going out there.” We win states my senior year, and A.J. Rompza is still on me saying, “You gotta check it out, you’re gonna love it.” After we won states, I was like, alright, I’ll take a visit. One of the things they told me on my visit is that I was going to be able to wear Jordans, and it wouldn’t be a problem. They had already spoke to their regional adidas reps, and it wouldn’t be an issue. They understood, with me being Michael Jordan's son, it would only make sense that I wear Jordans.

I ended up committing and came in the summer, worked out all summer. We started the fall semester and heard rumblings that adidas was mad. Adidas was trying to make me wear adidas, so I had a meeting with the school and the AD at the time, Keith Tribble, and my coach, Kirk Speraw. They sat me down and said, “We’re gonna honor what we told you, because the people we were dealing with told us it wasn’t an issue.” But when it got to adidas in Germany, the higher ups, it didn’t sit well with them. They told everyone back in the States—or at least the regional people that my school was dealing with—everyone was going to have to wear adidas or they were going to drop the school. The school didn't want to go back on what they told me, because it was definitely a deciding factor on why I committed to UCF. Had I been told on my visit that I would have to wear adidas, in all honesty, I probably wouldn't have come to [the school].

Did adidas really think that Marcus Jordan would wear sneakers other than Air Jordans? Apparently, so. The hire ups gave no cares and it ultimately cost the school a lot of money.

To me, it sounds like UCF knew the pros and cons of recruiting Marcus Jordan. They rode with him til the end and it paid off because ultimately the school landed a Nike contract.

Complex went further in-depth with Marcus during their interview. Details like him giving away a full size run of Fragment Air Jordan 1s to friends and more makes for an interesting read. Check it out here.