Brand Wade is a Converse line endorsed by former Marquette standout, Dwyane Wade. In the summer of 2007, Marquette finalized an exclusive deal with Converse, a Nike company, to be the first - and so far, only - Brand Wade school in the NCAA. Previously, Marquette was a Nike-sponsored school since 1999 and became a NIKE Elite school after reaching the NCAA Final Four in 2003.
The following is an article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writer Todd Rosiak's Blog on September 1, 2007:
It's been more than four years since Dwyane Wade last laced up his sneakers for the Golden Eagles. Nevertheless, he played a huge role in what kind of sneakers Marquette will lace up this season, and for seasons to come.
Marquette has finalized a deal with Converse's Brand Wade, becoming the flagship program for a shoe and a line of apparel that both parties hope will distinguish the Golden Eagles from every other Division I program.
Coach Tom Crean has had a Nike deal since becoming coach at Marquette in 1999 and ever since their 2003 trip to the Final Four the Golden Eagles had been a Nike Elite team, meaning they were guaranteed the company's best shoes, uniforms, apparel and equipment each season.
This new deal with Brand Wade, according to Crean, will be even sweeter.
“It's done and we're honored to be the first and only school that will wear the entire line of Brand Wade products with Converse,” coach Tom Crean said. “This whole thing was set up all along for Marquette and Dwyane Wade to have the beginnings of a shoe relationship the same way Michael Jordan did with his Jordan Brand with North Carolina. Where it goes from here, we'll see, but it's a great thing for Marquette. I think it's great for the shoe. But the players will really benefit from the way this contract is structured.
“We'll be the only school wearing the uniforms, wearing the shoes and wearing that gear. At the same time, Nike owns Converse and we still have our relationship with Nike, which is important.”
Wade, who signed a shoe deal with Converse prior to his rookie season with the Miami Heat in 2003, became the face of the company shortly thereafter. He eventually was given a signature shoe and ever since has had a hand in the development, design and look of subsequent models.
It should come as no surprise that Wade played a crucial role in getting a deal done with his alma mater.
“I had a lot to do with it. I was thinking my high school wears my shoes and I wanted my college to wear my shoes, too,” he said. “I knew they were with Nike and I wasn't stressing it. But having conversations with Coach - Coach is a big supporter of me and everything that I'm doing - he was up for it when I mentioned it. We both just went to the board to see what we could do. We went to Nike, I asked Nike and Nike blessed us with the opportunity to switch over to my brand.
“It's going to be good. It's going to be good for Marquette, further down the line it's going to be good for the Wade brand out in the stores to see a dominant college team wearing my shoes. It might go on from there. I'm excited. They can wear it until they don't want to wear it anymore.”
Marquette players received their first pair of Wade shoes in the past few weeks and the feedback thus far has been positive.
“It's a situation where, to the freshmen, Dwyane Wade is a name and a symbol and somebody that's been a great player here. But everyone else has had a chance to spend time with him, and interact with him because his legacy of leadership is so strong,” Crean said. “They feel a lot more pride than just wearing a shoe. They know they're representing someone in that shoe, and I think that's really, really important.”
Golden Eagles players also have seen pictures of the uniforms they'll be wearing this season - all four sets - and are excited to sport the new look.
“They're going to be very unique, and they'll be broken out at different times,” Crean said. “We'll have a set that we break out for the Maui Invitational, we'll have a home and away set, and then we'll have a whole different set that we'll break out for the Big East which will combine the best of the new wave along with old school. I think whether you're a recent Marquette fan or a lifelong Marquette fan, you'll enjoy the color patterns.”
Wade also had a hand in the uniform selection process.
“They would have different uniforms that they were thinking about and of course (Crean) would send them to me and ask me which ones I liked,” he said. “I think the main thing for me is the way that it looks and the way that it's branded and everything. They've done a great job, and I'm very excited to get this on the road.”
Another area the Brand Wade-Marquette deal could benefit the Golden Eagles in is recruiting. And with so many young players idolizing Wade, it's hard to believe the switch won't have a positive impact there as well.
“There's been times where you'll walk into an open gym, or walk in to see somebody work out and they're wearing the Brand Wades,” said Crean. “You get on the phone and you tell them, 'If you want to do that in college, we're the only place you can do that at.' I think as time goes on this relationship with Converse and Brand Wade is going to be outstanding, and I think our players are going to be the beneficiaries of that.”