The District of Columbia State Athletic Association announced a three-year partnership with Spalding Thursday, marking the first significant sponsorship in the DCSAA’s two-year history. The deal is worth about $13,000 annually in cash and incentives.

Spalding, which is an arm of Russell Athletic, will become the official ball in six DCSAA sports that includes football, boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball, starting in the fall of 2013. Spalding’s softball brand, Dudley, will become the official ball in softball. Spalding balls will be exclusively used during postseason play in those events and the company will also sponsor the Most Valuable Player award for each state championship game.

Brine Athletics contributed balls to the DCSAA for competition last year, according to DCSAA Athletic Director Clark Ray, but many of the games were played with an assortment of branded balls that one of the teams provided. It was “whatever” the teams could provide, he said.

“Being new, we were eager in entering an agreement with [Spalding], and hopefully start a long-term relationship,” Ray said.

Spalding approached the DCSAA about four months ago with a partnership proposal, Ray said, but he isn’t quick to call the partnership a “breakthrough.” It’s more of a sign that the DCSAA is serious about acquiring high-level sponsorships in the future. He cited a sponsorship agreement that was struck with Modell’s Sporting Goods recently, and a few other prospective deals that are currently being sorted out.

“It’s an advancement,” Ray said. “Sporting entities and entities that deal with interscholastic athletics, whether it be apparel or equipment, are certainly interested in learning what the District of Columbia State Athletic Association is all about. And we’re certainly interested in getting the best deals for our student-athletes and coaches.”