Under Armour inked a record breaking contract with UCLA on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. The deal, considered to be the richest college sports apparel deal in the country, illustrates the Baltimore-based company’s intention to develop regional sales across the country. As part of the announcement, Under Armour said it would be expanding its West Coast retail locations.
Under Armour announced the 15-year, $280 million deal on Twitter, welcoming UCLA to the brand’s family. Under the terms of the deal, Under Armour will be the exclusive provider of footwear, apparel, and equipment for the college’s 25 men’s and women’s varsity teams. The company will also offer internship opportunities at its Baltimore headquarters to UCLA students.
Recently, the company has focused on deepening its roots in California, developing lucrative contracts in the region. MyFitnessPal, Under Armour’s health and fitness system, was acquired in 2015 for $475 million and remains headquartered in San Francisco. On April 22, 2016, Under Armour signed a 10-year, $86 million deal with the University of California, Berkley (Cal). Additionally, two of the company’s most identifiable sponsored athletes are California based Steph Curry and Buster Posey.
The company’s push for West Coast exposure is symbolic of its aggressive approach to contracting with colleges across the country. Comparatively, in 2014, Under Armour announced its 10-year, $90 million deal with the University of Notre Dame as the most valuable shoe and apparel contract in college sports history at the time. The deal with Notre Dame included an undisclosed amount of company stock.
Other recent deals include: The University of Maryland (2014), 10-year extension, $33 million; The University of Wisconsin (2015), 10-year, $96 million; Auburn University (2015), 10-year extension, $78.1 million; Yale (2016), 10-year, $16.5 million. The company pursued the Texas Longhorns with a 10-year deal, worth an estimated $150 million, but the school resigned with Nike under a 15-year, $200 million deal.
Long time apparel providers, such as Adidas and Nike, have lost lucrative contracts to the relatively new player. Over the past three years, Under Armour has beaten out Adidas on deals with Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and UCLA. Nike has, however, fared better than Adidas, inking extensions with Florida State (2023), Louisiana State (2022), and the University of Tennessee (2023). In 2015, Nike signed a 10-year, $169 million contract with the University of Michigan, beating out Adidas. At that time, Michigan’s deal was the largest college sports contract to date.
The addition of UCLA to Under Armour’s list of college sponsorships is the company’s 38th. The list also includes Boston College, Colorado State, Loyola-Chicago, Northwestern University, South Carolina University, Temple University, and Texas A&M University.
Under Armour’s aggressive pursuit of sponsorships has continued outside of college sports. The North American Soccer League signed a deal with the company to provide balls for all matches, Under Armour’s first soccer ball sponsorship. The sponsorship commenced at the league’s first match.
The aggressive brand promotion has financially paid off for the company. According to the annual report, Under Armour generated about $4 billion in revenue last year, up from $3.1 billion in 2014.
The UCLA and Cal deals will take effect July 1, 2017.