As the collegiate sponsorship arms race heats up, Under Armour continues to grow their war chest, as the company signed UCLA to a 15-year, $280-million deal earlier this week. The agreement not only surpasses the 15-year, $252-million deal Nike recently signed with Ohio State, but also strikes a crippling blow to another main competitor in Adidas, who is now left with just nine Power Five schools in its collegiate portfolio.
Just two years after striking the richest deal in college sports with a 10-year, $90 million deal with Notre Dame, CEO Kevin Plank is back at it again. The recent deal with the Bruins helps Under Armour expand its presence into the West Coast given the 10-year contract that was signed with the University of California just last month. In addition, the agreement provides an entry way into Los Angeles, the number two media market in the country.
With the agreement, UCLA becomes the 35th school, and third Pac-12 university in Under Armour’s portfolio which includes 13 Power Five schools. The company now has flagship programs on the the East Coast in the University of Maryland, the Midwest in Notre Dame, and the West Coast in UCLA. The Bruins provide a high-profile athletic program with a historic basketball program and one of the top college quarterbacks in Josh Rosen when the Under Armour deal is scheduled to begin in 2017.
The aforementioned Notre Dame deal also seemed to wake up Nike, the behemoth in the world of collegiate sponsorships. Previously, Nike was able to pay below market value, but recently the Beaverton based company has been forced to up the ante signing Michigan, Texas, and Ohio State to record deals. The same can not be said for Adidas which has seen its portfolio dwindle over the last two years. In addition to the UCLA loss, the University of Wisconsin also recently signed with Under Armour making Adidas heavily reliant on basketball schools such as Indiana, Louisville, and Kansas.
This week it was UCLA and Under Armour that made headlines with the most lucrative shoe and apparel sponsorship in college history, but rest assured the arms race is just beginning to heat up between the apparel providers and collegiate universities.