The reactions to UCLA’s explosive $280 million Under Armour announcement Tuesday have been loud on social media, but one critical voice in particular has gone viral.
Star quarterback Josh Rosen – no stranger to online fame – took to Instagram prior to the school’s noon press conference, captioning a screenshot of the breaking news: “We’re still amateurs though… Gotta love non-profits #NCAA.”
The post was taken down within an hour, but not before it gained a life of its own and added to Rosen’s history of outspoken online presence.
Most of the responses from UCLA athletes and coaches have been more positive in tone, though, even as concerns that Under Armour isn’t as strong an apparel company for Olympic sports, compared to football and basketball.
“It’s a very exciting time to start this new partnership,” said Grant Chen, the associate head coach for UCLA men’s tennis. “They’ve got some exciting tennis players with Andy Murray and Sloane Stephens on the pro tour, so I think it’ll be exciting to see the product line down the road when we start with them in 2017.”
The track team is split between excitement over new gear and trepidation over the partnership with a company that hasn’t traditionally rooted itself in track and field, said sophomore heptathlete Kendall Gustafson.
“I would assume that by next year when we’re with them that they’ll have developed some things (for track and field) – I’m hoping and assuming,” Gustafson said. “Especially for me, as an athlete who does seven events, I need a lot of different shoes and I need them to be pretty specialized. I’m pretty confident that they’ll have everything we need.”
With the deal, Under Armour further established itself as the second-largest company in the sports apparel business, overtaking Adidas and trailing only Nike. UCLA was the fifth major program to leave Adidas since 2014, joining the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
The Maryland-based company has made recent forays into the California sports scene, announcing an $86 million contract with California just last month. Under Armour has also signed two of NorCal’s top pro athletes, Stephen Curry and Buster Posey of the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Giants, respectively.
A number of former Bruins who are signed professionally with Under Armour spoke out on Twitter, welcoming their college to the brand.
Myles Jack, the standout linebacker who left UCLA early and was selected in the second round of this year’s NFL draft, and Alison Lee, a rising name on the LPGA Tour, were two of the many athletes to post.
— Myles Jack (@MylesJack) May 24, 2016
— Alison Lee (@alisonlee) May 24, 2016
While some Olympic sport concerns remain and Rosen’s payment advocacy is still a hot topic, Gustafson expects the mega-deal to ultimately be beneficial for UCLA athletes.
“It’s a little bit frightening for some people,” Gustafson said. “But in the end I think it’s actually going to be better.”
Contributing reports from Michael Hull and Hanson Wang, Daily Bruin reporters.