UCLA Athletics set to leave Adidas, join Under Armour in 2017
(Harishwer Balasubramani/Daily Bruin)
This post was updated May 24 at 4:35 p.m.
UCLA Athletics has signed a record-breaking apparel deal with Under Armour for 15 years and $280 million in cash and apparel.
The news was announced to coaches, athletes and staff in a closed-door event at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning in Pauley Pavilion, with samples of Under Armour gear on display. Under Armour CEO and founder Kevin Plank presented with Dan Guerrero, UCLA’s athletic director.
A source within the meeting confirmed that the contract is the largest footwear and apparel deal in collegiate athletic history, marking the end of UCLA’s 18-year partnership with Adidas.
“This is a transformational moment for our brand,” Plank said at a noon press conference. “We believe that this deal will make our company better at every level.”
The new apparel deal would have an annual value of nearly $19 million. According to the LA Times, it includes $15 million in cash up front and $11 million annually in rights and marketing fees. UCLA will also receive $2 million dollars over of the next eight years to upgrade their facilities and $7.4 million each year in shoes, apparel, and equipment starting July 1, 2017.
The immediate impact will be in logos and branding, Plank said, but the company CEO said the process would be a slow transition.
The lucrative partnership would launch UCLA ahead of schools like Ohio State and Texas, which recently signed 15-year contracts with Nike, each worth $250 million or more.
UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen broadcast his initial reaction via Instagram on Tuesday morning, writing, “We’re still amateurs though,” before deleting the post within hours.
The switch from Adidas would also make UCLA the third Pac-12 school to sign with Under Armour since 2008, joining Utah and California.
Cal’s 10-year, $86 million deal in late April gave the growing Maryland-based company its first West Coast flagship, with UCLA following right behind.
As a brand, Under Armour has been up and coming – something Guerrero termed an “explosion” – increasing revenue over the last 20 years while signing the reigning MVPs of all four major professional leagues and the top golfer in the world.
“We’ve reached a point in size and scale where we have the ability to do just about anything we want to do,” Plank said. “This deal met all that criteria for us.”
Still, the company’s focus in the big sports had some UCLA athletes in Olympic sports concerned.
The internal meeting reassured these athletes that Under Armour would continue to develop their apparel to fit the needs of each specific sport, said sophomore water polo player Nicole Reynolds.
“It’s not mainstream like a Nike or an Adidas,” Reynolds said. “Their message (is that) it’s about a family and their main goal is to make athletes better.”
UCLA has 25 total men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams to outfit.
“We have a shared vision, a combined vision,” Guerrero said at the press conference. “And we’re here largely because of the work Under Armour has done.”
The new SoCal partnership will nearly quadruple the annual value of UCLA’s latest contract renewal with Adidas in June 2010, worth $7.5 million per year through 2017. But after the two failed to renew their standing deal in April 2016, UCLA opened bidding on the athletic apparel rights to include rival brands Under Armour and Nike.
Associated Students UCLA, which owns the UCLA Store, will continue to feature and sell Adidas apparel through June 30, 2017, when the current deal terminates. While the agreement announced Tuesday will provide gear for athletes and staff in the Athletic Department, ASUCLA is working to execute its own retail license agreement to replicate similar products for retail.
Cindy Holmes, director of trademarks and licensing at ASUCLA, said the 13-month transition period will give the organization plenty of time to prepare adequately.
It has been nearly two decades since UCLA was last sponsored by a company other than Adidas. The athletic department switched from Reebok to Adidas in 1999, turning down a competing offer from Nike.
Contributing reports by April Hoang, Daily Bruin reporter.