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January 22, 2014

Under Armour signs biggest deal ever for college sports

The University of Notre Dame announced a 10-year apparel contract with Under Armour, which Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick called the largest in the history of college sports.

The South Bend, Ind.-based school didn't provide financial details for the agreement, which includes an equity option for Notre Dame. Citing unidentified people familiar with the terms, ESPN said the deal was worth $90 million, more than the $82 million that Adidas agreed to pay the University of Michigan over a 10-year deal.

"It is a partnership that will benefit our student- thletes in a number of ways," Swarbrick said in a release on the school's athletics page. "And in as much as this represents the largest financial commitment ever made by a brand to a university, it will provide the critical resources we need to enable our student-athletes to compete at the highest levels."

Under Armour will supply footwear, apparel and uniforms for all 26 Fighting Irish varsity programs. That includes the football team, which has produced seven Heisman Trophy winners and claims 11 national championships, and the defending national champion men's soccer team.

 "Notre Dame is the standard-bearer of excellence in collegiate athletics and is one of the most recognizable and admired universities in the world," Under Armour founder and chief executive officer Kevin Plank said in the release. "We look forward to collaborating with the university's administration, athletic department, student-athletes, alumni and its powerful fan base to uphold the Fighting Irish's championship pedigree."

The Baltimore-based company has a market capitalization of $8.96 billion, less than competitors Nike Inc. ($65.3 billion) and Adidas ($26 billion). It plans to use the university in global marketing campaigns and social media initiatives, according to the release.

Notre Dame has been sponsored by Adidas for the past 17 years. The Fighting Irish football team, which lost to the University of Alabama in the national title game following the 2012 season, competes as an independent. Most other Notre Dame teams began play in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season.

Swarbrick didn't provide details on the equity option in the contract. Under Armour shares closed Tuesday up 3.4 percent to $84.78.



 

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