Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank formally announced a 10-year partnership. Under Armour will become the exclusive performance footwear and apparel supplier for the Fighting Irish, in a record-setting deal, as the school’s Adidas contract expires.
While the financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, Swarbrick confidently stated that by any measurement the deal is the largest in college sports, with Notre Dame receiving more cash and merchandise than any other university. Notre Dame also has the opportunity to take a portion of the cash payment in stock, allowing it to invest in its partner. (Under Armour is trading up around three percent today, hovering around the $85 range on the New York Stock Exchange.)
All 26 Notre Dame teams will begin wearing Under Armour next season, with the football team taking the field next fall wearing new apparel and footwear. For Plank, who grew up a Notre Dame fan and spent the night sleeping in the visitor’s locker room when Georgia Tech, Under Armour’s first apparel partner, re-opened Notre Dame Stadium in 1997, the new deal sounds like a crowing partnership for the Baltimore-based company.
“Notre Dame is the standard-bearer of excellence in collegiate athletics and is one of the most recognizable and admired universities in the world,” Plank said in a joint statement released. “It’s an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to dedicate our passion and innovation for making athletes better into this game-changing partnership. 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.”
Swarbrick explained a little bit of the rationale that went into choosing a new partner. Quoting Ferris Bueller, Swarbrick cited the rapid changes in collegiate athletics, changes he expects to happen well into the future. While the recent past saw Swarbrick navigate the Irish into the College Football Playoff era and bring the rest of Notre Dame’s teams into the ACC, he believes the next 10 years will be dedicated to science, nutrition, technology and keeping a competitive edge. After watching Under Armour’s rocket ride the past decade, Swarbrick felt confident that the company was the most capable of adapting and providing during the next ten years.
“We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Under Armour. It is a partnership that will benefit our student-athletes in a number of ways,” Swarbrick said in a statement. “The most obvious of those relates to quality and quantity of the world-class footwear, apparel and equipment Notre Dame will be able to provide to its student-athletes. 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.
“But perhaps what makes me most excited is the overall level of commitment and partnership as
reflected in what may be the most wide-ranging overall relationship anywhere in college athletics. That is demonstrated in both the term of the agreement and the unique feature that makes Notre Dame a shareholder in Under Armour. It is reflected in a shared desire to collaborate in areas such as sport technology, product development, and athlete performance.
“Our coaches and student-athletes look forward not only to using Under Armour’s standard-setting performance footwear, uniforms, practice gear, and equipment—but also to working side by side with Under Armour to help make those products even better.”
While Swarbrick focused mostly on the commitment and resources that Under Armour would provide Notre Dame, he and Plank also shed a bit of light on what the future would look like. Put simply? More of the same. While previously rumored, there will be no signage added to Notre Dame Stadium. And don’t expect many changes to Notre Dame’s traditional uniforms, though it appears the company has already done a better job of matching the team’s gold to the color.
“We will control the look and feel of our uniforms,” Swarbrick stated simply.
“We’re looking for clean, bold and consistent looks,” Plank said.
The partnership between Notre Dame and Under Armour begins in July.