Under Armour has signed a decade-long partnership with the University of California Berkeley to outfit all of the school’s sports programs beginning this summer in a reportedly costly deal that will replace Nike.
The deal with Under Armour will officially kick off on July 1 in a partnership that Under Armour (UA) says is the first to feature a “comprehensive, campus-wide relationship.” That means Under Armour will not only exclusively design and supply the footwear, apparel and equipment for the university’s student athletes, it will also provide student internship opportunities to UC Berkeley graduates and product discounts.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said his company was looking forward to collaborating with the athletic teams and the entire campus for “betterment in fitness, wellness, charitable and professional development in ways never done before by an apparel and footwear partner.”
Under Armour has increasingly made a bigger bet on sponsorships with individual pro athletes and school programs to help boost the brand’s allure in a market that has long been dominated by Nike (NKE). The Baltimore-based athletic gear maker first entered the collegiate market with a 2006 deal with Auburn University. The pact with Cal, the brand’s 34th Division 1 all-school partnership, furthers that footprint.
Those sponsorship deals have helped Under Armour report strong sales growth that has outpaced Nike, although the latter remains far larger and is also reporting consistent sales gains. And some analysts have warned that sponsorship deals will become more pricey as Nike, Under Armour and Germany’s Adidas all compete for individual and team pacts.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell, citing sources, reported that the annual cash Cal received for the Nike deal was $150,000. The new Under Armour deal: $3.5 million. Rovell reports the deal is worth nearly $86 million in cash and product.
Under Armour touted the Cal pact because it also includes a commitment to create fitness and nutrition challenges for Cal students, faculty, and alumni. The company will also offer discounts for Under Armour’s connected fitness system, called UA HealthBox. All of that implies Under Armour is taking its role as a broader health and fitness brand more seriously, a talking point Plank often touts when speaking to the media and Wall Street analysts.