Cal Athletics announces new deal with Under Armour

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Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

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UC Berkeley has signed a new deal with Under Armour for 10 years and $86 million in products and cash.

The new athletic apparel sponsorship agreement, announced Friday, includes $3.5 million in cash annually and an average annual product allowance of $4.76 million. The deal is the first outfitting partnership in the country to have “a comprehensive, campus-wide relationship,” according to a Cal Athletics statement, and includes a $3 million signing bonus.

“We share a mutual commitment to relentless innovation and believe we have found a perfect partner in the university,” said founder and CEO of Under Armour Kevin Plank in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with Cal Athletics and the entire campus for betterment in fitness, wellness, charitable and professional development in ways never done before by an apparel and footwear partner.”

According to Plank, the company has been working on the Cal deal for more than two years, while talks between the two only began about five months ago. The company also sponsors Steph Curry of the Warriors and plans to use Cal as a way to broaden its Bay Area presence.

“At our offices all over the world, they are all wearing blue and gold T-shirts right now,” Plank said.

All 30 Cal intercollegiate athletic teams will continue to wear Nike apparel until the contract with the company ends June 30, 2017. The new deal with Under Armour will begin July 1, 2017. There will be a transition period in the next year, in which new uniforms will be created.

“Every university has its own personality; our job is to explore that personality,” Plank said on plans for the new apparel. “We have a few special uniforms already … ‘look at me’ I don’t think is really the definition of Cal. We got some big ideas, though — if you want to go crazy, we can go crazy. … It’s clear that we all understand the script is Cal (logo), blue and gold, and we can go from there.”

The partnership with Under Armour is a significant increase from the current sponsorship with Nike. In the last year of the Nike deal, UC Berkeley will receive just $2 million in product and $150,000 in cash. The 2,000 percent increase in cash for 2017-18 represents a huge boost for Cal Athletics, which is in the process of paying off its debt from the cost of building Memorial Stadium.

Under Armour will design and provide new apparel and equipment for the athletic department and plans to provide student internships and other opportunities for UC Berkeley graduates. The deal also include product discounts for campus departments and charitable partnerships, such as multiple fitness and nutrition challenges. Under Armour and the university are still discussing the idea of a campus team store.

The deal with Cal marks Under Armour’s 34th Division 1 all-school partnership, and its second with a Pac-12 school.

Under Armour will also provide clothing for Cal’s 34 club teams and discounts on an Under Armour-connected fitness system, UA HealthBox, for the UC Berkeley community. The deal also specifies that the company will sponsor Cal Day and Staff Appreciation Day in the future. It has also agreed to move their national entrepreneurship program, Cupid’s Cup, to Berkeley at least three times over the 10-year deal, with $100,000 in prizes. Before, the event took place solely at the University of Maryland.

Cal’s collaboration with Under Armour is part of the University Partnership Program an effort that aims to “build more meaningful, campus-wide partnerships,” according to a statement from Cal Athletics.

The UPP was established in September 2014 to generate more revenue for the campus by partnering with businesses and is led by former Cal deputy athletic director Solly Fulp. Since its creation, the program has partnered with Bank of the West to give the campus an official “Bank of UC Berkeley,” and Sungevity, a solar energy service. The program is currently in the process of planning a coffee partnership that would grant the selected vendor preferred coffee distribution status on campus, which would bring its total number of partnerships, with the Under Armour deal, to four.

“Under Armour’s vision mirrors our university’s emphasis on innovation, research and entrepreneurship, and this agreement will offer opportunities for students to advance their ideas through a variety of programs,” said Cal Athletics Director Mike Williams in a statement. “Together, the partnership aligns with our goals of succeeding in the classroom, in the field of competition and in the greater community.”

Alaina Getzenberg is the sports editor. Contact her at [email protected].Follow her on Twitter @agetzenberg.