Under Armour signs Notre Dame
Notre Dame and Under Armour announced Tuesday that they have agreed to the most valuable shoe and apparel contract in college sports history.
The private school did not reveal the value of the 10-year deal, which will begin when its contract with adidas expires at the end of June, but sources told ESPN.com that the value of the deal, in cash and merchandise combined, is worth about $90 million.
That would make the deal worth more than the $82 million adidas is paying in cash and product to Michigan over 10 years.
The deal could eventually be worth even more to the Fighting Irish, as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick noted that it allows the school to take some of the cash in company stock.
As of 12:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, shares of Under Armour were up more than 3 percent on the day and up more than 80 percent over last year.
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said he first set foot on the Notre Dame campus in 1997, coincidentally the year that adidas' first deal with the school began. That year, Plank said Under Armour's revenues were $110,000. In 2013, Under Armour projects sales of $2.25 billion.
"We love the company we are partnering with, and we can't wait to grow with them," Swarbrick said. "We don't believe we're partnering with a $2 billion company. We're partnering with a $20 billion company."
Swarbrick said that while fans' focus might be on the uniforms, this deal is as much about working with Under Armour to share information that will improve technology.
"We're in a very competitive business where the margins between a 12-win season and an eight-win season are so small," he said. "Mining the data is one of the next frontiers, and given that this deal is 10 years, we better be focused on those things."
Under Armour currently has schoolwide deals with 12 other schools: Auburn, Hawaii, Maryland, Texas Tech, Boston College, Utah, Northwestern, St. John's, Navy, Colorado State, South Florida and South Carolina.
Despite a history of pushing the envelope, Plank said he understands what Notre Dame means and says his company will treat the school as a unique entity.
"Texas Tech is different from Maryland is different from Notre Dame," Plank said. "We don't have to invent any new history. We don't have to tell any new stories. Notre Dame is quite simply Notre Dame."
In a statement that noted its 17-year partnership would come to an end after this school year, adidas said, "As with every business decision, we weigh our investment against the value to our brand."
One point in the talks that was not negotiable was Under Armour getting any signage in Notre Dame Stadium.
"It's just one of those things that is just so central to our identity," Swarbrick said. "We want to be Augusta-like in that way, and that's why after we discussed it one time it was never brought up in conversation again.
"Instead, I agreed to let them put their logo on the athletic director."