The deal calls for cash payments to the university of $3.7 million over the next five years and more money is expected to come to the university's general scholarship fund and athletic department through royalty fees on sales of AU licensed apparel through Under Armour, which has pledged to aggressively market Auburn University gear in the contract that will start in June.
AU officials also negotiated with Russell Athletic, the current apparel provider which is based in Atlanta and the long-time AU supplier, but noted that the new deal with Under Armour was too good to bypass. AU officials say the new deal is five times more lucrative to the university than any previous apparel/marketing deal.
Athletic Director Jay Jacobs says the university attorney John Wagner and athletic department marketing department employee Nikki Borges did an outstanding job of negotiating the package for AU. "What they have done will impact student-athletes' lives for years to come," Jacobs says.
Under Armour's chief executive officer, Kevin Park, says that the comprehensive deal is the second one his 11-year-old company has done with a college. The first is with the University of Maryland, where he played football.
Plank says Under Armour also has apparel deals with Major League Baseball, NFL Europe, the National Hockey League, the U.S. Ski Team, Major League Soccer as well as European professional soccer teams and a variety of other pro sports teams.
Planks also notes that his company will feature Auburn University in its national marketing of products. "We are going to shout it from the mountain tops," he says of the new relationship with Auburn.
He notes that the company's theme, "We Must Protect This House," may get a "War Eagle" added to it as part of marketing campaign.
The company plans to provide apparel for all of Auburn's athletic teams. Each one of AU's 21 intercollegiate squads will wear some type of Under Armour apparel, however, because of currently in place deals there will only be 10 teams wearing it in 2006-2007. That number is expected to rise to 17 the following season.
Under Armour is also getting into the shoe business next year and hopes to have football cleats ready for this coming fall and baseball cleats ready for the 2007 college baseball season. Under Armour doesn't have plans to do basketball shoes or shoes used by other Auburn sports teams.
The focal point of the deal is the relationship with Auburn's football team and the head coach, Tommy Tuberville, says he is excited about the agreement. "I think this is going to be a great relationship with Auburn and Under Armour," he says.
"We are not changing our colors, our uniform schemes will look the same as we looked last year," the coach notes. "It will just be a different material. There will be some things added, not to the jerseys or pants, but as you have seen in the last few years the wristbands and things like that where they have great imagination.
"We are looking at the shoes," Tuberville adds. "Again, that is an experimental thing. I don't know what shoe we will wear next year. As we speak, we are still wearing New Balance. I like what we have seen so far with the prototypes they (Under Armour) have brought to let us look at."
Plank says he isn't sure if the new cleats will be ready in time for spring football practice, which Auburn holds in the month of February, but says he is certain the Under Armour cleats will be ready for the 2006 football season and the baseball cleats will be ready soon after that.
Tuberville says he believes his football players will like the new uniforms because they already like Under Armour products. "Our players recognize it as a symbol of quality and fun," he says.
Jacobs says the deal with Under Armour will be good for athletes in all Auburn sports and adds that Auburn appreciates its long-time relationship with Russell, which began as an Alabama-based business in Alexander City. "Russell was a great partner for us and we appreciate all they did," the athletic director says.
However, Jacobs notes, "It was very obvious it was the best decision for Auburn in a number of ways. This (deal) was significantly so much better, being the steward for a department here that is a $54 million business this was the best decision for Auburn."
Jacobs adds that he is particularly excited about Under Armour's plans to market Auburn nationally as part of the deal. "I don't think you can put a value on it."