Cal to become West Coast flagship of Under Armour

Cal has signed an apparel contract with sportswear giant Under Armour, and will become the flagship program of the brand on the West Coast.

California has signed an athletic apparel (shoe, apparel and tech) sponsorship deal with Maryland-based Under Armour for 10 years and nearly $86 million in product and cash, with $3.5 million annually in cash. Under the current NIKE contract, Cal received $150,000 in cash per year.

Under on the current NIKE contract, the Bears -- all 30 athletic teams -- will continue to wear NIKE apparel and gear through the end of the current deal with the Oregon-based apparel giant, which expires June 30, 2017. The new deal is effective July 1, 2017. Between now and then, there will be a transition period, during which uniforms for all athletic teams will be redesigned. Given Under Armour's penchant to have uniformity with a brand look, there will be greater continuity across all sports.

Under Armour has already making inroads into the Bay Area, with Buster Posey and Steph Curry already repping the brand.

"The United States of California is something we're hyper-aware of," said CEO founder Kevin Plank, who acknowledged that this is a deal to set up Cal as a flagship for Under Armour out West. "We have a baseball player named Buster Posey, and a basketball player, oh, what's his name -- Stephen Curry. He's such a special human being, beyond the things he does on court, to what he does to lead. We're going to be in the Bay Area in a big way. We think it's a terrific complement. Our goal isn't to have all of the Division I programs, or even the most -- we want the best.

"This is a critical piece of anchoring what we have with Buster, what we have with Stephen, and what we now have with Cal."

The deal -- which, Plank said, was in the works for two and a half years of Under Armour "working on" Cal --  also includes a $3 million signing bonus, and an average annual product allowance of $4.76 million. Under Armour and Cal have been talking for four months, athletic director Mike Williams said.

"They listen, their attention to detail is extraordinary," Williams said.

The University will retain ownership of the typeface, color palate and the roaring bear logo, designed by NIKE, which debuted in 2013.

Based on initial reports, this deal will place Cal in the "top 10" in the country, a source said, in terms of the value of its apparel and gear sponsorship, in line with the likes of Michigan and Notre Dame. Cal will be the second Under Armour school in the Pac-12, with Utah being the first. UCLA and Arizona State are both adidas schools.

“UC Berkeley is one of the world’s top universities and a standard bearer for academic excellence and athletic achievement," said Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO, Under Armour, in a statement. "We share a mutual commitment to relentless innovation and believe we have found a perfect partner in the university. It's an honor to bring our mission for making athletes better to the Golden Bears. 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."

Cal, currently, has the No. 37 deal in the nation (among public schools, not counting USC, Notre Dame, Stanford, Baylor, TCU and Clemson), worth $2.15 million per year (total value of cash and apparel) as of the 2015-16 school year, and this new deal is significantly more lucrative. Notre Dame currently has the biggest Under Armour deal in the land, worth more than $90 million in cash and Under Armour product over a 10-year period. Michigan signed a deal with NIKE in September worth $169 million over 15 years, with $76.8 million in cash and $80.2 million in apparel. Ohio State and Texas have since topped those deals.

Largest athletic apparel deals among public colleges (per year)

  • Ohio State (Nike): $16.8 million
  • Texas (Nike): $16.7 million
  • Michigan (Nike): $15.3 million
  • Florida State (Nike): $4.2 million-$4.5 million
  • LSU (Nike): $4.1 million-$4.5 million
  • Louisville (Adidas): $4.06 million-$4.28 million
  • Kansas (Adidas): $3.8 million-$4.2 million
  • UCLA (Adidas): $3.54 million-$5.5 million

Note: Michigan's sums do not include option years

What does this mean for Cal in real-world applications? First: New uniforms, all around. Second: Sources have said that Cal head football coach Sonny Dykes has been pushing NIKE to bring back the Joe Roth throwback uniforms. With this deal, there is a "very good chance" that the opportunity to create event-specific or theme-specific uniforms will be explored. Third: Cal becomes a priority to Under Armour, while it was far down the pecking order at NIKE. That means more daring and advanced uniform designs and apparel, as well as more flexibility in working with the various programs to cater to their needs. Additionally, there have been whispers of a return of the Block C.

There are some "special uniforms" that "are more about celebrating the past," than being "look-at-me" Plank said. But, "if you want to go crazy, we can go crazy, but that's not our intent."

The deal is also said by sources to include a permanent Under Armour team store at California Memorial Stadium.

"The best intention is to use us as your in-house marketing department," Plank said. "Our job is to take it to the next level. Our intent is to over-deliver across the board."

"We envision there being a retail space on campus," Williams said.

In addition to outfitting the 30 Cal intercollegiate athletic teams, Under Armour will have an extensive social and communal footprint on campus, including:

  • Providing apparel for Cal’s 34 Recreational Sports club programs, supporting more than 1,300 students annually
  • Offering discounts on Under Armour’s connected fitness system, UA HealthBox, for faculty, staff and students
  • Annually employing UC Berkeley student interns and graduates
  • Creating and supporting multiple fitness and nutrition challenges for Cal students, faculty, alumni and staff
  • Collaboration on philanthropic and social responsibility programs

There are also plans in the works for Cal to host Future Show, Under Armour’s annual open innovation challenge, and Cupid’s Cup, an annual nationwide competition "which allows undergraduate and graduate students to showcase their inventions," on the Cal campus, multiple times over the course of the deal.

On the day of the announcement, Under Armour also announced it was projecting $5 billion in sales for fiscal 2016, a jump from just under $4 billion in sales in fiscal 2015. Top Stories