While UCLA has been the West Coast flagship university of adidas for going on 17 years now, in early April, the Bruins allowed their exclusive negotiating window (January 4, 2016 through April 2, 2016) with the German apparel giant to pass, and now, the same company that made California its West Coast flagship not three weeks ago -- Under Armour -- is on the hunt, and they're bringing an elephant gun: A deal averaging $15-$16 million per year in cash and prizes.
So, has the shine come off the Cal apple so quickly for Under Armour? What happened to Cal being the flagship? Surely, a deal worth more than twice as much per year for the athletics department would mean that the Southern Branch would hold Under Armour's favor, would it not?
Maybe that's not the right question to ask. The real question, for Cal fans, is what does the Bears' deal do for Cal? The answer is a lot more than just shoes and jerseys.
The Bears will get, according to multiple sources, an on-campus team store built out by Under Armour, which, several sources have said, could include Under Armour helping to buy out Haas School of Business from its space at California Memorial Stadium (it's one of the possible locations and scenarios that has been discussed). There will be, according to CEO Kevin Plank, himself, a San Francisco Under Armour store, comparable to a Niketown.
Multiple sources in Cal Athletics, who can't speak officially because the current deal with Nike is still in effect, say that athletes are all-in for Under Armour, because, finally, they're going to get gear, beyond just the bare minimum that Nike provided (more on that later in this article).
http://www.scout.com/college/ucla/story/1664676-ucla-could-get-biggest-a... Cal's deal with Under Armour is a comprehensive deal, involving emergent fitness technology, professional opportunities and internships for rank-and-file students at a Bay Area Under Armour headquarters, and apparel supply covering not just the intercollegiate NCAA teams, but the club teams, as well.
Cal fans need to look at these deals from the standpoint of the fact that these are blockbuster deals for the two major universities within the UC system. Nike owns apparel deals for both of the private schools in the two biggest markets in California -- the Bay (Stanford) and Los Angeles (USC). Remember: Nike has apparel deals with over 250 schools, and Under Armour does not.
Plank made a point of saying that Under Armour is not trying to beat Nike in terms of absolute numbers. Under Armour wants to be more selective.
But, the UCLA deal is bigger, at least based on early reports, in the $15-$16 million range (Cal's averages out to $8.6 million per year over 10 years in cash and product).
Let's first take a look at why the deal -- in absolute terms -- looks better for the Bruins.
A source says that adidas isn't giving up without a fight, but Under Armour is definitely making inroads to the school that had previously been provided with uniforms and equipment from a variety of manufacturers, like Champion and Reebok.
UCLA signed the current apparel and equipment deal with adidas on May 13, 2011, and that deal will end on June 30, 2017.
Early reports of the potential Under Armour deal with UCLA peg it at nearly twice as much as the deal for Cal, which was, ostensibly, to be the company's West Coast keystone. So, why does the UCLA deal look perhaps better than that of Cal?
For one: Under Armour has to out-bid adidas, which, if it loses UCLA, loses the No. 2 media market in the nation, and would be in danger of becoming all but irrelevant out West.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1663434-under-armour-what-... Adidas has already lost Baylor, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Michigan -- one to Under Armour, the other three to Nike -- and if UCLA leaves the adidas pen, it will mark the second school out West that has moved to Under Armour from adidas -- the other being St. Mary's. Without UCLA, adidas would have UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Riverside and Cal State Bakersfield in the state of California. As for the rest of the West? Southern Utah, Weber State, Western Oregon, Eastern Washington, Northern Arizona, Denver, New Mexico State and Arizona State.
Adidas will fight for UCLA, and that's one of the reasons why an Under Armour deal with the Bruins has to be so lucrative. It needs to be restated: Cal's deal with Nike was abysmal. The school got $150,000 per year in cash. That's roughly the cost of a minor assistant's base contract in a major sport. It's a pittance. Under Armour will play Cal $3.5 million per year in cash, and $4.76 million in product allowance. The contract that Nike just offered Washington State -- Washington State -- included $200,000 in cash per year. That's how much Nike valued Cal, in the No. 6 media market in the nation -- $50,000 less per year than Washington State.
The Bruins -- again, situated in the nation's No. 2 media market -- have an NCAA-best 113 national titles, including 11 basketball, one baseball, and 11 in softball. UCLA football has won 17 conference titles. Cal football has won 14 conference titles, but only two since 1958 (the Bruins have 11 in that same time span).
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1662745-cal-football-baske... Cal has won 96 total team national titles -- including two in baseball, one in softball, one in basketball and five claimed in football. When it comes to national recognition, UCLA has Cal beat, and not by a small margin.
Let's be frank about this: Cal is not in the same position as UCLA. It hasn't been in more than 60 years, and it won't be, for some time, still.
Cal is not a premium brand, yet, when it comes to football and men's hoops. It is clear with the direction and the moves with athletic director Mike Williams at the helm -- with this deal, Cuonzo Martin's academic turnaround, football's turnaround both on the field and off (from 1-11 to 8-5, from the bottom of the conference in APR to posting a 997 mark this past year) -- that good things are coming, and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Under Armour is doing with this deal.
Both deals are good for both schools, in a vacuum, but you can't compare Cal and UCLA's athletic departments, when it comes to sports that matter. In both football and basketball, UCLA has a stronger track record and a much more storied history.
Cal just completed a $10 million spruce-up of Haas Pavilion -- which was last fully renovated in 1999 -- while UCLA just completed a $136 million overhaul of Pauley Pavilion. That's not apples to oranges; that's apples to zebras.
UCLA is a bigger brand, and a bigger brand in a bigger media market demands a higher premium.
UCLA, according to a source, is more focused on lifestyle and brand than on athletics, innovation and academic integration with the company, so that's another difference between what Under Armour is trying to accomplish with Cal, and at least gives some sort of feel for what the deal with UCLA would look like.
Cal's deal is, again, more comprehensive than UCLA's would be. Under Armour wants to dive deep into the culture of Berkeley, the innovative DNA (by way of its MyFitnessPal app, based in San Francisco), and wants to -- according to several sources -- feature the Berkeley of it all, to, at long last, unify the brands of UC Berkeley and the University of California. It may sound like an impossible dream, but that's what's been pitched behind closed doors.
In the end, both deals are clearly good for Under Armour, beyond any debate about who's the flagship and why. If UCLA signs with Under Armour, the company would have a foothold both in the northern part of the state -- with its tech- and innovation-rich culture -- and the trendsetting media market that is Los Angeles -- with both of those footholds just happening to be a part of the UC system.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1663261-cal-signs-deal-wit... No matter what UCLA gets in its presumptive deal with Under Armour, this is not a bad thing for Cal. Let's be real: UCLA is starting from a much higher starting point, from the deal the Bruins had with adidas. Cal went from $150,000 per year to $3.5m a year in cash with Under Armour. UCLA went from several million a year to several million more.
What about the Nike of it all? After losing Cal, Nike is pitching UCLA on being the only West Coast school to be a Jordan Brand program. However, according to sources cited by our sister site, BruinReportOnline, the Nike offer is less lucrative than either adidas or Under Armour's pitch. Nike is relying on the fact that it's Nike, while Under Armour has put every resource it has -- and, if sources within Cal Athletics are to be believed, they mean every resource -- at Cal's fingertips. Nike was negotiating from the position of, 'We're Nike, so, yeah, you should feel privileged to have what we give you.' Under Armour' pitch to Cal was: Whatever you want, we'll do. Whatever you need, you'll have.
What do these two deals do for basketball recruiting in the state of California, with the four Pac-12 schools? If this does in fact come together, it turns basketball recruiting on its head, because now, you've got three Under Armour schools in the Pac-12 -- two in the state of California. That's 25% of the conference, and Under Armour will have taken a longtime Nike school, and adidas's West Coast flagship school. In short order, what's happened is Under Armour has overnight turned the conference on its head, and has served notice to Nike, that, behemoth though it is, Nike should not take Under Armour lightly. More and more top prospects are moving away from Nike. Jaylen Brown? He was an adidas athlete. 2017 prospects Ira Lee and Jemarl Baker? Both Under Armour. The landscape is changing, and Cal was -- and is -- at the forefront, with Under Armour athletes Buster Posey and Steph Curry both fixtures of the Bay Area sports landscape. UCLA may be getting a bigger deal, but the Bruins have been among the elite for quite some time. The deal with Cal and Under Armour brings the Bears from the rear of the race into the lead pack, when Under Armour clearly did not have to do that.
Based on what the Under Armour team is doing, they're not gong to make bad business decisions. Consider: Under Armour has posted 25 straight quarters of 20% growth or more. That's six straight years of growth. The debate over which is the flagship doesn't matter. It's inconsequential. This isn't a competition between UCLA and Cal as to who has the biggest deal. This is a brand that understands where it needs to be, why it needs to be there, and making the right partnerships for the things that it's doing, in terms of growth. That means cherry picking the best that California has to offer, and that means Cal brains with UCLA branding brawn.