Multiple sources told HornsDigest.com Texas and Nike officials, including Kevin Durant, met the weekend of Sept. 26 in Austin and are now working on a long-term deal that will continue a 16-year partnership between the Longhorns and the swoosh.
Sources said Under Armour was given reassurance by Texas chief revenue officer Steve Hank on Sept. 18, just days after former UT athletic director Steve Patterson was fired, that a plan was still in place for Under Armour to make its pitch to Texas on Oct. 4. Nike had an exclusive negotiating period with Texas through the end of September.
Texas athletics spokesman Kevin Mortesen denied Hank or anyone from UT had inappropriate contact with Under Armour before Nike's exclusive negotiating period ended Sept. 30.
"No one from the University of Texas had any conversations with Under Armour about the (apparel) contract or scheduled any meetings," Mortesen said Friday.
Under Armour officials declined to comment.
Sources said UA was set to “throw the bank at Texas” to try to lure the Longhorns away from Nike. One source said UA was willing to give cash and company stock to Texas totaling $22 million per year for at least 10 years.
“Under Armour was going in with the mindset of not taking no for an answer,” said one source close to the situation.
According to Nike’s current apparel contract with Texas, Nike would have the right to match any other offer.
After Texas’ meeting with Nike the weekend of Sept. 26 - with Durant present - Longhorns’ interim athletic director Mike Perrin, a Houston lawyer, and UT officials appeared to completely change course from the strategy of Patterson aimed at putting Nike in a bidding war with Under Armour, Adidas or anyone else, sources said.
One source close to the situation said Perrin and UT officials are now in deep negotiations to hammer out a long-term deal with Nike.
One source close to the situation said Nike officials told former Texas AD Steve Patterson they'd appreciate it if UT would negotiate in good faith during Nike's exclusive re-up period and not put Nike in a bidding war after September.
But a bidding war was exactly what Patterson and Hank wanted, multiple sources said.
Under the Patterson/Hank plan, if UA came up with a proposal in the range of 10 years and more than $200 million, and if Nike – which has the ability to match any offer – went ahead and matched it, Texas would remain partners with Nike, sources said.
If not, Texas would most likely have become an Under Armour school, sources told HD.
But Patterson was pushed out at Texas on Sept. 15 after a tumultuous 22 months on the job. And it appears now Texas won’t even hear any other apparel contract proposals (Adidas was expected to be a player as well), sources told HD.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, sources told HD, it appears Texas’ relationship with Nike, established in 2000, will continue into the future as long as the numbers make sense for both sides.
If Texas re-signs with Nike without even hearing proposals from other suitors, it would be a huge disappointment for Under Armour, which set up an office in Austin over the past year almost with the sole purpose of winning the Texas apparel contract, sources told HD.
Even former Texas national champion golfer Jordan Spieth, one of Under Armour’s highest-profile clients, said he would be as involved as UA wanted him to be in courting his alma mater.
With Durant helping Nike hold on to Texas, it marks the second time in the last few months that Under Armour was rebuffed by the former Longhorns basketball star.
In August, Durant turned down a mega-offer from Under Armour believed to be between $265 million and $285 million for 10 years, to stay with Nike for a 10-year deal that could hit $300 million if sales incentives are hit, ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported.
Ultimately, Perrin and UT officials wanted to continue a trusted partnership with Nike, which could include the Texas basketball team wearing the Kevin Durant brand, if Nike could come up with numbers that make sense for both sides.
On Friday, reports surfaced that Under Armour had signed Wisconsin to a 10-year, $110 million deal. In 2014, Notre Dame reportedly signed a 10-year, $90 million deal with Under Armour. Earlier this year, Michigan signed an 11-year, $169 million deal with Nike in what is recognized as the richest apparel deal for a university.
Under Armour also counts Auburn, Texas Tech, Utah, Boston College and South Carolina among its schools.
Sources told HD on Friday Nike's deal with Texas will be the new, high-end standard for university apparel contracts.