Notre Dame and Under Armour are extending their relationship, agreeing to a new 10-year apparel contract that'll keep the Irish toward the top of college sports with a price tag of more than $10 million annually in cash and gear, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Notre Dame and Under Armour officials declined to comment.
Notre Dame, in the final year of its previous 10-year contract with Under Armour, hit the open market this spring after the expiration of the exclusive negotiating window with UA. Under Armour won a bidding war against the other top two apparel brands in the country, Adidas and Nike.
A win for Under Armour founder and chairman Kevin Plank as well as new president and CEO Stephanie Linnartz, UA lands one of the country’s most valuable brands again. The school and apparel brand have been partners since 2014, when UA replaced Adidas as Notre Dame’s apparel outfit in what was at the time believed to be the most lucrative apparel contract in college athletics history, a deal thought to be around $90 million.
This one exceeds that amount and vaults the Irish to the top of college sports, alongside the likes of Texas (Nike), Kansas (Adidas), Louisville (Adidas), Ohio State (Nike), Nebraska (Adidas) and Michigan (Nike) — all schools with deals believed to range from $8-10 million a year.
Financial details of apparel contracts are not always clear. Some are not publicized and others were impacted by the COVID pandemic.
Apparel deals are revenue-generating giants for some of the most elite college athletic departments. In normal cases, apparel companies pay an annual licensing fee ranging from $5-10 million in cash for some of the powerhouses in college football and men’s basketball. In other deals, the school receives a cut of royalties from merchandise sales (usually 10-15%). Most agreements require the company to outfit that school’s athletic teams with $2-5 million in gear each year, as well as discounts in merchandise purchases.
Over the last several years, Under Armour has withdrawn from being a major player in college athletics. The Baltimore-based outlet has canceled deals with UCLA, Cal, Hawaii and Cincinnati, and Boston College ended its relationship with the company by signing with New Balance and Adidas.
Despite the past setbacks, Under Armour recently released figures that show its 2023 fiscal year revenue is up 3% to $5.9 billion. The company continues to outfit a handful of major college programs, including Auburn, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Utah and Texas Tech. But its crown jewel is Notre Dame.
Like its independence within football and exclusive television contract with NBC, Notre Dame officials enjoy being the apparel company’s most valuable and featured brand. But the final determination in the decision was price, and Under Armour well outpaced the other offers, sources told Yahoo Sports.