Under Armour removes Cal from its website: contract termination may be underway
Footwear and athletic apparel manufacturer notified UCLA it wants to terminate its deal on Saturday. Could they be looking to do the same with Cal?
Under Armour may be seeking to drop its 10-year, $86-million sponsorship of Cal. Speculation began after news surfaced the Baltimore-based footwear and athletic apparel manufacturer plans to terminate its 15-year, $280-million deal with UCLA, as first reported by the Los Angeles Times Saturday.
The Sports Business Journal also cited an unnamed source that Under Armour may be pursuing a similar contract-end with Cal.
Golden Bears fans on Twitter quickly reported being unable to find any Cal apparel on the Under Armour website, including when accessed from Cal-branded ads on Google, suggesting similar news may be imminent for the flagship University of California campus.
Neither Cal nor UCLA appears on Under Armour’s College Fan Gear collection. (Photo: Under Armour)
Similarly, a self-identified Berkeley Recreational Sports employee tells Write For California he is no longer able to access his Under Armour discount, a benefit of the 10-year deal.
The rumors come as retailers seek to conserve and raise cash to survive the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the retail industry after months of local and state-mandated stay-at-home shutdowns that kept stores closed and discretionary income limited for many Americans.
Under Armour furloughed 6,600 workers at its retail stores and distribution centers in the U.S. in April in response to the outbreak, representing 40% of the more than 16,000 people it employed before its reduction in workforce. The global sports apparel manufacturer also turned to debt last month, seeking to raise $440 million to ride out the current crisis.
The University of California's partnership with Under Armour began in the 2017-2018 academic year and represented a large upgrade from its previous deal with Nike. As a part of the 10-year sponsorship, Under Armour paid Cal a $3 million signing bonus in 2016, $3.5 million in cash every year, and an allowance for branded clothing, equipment and shoes that averaged $4.8 million a year. Previously, Nike paid the Golden Bears athletic program $150,000 in cash and $2 million in products in 2016, the last year of its sponsorship agreement.
Under Armour's attempts to cut ties with UCLA (and perhaps Cal) is going to be interesting, as it'll likely be long and drawn-out.
I spoke to a legal expert in March about the complexities of Covid-19, including business interruption insurance, events cancellation insurance, and "force majeure" clauses in contract. In short, there will be years of litigation, potentially even if these contracts don't have payouts for reneging on the agreement.
Our March story: https://writeforcalifornia.com/p/heres-what-happens-when-a-major-event
Based on the reactions I'm seeing, I think I might be in the minority as I actually liked the logos they designed for us and loved having the Sather Stripe motif across basically all of our sports.
I don't think we really used it beyond this one time, but I really liked this Sather Strip/script Cal mash-up that looked like a seal.