Flanked by mannequins outfitted in the basketball uniform and sideline wear, Jack Swarbrick confirmed the long-swirling rumors that Notre Dame was leaving Adidas at the expiration of the current deal and going with Under Armour as the official supplier of athletic gear.
Ten years in term, it will be the largest deal in all of college athletics. Of course, terms were not disclosed, but Swarbrick and Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank assured the gathered media that they had researched figures from public sources, and were confident this was the biggest deal in all of college sports. Of note, Swarbrick also indicated that the deal includes the option for Notre Dame to take compensation as Under Armour stock. In his words, it reflects Notre Dame's belief in the University's ability to drive the growth of the Under Armour brand.
Swarbrick took great care to talk about the four criteria used to identify the right partner:
Identity: UA has become "more present, more quickly" than anything Swarbrick has seen. Allows ND to be "positioned at a different level" and remain unique in college athletics.
Resources: Biggest deal ever.
Partners: Deal reflects the commitment. ND is rich in tradition, but not as rich in entrepreneurial culture. Great match with UA's great entrepreneurial culture. Will make ND more creative and move more quickly.
Competitive Edge: In the hyper-competive world, the next decade of success will be driven by science. Impressed with UA's commitment to technology. UA started as a performance company, and haven't lost touch with that. Notre Dame will partner in developing future tech. UA is committed to use ND as a "lab" for testing new performance technology.
Jack did take the time to thank Adidas for their partnership, but quickly put the focus on the future and the challenge to get even better. And then introduced Kevin Plank, UA founder and CEO.
Decked in blue and gold, Plank came out for his "pinch-me" moment, and a "game changing" opportunity for his company. He reflected his company's excitement to be involved with Notre Dame and appreciated the welcome into "the Notre Dame family." ND is UA's 13th deal, and he was confident in UA's ability to deliver. He characterized UA's investment as a "shared journey" with Notre Dame, and while the ink is still "a little wet," it was clear he was thrilled with the opportunity in front of him. He characterized UA's role as upholding the championship legacy of Notre Dame and move it forward.
Plank was clear that everything you've seen to date is a mock-up. The design process has begun, but unveiling of specific uniforms will be done at the appropriate time in the future. "Clean, bold and consistent looks" will be the theme as UA develops their Notre Dame gear. Plank grew up a Notre Dame fan and was first on campus on 1997, and despite "never getting the call" to attend ND, remains a huge ND fan. Plank did a great job relaying his entrepreneurial journey and his vision for providing Notre Dame product that is "second to none."
During the Q&A session, both men answered on the look of the football uniform:
Plank: "Not anticipating doing anything unusual or crazy... less is more." "Reflective of the latest and greatest technology."
Swarbrick: First, he made a crack re: e-mail following Shamrock Series. He said the look won't be messed with. To him, it is more important to think about the goals of the relationship, and UA's understanding of ND tradition as a foundation to move in to higher performance ideas. He cited Auburn as an example of UA's ability to respect changes and traditional uniforms. "We will control the look & feel of the uniforms." The partnership will focus on performance of those moving forward.
Swarbrick confirmed that there will be no change to signage and branding within facilities.
Swarbrick: the UA deal does not include any signage in the arenas or stadiums.
When asked about feedback from athletes, Swarbrick and Plank chose to focus on coaches, saying they were "Gratified by enthusiasm" from coaches. They also mentioned will be some sport-by-sport specifics to be worked through.
As soon as it is available we'll get the video posted here and UND.com will have the transcripts.
ND Athletics blogger Aaron Horvath sat down for a Q&A with Swarbrick that you can read HERE. A sample of that interview:
Q: Anything in the works with the football uniforms or are we staying status quo?
Swarbrick: "We are staying status quo, it is hard to identify anyone in college football who is more rigorous about maintaining their uniform than Auburn. They don't modify anything about it and Under Armour is completely comfortable with that. We have made tweaks but it's been where the ND logo is and we will stay in that ballpark. The uniform you see when you come to the stadium will look like the traditional Notre Dame uniform."
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