On Monday night, Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger broke the news that Notre Dame will sign a 10 year apparel contract with Under Armour.
Notre Dame is re-signing with Under Armour in a new 10-year contract believed to be the richest apparel deal in college athletics, sources tell @YahooSports.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 31, 2023
The Irish’s new UA deal is expected to be worth more than $10 million annually in cash and gear.https://t.co/bm7Eg5GRDe
Ross’s piece is pretty light on details and admits with an explanation that is basically, “things of this nature aren’t widely known.” Naturally, the phrase, “richest apparel deal in college athletics,” has been under attack by fans of the Michigan Wolverines.
And none of that really matters here. Notre Dame put itself into a bidding war between Adidas, Nike, and Under Armour with the latter opting to pay the most money. All of which — on the surface — seems perfectly normal in a free market society for a business.
Make NO mistake about it. The University of Notre Dame is a business and has been for a very long time. Rather than make decisions to maximize performance on and off the field to win national championships, they make decisions to maximize profits while doing just enough to use the phrase, “compete for national championships.”
Do you think that’s hyperbole? Do you think I have an axe to grind? Do you think I’m sad that my favorite apparel brand didn’t sign Notre Dame? Well... that’s three NO’s (but c’mon Homefield Apparel).
If you are an Earned 5-Star Podcast listener, you may already know what I’m about to say. I friggin LOVE Under Armour clothes — they’re better than Nike and Adidas and it’s not even close (so don’t argue with me). The shoes, on the other hand, are a different story. The only thing I think I’m legally allowed to say is that I don’t like them for “health reasons,” which might be one of the many reasons why you won’t find many professional players rocking that UA.
While I think “health reasons” is probably the king reason for any athletic footwear choice, the bigger issue here is that it’s just not a cool brand with the kids. In the game of recruiting, Under Armour plays a distant third to most high school players that I know — and it’s been said elsewhere that the unofficial tally in the Notre Dame locker room is overwhelmingly for Nike.
Notre Dame consistently chooses to do things differently than other schools out there and calls it “special” or the “Notre Dame way” or whatever moniker they want to use. In the end, it all works as dead weight on the goal of winning and it’s all self-inflicted. Notre Dame built a reputation and a history of being a school that wins national championships despite these standards (also known as self-imposed restrictions).
Those days are long LONG past now. Anything done that doesn’t help improve the chances of winning is just a self-inflicted wound. And all of that is fine and dandy, but Notre Dame says they're out here to win national championships. Are they though? To me, it feels like one long game move after another to maximize profits without maximizing the tools needed to maximize the potential on the field.
I want to be very wrong about this all, and this is something I never would have written just a few years ago, but so many of the moves made (or not made) over the last decade have brought me here to this point. Hell — I might be EXTREMELY wrong about it all. In a recent survey on SB Nation Reacts, only 53% of fans polled chose Nike over Under Armour.
Notre Dame has yet to announce any of this, and when they do, maybe they will talk about a massive commitment by Under Armour in the NIL space and then I can eat crow and every word of this article — except for the title, because it’s still all about the Benjamins in a world where C.R.E.A.M. is king.