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Notre Dame AD: new Under Armour deal largest in college history

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Jack Swarbrick will preside over the reported most lucrative apparel deal in college athletics. (USATSI)
Jack Swarbrick will preside over the reported most lucrative apparel deal in college athletics. (USATSI)
When reports surfaced earlier this month that Notre Dame was set to sever its 16-year relationship with Adidas in order to forge a new partnership with Under Armour, it didn't take a lot of foresight to guess the contract would be a whopper.

And sure enough, at Tuesday's press conference to officially announce the Fighting Irish's all-sports deal with its new apparel supplier, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick called his school's Under Armour agreement "the largest deal of its kind in the history of college athletics."

"We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Under Armour," said Swarbrick. "The most obvious of those relates to quality and quantity of the world-class footwear, apparel and equipment Notre Dame will be able to provide ... And in as much as this represents the largest financial commitment ever made by a brand to a university, it will provide the critical resources we need to enable our student-athletes to compete at the highest levels."

Though terms of the deal were not released, ESPN reported that the total value of the 10-year deal would be "about $90 million" -- trumping the $82 million contract signed by Adidas with Notre Dame's rivals at Michigan, the previous most lucrative apparel deal in college athletics. (That contract has also been rumored to be one of the reasons the Irish went looking for a different suitor for its next contract.)

The Under Armour deal, Swarbrick confirmed, would also give the Irish the option to take some of the $90 million in the form of Under Armour stock -- cementing the strength of the partnership between the growing athletics brand and what its now its most high-profile client.

Notre Dame is Under Armour's 13th FBS "all-school partnership, joining the likes of Auburn, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Maryland, Boston College and various other FBS schools.

"Notre Dame is the standard-bearer of excellence in collegiate athletics and is one of the most recognizable and admired universities in the world," Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said at the announcement. "It's an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to dedicate our passion and innovation for making athletes better into this game-changing partnership."

Notre Dame had worked with German-based giant Adidas since 1997, when the Irish began wearing Adidas cleats. Adidas began supplying the Irish with uniforms in 2001 -- only five years after Under Armour was founded, and two before its ubiquitous "protect this house" commercial debuted in 2003.

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