The University of Wisconsin Athletic Department’s longtime 15-year partnership with Adidas is coming to an end, and the school is expected to sign a 10-year, $96 million deal to make Under Armour its official outfitter to provide apparel and footwear for the Badgers.
The school is currently signed to a 5-year deal with Adidas that is set to expire June 30, 2016. The Badgers have partnered with the German company since 2001.
Going into effect next July, the deal is one of the most lucrative in college sports, as it exceeds Under Armour’s previous largest deal – a 10-year, $90 million contract with Notre Dame signed in 2014. The UW/Under Armour partnership is believed to be the second largest deal just behind Michigan’s 15-year, $169 million deal signed with Nike earlier this year.
The deal is both sentimental and strategic to the sportswear company:
“The first big account that I ever sold product to was Eastbay, based in Wisconsin,” Plank recalled.
“It’s also strategic in that when we look at our e-commerce business we see a tremendous amount of orders coming from Wisconsin zip codes,” says Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank.
Fans also shouldn’t worry, as there won’t be any radical changes in the look of the Badgers.
“I think we built this reputation that we want to make wild uniforms for everybody,” Plank said. “I just want to settle everybody to know that we’re going to play the right song for the right situation. There’s an incredible history here at the University of Wisconsin that doesn’t tend to require a lot of flash and a lot of pop, beyond the flash and pop that has already been established.”
As a way to help recollect declining sales in the world’s biggest sportswear market, Adidas has been pushing a major marketing campaign in recent months to sign endorsements and merchandising deals with U.S. sports teams.
Although Adidas is a German brand, two of its most notable executives are tied to Wisconsin. Green Bay, Wisconsin native Mark King, the company’s North American division president, is an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin’s Green Bay campus. Adidas’s global brands president, Eric Liedtke, graduated from the university’s Madison campus. Prominent alumni from the university also include social entrepreneur Ben Schumaker, actress Joan Cusack, businessman John Oros, Dick Cheney, and many others.
Wisconsin is the most recent school to make a jump to Under Armour, joining Northwestern and Maryland in the Big Ten conference.