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Notre Dame to Hit Open Market With Under Armour Deal Set to Expire, per Sources

One of the biggest brands in college sports will potentially be moving on after a decade.

Notre Dame may be in the market for a new apparel deal. 

The Irish’s exclusive negotiating window with current apparel sponsor Under Armour has expired, sources tell Sports Illustrated, thrusting arguably college football’s most valuable brand into the open market.

Notre Dame’s 10-year contract with Under Armour, believed to be worth $90 million, is set to end after next season. UA replaced Adidas as Notre Dame’s apparel outfit in 2014, in what was at the time believed to be the most lucrative apparel contract in college athletics history. 

While Under Armour remains a potential suitor, the Irish’s cachet is expected to draw bids from other high-profile apparel companies such as Nike and Adidas—the two largest apparel sponsors in the college game.

Notre Dame officials declined to comment.

Over the last several years, Under Armour, experiencing falling sales and stock prices, has worked to cut costs by restructuring or ending sponsorship contracts with athletes, schools and professional leagues, including the NFL. In many ways, the company has withdrawn from being a major player in college athletics. 

The Baltimore-based outlet has canceled deals with UCLA, Cal, Hawai‘i and Cincinnati, and Boston College ended its relationship with the company by signing with New Balance and Adidas. As part of a settlement, Under Armour was ordered to pay UCLA $67 million for breaking the deal early.

Despite the past setbacks, Under Armour recently released figures that show its 2023 fiscal year revenue is up 3% to $5.9 billion. The company continues to outfit a handful of major college programs, including Auburn, Maryland, South Carolina, Texas Tech, Utah and Wisconsin. But its crown jewel has been Notre Dame.

Apparel deals are revenue-generating giants for some of the most elite college athletic departments. In normal cases, apparel companies pay an annual licensing fee ranging from $5 million to $10 million for some of the powerhouses in college football and men’s basketball. In some deals, the school receives a cut of royalties from merchandise sales (usually 10% to 15%), and most agreements require the company to outfit that school’s athletic teams with $2 million to $3 million in gear each year.

Others, like the Notre Dame–UA deal, include stock as part of the payment to the school. UA’s stock has dropped considerably, from $27 in 2019 to $7.71 today.

With an average annual value of about $9 million, Notre Dame’s apparel deal ranks in the top 10 nationally along with Texas (Nike), Louisville (Adidas), Kansas (Adidas), Washington (Adidas), Ohio State (Nike), Nebraska (Adidas), Michigan (Nike), Auburn (UA) and Wisconsin (UA).