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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 26, 2008

UH, Under Armour unite

Video: UH announces apparel deal with Under Armour

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

UH head football coach Greg McMackin, at podium, and associate athletic director John McNamara, behind, helped negotiate a deal with Under Armour. McNamara said it is "on a par" with BCS schools.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The cash register continues to ring loudly on the University of Hawai'i football team's 12-1 season with a breakthrough eight-year, $4.1 million apparel and marketing deal with Under Armour announced yesterday.

UH trumpeted the deal as putting it on par with many Bowl Championship Series schools. "It is commensurate with Auburn, Maryland (who also have Under Armour deals) ..." said John McNamara, UH associate athletic director, who, along with football coach Greg McMackin, helped negotiate the deal. Without knowing the details of the other four schools under contract with Under Armour, McNamara said, "I'd say it definitely puts us on a par with them."

Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson said, "my understanding is this appears to be the richest apparel agreement of any of the WAC schools. I'm sure that last season's football success led to this type of a deal."

In exchange for becoming the "Outfitter of Hawai'i Football," Maryland-based Under Armour will provide UH with $2,424,000 in uniform and shoe products and also pay UH $1,680,000 in cash, including $1,140,000 in rights fees and a minimum of $540,000 in marketing support as a member of the school's corporate partner program.

The contract, which becomes effective in July, will replace the current deal with Nike, which UH said included no cash and less merchandise, the school said. Nike and Russell Athletic also negotiated with UH. Officials did not release the proposals from other parties but McNamara said, "we took the deal that was in our best interests and are moving forward."

In its first year, UH said it will receive $440,000 in cash, merchandise and marketing support $125,000 in rights fees, $225,000 in product allowance, $20,000 for coaches' apparel, $10,000 for staff apparel, $10,000 for camp apparel and $50,000 in marketing support.

McNamara said, "Under Armour is an aggressive and up-and-coming player on the national scene (and) likewise, we see ourselves that way so the marriage of our two brands is a natural and a win/win relationship for both parties."

"We're thrilled to add Hawai'i to the very select list of football programs we're outfitting," said Kevin Plank, chairman and CEO of Under Armour. "We identified UH as a team we wanted to outfit with our state-of-the-art performance apparel, uniforms and footwear and we look forward to giving their (players) an advantage on the field while also using the relationship to showcase our latest innovations in footwear, uniform designs, fabrics and textiles," Plank said in a press release.

Although the deal is strictly for football initially, UH officials said both parties left open the potential that other sports could be included as their sponsorships expire. Heretofore each sport has negotiated its own apparel deals, when possible.

UH officials said there will be some changes from the recent uniforms but they wouldn't be "radical."

McMackin said the new UH uniforms, to be worn for the Aug. 30 season opener at Florida, could include some green. He also said he was intrigued with the possibility of sometime unveiling "throwback" uniforms. "The thing about these guys we're working with is they give you a lot of options."

Mostly, however, McMackin said he was impressed with the "now technology" the supplier embraces. "Mike Leach (Texas Tech coach) told me their shoes are lighter than the others." McMackin said, "we feel their products are going to help us win games. We feel they are top of the line and feel fortunate to be involved with them."

McMackin said UH's tie with Under Armour could also pay dividends in recruiting. "Kids keep track of things like this. They know."

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.