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Learfield IMG College seeks to rework UCLA, Cal deals

Paris Austin #3, Andre Kelly #22 and D.J. Thorpe #33 of the California Golden Bears defend Jalen Hill #24 of the UCLA Bruins as he passes the ball in the second half of the game at Pauley Pavilion on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Berkeley, already facing economic pressure amid large-scale contract disputes with embattled apparel brand Under Armour, are now facing similar pressure from the Learfield IMG College, according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News.

Just days after Under Armour began efforts to terminate contracts with both UCLA and Cal, the powerful marketing and sponsorship company is now reportedly seeking to revise or end its own multi-million sponsorship pacts with the two schools, the outlet reported.

The two Learfield IMG College deals are said to be worth more than $130m collectively, while the separate Under Armour deals also have a similar amount in total still outstanding between the two schools.

Both schools, each part of the Pac-12 Conference, are fighting Under Armour’s efforts.

“We are confident that we are fulfilling the terms of our agreement and that Under Armour does not have grounds for termination,” Cal said in a statement.

But as the Covid-19 pandemic continues and game operations across college sports remain tentative at best, financial strains remain, and sales declines are palpable. The Under Armour efforts are driven by what the company sees as “paying for marketing benefits that we have not received for an extended time period” while it reported a sales decline of 23 percent during the first quarter.

Learfield IMG College, under new leadership following a recent merger, is facing its own sizable revenue challenges with the ongoing suspension of college sports and earlier this year implemented a series of furloughs and salary reductions as it seeks to cut costs. The company owns multimedia rights to more than 200 colleges.

Cal is similarly to retain the Learfield IMG College tie and told the Mercury News, “We remain committed to the partnership and the terms of our long-term contract.”