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Under Armour looking to call time on $280m UCLA contract

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Sports apparel company Under Armour has announced it is looking to call time on its record $280m partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

The 15-year deal, which was signed in 2016 and went into effect in July 2017, was the largest shoe and apparel deal in college sports history at the time. But the company is now seeking to end the agreement due to ongoing sales retreats and business impacts stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Under Armour has recently made the difficult decision to discontinue our partnership with UCLA, as we have been paying for marketing benefits that we have not received for an extended time period,” the company said in a statement. “The agreement allows us to terminate in such an event and we are exercising that right.”

The move comes after the Baltimore, Maryland-based Under Armor reported a sales decline of 23 per cent during the first quarter amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, which forced stores shut and led to a significant decline in discretionary consumer spending.

UCLA, whose flagship college football and men’s basketball teams have struggled in recent years, said it would try to find a way to retain the contract.

“UCLA Athletics learned this week that Under Armour is attempting to terminate its 15-year apparel and footwear contract with us and the Bruin community,” the college said in a statement. “We are exploring all our options to resist Under Armour’s actions. We remain committed to providing our hard-working staff and student-athletes with the footwear, apparel and equipment needed to train and compete at the highest level, as they – and our loyal Bruin fans – deserve.”

Former Boston College athletic director Martin Jarmond is replacing the retiring Dan Guerrero in the role at UCLA next week.

The UCLA athletics department reported a $18.9m deficit for the 2019 fiscal year, representing the first time in 15 years the Bruins lost money.