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UH, Under Armour deal may prove lucrative

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    Under Armour's University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors collection can be found on the website.

What is good enough for Jordan Spieth, Stephen Curry, Bryce Harper, Tom Brady, Andy Murray and, yes, Paul Dunne, apparently rates a second go-around for the University of Hawaii.

After a seven-year association with Under Armour in football, UH is moving toward outfitting its entire athletic program in the trademark of the sports apparel manufacturer with what would be the school’s first all-sports agreement.

The parties have held what have been termed “exploratory sessions” since April and, pending final details, UH could have a multi-year contract as soon as late August.

Terms remain to be worked out, but any extension significantly topping the current eight-year deal, valued at $4.1 million in cash, trade and marketing according to the contract, would be a considerable coup for UH.

Overall, athletic director David Matlin said UH is seeking something that “works for our student athletes and has an impact on some of our financial needs.” He said UH is looking for a package that, “turns our head a little bit.”

A lot of heads were turned by Michigan’s just-announced 11-year, $169 million deal with Nike and Notre Dame’s 10-year $90 million agreement with Under Armour last year, making them industry leaders.

But any sizeable improvement upon UH’s current deal, which concludes next year, would be noteworthy for a so-called mid-major school. Especially one 2,500 miles off the beaten path.

In 2014-15, UH’s deal ranked in the top third among the 12 schools in the Mountain West, trailing only Boise State and Nevada-Las Vegas, both Nike clients.

It is worth noting that the current UH deal, signed six weeks after the 2008 Sugar Bowl, came when the Rainbow Warriors were on a two-season 23-4 run. Since then UH has gone 37-54.

At the time UH got in on the ground floor as one of the first non-Bowl Championship Series Conference programs to get a cash and trade deal with Under Armour, which had Auburn, South Carolina and Maryland.

Subsequently Under Armour has gone on to a reported $3.08 billion in sales in 2014, reaching endorsement deals with Spieth, Curry, Harper, Brady, Murray and Dunne, among other marquee and rising names.

Since signing on with Under Armour in football, UH has expanded its relationship into baseball and softball. In March it declared its intention to seek an all-sports agreement, asking major apparel companies for a statement of interest as a precursor to negotiations. Since then UH has added Under Armour for men’s basketball, beginning with the 2015-16 season.

Now the hope is to bring the rest of the 21-team athletic program under one umbrella, a move aimed at cutting uniform costs, raising cash, expanding marketing and boosting its H-Zone merchandising.

Rainbow Wahine volleyball, which has long ties to Asics in coach Dave Shoji’s tenure, would likely be phased in with Under Armour uniforms and then shoes.

After seven years of sporting the “Protect This House” banner for football, UH seeks a lucrative way to wrap its entire program in it.

Reach Ferd Lewis at or 529-4820.

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