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Notre Dame, Under Armour forge deal

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame is ending its 17-year relationship with Adidas and switching to Under Armour Inc. with a 10-year deal that athletic director Jack Swarbrick called “the largest deal of its kind in the history of college athletics.”

Swarbrick said the deal will help Notre Dame navigate through what he called a period of change in college athletics “unlike any of us have ever lived through or tried to navigate,” mentioning the change from the BCS to a playoff system in football and conference realignment in all sports that saw Notre Dame move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference last year.

Jack Swarbrick, Kevin Plank

Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics, left, and Kevin Plank, CEO and founder of Under Armour, hold up a jersey during a news conference Tuesday Jan. 21, 2014, in South Bend, Ind., announcing an agreement between Notre Dame and Under Armour that will outfit the university’s athletic teams (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)

Swarbrick said Tuesday that the deal includes an option for Notre Dame to take a portion of the cash component from the deal in Under Armour stock, “again an opportunity to reflect our belief that we can help build Under Armour and continue the rocket ride it’s on, and Under Armour’s belief that they can have a major impact on the University of Notre Dame.”

Terms were not released. Notre Dame announced in 2005 it had entered into a 10-year contract worth more than $60 million with Adidas that ran through the end of the 2013-2014 season. Notre Dame teams began wearing Adidas shoes in 1997 and Adidas began supplying the school’s athletic uniforms in 2001.

Swarbrick said he was impressed by Under Armour’s commitment to technology and said the deal would provide Notre Dame with an “entrepreneurial culture” it has been missing.

“For us to marry our tradition with one of the great entrepreneurial stories in recent time in this country is exciting for me,” he said. “I think it will impact our culture in direct ways. Make us more creative, more inventive, allow us to move more quickly and to be fundamentally entrepreneurial.”

He said the university has asked Under Armour to make Notre Dame its laboratory for new technology.

Kevin Plank, Under Armour’s chief executive officer, said the deal was a “game-changing event” for the company.

“It puts us on a completely different level, and frankly, we’re ready for that level,” he said.

Plank said he didn’t expect any major changes in how Notre Dame uniforms look.

“We’re not anticipating doing anything unusual, crazy. We need to honor and respect the history of the university. We believe less is more, especially in the early days,” he said.

Notre Dame becomes the 13th Division I school to sign with Under Armour.

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