UCLA Sues Under Armour for $200M over Breach of Apparel Contract

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 27, 2020

UCLA's Charisma Osborne, left, Japreece Dean, center, and Lindsey Corsaro celebrate after a play against Southern California during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 women's tournament Friday, March 6, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
John Locher/Associated Press

UCLA, which agreed to a 15-year, $280 million sponsorship agreement with Under Armour in 2016, is suing the sports apparel company for over $200 million, citing a breach of contract, per Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit, which was filed in District Court in California, states the following in part:

"Following years of declining business, Under Armour's corporate leadership apparently decided that the UCLA deal was over-market and too expensive for a trouble company," UCLA's lawsuit reads. Under Armour decided to try to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a cover to get out of paying on a deal that it no longer wanted to be in. It purported to terminate the Agreement, pointing in the vague direction of COVID-19."

Under Armour announced that it would end its relationship with UCLA in June, per ESPN: "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 agreement allows us to terminate in such an event and we are exercising that right."

UCLA stated in response that it believed it was "fulfilling the terms of our agreement and that Under Armour does not have grounds for termination."

In the meantime, UCLA is looking to land a sponsorship deal elsewhere, per Tracy Pierson of Bruin Report Online on Aug. 4:

"UCLA, led by its new athletic director Martin Jarmond, is actively pursuing a new apparel deal with various companies, including Nike, according to sources. UCLA has been in contact with upward of four apparel companies, and each has shown reciprocal interest. No deal is imminent, however."

The Pac-12 fall sports season has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and January 1 marks the earliest date that competitions can start again.

As for what brand UCLA may look to align itself with, that's unclear at this time. However, Jon Christon of the Daily Bruin made the case for the Jordan Brand, writing the following in part in July:

"A deal would be beneficial for both sides. Of the four schools that the Jordan Brand currently sponsorsNorth Carolina, Oklahoma, Michigan and Floridaa flagship West Coast school is missing. Enter UCLA.

"UCLA is perhaps the most iconic NCAA institution on the West Coast and maybe even in the entire country the school matches the stature of the other big-name schools that Jordan Brand is sponsoring and would represent a market of need for the brand."

Per Darren Rovell (then of ESPN) in 2016, UCLA's deal with Under Armour marked the NCAA's largest apparel deal at the time. The school was aligned with Adidas from 1999 to 2017.