The university will start a new collaboration with Under Armour for athletic needs, ending their Nike contract after seven years, on July 1.
Since joining Division I in 2013, this is the third collaboration with a big brand name company for athletics. ACU had a three-year contract with Adidas from 2013-16, followed by Nike from 2016-23 and now starting its Under Armour five-year contract.
“We want to find an apparel partner that can serve the needs of our student-athletes,” ACU Vice President of Athletics Zack Lassiter said. “Under Armour came to us with the most attractive package and wanted that partnership.”
Signing with a company that stands with the university’s value is important to the athletics staff and is the main reason the contract with Under Armour is in place.
In an article written about this transition, ACU deputy athletics director for administration Chris Ballard stated he his confident in the partnership.
“We feel confident our new partnership will allow our student-athletes and coaches to be outfitted at the highest level,” Ballard said. “Both Under Armour and Game One have already shown tremendous support of ACU Athletics and we can’t wait to get our student-athletes in UA gear.”
Before ACU decided to partake in the switch, it was important to Lassiter that he heard the thoughts of coaches from every program. Lassiter involved the coaches in this process because he believes they should have a significant say. These coaches will be the closest people working with the company and the transition will affect them the most in athlete recruitment and retention.
This process included comparing the committing rates of programs with Nike and Under Armour to see if college athletes preferred one brand over the other. It was found that there was no significant correlation between the two, allowing the transition process to move along.
ACU is working with Under Armour and Game One to produce what is needed for its programs to succeed. Game One is the middle company between ACU and Under Armour that gets ACU exactly what they need from Under Armour.
“At the end of the day,” Ballard said. “Under Armour and Game One made a really strong offer and ended up being the better financial package for us. But from the service and belief side, it just made more sense.”
One of the main problems ACU had with Nike was the lack of access. Because ACU is a lower-end Division I program, the University was not allowed the same access to items as the University of Texas and the University of Alabama. This seemed to hinder the growth that ACU wanted to make over the next decade for their programs.
With the support from coaches, athletics, and Under Armour, the University decided this transition would be the best to grow its programs and to keep climbing the Division I ladder.
“While transitions are always challenging because you are learning new things,” Lassiter said. “It has been really refreshing with the relationship we have been able to create in a short amount of time. I am looking forward to seeing that and I hope our student-athletes see that we are providing a higher level of service to them for their needs.”
Under Armour currently sponsors Division I state athletic programs at Texas Tech, Auburn University, and Notre Dame. Within the Western Athletic Conference, ACU joins Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, and the University of Texas at Arlington.
ACU Under Armour products can be found on athletic teams and in the campus store starting in the summer.
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