Maryland will earn $2.6M on uniforms

Deal with Under Armour could help keep Friedgen

College Football

January 11, 2004|By Ed Waldman | Ed Waldman,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - The University of Maryland will become the first college football team in the country to wear uniforms designed by Baltimore-based Under Armour Performance Apparel under a five-year, $2.6 million deal announced yesterday.

The $520,000 a year - including $200,000 in sponsorship payments, $195,000 in apparel and footwear allowance and $125,000 in marketing support - is at least three times more than the Terps received under their old deal with Nike, according to Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow.

Yow said she was most excited about Under Armour's plan to use the Maryland football program in its national advertising.

"I don't know how to put a price tag on something that will be that valuable," she said at a Byrd Stadium news conference.

Yow said that Under Armour and Maryland began to talk about a deal in late November or early December, and that things proceeded quickly. Nike had the right to match any new deal, but they took a relatively short time in deciding not to, she said.

Under Armour president Kevin Plank, the former Maryland football player who founded the company in 1996, said he didn't think he overpaid for his first major outfitting deal.

"I hate to say that," he said. "Maryland football got a great deal, and Under Armour got a great deal. But it's not a great deal if we don't do anything."

Plank said Under Armour, which is building a new distribution center and manufacturing facility in Anne Arundel County, will use the Maryland football program to learn the uniform business.

"This is going to be one great big lab, from what happens at retail to what happens on the football field," he said.

Plank said the new uniforms will make their debut at Maryland's spring game on April 24. They will include all four state colors and will be noticeably different, he said.

Yow said the Under Armour deal will make it easier for the Terps to keep football coach Ralph Friedgen, whose name has surfaced in connection with a number of NFL head-coaching jobs, happy.

Friedgen is in the third year of a 10-year contract that pays him a reported $1.2 million a year.

"There's nothing written in the [Under Armour] contract that says any of the money goes to Coach Friedgen," Yow said. "But, in our industry, it is the norm that that money finds its way to the coaches."

Said Plank: "There were two contracts I could sign: The contract I signed that has Ralph Friedgen as head coach and one I could sign that doesn't have Ralph Friedgen as head coach.

"And one is worth a heck of a lot more than the other. Of course we've got a tremendous interest in making sure that he stays happy, that he stays here."

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