Last May, St. Olaf Athletics signed an agreement with Under Armour giving the athletic apparel brand exclusive rights to outfit 27 St. Olaf athletic teams with uniforms and athletic wear. The partnership will last for five years – until the spring of 2022 – and St. Olaf will purchase Under Armour products at a discounted rate.
The deal only applies to St. Olaf Athletics, meaning other St. Olaf gear, such as the T-shirts and hoodies in the St. Olaf Bookstore, are unaffected. The deal is facilitated by BSN Sports, who will serve as a liaison between St. Olaf and Under Armour, and St. Olaf teams will transition from their previous brands to Under Armour over the next couple of years. The only exception to this agreement is that St. Olaf may purchase apparel from another brand if Under Armour cannot provide it.
“If there’s something that we need that Under Armour can’t provide, we would purchase it through another vendor,” Athletic Director Ryan Bowles said. “So – swim team swimsuits. [Under Armour] doesn’t do swimsuits, so we will continue with Speedo.”
Previously, St. Olaf teams purchased uniforms and apparel from a variety of brands, including Nike and Adidas.
“[The deal] allows us to get a little more bang for our buck, if you will, because we’ll be buying exclusive to one brand,” Bowles said. “It also allows us to get a better handle of our brand, meaning that the logos and those types of things will look universal across the stuff that we have.”
Bowles hopes the perks of the deal will extend beyond student athletes.
“Within the contract, we’ll hopefully be able to do more for our student athletes and just enhance what they’re able to get,” he said. “And then there’s going to be some fun things. We’ve got these Ole Pride events, maybe raffling off different Under Armour gear to students that come.”
In true St. Olaf style, Under Armour was chosen by an “Apparel Task Force” made up of Bowles, Associate Athletic Director Mike Ludwig and a number of men’s and women’s coaches.
“We looked primarily at Under Armour and Nike,” Bowles said. “Financially, the deal with Under Armour was better for the College … customer service was a big part of it as well, the ability to deliver the products on time, and high quality.”
The group convened to first determine what St. Olaf Athletics was looking to get from a potential partnership, and then put in a request for an RFP – a Request for Proposal. BSN Sports then worked with brand representatives to pitch possible options to the Apparel Task Force, who chose three finalists and eventually settled on Under Armour.
“I think [the deal] is still kind of in its infancy – things are good so far,” Bowles said. “We really just want our student athletes to feel a positive benefit from this move, and I’m confident that this will allow us to do more for them, and I’m confident that the whole campus will see a benefit from it.”