UPDATE 3:15 p.m. ET: Under Armour has responded to FN’s request for a statement. In an email, the brand replied, “We are aware of the issues raised in the Daily Bruin article and are working back with coaches to address them. While Under Armour does provide footwear for most track and field disciplines, it is true that there are some disciplines where specialized footwear is still under development.”
With a $280 million 15-year deal, UCLA’s Under Armour apparel and footwear sponsorship ranks as the largest in college sports history. But not all of the Bruins athletes are lacing up the Baltimore-based brand’s shoes.
According to a report published today from the University of California’s Daily Bruin, some of the school’s track and field athletes have voiced complaints regarding the durability of Under Armour’s track spikes, while others hope the brand will expand its track and field offerings beyond solely running spikes.
Interviews the Daily Bruin conducted with Bruins athletes indicate that some runners favor brands such as Adidas, Asics and Nike.
“You’ll be seeing every other brand of shoes because we’re just trying to find what works best for our feet,” Kendall Gustafson, a senior heptathlete, told the Daily Bruin, adding that Under Armour is not a “traditional” track shoe manufacturer.
Sophomore Isaiah Holmes told the Daily Bruin that the sole of his sprinting shoes began to separate “within the first few weeks,” while the outside of the shoe also displayed signs of wear.
Meanwhile, senior Jelvon Butler addressed with the publication a void in Under Armour’s inventory, explaining that while it offers spikes for sprinting and distance purposes, the company does not provide jumping spikes to team members.
To combat the issues, the report states Bruins trainers have provided the brand with feedback, a process Gustafson described as “trial and error.”
“I think that the general consensus is that some of us are happier in other shoe brands,” Gustafson told the publication.
Under Armour and UCLA announced the signing of the 15-year, $280 million contract in May 2016. Speaking with FN in May, The NPD Group’s senior industry adviser for sports, Matt Powell, explained how difficult it is to quantify the return on this kind of investment.
“I have trouble justifying any of these deals in terms of a return on sales — there just isn’t enough merchandise being sold,” Powell said. “Instead, they must be viewed as a marketing spend. Under Armour’s logo is going to be in every video, in every photo, on every UCLA athlete — every time they are seen. There is absolutely a value to that kind of exposure.”
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