UCLA filed a lawsuit against Under Armour for ending the University’s $280 million sponsorship deal. The school is seeking more than $200 million in compensation.
The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges that Under Armour was struggling with poor financials and a federal probe into accounting regularities before COVID-19 and used the pandemic as a reason to get out of the deal.
“Under Armour is perfectly capable of providing the products that it promised to provide, and making the payments that it promised to pay,” the lawsuit said. “Under Armour, in fact, has intermittently provided some of the promised products during the COVID-19 pandemic, though it has intentionally withheld others and delayed deliveries in an effort to cause more harm to UCLA.”
“It is unfortunate that Under Armour is opportunistically using the global pandemic to try to walk away from a binding agreement it made in 2016 but no longer likes,” UCLA vice chancellor of strategic communications Mary Osako said in a statement. “UCLA has met the terms of the agreement, which does not require that games in any sport be played on a particular schedule. We filed this lawsuit in order to support our student-athletes and the broader UCLA community, including the athletic department that has brought 118 national championships to Westwood.”
In June, Under Armour said it “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.” It cited Force Majeure due to the coronavirus pandemic as one of the reasons it was terminating the deal.
The 15-year sponsorship deal, signed in 2016, was the largest in the history of college sports at the time.
In response to news of the lawsuit, Under Armour said in a statement that it was disappointed with the UCLA lawsuit and plans to vigorously defend itself. The statement read, “We sought and remain open to working out a reasonable and appropriate transition for the university, and most importantly for the student-athletes. In fact, at UCLA’s request after the termination of the agreement, Under Armour continued to deliver athletic products for the 2020-2021 school year because we support athletes, even as it remains uncertain when sports will resume.”
Photo courtesy UCLA/Bloomberg