Sports may be at a standstill on the field, but behind the scenes it’s still running in many places at full-court press speed.
Thus is the case at UTRGV, where the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics announced Monday a new five-year partnership with BSN Sports to make Under Armour the official athletic footwear, apparel and accessory brand of the Vaqueros.
“We are excited to partner with Under Armour and their brand,” UTRGV Vice President and Director of Athletics Chasse Conque said. “This has been a several-month process. Our previous apparel deal had expired and we were in the market to align ourselves with a strong partner. Under Armour came to the table with a nice plan and we have a five-year partnership starting with the 2020-21 athletics season.”
Under Armour will provide UTRGV’s 16 sports programs with training gear for competition, practice and community appearances while also outfitting coaches and the athletic department staff.
The University needed to seal a new partnership regardless of the current pandemic situation since the contract with adidas, their current partner, is set to expire this summer.
“We needed to look ahead and, to be honest with you, with the pace being a little different with sports being canceled, we could dive a little more into this and that’s been our intention,” Conque said. “The timing we couldn’t control but it comes at a good time. This is one we wanted to get done to put ourselves in a good position for five years.”
Among the Division I athletic programs that Under Armour has partnerships with are Notre Dame, Auburn, Texas Tech and UCLA. They also endorse individual athletes such as the NBA’s Stephen Curry, Major League Baseball’s Bryce Harper,
PGA golfer and Texas native Joran Spieth, boxers Anthony Joshua and two-time world champion Adrian Hernandez, and WWE wrestler and former WWE star and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“Any time we can align ourselves with the likes of Texas Tech or Auburn or Jordan Spieth and Steph Curry, that elevates our profile and spreads the brand,” Conque said. “We are all excited about this.”
BSN will service the contract, essentially serving as the middle man in the partnership. The company is a marketer, manufacturer and distributor of sporting goods, apparel and equipment. BSN has more than “1,200 sales professionals who live and work in the communities they serve, including the Rio Grande Valley,” stated a UTRGV press release announcing the partnership.
“They are going to be a huge asset,” Conque said about BSN. “We want to and have to move fast. They will take care of our students and hopefully we will be competing when the seasons are to begin.”
Unlike many universities that are struggling financially in their athletic departments, UTRGV’s Athletic Department finances remain steady, that was also something that stood at the forefront of the partnership, making sure the deal could be secured without an increase in the budget.
“Under Armour is aware that there are costs through a transition like this and they will assist us with that,” Conque said. “We looked at our balance sheet and were very conscientious of our budget so nothing will cost us more money. We will come out better for this.”
And when the games return to the courts and fields, UTRGV will also carry a new look.
“College athletics is a huge part of our society and reopening the country and the state, this shows some light at the end of the tunnel,” Conque said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done and a lot of what we do comes during a part of uncertainty moving forward.
“But our students are excited about it. It gives them hope and some good news. The gear is such a big piece of the recruiting process. A lot of the things are behind the scenes, but students and the community will see a different look with our athletes. The game uniforms will have a sizzle to them, like the Under Armour logo, and they are sharp and clean and that’s what fans will notice.”