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In his words: Under Armour's Kevin Plank on Notre Dame deal

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CEO feels pact with Fighting Irish carries 'global significance'

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 12:51 am

Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank spoke with the media on Tuesday at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex regarding his company's 10-year deal with the University of Notre Dame.

Here are his comments on a number of topics:

On how Under Armour reached this point:

"Yeah, well, first of all, I want to be clear. We've had a great stable of teams as a part that have frankly put us in this position to be able to take this opportunity on.

"You don't come out of the box in our industry and sign Notre Dame. At the same time the partners that came out and invested with us early because of a lot of things with timing and giving us that opportunity. Beginning with the University of Maryland to Auburn in 2006, these are teams that we've had long, rich history and tradition.

"At the same time I think the conversation that we used with Jack was the term game‑changing. You heard it in my script earlier. And I think that's something that Notre Dame is one of those, wow, that's one of the elites, and I think all of our programs are terrific, but this is a ‑ this just has a different angle and a different twist to it."

On a recent email he received regarding the deal:

"Last year we named the Naval Academy as entering into a partnership there, and how big of a deal that is for us, and then now having Notre Dame. Somebody sent me an email the other night and said, "Congratulations on being able to cover both God and country." I think I echo that sentiment, and I'm pretty excited about that, too."

On Under Armour's commitment to research and development:

"MapMyFitness we recently bought this past November, and their CEO Robin Thurston. This is a connective fitness community of more than 22 million people now. It's a site that signed more than 400,000 people the first week of January. And so understanding, having that data on over 20 million athletes and growing at a quick rate as to how we can help them, understanding how they work out and perform, and the team system that we have that we really pioneer with our Armour 39 technology at the NFL combine all the way back in 2011 that has led to this whole concept of werewolves and other things, and we were an early adopter in this space.

"I believe there's a safer, healthier way for us to be able to exercise our student athletes, and we are, I think, at the forefront of that process with the athlete themselves, and that's what we expect to use Notre Dame at the highest levels of competition that you have here with the ability to implement that and really change the way that people have thought about it."

On what Notre Dame athletes can expect from Under Armour:

"... the things that we can do that's available with science and technology, it matters to us. I want this community to know that we are ready for this deal. We want this deal, and we want these 26 varsity teams that we're going to do a great job for them and we're going to advantage them in every way that we can, and we believe we are the best positioned company and we're the best partner for Notre Dame and Notre Dame's entire community in order to perform with that because I know what matters, and it means championships and doing things the right way.

"We're going to do that in every way that we can, and whether it's Coach Kelly on the football field or Muffet, and congrats on the big win last night in basketball, or Coach Brey.

"But there's a sense, I think, that we can help hopefully, and this is not a place that needs help, but I think we can bring additional benefits to it and take some of the technology, I think, that we are building anyway for our consumer and that we can implement here for Notre Dame and the benefit of all of Notre Dame athletics and hopefully the University as a whole, as well."

On his plans for Notre Dame uniforms:

"First and foremost, a look and feel that will honor the rich tradition and history of Notre Dame, and put very simply, we want people to know we're looking for clean, bold and consistent looks, and I think there's a great history of that here already, so I don't think we have to do anything out there."

On his first experience at Notre Dame:

"My first time on this campus was all the way back in 1997, and some perspective of someone who grew up a Notre Dame fan with a Sports Illustrated centerfold of Mike Stonebreaker on a goal‑line stand versus the University of Southern California Trojans right above my bed and looking at that every night, going to college and waiting for the phone to ring and the Irish never called.

"So moving up to 1997, the first team that we outfitted at Under Armour was Georgia Tech, and if you remember '97 was the re-dedication game that you played versus Georgia Tech. The opening game was September 6th. Georgia Tech being our team and coming to the game, I had the opportunity to go to Notre Dame, and so the equipment staff invited me to come. So I got in my Ford Explorer and I drove from Washington, D.C., to South Bend, and a hotel room wasn't an option on opening game weekend.

"So sleeping in the visiting team locker room was where we ended up staying for that night. I've seen the movie "Rudy" and I know you don't prefer people sleeping in your locker rooms, but it worked out okay for me that night, and I got a sense of what it meant.

"Looking back on the history of our brand, in 1997 we did $110,000 in revenues, and looking and thinking for me at this pinch‑me moment of the ability to reflect on what's happened over the last 16 or 17 years, since that day, first we live in an incredible country, and it's one of those only‑in‑America things where you can't even afford a hotel room, and to be here to have the opportunity to outfit this, first and foremost, it's because of the incredible team that we've put together at Under Armour that has us in this position to outfit this University and student athletes with products second to none of anyone in the world.

"We are going to compete and we are going to run like crazy for the University of Notre Dame, and we are absolutely humbled, honored, privileged and thrilled all at the same time to take this on. So within that, today is a good day. Today is a good day."