Members of Yale’s 35 varsity sports teams all agree on one thing: The new all-sports deal with Under Armour is a game changer for Yale athletics.
Earlier this month, Yale announced that Under Armour will be the exclusive provider of apparel, footwear and equipment for all Yale varsity teams starting July 1. The deal is reportedly valued at $16.5 million over the course of 10 years, and is the largest of its kind in the Ivy League. Yale’s student-athletes and coaches, who will be the most affected by a partnership of this nature, widely praised the athletic department for securing the deal and highlighted the benefits they hope to see starting in the fall.
“The deal with Under Armour will be great for Yale athletics because it is evidence of the legitimacy and quality of athletics here,” women’s basketball captain and guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 said. “That a quickly growing and successful company took notice of us and wants to outfit all the teams here is a big step toward putting Yale athletics on the national map.”
Women’s tennis player Caroline Lynch ’17, who is the president of the Yale Student Athlete College Council, was of the same opinion, and said the deal puts both Yale and Ivy League athletics on a bigger stage with other “big sport schools” that Under Armour sponsors.
Lynch, who through her involvement in YSACC meets regularly with other Yale athletes, said student-athletes are largely looking forward to what Under Armour will bring in the coming years.
In addition to increased exposure for Yale athletics, many also highlighted the financial benefits of the deal.
Prior to the Yale-Under Armour partnership, most Yale varsity teams acquired their apparel, footwear and equipment from local vendors — the funding for which came directly from each team’s individual budget. Men’s golfer Jonathan Lai ’17 said the deal may ease up on each team’s budget and allow teams to allocate funds elsewhere.
“I think [the deal is] good for the overall department for saving some money, and what saves money is good for all the teams,” head coach of heavyweight crew Steve Gladstone said. “It is a real boon to the department.”
Heavyweight rower Stephan Riemekasten ’17 said his team has not gotten as much gear as other schools’ crew programs in previous years, and that he hopes the new exclusive deal can close this gap. Because the team’s set of singlets was “very minimalistic,” he said, rowers often wore their own gear for practice and saved Yale-provided uniforms for races.
Though Riemekasten had not heard the specifics of the apparel and gear his team will be receiving, Wyckoff said the Yale women’s basketball team will see an increase in apparel: new uniforms, practice gear, shoes, travel suits, sweat suits and “probably even basketballs” by the 2016–17 season.
Players on multiple teams — including the men’s and women’s basketball teams, which currently wear Nike — cited problems with their previous apparel that they hope to leave behind.
“Nike shoes look fashionable on the court, but the sneakers wore down pretty easily,” men’s basketball forward Brandon Sherrod ’16 said. “Some guys had rips in their shoes, flimsy laces that kept ripping and foot problems. One of our players has worn the UA basketball shoe during practice to see how it felt, and he’s given the shoe rave reviews.”
Women’s basketball guard and forward Gabrielle Nelson ’19 said her experience with Nike has also been frustrating. Nelson cited problems such as uniforms that did not come in until after the season had already started, as well as suits the team was supposed to receive at the start of the year but still has not.
Although all 15 student-athletes interviewed said they were happy with the new deal, distance runner Sarah Healy ’18 highlighted that Under Armour running shoes do not perform as well as other brands, which she called as a “specific issue for our team.” The track and field teams currently wear Nike shoes in practice and meets.
But Director of Track and Field David Shoehalter said he does not believe there is any cause for concern for his team under the new partnership.
“We were given several pairs of shoes for our athletes to try,” Shoehalter said. “Under Armour has been very accommodating to all of our needs, and have expressed a desire to work with us to get the best possible shoes for each group of athletes. We should not have any issues adapting to the new shoes.”
No athletes interviewed had any knowledge of what uniform designs might look like, although many noted that it is unlikely the new uniforms will stray significantly from their current looks. Yale Intercollegiate Equipment Operations Lead Assistant Jeffrey Torre told the News the same information last week, adding that the lack of significant change is because Yale is an “ultra-traditional school.”
“We will probably have no say in what the jerseys look like, but I am sure that they will be dope,” Sherrod said. “Under Armour does a great job of decking out the teams that they sponsor with tons of gear.”