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Could the “Hangzhou Three” Cost UCLA Its Lucrative Deal with Under Armour?

An obscure section of UCLA’s agreement with Under Armour could potentially cost UCLA its apparel deal.

Joe Piechowski

When the UCLA Men’s Basketball team takes the court tonight in Shanghai, China, they will do so decked out in uniforms, shoes and other gear from athletic apparel manufacturer Under Armour.

But, could the arrest of three freshmen team members actually end up costing UCLA its very lucrative contract with the company?

The short answer is maybe.

The contract, which was signed last year between the school and UA, took effect on July 1st. As we mentioned in our article about the details of the contract, it names football, baseball, and men's and women's basketball as four "Core Sports."

And, while the contract includes incentives should the Core Sports perform well, it also includes a clause that allows Under Armour to cancel the contract for cause if:

A Head Coach, senior member of UCLA’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, Core Team member, or a senior University administrator is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to a severe felony (e.g., first degree, aggravated, etc.) in the jurisdiction in which it was committed, or is otherwise involved in a major scandal (e.g., institutional academic fraud, corruption, embezzlement, allegations of discrimination supported by reasonable and credible evidence, major sexual scandal, etc.) that receives significant media coverage and in the reasonable determination of Company reflects unfavorably upon UCLA, Company and/or the Supplied Products, and following such act, UCLA fails to take reasonably appropriate action(s); provided, however, that in no event shall UCLA be required to take any action(s) that are inconsistent with Law or its institutional policies;

Now, I’m not a lawyer, but I think an international incident like the one that has transpired this week is certainly one that could fall into this section and it would certainly be prudent and reasonable for the CEO of a large multinational corporation like Under Armour’s Kevin Plank to have the company’s attorneys look into separating themselves from this international embarrassment.

At the very least, it adds significant complications for a school whose football team has been awful all season.

Plank and UA could use the incident to do one of several things in addition to cancelling it outright. They could use it to force UCLA into a renegotiation at a lower fee. They could also use it to force changes inside the Athletic Department and that could be anything from a demand to fix football immediately by replacing Jim Mora or even firing Steve Alford since his program caused the incident to insisting that UCLA clean house and hire a new athletic director who could, in turn, set a course to fix football and/or replace Alford.

But, the fact of the matter is that Under Armour basically holds all the cards here. A savvy CEO would direct his legal team to start the process of termination in order to force UCLA to the table to get whatever he wants out of UCLA.

Bruins Nation reached out to Under Armour for comment and a reply was not received by the time of publication. This article will be updated when a response is received.

In the meantime, feel free to read the complete contract yourself.

Meanwhile, let’s check in on the latest with the “Hangzhou Three” to find out what’s going on....

ESPN’s Arash Markezi, who has had the best info on the incident since it began on Tuesday, started answering questions on Twitter last night. Let’s look at some of the questions and his answers.

In other news, the Big Baller Brand pop-up shop apparently drew quite a crowd today.

The Last Word

Finally this morning, I just don’t see how LaMelo can maintain his NCAA eligibility when BBB is doing things like this and having his own shoe. We will just have to wait and see if Melo gets an ok from the NCAA clearinghouse when it’s time.

Go Bruins.