Kevin Plank, the founder and CEO of Under Armour, said one of the primary principles of his company is: “Love of athletes.” Under Armour is among the world’s premier brands of athletic clothing, footwear and gear.
That’s part of the reason Kevin Plank came out in favor of a new California law that will allow student-athletes to earn compensation from the use of their names and images. Under current NCAA rules, college athletes cannot be paid when their schools use their images to promote products, such as team jerseys bearing the names of top sports stars.
Millions of dollars are involved. A star athlete with legions of fans and a high-profile media image can be a gold mine for the university he or she plays for. A recent example was Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow who played quarterback for the University of Florida. Sales of his jersey earned Florida millions of dollars. Tebow did not get a dime.
Kevin Plank said this is wrong and exploitive. He praised the California law as a step in the right direction, but he also said the NCAA needs to follow suit and change its policy.
Kevin Plank played football for the NCAA Division 1 University of Maryland Terrapins in the mid-1990s. He graduated in 1996. That was the year he launched Under Armour with a single product, a sweat-wicking t-shirt that would keep athletes comfortable and cooler during competition.
Kevin Plank’s association with his alma mater and his former football team was instrumental in helping his t-shirt gain recognition and traction. He provided it free for Terrapin athletes to use. This led to his first major contract with Georgia Tech. Under Armour has since developed into a major brand globally, selling a wide array of athletic apparel and footwear.
Under Armour is recognized by industry observers to be among the most innovative designers of athletic wear. The firm is noted for advances in fiber production technology. This recently attracted the interest of billionaire Richard Branson who tapped Under Armour to create clothing designed for Virgin Galactic’s space travel for tourists venture.
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