Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: Yahoo; Chart: Axios Visuals

Under Armour is seeking to terminate its record-breaking $280 million contract with UCLA just three years into their 15-year deal, an unprecedented move that speaks to the state of Bruins athletics — and says even more about the state of Under Armour.

Why it matters: Once heralded as the next Nike, Under Armour has seen its sales — and its stock price — plummet over the last four years, leading some to believe the company's best days are behind it. Terminating a historic deal only adds to the "struggling brand" narrative.

  • UCLA's athletic struggles aside, backing out of this agreement reeks of desperation, especially amid reports that Under Armour is asking its athlete endorsers to renegotiate contracts and postpone payments as a way to to cut costs.
  • This isn't the first time Under Armour has backed out of a major deal, either. In 2016, it signed on to become MLB's on-field jersey supplier by 2020. But when the deal fell apart in 2018 due to money concerns, Nike swooped in.

What they're saying: Under Armour says it's terminating the contract because it has not received certain marketing benefits from UCLA to which it is owed.

  • It's unclear what those benefits are, or if this is related to coronavirus (i.e. perhaps the agreement required a certain number of games to be played, and spring sports cancellations resulted in a breach of contract).
  • The UCLA athletic department, which was already facing a huge budget deficit before the pandemic arrived, says it will "explore all our options to resist Under Armour's actions."

The backdrop: Under Armour was founded in 1996 by Kevin Plank. By 2015, it had overtaken Adidas as the second-largest sports apparel company in the U.S, and by 2016, it was challenging Adidas and Nike's dominance in college athletics with the UCLA deal and others (Notre Dame, Auburn, Wisconsin, etc).

  • Four years later, the company's stock price has plunged from around $40 a share when the UCLA deal was announced to $8.26 a share, as it attempts to rebuild under Patrik Frisk, who replaced Plank as CEO in January.

The big picture: In interviews with the New York Times, current and former Under Armour employees painted a picture of a company that tried to do too much too fast.

  • In 2015, for example, it spent $700 million acquiring apps like MyFitnessPal, with unrealized visions of becoming a tech company.
  • But Under Armour's biggest misstep was almost certainly eschewing the athleisure trend, which helped Nike and Adidas widen their lead and saw new brands like Lululemon capture market share.
"Mid-2015 was the last time we saw any growth in performance shoes, and we've been in an athleisure trend ever since. Brands that remained focused on performance have struggled, and Under Armour is one of them."
— Matt Powell, analyst at NPD Group

The bottom line: When Under Armour backed out of the MLB deal in 2018, two years after signing, it was reportedly because they could no longer afford the costs. "They were a different company when they did the deal," one source said.

  • It appears history is now repeating itself. In 2016, Under Armour committed $280 million to UCLA in hopes of building a West Coast empire. Now, they'd like to pretend that never happened.
  • Why? Because they were a different company when they did the deal.

Go deeper

Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin testifies before a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Sept. 29 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Getty Images

The state of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit on Thursday to block the Biden administration from enforcing its vaccine mandate for federal employees.

Why it matters: The move comes one day after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin denied Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's (R) request to exempt the state's National Guard from the mandate.

Congress passes stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Senate voted 69-28 to pass legislation Thursday night to fund the government until February 18.

Why it matters: The move staves off a government shutdown but lawmakers still have a busy month ahead: Congress needs to work out a deal to raise the debt ceiling in a few weeks and Democrats are trying to pass their behemoth social spending bill.

DiDi to delist from NYSE under Chinese govt pressure

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese ride-hail giant DiDi said it will delist from the New York Stock Exchange, following a Chinese government crackdown on foreign listings.

Why it matters: This reflects how geopolitical tensions are bleeding into the capital markets.